Using red sand in road construction could avoid carbon emissions.

11 December 2013 — Curtin University’s Sustainable Engineering Group has made a breakthrough that could change how Western Australia builds roads.

A team from SEG demonstrated that red sand could be used as a viable, more sustainable alternative to virgin sand and limestone in road construction.

Red sand has previously been considered as an unusable waste product from the extraction of alumina from bauxite ores. Alcoa’s three WA refineries produce about 30,000 tonnes of red mud and 18,000 tonnes of residue sand a day, which combine to make up red sand.

Using red sand in road construction would significantly reduce the need for quarries to extract virgin sand or limestone, the Curtin researchers said.

The benefits of using red sand for roads (based on use of 600,000 tonnes a year over 35-years) include:

  • avoiding around 66,200 tonnes of CO2 emissions
  • conserving around 407 hectares of land, with corresponding preservation of vegetation and biodiversity
  • reduced costs of $18 million to the construction industry and potentially many more millions, depending on the fate of the federal carbon tax

WA’s Department of Main Roads has conducted trials of red sand on a section of Greenlands Road, which connects the Forrest Highway to the South Western Highway at Pinjarra.

Red sand could be commercially available from as early as next year.

One reply on “Red sand could pave the way to more sustainable roads”

    This has got to be the con of the decade.
    Red mud is TOXIC WASTE and Curtin are trying to sell this as an environmental solution. Love the picture nothing like what a red mud tailing dump looks like or smell like for that matter.
    Better still the taxpayer will foot the bill when Red sand could be commercially available? what a joke! the taxpayer would then have to foot the bill for the removal and clean up after.
    Toxicity from red mud leaching is causing problems through leaching into the water table in India, Europe and other areas where Alumina is processed.
    Curtin is being naive and irresponsible here and dancing to the music of the processors who are looking for commercial gain with a masked quick fix.
    There is a technology available in India from a company called Quantum Applications in Mumbai that addresses this very issue and extract valuable resources from the waste with minimal low energy input and instead of emitting carbon dioxide it actually expels oxygen. Now that’s what I call scientific breakthrough! not beating the drum to the call of the funders for your program. ,
    Please investigate all avenues.

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