A new green technology that recycles photovoltaic glass fines into a material as partial replacement for sand in concrete is being developed in Melbourne in a sustainability-first for Australia.
Application of the partnership’s ‘cutting-edge research’ can conserve raw materials used in concrete production while minimising its carbon footprint according to lead researcher, Dr Massoud Sofi from the University of Melbourne.
Dr Sofi also said it will reduce the depletion of sand in the streambed and along coastal areas which cause ecological issues. His colleague, Professor Priyan Mendis, said they are focused on developing specific applications of the PV glass-based concrete materials.
Research to date has revealed that PV glass fines (small glass particles generated from grinding the glass) can be effectively used as a partial replacement for sand in concrete, according to the UoM team.
In 2020, OJAS was awarded a $3 million Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) project grant which will see a PV module upcycling plant in Victoria fully operational by the end of 2023. It will be processing end-of-life PV modules using an innovative separation technology from Europe that will recover clean glass, silicon cells and polymer from PV panel waste. It is expected that the plant will be supplying materials by that stage, and OJAS has revealed plans to roll out similar plants across Australia, with a focus on developing a nationwide network.