New research published in Materials Letters announced that scientists at Washington State University found a way to recycle face masks by incorporating them into concrete, creating a more durable material that is 50% stronger than the standard. As face masks generate plastic pollution and concrete engenders a carbon-intensive process, the study not only improves concrete’s design, it also addresses two sustainability issues. Researchers found that the fibers in the masks—polypropylene or polyester fabrics—represent the same core materials in concrete, and the masks’ microfibers are able to absorb energy that could lead to cracks. The study also suggests that concrete bolstered with the mask additive will reduce the amount of cement needed for a project, saving carbon emissions. “These waste masks actually could be a valuable commodity if you process them properly,” says lead researcher Xianming Shi. Learn more about this innovative process at Digital Journal.
Image by Emadrazo; courtesy of Emadrazo/Digital Journal