Characterization of controlled low-strength material obtained from dewatered sludge and refuse incineration bottom ash: Mechanical and microstructural perspectives

Guangyin Zhen, Xueqin Lu, Youcai Zhao, Jing Niu, Xiaoli Chai, Lianghu Su, Yu You Li, Yuan Liu, Jingru Du, Toshimasa Hojo, Yong Hu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Potential reuse of dewatered sludge (DS) and municipal solid waste incineration (MSWI) bottom ash as components to develop controlled low-strength material (CLSM) was explored. The effects of DS:MSWI bottom ash:calcium sulfoaluminate (CS-A) cement ratio and thermal treatment of MSWI bottom ash at 900°C on the mechanical and microstructural properties of CLSM were intensively studied to optimize the process. Results showed DS and MSWI bottom ash could be utilized for making CLSM. The CLSM prepared with milled MSWI bottom ash gave higher unconfined compressive strength (UCS) of 2.0-6.2MPa following 1 year of curing at 1.0:0.1:0.9≤DS:MSWI bottom ash:CS-A≤1.0:0.8:0.2. However, the corresponding strengths for CLSM containing thermally treated MSWI bottom ash ranged from 0.7 to 4.6MPa, decreasing 26-65%. The microstructural analysis by X-ray powder diffraction (XRD), Fourier transforms infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR), as well as scanning electron microscopy (SEM) combined with an energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS) revealed that ettringite (C3A·3CS-·H32, or AFt) crystals were the most important strength-producing constituents which grew into and filled the CLSM matrix pores. Milled MSWI bottom ash addition favored the formation of highly crystalline AFt phases and accordingly enhanced compressive strengths of CLSM specimens. In contrast, thermal treatment at 900°C produced new phases such as gehlenite (Ca2Al2SiO7) and hydroxylapatite (Ca5(PO4)3(OH)), which deteriorated the pozzolanic activity of bottom ash and caused the strengths to decrease. Leaching tests evidenced that leachable substances from CLSM samples exhibited negligible health and environmental risks. The results of this study suggested that MSWI bottom ash can be effectively recycled together with DS in developing CLSM mixtures with restricted use of CS-A cement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-189
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Nov 5


  • Controlled low-strength material
  • Dewatered sludge
  • Municipal solid waste incineration bottom ash
  • Unconfined compressive strength

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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