Students from TN-based college design poly bricks from PPE waste

The bricks have a three-time higher compressive strength as compared to the common red bricks
Image for representational purpose only | (Pic: Express)
Image for representational purpose only | (Pic: Express)

A team of students from the Civil Engineering Department of Sona College of Technology, in Salem, Tamil Nadu, has devised a method to turn hospital-generated Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) waste into strong bricks that do not use any cement. PPE waste is a concern as it swells up landfills.

Known as poly bricks, the bricks developed by the team have a three-time higher compressive strength as compared to the common red bricks. They are also much lighter in weight. Since the curing time to reach ISO (International Organization for Standardization) standards is less than 24 hours, the bricks can be readied quickly and come cheaper than common red or concrete hollow bricks, as per a report by IANS.

The poly bricks also meet ISO's water absorption specifications. "The technology is now available to hospital chains and other organisations interested in technology transfer to help tackle PPE waste and also reduce poisonous emissions," said Chocko Valliappa, Vice-Chairman, Sona Group of Educational Institutions.

Describing the poly brick-making process 
The poly brick-making process starts by sterilising PPE kits with ultraviolet (UV) rays, subjecting them to heat at 160 degrees centigrade. Then sand aggregates are added and the polypropylene mass is cast into bricks. The bricks are eco-friendly as they do not use any cement or water in the process and cause minimal in-process emissions as the PPE plastic waste is subjected to less than 200 degrees centigrade in temperature.

According to Sona College, these eco-friendly bricks can be used as regular bricks for walls and also as paver blocks instead of red bricks, reducing plastic waste as well as pollution caused during cement production. Poly bricks have good cement adhesion and can be plastered with cement, the institute said.

Dr N Karuppasamy, Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering, Sona College of Technology, who mentored the team, said that a patent application has been filed for this technology. The Civil Engineering Department has also patented a technology to use plastic waste in brick production that replaces almost 70 per cent of sand with plastic, as per IANS.

Aravind Kumar from the final year, Kamalesh JB and Dharani Raj U, both from the third year, Adhavan P and Harshini EK, both from the second year, are the students comprising the team. They found this solution while participating in a nationwide competition. The World Health Organization (WHO) recently said that the use of PPE kits used during the COVID-19 pandemic was harming the environment, due to their single-use nature.

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