Coloured waste glass can be used to produce material that removes pollutants from contaminated water

October 8th, 2011 by University of Greenwich

A simple method to convert waste glass into a material which can be used to remove pollutants from contaminated water has been developed by Dr Nichola Coleman from the University of Greenwich’s School of Science.

Dr Nichola Coleman and Cameron Abercrombie from the University of Greenwich (click image to expand - image courtesy University of Greenwich)

Nichola Coleman, a Senior Lecturer in Materials Chemistry at the university’s Medway campus says: “The novelty of the research is that the glass can be recycled into something useful – nobody has previously thought to use waste glass in this way.”

She is finding a new use for the large quantities of coloured glass which are being stockpiled in the UK as there is less recycling demand for green and brown bottles than there is for clear bottles.

crushed bottle glass at the States Works facility at Fontaine Vinery (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

Her simple processing method creates tobermorite, a naturally occurring mineral, hydrated calcium silicate, by combining waste bottle and jar glass (cullett) with other basic materials.

A mixture of ground glass, lime and caustic soda (sodium hydroxide) is heated to 100 degrees Celsius in a sealed stainless steel container to produce the tobermorite. The mineral, which can be produced as a powder or granules, can be used to absorb toxic heavy metals such as lead and cadmium from industrial effluent, waste water streams, or contaminated groundwater streams.

Nichola is now looking at creating other types of filter and forming barriers that could prevent pollutants spreading from contaminated areas.

Details of the research, “A tobermorite ion exchanger from recycled container glass,” have been published in the International Journal of Environment and Waste Management.


1 Response to “Coloured waste glass can be used to produce material that removes pollutants from contaminated water”

  1. Dr Nichola Coleman

    Many thanks for reporting our research on the recycling of waste glass. My colleagues and I, at the School of Science, University of Greenwich, would be happy to visit your schools in Guernsey to give lectures on our research to your A Level science students and to discuss ‘student life’ at university in the UK. We welcome invitations from Head Teachers or Heads of Science, who can contact us via the University of Greenwich website:

    Best wishes,

    Dr Nichola Coleman

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