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Title: The impacts of biomineralization and oil contamination on the compressive strength of waste plastic-filled mortar

Researchers have made headway against challenges of increasing cement infrastructure and low plastic recycling rates by using waste plastic in cementitious materials. Past studies indicate that microbially induced calcium carbonate precipitation (MICP) to coat plastic in calcium carbonate may improve the strength. The objective of this study was to increase the amount of clean and contaminated waste plastic that can be added to mortar and to assess whether MICP treatment enhances the strength. The performance of plastic-filled mortar was investigated at 5%, 10%, and 20% volume replacement for cement. Untreated, clean plastics at a 20% cement replacement produced compressive strengths acceptable for several applications. However, a coating of MICP on clean waste plastic did not improve the strengths. At 10% replacement, both MICP treatment and washing of contaminated plastics recovered compressive strengths by approximately 28%, relative to mortar containing oil-coated plastics. By incorporating greater volumes of waste plastics into mortar, the sustainability of cementitious composites has the potential of being improved by the dual mechanisms of reduced cement production and repurposing plastic waste.

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Scientific Reports
Nature Publishing Group
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National Science Foundation
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