The construction industry is notorious for its excessive resource consumption and extensive waste generation. The construction-generated sludge (CGS) and construction-generated surplus soil (CGSS) are among the waste products that pose significant environmental challenges. While these materials can be utilized in various applications, their alkaline nature poses a risk of soil and water contamination, which can have adverse effects on plant and animal life. Additionally, the large volume of CGS and CGSS generated, coupled with illegal dumping practices, exacerbates these challenges. Consequently, there is an urgent need for innovative solutions to manage and recycle construction waste effectively.
In a recent study conducted by Professor Shinya Inazumi and his team of researchers from the College of Engineering at Shibaura Institute of Technology in Japan, a new, cost-effective strategy for utilizing CGS has been proposed. Their work, published in Case Studies in Construction Materials, focuses on the use of “aeration curing” as a solution to mitigate the environmental impact of CGS. This technique involves converting carbon dioxide to carbonate, effectively neutralizing the alkaline calcium hydroxide present in CGS.
The utilization of aeration curing offers several advantages over traditional treatment methods. Firstly, it reduces the need for additional neutralizers, such as sulfuric acid, commonly required in conventional practices. This not only reduces costs but also minimizes the use of chemicals that may have their own environmental consequences. Additionally, aeration curing results in a reduction of pH, which measures the alkalinity of CGS. The study found that higher agitation speeds, curing in a drying oven, and a larger aerated surface area contributed to a more significant reduction in pH. This indicates the potential of aeration curing as an effective and sustainable practice for CGS management and carbon sequestration.
The findings of this study have far-reaching implications across various domains. Apart from waste management in the construction industry, aeration curing can also be utilized in land reclamation and remediation. By neutralizing acidic or contaminated land, it prepares it for construction or agricultural use, thereby improving overall soil health and increasing soil yields. Moreover, the incorporation of this approach into academic curricula and research projects focusing on environmental science and engineering can contribute to exploring sustainable waste management practices.
From a broader perspective, aligning with the sustainable development goals (SDGs), aeration curing provides a practical tool for policymakers, influencing regulations and guidelines related to construction and environmental protection. However, further refinement and modeling are necessary to reflect real-world neutralization reactions accurately.
Aeration curing presents a breakthrough solution for the management of construction waste. By incorporating this technique, construction practices can align with the principles of sustainable development, reducing carbon footprints and promoting environmentally responsible practices. Moreover, the potential applications of aeration curing extend beyond waste management, contributing to land reclamation, agricultural practices, and academic research in environmental science and engineering. As we strive for a more sustainable future, aeration curing holds significant promise in revolutionizing construction practices and fostering a more environmentally conscious industry.