Friday, April 1, 2011

Concreting for GNH

Gross National Happiness four pillars which every high school kid is suppose to know by this time. But even then, let me put them here:
1. sustainable development 
2. cultural integrity 
3. ecosystem conservation
4. good governance.

Out of these four, Civil Engineers can only work on two, sustainable development and ecosystem conservation. But in order to work on Ecosystem Conservation, Civil Engineers have to die out of hunger. But since Civil Engineers are always the bargainers, why not work on some of the ideas which would not kill Civil Engineers out of starvation and on the same hand the environment is less damaged.

I however feel that any construction is always a wound given to mother nature. And though many argue over Hydro Power being eco-friendly, I kind of feel that even it does disturb eco-system of that particular region. For example, when Itaipu dam was built, not only animals had to migrate, but humans too had to migrate. Even though rest of the world don't care much about nature, Bhutan somehow holds it's ground and plans to have its forest cover by 72% of the region. 

I am not going to give you guys the full data of this project:

This was a project that was done after my second year, and was done in College of Science and Technology (CST).  66 cubes of 15x15x15 cm and 33 cylinders of 10x20cm were casted. 
I thank my friends who helped me beat up the glass and I am also thank ful to those handful, who came once in a while to mix concrete. When the project was completed, I had lost 10 kgs in 11 days (the period of mixing). So, why did I do this project? 
I was fascinated with these facts, that I will show you here:

The following are some the points what we should know about the glass:

·         Out of 200 million tons of disposed solid waste in States in a year, 7% consists of glass, i.e., 14 million tons.
·         Out of manufactured glass i.e. 12.5 million tons in a year, 3.7(29.6%) million tons are recycled.
·         Every two weeks, Americans dispose of enough of glass bottles and jars to fill up both towers of the former World Trade Centre.
·         A modern glass would take 4000 years or more to decompose and even longer if it’s in landfill.
·         Recycling one bottle can run a 100 watt light bulb for four hours, causes 20% less air pollution and 50% less water pollution than making a new bottle from raw materials.
·         25% of bottles and jars are recycled glass.
·         There are two types of glasses in market, coloured and colourless. Colourless glasses are recycled effectively, whereas the coloured glasses are generally dumped into landfill sites.
·         We save over a ton of resources for every ton of glass recycled 1,330 pounds of sand, 433 pounds of soda ash, 433 pounds of limestone, and 151 pounds of feldspar.
·         Every ton of waste glass recycled into new items saves 315 kg of carbon dioxide.

So, waste Glass was grounded first and then mixed in concrete, in certain portions and when I got the results, I was a happy man. One kg of waste broken glass would cost around Rs. 2 in Jaigon. The result said that the strength of normal M20 concrete can be increased by 20% and we could save cement by 25 to 30%. In the year 2009, when we had Tech fest in our college, here in NIT Warangal, I presented this paper. Sadly, I came on 5th position but I also got Rs. 500 which paid for my three days meal and One plate of Special Chicken Biryani. I had actually spent Rs. 8000 from my own pocket. 

My father is a supportive man, and I am grateful to him. I am also grateful to the Family of CST especially Mr. Om Kafley, Mr. Ugyen Tenzy and Dr. Choki Dorji for guiding me and providing me with materials and their labs. For, if you do one cube test under UTM in CST, one cube would cost you Rs. 200. For me, however I didn't have to pay for that. I am really grateful to Mr. Ugyen who is lab Technician in concrete lab and he probably knows more about concreting than any Engineering student. 

Usually, I am asked where can I use this? According to Christopher Charles Benninger, in his Thimphu Structure Plan, he has Proposed Norzin Lam to be pedestrianized. And what more can I say? If this mix is used, then it also frees our 10% of Landfill area. And this mix is not colour biased, meaning, we can either use colour less glass or coloured glass, doesn't matter at all. So the main proposal would be to use in creating Pavement Blocks on the pedestrians. 

And even if Norzin Lam is not going to get pedestrianized, we can always use it for side walks, and free our 10% of landfill areas. This September or October, me and my friends have planned to work on this however, and this time, we are planning to work on how can we convert M20 grade of Concrete to M25. For that, funding is the problem and we are planning to raise funds ourselves. We thought of doing temporary jobs and pay for this project. And again, since we are going to graduate, we have responsibilities to shoulder now and RCSC to write. We however are not sure, whether our nominal distribution graph would be on our side or not. But surly, we can make use of the waste materials which not only occupies an amount of space in our landfills but also takes 4000 years to decompose. This way, we can contribute a little to GNH which we always talk about. If you are a Civil Engineer and want to work on it, please let us know. But, you should be graduating this year. And I still pray that my best friend Namgay Dorjee shows up for the experiments. Till then, it's myself, and two of my other close friends from CST who have planned to take up this project, Namely: Ugyen Penjor(Don) and Sonam Tenzin (Tsheku)
After the compressive strength test


This was 75 Micron size glass powder, this however needs further testing.

Please do comment and let me know regarding this. For I want to improvise more on the work. Rest articles I don't want much of feedbacks, but I do want to know about this one. Thank you. 


  1. Dawa, it sounds like a wonderful project.

    Some tips you might want to take note of for financing of your project. I can think of two offices you may want to get in touch with:-

    (1) Druk Holding Investments (DHI)
    (2) Liason Office of Denmark (LoD)

    I know LoD has funds for promoting entreprenuership and DHI is working on such a fund but you might want to write to them anyway.

    Good luck and will be following developments.

  2. First of all, I am very grateful to know that Sir actually made time to read my Post.

    And Thank you for your advice la. Thank you once again la.

  3. Though Hydro electric doesn't produce smoke, ash or radiation it has ill effects on the aquatic life. As for as american they are the major part in polluting enviornment....

    I haven't worked much on concrete but there are many among my class who has worked on concrete, I can check back with them. check ASCE and NCE journals for other parameters. You can join ASCE society its free for students only you have to give your HOD details...

    About funding if you are doing this experiment in your coll you will get funds from IISc, My project and some of them in my class are funded by them ( I am sorry , I don't know much about Bhutan ) Only you have to submit a proposal once they approve you can start.

    Ha ha...sorry about your 10kgs . I would say every civil engineer who chooses experimental will loose some amount of weight by the time they finish...

    Take care

  4. Thank you anu. Your advises are great.
    I have slightly work on it previously in a Bhutanese college, the only B.Tech college. And even if my results are good, it is not going to contribute anything to NIT Warangal for it has achieved its own height. I however want to work in Bhutan so that my friends and I can contribute to our society out there. and if we can convince our people, then something is going to happen. here, if i do it, then it is just going to be a mere page in some few Journals. Haa haa..

  5. Great idea. And brother, u write very well.

  6. Hey man, I enjoyed going through your blog. You have some very entertaining stories. And this is quite an interesting idea. I wonder if you are still working on it. A quick google search however says glass contains 15% alkali which needs to be countered with lithium or something to reduce the negative effects of ASR, which if I remember from durability classes, is not good for concrete. I am quite sure you are aware of this. If you are still working on this project, let me know, since I would like to help out as our landfills are overflowing.

  7. i am still working on it.. i have the new readings.. on it.. but please do mail me at

    looking forward to work with you. take care.