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New research collaboration in Brazil will explore uses for bauxite residue

Hydro has signed a BRL 2.2 million agreement with the University of São Paulo to research more-sustainable alternatives for bauxite waste in civil construction.

Bauxite residue disposal area in Brazil
A bauxite residue disposal area in Brazil.

The two-year agreement is aimed at using bauxite residue from Hydro’s mining operations in the State of Pará in the construction industry, more specifically in the cement components sector.

The research will focus initially on using this waste in the production of cement floors that prove to be advantageous from the environmental point of view and throughout their life cycle. Other uses in the construction sector will also be identified and developed during the project.

The research will be conducted by the Laboratory of Microstructure and Eco-efficiency of the Department of Civil Construction Engineering of the Polytechnic School of University of São Paulo (USP).

More-sustainable alternatives

"We have invested heavily in the search for more-sustainable alternative uses for bauxite residue. The partnership with the Polytechnic School of the University of São Paulo reinforces our reach and portfolio in research and development. This group of researchers is internationally recognized for its work with this type of waste and for the development of eco-efficient cementitious products," says Marcelo Montini, senior chemical consultant in Hydro's technology area and coordinator of the agreement.

According to Professor Rafael G. Pileggi, coordinator of the project, "The Laboratory of Microstructure and Eco-Efficiency of Materials at USP's Polytechnic School is one of the international leaders in sustainability of cementitious materials, with extensive experience in the use of mining and urban waste as raw material for the production of eco-efficient components throughout their life cycle."

Boosting the local economy

The agreement will prioritize solutions with great potential for waste consumption, meeting the needs of the municipalities where Hydro has operations in Pará, that are economically and environmentally competitive and that boost the local economy.

The introduction of these new products in the market is also an opportunity to generate new business, employment and income, promoting development of the region. The use of alternative raw materials such as bauxite waste has the potential to reduce the carbon footprint and contribute to the sustainability of the cement industry, which today is responsible for 10% of CO2 emissions in the world.

Besides Professor Pileggi, the project relies on the LME's senior researchers Roberto César de Oliveira Romano and Markus Samuel Rebmann, and involves graduate, undergraduate, and technical students.

Elena Brito Pantoja

Elena Brito Pantoja

Communication and Public Affairs

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