Expert Ilyasov noted that the use of polymer waste plays a special role in this direction.
Road construction and improving the quality of roads are an integral part of economic development around the world since highways are the main segment of international transport and transit corridors. Appropriate innovation is also essential for protecting the environment and overcoming the ecological crisis. The topic was touched upon by Allaberdy Ilyasov, Doctor of Technical Sciences, Director of the branch of the Westport Trading Europe Limited, in an interview to CentralAsia.news.
He noted that polymers, in particular, products of polypropylene, polyethylene, and rubber waste can play an important role in the above direction.
Our readers can ask the question «And what have polymers got to do with it?». To answer, first, it is necessary to discuss the ecological situation, which is related to the topic raised, stressed Ilyasov.
Safety of polypropylene and polyethylene
Polypropylene and polyethylene are among the safest materials for human health and the environment. It is for this reason that containers, packaging, disposable dishes, and other items contacting with food are produced of them.
Now more than 30 different polymers are considered available, and due to their unique physicochemical, structural, and technological properties, polymeric materials are widely used in various areas of the national economy, in the textile industry, agriculture, medicine, construction, etc.
Polymer production is one of the fastest-growing industries. The first polymer production in Turkmenistan was established at the Turkmenbashi Complex of Oil Refineries (TCOR) together with a consortium of several Japanese companies. Now polypropylene occupies one of the leading places in the list of products manufactured by TCOR, and among its consumers are Japan, Russia, Turkey, Iran, China, and other countries.
And in 2018, a large gas chemical complex was built in Turkmenistan. It became the first enterprise of a similar profile in the Central Asian region. The complex is designed for the annual processing of 5 billion cubic meters of natural gas and the production of an assortment of finished polymer products — 381 thousand tons of high-density polyethylene and 81 thousand tons of polypropylene and other products in demand in the domestic and foreign markets.
With the growth in the production of polymer products for various applications, the issue of further disposal of this type of waste becomes acute. Obsolete plastic materials are usually landfilled, but, being virtually non-degradable, cause enormous damage to the environment. For a long time, it was believed that it is practically impossible to obtain and use recycled polypropylene, but nowadays, enterprises for the processing of polymer waste are located in many countries of the world.
There are already promising technological developments in waste processing in Turkmenistan. And this is a very relevant idea in modern business. For example, in 2010–2011, Westport Trading Europe Limited (USA) built a plant for the production of polymer products. The uniqueness of this technology is that the raw materials used in the production of products are literally under our feet. This is polymeric waste in various forms: packaging, plastic containers, deteriorated household products.
Use of recycled products
The scope of use of recycled polypropylene and polyethylene products is so large that there should be no doubts about its marketing since the assortment is diverse. For example, the production of clothing. It becomes a real competitive advantage, and advanced brands seek to emphasize it. In particular, sports. Recycled plastic is used to make recycled polyester found in T-shirts, jeans, and other casual wear. Tables, chairs, benches, and other furniture made of plastic look no less elegant than wood. In addition, such furniture is not afraid of dampness, fungi, insects, it is unpretentious and durable. Plastic furniture is suitable not only for home but also for the street.
In general, the production of polymer products is increasing from year to year. These are bottles, cans, cans, trays, pallets, packages, labels, film, scotch tape, partitions, various ceilings, signs, lightboxes, nets, gratings, folders, artificial grass coverings, filter tubes, and many other products. Recycling of plastic waste is global in scale, requiring more and more new approaches to this problem. Due to the very low decomposition rate of many polymeric materials, including polypropylene and polyethylene, there is a problem of environmental pollution with solid household and industrial waste.
Recycling polypropylene and polyethylene waste is a very urgent task. The main directions of disposal are the processing of waste into polymer raw materials and its reuse to obtain products. Along with the introduction of the latest technologies, Turkmenistan pays great attention to the compliance of its products with environmental safety requirements.
Protecting and improving the environment for present and future generations have become the most important goal of humanity. The negative impact on the environment is felt most acutely. It can cause an environmental crisis. One of these factors of environmental pollution is the waste of polymer products. The recycling of plastics is now of great economic and environmental importance.
Bitumen production in Turkmenistan
One of the main advantages for the environment is the use of recycled materials as a component in the construction of road surfaces. One of the key materials in road construction is petroleum bitumen. It is a viscous black product with low electrical and thermal conductivity, water and gas tightness, and resistance to chemical reagents. It is these valuable qualities that make it indispensable for road construction.
