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AL Circle Alumina

Red Mud Recycling and its Use as Building Materials

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We all know of the problem about stockpiling Red Mud or bauxite Residue.

The dangers and disasters of red mud stockpiles are well documented along with the effect on the environment.  Alumina companies do not do much to reduce the estimated three Billion ton of Red Mud stockpiled that grows at an alarming rate of 77 Million ton per year.

Many, if not all alumina producing companies have a team of people to find a way to commercialize these waste. Extensive R&D works have been done on red mud recycling and its possible usage.  I, like many reading this, have read many papers on this subject of how this can be achieved. However, they are mostly in documents and very few of them are commercially viable.   As a self-funded individual, my work will stand against any of the research I have read till date.

Red Mud Recycling is possible in all its forms no matter where in the world it is being processed.

After years of research and experiment on waste reutilization, I have identified a few uses for Red Mud that can bring a monetary value in the range of $16 to $70,500 per ton.

Building Material

The most common among the uses of red mud is using it as a building material.  The use of Red Mud not only increases the compressive and tensile strength of products made by this method, it also serves as a colourant.

Many have said what about the elevated levels of pH in Red Mud.  Not many look at the level of pH in cement/concrete that can be up to 13pH,  The pH content of Red Mud is not more than that.

The cement/concrete has a higher cost than the Red Mud while being used as a building material. Red Mud is also ideally suited as an additive to: Alkali Activated Material.  The high pH of Red Mud helps the chemical reaction to aid adhesion and setting time.

red mud usage red mud usage 2 red mud usage 1

Various uses for Red Mud as a building product are, but not limited to the follows:

  1. Colourant
  2. Bricks
  3. Paving Slabs
  4. Roof tiles
  5. Block paving
  6. Pipes
  7. Bollards
  8. Benches
  9. Litter bins
  10. Sea defenses
  11. Central reservation dividers
  12. Kerbs
  13. Any other cement/concrete construction as well as road and driveway bases

A further benefit from using Red Mud as a building product is, it eliminates a phenomenon called Efflorescence. None of the samples (Images above) show any characteristics of Efflorescence.

Red Mud can be used as a colourant to be mixed with resins to produce products with more decorative appeal than just cement/concrete. They can be aesthetically used in kitchen worktops, bathroom shower trays, fire surrounds etc.

Elimination of Efflorescence

Efflorescence has been a visually distressing problem since we moved from caves to building our own homes.  Efflorescence is seemingly endemic with all types of concrete paving and its presence on a recently laid patio or driveway can disappoint the homeowner. Efflorescence is a crystaline deposit on surfaces of masonry, stucco or concrete. It is whitish in appearance, and is sometimes referred to as whiskers.

red mud flooring tiles slab wth cement

In the photos of slabs we made from red mud we see no signs of efflorescence unlike these black slabs made with the same water, cement and aggregate. A sand substitute made from industrial waste can actually eliminate efflorescence as shown in our test pieces.  This sand replacement costs no more than normal building sand and can be available as sharp sand for road and paving bases. Whilst this is only suitable for coloured products it eliminates an age old problem.

Plant base

Red Mud can also be used as a base for growing plants.  We have been told a number of times that nothing will grow on Red Mud. However, with just a piece of toilet tissue as a filter seeds grow quite happily on a base of Red Mud. Also to make an advanced growing medium, red mud can be mixed with sewage; this has the effect of neutralizing each other and forms a growing medium or soil additive.

We are now in a position to offer our services in the recycling of Red Mud. Our core products are made in the majority with Cement or on occasions with Alkali activated materials or Geopolymer with either 8 to 13 ph Red Mud or Neutralized Red Mud. We are offering a free service for the removal and recycling of Red Mud. Samples of our products are available for free but to manufacture sample pieces we require 50 to 100 kilo of Red Mud shipped to UK to manufacture samples.

I hope readers will find this of interest.  It is by no means everything that can be produced from red mud. Enough studies have been done till date for reutilization of red mud and its time we think about commercializing them.  This will not only offer a viable solution to an age old environmental issue but also offer commercial benefits.

(Gary J McNeish is a 58 year old, self-funded businessman from Manchester UK.  He specializes in finding solutions to waste problems such as ethanol, cellulose fibers, bio coal/mass, and pulp for papermaking from sewage.  He has also done commendable work on extracting building materials from carbon block from the pyrolysis of waste tyres, low energy lighting, recycling of Red Mud etc. AlCircle however, has not checked the effectiveness of his project and applications. The article is published for general information purpose only. To know more on his project you can mail him at:  garyjmcneish@gmail.com )

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1 comment

  1. Jayantibhai vishnuprasad Bhatt

    Gujarat credo mineral industry produces 10,000mt 4a synthetic Zeolite by Bayer process from Low grade Bauxite of Gujarat.
    we generate red mud of 50tons perday. we have given to near by cement plant for additive. but final commercial order is not finalized.
    we want to put commercial use of the red mud .
    communicate how much trial sample is needed for commercial viable building itemto be marketed in kutch district of Gujarat.

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