New twist in tale of glass
Sand has been an essential ingredient
in glass-making for hundreds of years, but in a new twist, students
at The University of Auckland are turning glass bottles back into
sand for commercial use.
Three fourth-year engineering
students: Jeff Mison, Angela Lee and Joshua Wong, will help Waiheke
Island residents with their waste disposal problems as well as
eventually provide a new commercial product for sale, by recycling
their glass bottles into sand.
They are working with the Waiheke
Waste Resource Trust, which originally wanted the students to
investigate ways of reducing the cost of shipping bottles back
to the mainland.
Waiheke’s 8,000 permanent
residents produce 100 tons of bottles per month, at a cost of
$100 per ton for shipping.
As well as eliminating this cost,
the sand the team will produce has a host of commercial applications
from use in certain types of cement, mortar and plaster, to asphalt
and sports turfs.
This project is part of a new
community service initiative to be formally launched at The University
of Auckland’s Faculty of Engineering.
Four groups of students are involved
in the Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS) program.
Auckland is the first university outside the United States to
run an EPICS program.
Another group, also working with
the Trust, may eventually help Waiheke residents sidestep rising
fuel prices and further waste disposal problems by converting
their used cooking oil into biodiesel. They have succeeded in
doing this and started testing the biodiesel in an engine.
A further team of engineering
students is working to automate the rotation of Auckland’s
iconic Stardome. Another is looking at water conservation and
treatment at Auckland Zoo, the largest user of water in Auckland.
Dr. Heather Silyn-Roberts, EPICS
program director at the Faculty of Engineering, says that EPICS
projects are long-term and run over several years. Next year,
new interdisciplinary groups of predominantly fourth-year students
will build on the progress achieved this year.