Mitigation of High Alkalinity in Leachates of Aged Steel Slag
Davis, Allen P
Aydilek, Ahmet H
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Steel slag, an abundant by-product of the steel-making industry, after it is aged, has a huge potential for use as an aggregate in road construction. However, the high pH of steel slag seepage (pH≥12) is a major impediment in its beneficial use. Analyses on aged steel slag samples demonstrated that the alkalinity producing capacity of aged steel slag samples strongly correlated to Ca(OH)2 dissolution and that prolonged aging periods have marginal effects on overall alkalinity. Treatment methods that included bitumen-coating, bathing in Al(III) solutions and addition of an alum-based drinking water treatment residual (WTR) were evaluated based on reduction in pH levels and leachate alkalinity. 10% (wt./wt.) alum-based drinking water treatment residual (WTR) addition to slag was determined to be the most successful mitigation method, providing 65−70% reduction in alkalinity both in batch-type and column leach tests, but final leachate pH was only 0.5−1 units lower and leachates were contaminated by dissolved Al(+III) (≥3−4 mM). Based on the interpretation of calculated saturation indices and SEM and EDX analyses, formation of calcium sulfoaluminate phases (i.e., ettringite and monosulfate) was suggested as the mechanism behind alkalinity mitigation upon WTR-modification. The residual alkalinity in WTR-amended slag leachates was able to be completely eliminated utilizing a biosolids compost with high base neutralization capacity. In column leach tests, effluent pH levels below 7 were maintained for 58−74 pore volumes worth of WTR-amended slag leachate using 0.13 kg compost (dry wt.) per 1 kg WTR-amended slag on average; also, dissolved Al(+III) was strongly retained on the compost.