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Concrete booster could improve Australian buildings

New research about water treatment sludge from South Australia could benefit the extractive and concrete industry and bring about changes to its longevity.

Water treatment sludge has been raised as a potential option to help solve concrete sewer pipes from cracking.

The university’s Professor Yan Zhuge has led the study into the material’s application which has shown evidence that the sludge can help battle microbial corrosion and also resist acid corrosion.

“We are confident this novel self-healing concrete based on advance composite technology will address issues of sewer pipe corrosion and sludge disposal in one hit,” Prof Zhuge said.

“Industry by-products or municipal wastes that would normally be discarded in landfill sites, potentially generating pollution, may now be reused in the construction production chain.”

As part of Prof Zhuge’s research, microcapsules with a pH-sensitive shell, calcium hydroxide powder and alum sludge will be developed to be mixed into the concrete at the final stage to prevent the capsules from breaking.

When the pH level changes in acid levels, the contents of the capsule will be released.

Prof Zhuge believes the new development could benefit any industry related to concrete structures and reduce landfill waste.

“This technology will not only extend the lifetime of concrete structures, saving the Australian economy more than $1 billion, but it will promote a circular economy as well by reusing sludge that would normally end up in landfill,” Prof Zhuge says.

“Improving the concrete mixture design is the preferred method for controlling microbially induced corrosion.

“Using self-healing concrete that can seal cracks by itself without any human intervention is the solution.”

With many companies in the construction and extractive industry in Australia looking to decarbonise and lower their landfill output, the world-first project led by the University of South Australia could solve the country’s ageing concrete pipelines.


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