Valorization of sewage sludge in the fabrication of construction and building materials: A review

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 2020, 154
Issue Date:
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© 2019 Elsevier B.V. With increasing amount of sewage sludge becoming an urgent and inevitable issue for every country, its applications in the production of construction and building materials provide an alternative solution for sludge disposal and resource recovery. Similar to clay and Portland cement, the main oxides in sewage sludge are SiO2 (10–25 %), Al2O3 (5–10 %) and CaO (10–30 %) which are increased in sludge ash after incineration to 25–50 %, 10–20 % and 15–30 %. Therefore, this solid waste can be utilized not only as raw material for the production of eco-cement, bricks, ceramic materials and lightweight aggregates through sintering process, but also as supplementary admixtures in cementitious materials such as pozzolanic component, fine aggregate or filling material. By critically reviewing current utilizations of sewage sludge, it is feasible to replace up to 15 % natural raw materials with sewage sludge in cement production and the manufactured eco-cement clinkers show comparable performance to traditional Portland cement. Whilst as raw feed in the fabrication of bricks, ceramic materials and lightweight aggregates, 20 % of sewage sludge substitution is acceptable to produce good quality products (within 8 % firing shrinkage and 15 % water absorption). Though high content of organic matter in raw sludge causes a decrease in mechanical strength and delay in hydration process, controlled low-strength materials offer an innovative reuse with large amount of sludge. The immobilization of heavy metals in products prevents sewage sludge causing secondary environmental pollution. Furthermore, suggestions for future research are proposed in order to strengthen the high value-added applications of sewage sludge.
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