Title: Upcycled Polypropylene and Polytrimethylene Terephthalate Carpet Waste in Reinforcing Cementitious Composites
Author(s): Nghia P. Tran, Chamila Gunasekara, David W. Law, Shadi Houshyar, and Sujeeva Setunge
Publication: Materials Journal
Appears on pages(s): 125-138
Keywords: carpet waste; hybrid fiber combination; microstructure; nanoindentation; recycled fiber; X-ray micro-computed tomography (CT)
In this study, carpet waste fibers—namely, polypropylene (PP) and polytrimethylene terephthalate (PTT) in the form of mono microfibers and hybrid combinations—were studied. The optimization of mono fiber parameters for fiber content (0.1, 0.3, and 0.5%) and length (6, 12, and 24 mm [0.236, 0.742, and 0.945 in.]) were conducted to achieve the optimum strength properties and minimize drying shrinkage. The microstructure, pore structure, and fiber-matrix interfacial properties of the optimized samples were characterized at 7, 28, and 90 days by means of scanning electron microscopy (SEM), X-ray micro-computed tomography (CT), and nanoindentation. The research data revealed that the inclusion of either the optimized mono PP fiber (υf = 0.5% and l = 12 mm [0.472 in.]) or PTT fiber (υf = 0.1% and l = 12 mm [0.472 in.]) improved the compressive strength of 4.3% and 16.1%, and the flexural strength by 11.5% and 9.2% at 28 days, respectively. Hybrid
carpet fibers (0.4% PP + 0.1% PTT) provided a greater enhancement in compressive strength of 6.6%, and flexural strength by 13% at 28 days. Drying shrinkage mitigation of mortar over 120 days was recorded as 18.4, 22.3, and 25.8%, corresponding to the addition of 0.5% PP fibers, 0.1% PTT fibers, and hybrid PP/PTT carpet fibers. A pore-refining effect was also observed for mortars with 0.5% PP and hybrid PP/PTT carpet microfibers. The SEM images indicated that the trilobal cross-sectional shape of PTT carpet fibers had a stronger anchoring effect with cement hydrates than the rounded shape of PP carpet fibers. Nanoindentation identified the thickness of the fiber-matrix interfacial transition zone (ITZ) as approximately 15 μm (5.9 × 10–4 in.) for both mono PP and PTT fibers. Approximately 50% of the phases in the vicinity of the fiber-matrix interface comprised a porous structure at 7 days. However, the hydration of clinker over the 90-day period promoted the formation of calcium-silicate-hydrate (C-S-H) and portlandite to form a dense microstructure.