Over the course of the last 50 years, a large number of major technological advances have contributed to the development of higher-strength, high-performance materials that provide excellent benefits. Nevertheless, in most cases, after a very short useful life, these products become waste material and contribute to environmental degradation. This situation has created an environmental crisis that has reached global proportions. In efforts to combat this issue and to promote sustainable development and reduce environmental pollution, some investigations have focused on recycling using innovative and clean technologies, such as gamma radiation, as an alternative to conventional mechanical and chemical recycling procedures. In this context, the reuse and recycling of waste materials and the use of gamma radiation are useful tools for improving the mechanical properties of concrete; for example, the compressive strength and modulus of elasticity are improved by the addition of waste particles and application of gamma radiation. In this chapter, we propose the use of gamma radiation as a method for modifying waste materials; for instance, polyethylene terephthalate plastic bottles, automotive tire rubber, and the cellulose in Tetra Pak containers, and their reuse to enhance the properties of concrete.
Part of the book: Evolution of Ionizing Radiation Research
In a world increasingly fixated on the demands of sustainable development, too much attention has been focused on the widely used building materials, mainly on those tools and strategies for their reuse and those characteristics for considering them as environmental-friendly materials. Among the strategies are the following: (a) increased reliability on waste and recycled materials—such action will have to incorporate the substitution of recycled for virgin materials; (b) improved durability through reduction of materials needed for their replacement; and (c) improved mechanical properties, which reduces the use of raw materials. Extensive research and development activities in recycling composite materials have been conducted, and various technologies have been developed: (a) mechanical recycling, (b) thermal recycling, and (c) chemical recycling. However, gamma radiation is an innovative and clean technology, alternative to conventional recycling procedures. Gamma irradiation has proved to be an adequate tool for modifications of the physicochemical properties of polymers, through different effects: (a) scission, branching as well as cross-linking of polymer chains and (b) oxidative degradation. Moreover, the reuse and recycling of waste materials and the use of gamma radiation are useful tools for improving the mechanical properties of concrete. In this chapter, we show results of the effects of gamma irradiation on the physicochemical properties of waste and recycled materials and their reuse to enhance the properties of construction composite materials.
Part of the book: Composites from Renewable and Sustainable Materials