Sustainable Geotextiles for Transportation Applications from Recycled Textiles

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CAIT project no.: CAIT-UTC-NC43

Fiscal Year: 2015/2016

Status: Final

Rutgers-CAIT Author(s): Christopher Meehan, Ph.D., Patrick Szary, Ph.D, Colleen Morrone

Sponsor(s): USDOT-FHWA, Goodwill Industries of Delaware and Delaware County


The goal of this research is to develop useful geotextiles from a sustainable, cheap input source — waste stream apparel and textiles. The anticipated outcomes of this research are identification of transit applications for geotextiles that have lower installation and removal costs and hence reduced life cycle costs for highway and bridge construction, repair, and maintenance operations. Previous research with Goodwill of Delaware and Delaware County (Goodwill) has shown that their unsold textiles come in a variety of material types and volumes — cotton, polyester, wool, and mixed blends of fibers for example. For this research project we will cooperate with Goodwill to gain access to discarded textiles. Discarded textiles will be sorted by material type. The textiles will be processed using several methods (1) joining existing textiles into a single fabric through a variety of seaming techniques, (2) shredding the textiles to make “shoddy” a fiber product, and (3) using shredded textiles as an input to manufacture nonwovens.

A literature review of the existing performance and cost of geotextiles and geosynthetics (including fibers) will be made for transit applications. This will be written up in a report for owners and eventually shared in a webinar at the end of the project. The developed textiles from recycled inputs (joined, shoddy, and inputs for nonwovens)  will be tested for their performance depending upon their transit application end use. The textiles with the best performance will be evaluated to assess their ability to scale up into manufacturing processes including identifying processing limitations and costs.