ECU researchers recycling face masks into asphalt
GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) -Local researchers are exploring ways to turn disposable face masks into roadway reinforcements.
Construction Management students and faculty at ECU are working with the NCDOT to improve roads by adding plastic fibers from recycled masks to asphalt to help harden the surface.
The process involves shredding medical masks and adding the material to hot asphalt over 300 degrees which turns the plastics into liquids.
When they cool and re-harden the polymers can help prevent rutting in asphalt which are the tire grooves that often form on busy roads.
Researchers say the approach could improve road safety and protect the environment.
Dr. Jodi Farrington, Construction Management professor says, “What we’re trying to do is come up with an alternative that might help the longevity of the product as well as try to help get rid of that horrible plastic mass that’s out in the ocean.”
Tests so far have shown promising results and the researchers hope to begin large-scale testing over the next year.
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