In an effort to preserve sand, the world’s second most-used natural resource, University of Queensland PhD candidate Danish Kazmi has developed a sustainable solution to reduce its use in construction.

Kazmi is investigating the use of crushed waste glass as an alternative to sand for ground improvement in construction, potentially providing a sustainable and cost-effective solution.

It is estimated that nearly one million tonnes of waste glass is stockpiled annually in Australia, and its disposal has become an environmental challenge due to its limited end-uses and non-biodegradable nature.

“Both sand and waste glass have a similar chemical composition, so we expect them to behave similarly when optimally used in geotechnical construction,” he says.

“My research looks at the performance of waste glass within ground columns as an environmentally friendly alternative to sand columns that are commonly used at the moment.

“These waste glass columns are designed to strengthen the earth below a building and improve its load-bearing characteristics.”

waste glass ground improvement construction
Image credit: Danish Kazmi

Kazmi has found using waste glass in this way not only preserved precious sand resources and promoted closed-loop recycling, but it could also reduce the carbon footprint of the construction industry by cutting down on the amount of sand that needed to be quarried.

“I have always been passionate about helping to create circular economies,” he says.

Kazmi was one of only 30 PhD students selected for the prestigious UQ Global Change Scholars program in 2018.

His work focuses on building an eco-friendly future through sustainable construction practices with technical benefits, and is guided by PhD supervisors professor David Williams and Dr. Mehdi Serati.

After winning the UQ School of Civil Engineering’s Three-Minute Thesis (3MT) competition, Kazmi competed in the Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology (EAIT) 3MT Finals in August 2019, taking home the People’s Choice Award.

Each of UQ’s 3MT Faculty competition winners will compete in the 2019 UQ 3MT Finals at Customs House in Brisbane on Wednesday 18 September 2019, including EAIT’s Charmaine Lamiel from the School of Chemical Engineering.