Life cycle assessment of lightweight concrete containing recycled plastics and fly ash
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Researchers put significant effort to decrease the environmental impact of concrete by using industrial by-products as an alternative binder. However, the considerable environmental impact still exists due to the consumption of natural resources as aggregates. Natural aggregates are the most used resources by volume in the construction sector. Therefore, it is necessary to investigate by-products as an alternative to natural aggregates as well. This study presents the environmental impact of lightweight concrete (LWC) produced by replacing natural aggregates with recycled waste plastic (polyethylene) (RWP) and partially replacing Portland cement with Class F fly ash (FA). Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) was performed to compare a conventional LWC, containing pumice as natural aggregate and Portland cement as a binder, with green LWC, containing 30% RWP as pumice replacement and 20% FA as cement replacement. These scenarios were evaluated in terms of global warming potential, abiotic depletion, ozone layer depletion, terrestrial ecotoxicity, photochemical oxidation, acidification and eutrophication. LCA was coupled with mechanical tests at 7 days and 28 days. RWPs were found to be an environment-friendly replacement material for natural lightweight aggregates with an overall decrease in all CML-IA impacts except eutrophication. Tested green mix design also provided sufficient strength for nonstructural applications.