Position:YOUR LIFE

A high-tech waste problem is being solved while addressing the environmental challenge of stormwater runoff by a research team at Washington State University, Pullman. The researchers have shown they can greatly strengthen permeable pavements by adding waste carbon fiber composite material. Their recycling method, described in the Journal of Materials in Civil Engineering, does not require using much energy or chemicals--a critical factor for recycling waste materials.

Unlike the impermeable pavement that is used for most roads and parking lots, pervious concrete allows rainwater to drain and seep freely into the ground underneath. Because of increasing concerns about flooding in urban areas and requirements for controlling stormwater run-off, several cities have tried using the pervious concrete in parking lots and low-traffic streets but, because it is highly porous, it is not as durable as the traditional concrete that is used on major roads.

Carbon fiber composites, meanwhile, have become more popular in numerous industries. Super light and strong, the material is used in everything from airplane wings to wind turbines and cars. However, while the market is growing about 10% per year, industries have not figured out a way to recycle their waste easily, which is as much...

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