Scientists from the Parker Coop erative Research Centre (CRC) and the CSIRO Light Metals Flag ship have created the Bauxite, Residue and Disposal Database (BRaDD), which aims to promote research into possible uses for the material.
Bauxite residue, commonly known as red mud, is a by-product of alumina processing from bauxite ores.
According to the Parker CRC, the alumina industry has never found a successful large-scale commercial use for the residue.
Consequently, the majority of this waste material, which has been pro duced constantly over the last 117 years, has been disposed of in landfill areas.
The BRaDD project was devel oped to find viable and environmen tally sound solutions to these large volumes of residue.
The database contains all avail able public information on the residues, including current profiles of 90 bauxite- processing alumina refineries across six continents.
According to the project’s team leader, Dr Craig Klauber, the data base is “an invaluable research and planning tool” to document the impacts and uses of bauxite residue.
“BRaDD provides the first ever worldwide picture of bauxite residue management, disposal and storage,” he said.
“Because of this system, we now know the worldwide inventory of bauxite residue reached two billion tonnes in 2000.
“At the current growth rate of 120 million tonnes per annum, this will double by around 2015.”
According to Klauber, the data base documents where the material has been disposed and how much is at each location.
“This is critical information when researching options for residue use, because these will only succeed if a local need can be met with a local source,” he said.
The residue can be used as an ingredient in concrete and road base, as well as in agricultural additives for soil problems.
The project also aims to help estab lish standards for storage and reha bilitation practices.
Klauber hopes alumina companies will submit their own information to ensure the database reaches its full potential.