Stabilization and solidification of arsenic contaminated silty sand using alkaline activated slag

Komaei, Alireza and Noorzad, Ali and Ghadir, Pooria (2023) Stabilization and solidification of arsenic contaminated silty sand using alkaline activated slag. Journal of Environmental Management, 344. 118395. ISSN 0301-4797 (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2023.118395)

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Abstract

Contamination of soils by arsenic represents a significant environmental and public health risk, making effective remediation strategies a pressing concern. One commonly employed technique is stabilization and solidification, which involves the addition of stabilizing binders such as cement to immobilize arsenic. This study investigates the potential of alkaline activated slag for stabilization and solidification of arsenic-contaminated soil, employing the toxic characteristic leaching procedure (TCLP) and unconfined compressive strength (UCS) tests. To assess the strength and leachability behavior, the research examines the effect of several factors, including binder content, curing time, curing conditions, alkaline activator solution to slag ratio, sodium silicate to sodium hydroxide ratio, and sodium hydroxide concentration. Additionally, field emission scanning electron microscopes (FE-SEM) in combination with energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS) and X-ray diffraction (XRD) tests are employed to analyze the stabilization and solidification mechanism. The study shows that increasing the slag content to 20% by weight after 28 days of curing at ambient temperature leads to a decrease of almost 92% in the concentration of leached arsenic and an increase in UCS from 80 kPa to approximately 19 MPa. The formation of albite and anorthite crystals, along with gels such as (N, C)-A-S-H and C–S–H, contributes to enhanced strength and reduced leachability. As a result, the use of alkaline activated slag is identified as an effective and environmentally friendly approach for the stabilization/solidification of arsenic-contaminated soils. This study highlights the use of alkaline activated slag as an effective solution for remediating arsenic-contaminated soils while simultaneously reducing waste, greenhouse gas emissions, and energy consumption. Slag, a byproduct of metal production, is often wasted due to a lack of value and landfill space. However, alkaline activated slag demonstrates the potential to stabilize soil, immobilize heavy metals, and provide efficient and sustainable soil remediation.