Proportioning and characterization of lightweight concrete mixtures made with rigid polyurethane foam wastes

This paper presents the results of an experimental study concerning the incorporation of polyurethane (PUR) foam wastes into cementitious mixtures in order to produce lightweight concrete. A semi-empirical method is first proposed to predict the density of fresh PUR foam-based concrete mixtures. Seven concrete mixtures containing various PUR foam volume fractions (from 13.1% to 33.7%), and two reference concrete mixtures (without PUR foam) were prepared and characterized. In particular, their thermal and mechanical properties were determined. This permitted to quantify the influence of the PUR foam volume fraction on these parameters. Some specimens were maintained under water during 28 days, while the others were dried in air. The PUR-foam concrete thermal conductivity and compressive strength are, respectively, 2–7 times and 2–17 times lower than those of the reference mixture, depending on the volume fraction of PUR foam and on the curing conditions. Besides, the use of PUR foam in concrete implies a strong increase in the drying shrinkage and in the mass loss during the first seven days. These results can be related to the high porosity and the weak compressive strength of alveolar polyurethane.