In the wake of the recent tragic earthquake in Nepal I'd like to discuss a concept that could be beneficial for rebuilding, particularly in areas prone to earthquakes in the future. A civil engineer and professor at California State University, Yu-Fu Ko has been developing a way to use textile waste to reinforce building infrastructure.
At the present building practices rely on the diminishing resources of timber, reinforced concrete and steel and are reinforced using Carbon-fiber reinforced polymer composites, a material that is expensive and can be hazardous to workers who produce it through inhalation.
As it is millions of tons of clothing and textile materials are thrown out every year, including unusable items donated to charity shops. These materials even if stained and in disrepair can be recycled and reused for a variety of purposes such as making cloths and insulation.
In Ko's project textile waste would be mixed with a bio-derived resin that could equal the strength of Carbon-fiber polymer composites as reinforcement with less detriment to the environment. Ko is also working on methods of other materials in creating stronger and more resistant structures such as carbon nanotubes. With many countries and cities located on fault lines at risk of regular or intense earthquakes we hope that these innovations may be helpful to protect future homes and communities. Ko's creativity is another great example of how useful recycled products can be!