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28241: Heinl on recycling & a new technology (fwd)
Plastic has not been kind to Haiti. 50 years ago (when my acquaintance with
Haiti began), water was carried in metal cans or gourdes and glass bottles
were used many times over. The cities (especially the Cap) were clean and in
countryside there was none of the litter one sees now.
I asked a Haitian friend who knows about such things why all the plastic one
sees lying about couldn't be recycled with the help of Haiti's greatest
surplus: labor. He replied that the plastic was too thin to be of use in such
processes. Not being a chemist, I don't know the merits of his contention.
HOWEVER: In the Washington Post of December 8, 2003, there was an article
that seemed to have promise for Haiti: some highlights below
"N.J. Bridge Puts Recycled Plastic to Unusual Use
New Brunswick, N.J. - A plastic bridge sounds like something that belongs in
legoland. But in Southern New Jersey's pine barrens, a 56-foot-long bridge
crafted from recycled soda bottles, coffee cups and similar refuse has been
carrying traffic over the Mullica River for more than a year.
Although the Rutgers University scientists who invented the novel plastic
material used to build the one-lane bridge acknowledge that their technology
is not yet ready for use on heavily traveled spans, such as those in the
interstate highway system, they say plastic has quickly exceeded their
expectations as a bridge-building material.
Most notably, they say, their plastic is already technically and
economically competitive with wood.....The bridges developed by Rutgers
breakthrough: They are plastic through and through. ..."It's perfect for
replacing smaller wood bridges", said Richard G. Lampo, a materials engineer
Construction Engineering Research Laboratory of the U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers Research and Development Center in Champaign, ILL.....
Thomas J. Lasker and Richard W. Renfree, the Rutgers engineers, came up with
their plastic unexpectedly. They had been experimenting with two common
kinds of plastic: high-density polyethylene (HDPE), which is used to make such
items as milk containers and detergent bottles and polystyrene which is
used in coat hangers and disposable eating utensils.....
Nosker and Renfree found that one combination - 65 percent HDPE and 35
percent polystyrene - worked unexpectedly well. A NJ-based company called
Inc - a licensee of the Nosker-Renfree technology created the I beams for
the bridge. " [FOR THE FULL TEXT, I suggest you go the Washington Post
I've seen no follow up, but on its face this could be used in many
applications that now require imported building materials.