Making stronger concrete with ‘sewage-enhanced’ steel slag

Magnified images showing concrete made with treated slag (centre), conventional aggregates (left) and raw slag (right). Magnified images showing concrete made with treated slag (centre), conventional aggregates (left) and raw slag (right). The treated slag forms a more seamless bond with the cement paste, making the concrete stronger.

Researchers have shown how a by-product of steel making can be used to both treat wastewater and make stronger concrete, in a zero-waste approach to help advance the circular economy.

Researchers have shown how a by-product of steel making can be used to both treat wastewater and make stronger concrete, in a zero-waste approach to help advance the circular economy.

Produced during the separation of molten steel from impurities, steel slag is often used as a substitute aggregate material for making concrete.

Steel slag can also be used to absorb contaminants like phosphate, magnesium, iron, calcium, silica and aluminium in the wastewater treatment process, but loses its effectiveness over time.

Engineering researchers at RMIT University examined whether slag that had been used to treat wastewater could then be recycled as an aggregate material for concrete.

The concrete made with post-treatment steel slag was about 17% stronger than concrete made with conventional aggregates, and 8% stronger than raw steel slag.

Water engineer Dr Biplob Pramanik said the study was the first to investigate potential applications for “sewage-enhanced” slag in construction material.

“The global steel making industry produces over 130 million tons of steel slag every year,” Pramanik said.

“A lot of this by-product already goes into concrete, but we’re missing the opportunity to wring out the full benefits of this material.

“Making stronger concrete could be as simple as enhancing the steel slag by first using it to treat our wastewater.

“While there are technical challenges to overcome, we hope this research moves us one step closer to the ultimate goal of an integrated, no-waste approach to all our raw materials and by-products.”

/RMIT University News Release. This material comes from the originating organization/author(s)and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. The views and opinions expressed are those of the author(s).View in full here.