UBC engineers turn stone waste into biocomposite

Stone slurry polymer composite’s increased strength and conductivity open door to 3D printing applications.

0 September 23, 2019
by DE Staff

UBC Professor Abbas Milani, centre, and doctoral student Armin Rashidi analyze a green stone composite sample using 3D imaging microscopy. (Photo Credit: UBCO)

Researchers at the University of British Columbia Okanagan have developed a process that combines polymers and natural stone slurry waste to create stone composites. Made of previously discarded materials, the composites meet a growing industrial demand for multifunctional bio-friendly raw materials says School of Engineering Professor Abbas Milani.

“Because the slurry is a waste material, it comes at a lower cost for recycled composite production,” says Milani, who is the director of UBC’s Materials and Manufacturing Research Institute (MMRI).

The powdered stone waste used to create the biocomposite can be mixed at different ratios into the finished product through appropriate heat or pressure to meet structural requirements or aesthetic choices. During testing, the researchers discovered that the stone waste not only increased the virgin polymer’s strength and durability, but also its conductivity increased proportionally based on the amount of stone added.

“The increased strength is important, but the increased conductivity (up to 500 per cent) opens a huge door to several new potential applications, including 3D printing with recycled composites,” explains Milani.

“Any time we can divert waste from landfills and generate a product with the potential of economic benefit is a win-win,” he adds. “We hope that these sorts of products, that are carefully designed with the aid of multi-disciplinary researchers focused on 3R measures (repairable, reusable, and recyclable), can significantly contribute to the economy of our region and Canada as a whole.”

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