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ISSE Seed Project: Developing Sustainable Technologies for the Beneficial Reuse of Bauxite Residue

Team: Baoshan Huang and Qiang He, Civil and Environmental Engineering

2014-2015 Report

The extraction of alumina, a necessary step in aluminum production, generates bauxite residue as a hazardous waste material. At an estimated production of 120 million tons per year, bauxite residue has caused severe soil and water pollution worldwide, particularly in China, now the largest producer of alumina.

picture of meeting attendees
Project initiation ceremony in December 2014. From left: Prof. Huang, Prof. Reed, Prof. Cox, Prof. Nie, Mr. Hu, Prof. He

Professors Baoshan Huang and Qiang He, both affiliated with ISSE, traveled to China in the summer of 2014 for site visits and met with stakeholders to explore potential solutions. In December 2014, the research team hosted a delegation from China Hebei Research Institute of Construction and Geotechnical Investigation (HBKC) led by Professor & Chief Engineer Qingke Nie and Chief Geotechnical Engineer Jianmin Hu. With the support of ISSE and CEE, HBKC agreed to sponsor an international collaborative research effort to develop sustainable technologies for the beneficial reuse of bauxite residue. This $400,001 project, initiated in January 2015, aims to develop innovative high-volume applications of bauxite residue as materials for civil infrastructures and the management of acidic waste streams. More importantly, this project seamlessly integrates research with education by actively engaging undergraduate students in laboratory studies at UT and pilot testing at HBKC in China.

picture of student with Chinese researcher
CEE undergraduate student John Keyser conducting geopolymer research with Chinese engineers July 2015 at HBKC in Shijiazhuang, China