Red sludge

Well, actually, it\’s called \”red mud\”.

At least one person was killed after the dam of a sludge reservoir at a big alumina factory in western Hungary burst, flooding parts of two villages. Three people were missing and 10 were taken to hospital, two of them with serious injuries. Ambulance workers said they treated 60 people, as many as 10 of whom had serious injuries, and also confirmed one had died.

And it\’s horrible stuff too. The problem isn\’t that it\’s \”sludge\” or mud, it\’s that it\’s a mixture of mining wastes (roughly equivalent in composure to \”dirt\” to use the technical phrase, a mixture of iron oxide, alumina and various silicates) and caustic soda.

Fresh out of the plant it has a ph of 13 or so. Sufficiently caustic or alkaline to cause serious damage to anything that might fall into it.

And there\’s millions upon millions of tonnes of this produced each year around the world. Current treatment is to let it sit in these lagoons for a decade or two until it weathers, then stick earth on top and plant it.

Our current project in the day job is to change this. To devise a system whereby those bits which are valuable are taken out and valued, leaving behind an inert waste: essentially the silicates, or as they\’re more commonly known, sand.

In fact, we\’ve devised such a system and technically it works. What we\’re not sure about is whether it works economically: we\’re waiting for the funding to run a pilot plant to check that out. The basic idea has been around for decades, we\’re just adding something from our knowledge store to what everyone else already knows and it might just be that which tips it over into financial sensibleness.

I wouldn\’t say that this is an example of a right wing blogger having created something, no, for nothing has as yet been created. But we are at least attempting to turn ourselves into the world\’s largest recycling company (by tonnage that is).

1 thought on “Red sludge”

  1. maybe neutralising the solution then electrolysing it might a)reduce the potential harmfulness and b)give you some sell-able by-product.

    but that is a serious maybe…

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