Novel Eco-Friendly and Recycled Composites for Improved CA Road Surfaces

California is a world leader for safer, cleaner, and environmentally friendly vehicles, manufacturing, and technology. Yet our roadways, bridges, and infrastructure are still constructed from the same mined materials – asphalt, concrete, and steel – and using the same polluting production facilities as commonly employed in many developing communities. This is despite the overabundance of useable plastic composite waste that must be exported to oversea landfills from our state every year. The question is, can these high-performance plastics already located inside our borders be recycled into a viable, durable, and environmentally friendly material for improved road surfaces for California? This research project will specifically address SB1 objectives 2 and 3 for cost-effective materials, methods, and advanced solutions for the application of the new materials, designs, and technologies to facilitate roads and bridges via three specific aims (i-iii):

  1. Examining cost-effective recycled plastic reinforced composite materials for reducing road and bridge rehabilitation and maintenance of surfaces.
  2. Developing a finite element fatigue and wear virtual simulation specifically for plastic composite materials to address long-term road and bridge wear in order to identify the most common maintenance needs without requiring expensive and time-consuming tests.
  3. Experimentally testing select recycled composite coupon specimens and validating the simulation in (ii) and updating the research in (i) for long-term benefits and anticipated life-cycle costs.

With our student researchers, we will identify (i), address (ii), and propose solutions (iii) to implement novel eco-friendly recycled plastic composites as a viable a solution for improved California road surfaces during this 1-year period of performance (PoP) and use this topic to seek additional external funding for continued research in recycled composites supporting CA SB1.

Principal Investigator: 

Daniel Whisler

PI Contact Information:
California State University, Long Beach

Project Number: