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Make bricks with butts.

An Iranian researcher at RMIT University in Australia has demonstrated how bricks made with cigarette butts can save energy, not to mention denting a global littering problem.

Trillions of cigarettes are produced every year worldwide, resulting in millions of tons of toxic waste being dumped into the environment in the form of cigarette butts. As butts have poor biodegradability, it takes many years for them to break down, while heavy metals such as arsenic, chromium, nickel and cadmium trapped in the filters leach into soil and waterways.

Now a team at RMIT University led by Dr Abbas Mohajerani has demonstrated that bricks with as little as 1 percent cigarette butt content can cut brick production costs and help the environment.

Mohajerani, a senior lecturer in RMIT's School of Engineering in Melbourne, Australia, said: "I have been dreaming for many years about finding sustainable and practical methods for solving the problem of cigarette butt pollution.

"About 6 trillion cigarettes are produced every year, leading to 1.2 million tons of cigarette butt waste," he said. If just 2.5 percent of the world's annual brick production incorporated 1 percent cigarette butts, we could completely offset annual worldwide cigarette production."

Mohajerani's team discovered that adding butts can cut the energy needed to fire bricks by up to 58 per cent.

Mohajerani is a civil engineer who got his BS at Shiraz University, his MS at North Carolina State University and his PhD at the University of Western Australia.

He said fired-clay bricks incorporated with cigarette butts are also lighter with better insulation properties--meaning reduced household heating and cooling costs.


Importantly, bricks incorporated with 1 per cent cigarette butts maintained properties very similar to those of normal bricks. During firing, heavy metals and other pollutants in cigarette butts are trapped and immobilized in the bricks, reducing problems caused by leaching.

Mohajerani said: "Incorporating butts into bricks can effectively solve a global litter problem as recycled cigarette butts can be placed in bricks without any fear of leaching or contamination.

"They are also cheaper to produce in terms of energy requirements, and as more butts are incorporated, the energy cost decreases further."

Now, someone has to get out there and collect those butts.

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Title Annotation:Diaspora: Around the globe)
Publication:Iran Times International (Washington, DC)
Date:Jul 1, 2016
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