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Alex Fraser has developed a world-first process to recycle more than 150,000 tonnes of glass fines being stockpiled or landfilled in Melbourne every year.
A new process turning waste glass into everyday products could save millions of tonnes of glass from landfill every year.
University of Queensland PhD candidate Rhys Pirie and Professor Damien Batstone developed a method to extract liquid silicate from waste glass.
The process can be used to make thousands of products ranging from concrete sealers to toothpaste.
The method creates little waste with almost all glass being turned into saleable products.
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Mr Pirie estimates the process will be more than 50 per cent cheaper than conventional silicate production methods.
“It requires less energy, raw materials and capital, and that’s before you consider the reduced social and economic costs,” he said.
Pirie began looking into the possibilities of glass recycling after working with Batstone who specialises in converting waste into high-value products.
“My PhD has highlighted how we need to make use of both the raw materials in waste streams and the energy embodied in them during manufacture,” Pirie said.
The pair believe the process will create positive, far-reaching and virtuous economic cycles.
UQ’s commercialisation company, UniQuest, has filed a patent covering the process and is now looking for commercial partners.
The research was co-funded by the Cotton Research and Development Council and Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.