Using drinking water treatment alum sludge to make greener and durable concrete

8 Jan - 31 Jul 2021
University of South Australia
$541,127.00 (Cash + In kind)
Sustainable Concrete

Challenge and proposed solution

The demand for domestic and industrial water continues to increase as global population surges, economies grow, and consumption patterns evolve.

In Mainland Australia alone, approximately 400 drinking water treatment plants contribute to this demand, with each site generating up to 2,000 tonnes of drinking water treatment sludge (DWTS) annually as a byproduct of purification processes. Unfortunately, the disposal of DWTS not only comes at a considerable cost but also poses environmental risks.

To address this challenge, University of South Australia has partnered with Adelaide Brighton Cement Limited, Liberty Primary Steel, and South Australian Water Corporation to develop an innovative supplementary cementitious material (SCM) incorporating alum sludge to mitigate the corrosion of concrete sewer system induced by microbiological activities and a commercial product of concrete paver using DWTS as partial sand replacement. The project hopes to find an environmentally acceptable and economically viable solution to the acute alum sludge issue faced by water utilities and to develop a green SCM for the cement industry.


  • Adelaide Brighton Cement Limited,
  • Liberty Primary Steel,
  • South Australian Water Corporation (SA Water)