Effective Recycling of Disposable Medical Face Masks for Sustainable Green Concrete via a New Fiber Hybridization Technique

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Original languageEnglish
Article number128245
Journal / PublicationConstruction and Building Materials
Online published27 Jun 2022
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2022


Global public response to the COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic is highly focused on human health. However, conservationists have cautioned of unprecedented threats to the natural environment from a new type of non-biodegradable microplastic waste resulting from extensive use of disposable medical face masks (DMFMs). Thus, this waste must be recycled in an eco-friendly manner on an urgent basis. In this research, we developed a new environmentally friendly recycling technique using waste DMFMs in sustainable green concrete. More explicitly, a new fiber hybridization approach has been introduced in which two types of fibers namely DMFM fiber and basalt fiber (BF) were incorporated into fiber reinforced recycled aggregate concrete (FRAC). The volume fractions of DMFM fiber were 0%, 0.1%, and 0.2% and the volume fractions of BF were 0%, 0.25%, and 0.5%. In addition, two mineral admixtures (fly ash and ground granulated blast furnace slag) were also used. Test results indicated increase of approximately 12% in compressive strength, 26% in split tensile strength, and 60% in flexural strength of FRAC containing hybrid fibers and mineral admixtures. The density and ultra-sonic pulse velocity (UPV) of DMFM fiber- and BF-modified FRAC ranged from 2406–2433 kg/m3 and 4502–4541 m/s, respectively, which meets structural concrete requirements. The water absorption rate gradually increased with an increase in the volume fractions of fibers but remained within the allowable water absorption limit for construction materials. Lastly, the microstructure investigation indicated excellent concrete quality, improved interfacial transition zones (ITZs), and good compatibility of host concrete matrix with both DMFM fiber and BF that correlates well with the experimental results reported in this study.

Research Area(s)

  • Basalt fiber, DMFM fiber, Flexural strength, Mechanical properties, Splitting tensile strength, Sustainable concrete