Waste product into water

Scientists at the University of Glasgow are working to turn a toxic industrial waste product into a material, which can be used to treat contaminated water. A team from the university’s School of Chemistry, in partnership with The energy and Resources institute (TERI) in New Delhi, has found encouraging signs that a substance known as ‘red mud’ could be carbonised to make it safer. The carbonised red mud could also be used to remove heavy metals from water.

Red mud is a byproduct of the Bayer process, an industrial procedure, which extracts alumina from bauxite ore. Alumina, also known as aluminium oxide, is most often used in the industrial production of aluminium. The mud is given its characteristic red colour through its high concentration of iron oxide.

The Bayer process produces around twice as much red mud as alumina, and around 120 million tonnes of red mud are created each year around the world. Red mud is highly alkaline, making it dangerous to handle, and difficult to dispose of. Instead, it is most often kept in large open-air holding ponds

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