Environment

'Plastisoil' could mean cleaner rivers and less plastic waste

'Plastisoil' could mean cleane...
Plastisoil is a concrete-like substance made from discarded plastic bottles, that rain water can pass through instead of running into storm sewers
Plastisoil is a concrete-like substance made from discarded plastic bottles, that rain water can pass through instead of running into storm sewers
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Plastisoil is a concrete-like substance made from discarded plastic bottles, that rain water can pass through instead of running into storm sewers
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Plastisoil is a concrete-like substance made from discarded plastic bottles, that rain water can pass through instead of running into storm sewers
Plastisoil is a concrete-like substance made from discarded plastic bottles, that rain water can pass through instead of running into storm sewers
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Plastisoil is a concrete-like substance made from discarded plastic bottles, that rain water can pass through instead of running into storm sewers

A new cement-like material that could be used to form sidewalks, bike and jogging paths, driveways and parking lots, may be able to lessen two environmental problems, namely plastic waste and polluted rainwater runoff. The substance is called Plastisoil, and it was developed by Naji Khoury, an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at Temple University in Philadelphia. In order to make Plastisoil, discarded polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic bottles are pulverized and mixed with soil, and then that mixture is blended with a coarse aggregate and heated. The result is a hard yet non-watertight substance, similar to pervious concrete or porous asphalt.

With traditional concrete and asphalt paving, rainwater stays on the surface and runs into the storm sewers, accumulating oil and other road filth along the way. With pervious surfaces such as Plastisoil, that water is able to go down through them, and into the soil below. This certainly reduces the amount of pollutants entering the rivers, although Khoury and his team at Temple are currently trying to determine if Plastisoil could even serve as a filter, that removed pollutants as the water filtered through.

Khoury said that it uses less energy to produce one ton of Plastisoil than one ton of cement or asphalt, and that it’s less expensive to manufacture than similar products. It takes 30,000 PET bottles to make one ton of the material, although he is hoping to be able to use other types of plastic in the future.

Temple professor's cement-like Plastisoil could help the environment

17 comments
Bill de Iturrondo
I wonder how this substance handle the freeze thaw cycles of the northern climates. It seems that the porous nature works against it in those situations (unless it\'s elastic enough to deform and reform). Can gizmag or the developers at Temple reply?
4Freedom
Questions: 1. In the formation phase, does the heated plastic release any toxic vapors? 2. When used as a surface, does the plastic pollute the rainwater that runs through it? While I respect any attempts at dealing with the problem that the invention and widespread use of plastic has created, the stuff is so bad for the planet that it is almost not worth trying to work with. It might be better just to eject the crap into space. (And I would like to add, \"along with it\'s creators\".)
robinyatesuk2003
good idea well worth pursuing, how the new material can filter out pollutants without becoming blocked will be a big problem
Bruce H. Anderson
For walkways and light-duty pavement this could make sense. One of the challenges with pervious surfaces (including those made pervious by cracking) is that when water reaches the subgrade soils they begin to break down (the subgrade is typically compacted before pavement is placed). As the subsoils become less rigid they fail to adequately support the pavement, causing it to crack even more. A downward spiral starts that can result in replacing both the pavement and the subgrade. So for heavy-duty use, probably a no-go. Otherwise it may have a place.
Lost
I\'m also wondering Bill\'s second question; given high amounts of plastic-based endocrine disruptors already detected throughout ocean, I would like to know that the water they\'re filtering into the soil isn\'t further spreading BPA throughout our environment.
Facebook User
I\'d be really interested in seeing the long term (heck 6 - 18 months would be a start) studies of what is being leached from the plastisoil into the ground water. Sometimes, you need to be sure what you\'re trading... poisoning ground water may be worse than controlling run-off rainwater other ways. Engineers tend to measure everything... have the studies been done, are they available?
Matt Rings
If water gets through it, that means grasses and weeds can sprout upwards through it too... Perhaps this needs a weed filter placed underneath?
Eletruk
I had the same idea, only I called it Trashphalt instead of PlastiSoil.
Joshua West
the plastic probly wouldnt do well in winter i use bottles and fill them with water and freeze them and they crack. they have to use the certain platics because some are thicker then others the ones that wont work are milk jugs they crack after one time being froze but the thicker ones like pop bottles dont but after lick 40 to 50 times they do
Adrian Akau
It might work in geographical areas with warm climates.