In 2016, a modern technological unit for the production of road bitumen was put into operation at the Seydi Oil Refinery. The newest unique technology from Turkmen oil makes it possible to obtain road bitumen that meets international quality standards.
This product is classified into liquid and viscous types. The main function of these materials is to firmly bond the components and create quality roads. Bitumen is a stable dispersed system. It is possible to regulate the properties of bitumen by changing its structure with additives. As a result of backing up the best bitumen-additive ratio, it is possible if necessary to improve one or more properties of the finished bitumen material.
Technology that extends the service life of bitumen
In 1995, a bitumen plant was put into operation at the Turkmenbashi Complex of Oil Refineries. But today, at this Unit it is possible to introduce an innovative technology that is completely different from the technology of the Unit for the production of bitumen at the Seydi Oil Refinery using local waste propylene and polyethylene as modifiers with minimal financial costs. And here polymers for bitumen are the best modifiers — these are special additives that extend the service life of bitumen due to their additional properties, and contribute to the formation of a strong bond between bitumen and the surface of the material.
Currently, the world has experience in the industrial development of several environmentally friendly, durable polymer compositions. The introduction gives the bituminous formations the ability to resist oxidation and atmospheric aging makes them more elastic and heat-resistant.
Use of tires in bitumen production
Bituminous composites can use different types of polymers, thereby increasing their reuse, including wastes of rubber products, for example, old car tires. Currently, there are several technologies for the recycling and disposal of used car tires. These technologies involve grinding tires to create crumb rubber and powder. The most common is the method of mechanical processing with the production of crumb rubber and steel cord.
The involvement of recycled tire products, such as crumb rubber, into the economic circulation, solves several problems in the field of road construction and the production of high-quality highly resistant materials. The use of recycled polypropylene and polyethylene as a bitumen modifier will make it possible to obtain a polymer-bitumen binder mixture, which, in comparison with conventional bitumen, will have a wider temperature range of operability and have elastic properties.
Rubber waste — a source of quality raw materials
No reduction in rubber production is foreseen shortly. Therefore, rubber waste is an almost inexhaustible source of high-quality elastomeric raw materials for improving the properties of binders. Using fillers for various functional purposes, it is possible to obtain composite materials with predetermined properties. Rubber, being an elastomeric material with a unique set of properties, is a particularly large-tonnage product of chemical technology, one of the end products of the oil and gas processing chain, which is widely used in various industries.
Advantages of polymer-bitumen binder
The scale of the production of rubber products is extremely large and the scale of the generated rubber waste is also large. Polymer-bitumen binder is a new material that surpasses petroleum road bitumen in characteristics, performs the function of a binder in the production of asphalt concrete mixtures used in the construction, reconstruction, and repair of roads, bridges, and airfields.
Such a coating has new properties: the service life increases by 5-10 years, the period between repairs — several times; the cost of repair and maintenance is reduced by 10 times; wheel slip decreases; drainage properties are improved in the rain, ice; the coating becomes more elastic, does not crack and sag.
Overcoming the environmental crisis
The task of humanity is to save the biosphere, atmosphere, and earth’s interior. Consistent implementation of the environmental policy of the head of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, in particular, measures to modernize industrial facilities, ensures a confident, dynamic development of the national economy. The natural resources of the Earth, including air, water, land, flora, fauna, and especially representative samples of natural ecosystems, must be preserved.
To overcome the ecological crisis and to successfully solve the environmental problems that have arisen, it is necessary to green the economy and production, and transition to a post-industrial environmentally-oriented civilization. And this requires a new system of knowledge, built on a unified theoretical basis and going beyond the traditional framework of biological ecology. The requirements of such a position are incomparably more complicated than the tasks of environmental protection, they are not limited to reducing the flow of pollution.
Eco-friendly road construction in Turkmenistan
In recent times, the road network of Turkmenistan has significantly changed. Every year more and more new highways, bridges, and interchanges are put into operation. The construction of the Ashgabat-Turkmenabat highway is underway. And the use of waste polypropylene, polyethylene, and rubber products, the creation of modifiers for the production of high-quality road bitumen is one of the solutions to preserve the ecology of Turkmenistan.