Development of novel synthetic turf infill materials
Harper, Richard Eugene
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Mitigation of health and heat-build-up issues related to black, granulated crumb rubber infill (GCRI) in synthetic turf fields (STF) while maintaining acceptable impact absorption properties was the central goal of this study. The first step was establishing a STF baseline performance of GCRI samples that originated from several sources while elucidating the synergistic parameters between infill and turf that promulgate acceptable impact performance. Based on the knowledge base built on the GCRI-STF standard, three polymeric waste streams selected for their benign chemical contents, non-black colors and competitive low costs were evaluated as alternate turf infill materials: post-consumer carpet broadloom (PCCB), post-consumer carpet tile (PCCT) and recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) drink bottles. For ground PCCB carcass (the base on the carpet construction remaining after the face fibers were removed), the heterogeneous composition of unconfined fine particles and remaining short fibers prevented sufficient material integration to allow sufficient impact energy absorption. The ground PET homogeneous particles alone lacked sufficient impact absorption capabilities, and their synergistic interactions with the turf blade yarns were not sufficient to meet specified levels of impact performance. Only the PCCT infill crumb possessed a heterogeneous structure that effectively filled the STF to yield sufficient impact cushioning comparable to standard GCRI. In conclusion, PCCT was shown to be a technically-viable candidate for GCRI infill replacement, warranting further development to bring it into closer cost competitiveness to GCRI and ensure long-term wear and weathering performance in synthetic turf.