JIS News

The National Works Agency (NWA) is looking into the possibility of using the red mud derived from alumina production in the construction of roads across the island.
Engineer in charge of materials and soil research at the NWA, Vivian Blair, told JIS News in an interview that the agency has already gone through one aspect of the research process working in conjunction with the Scientific Research Council and the Bureau of Standards Jamaica.
He disclosed that investigations so far have shown that the mud can be stabilised using geopolymers.
“Geopolymers are some complex polymers (compounds) of aluminum silicates that you mix with the red mud and it stabilises the red mud. It is really cutting edge technology,” Mr. Blair explained.
The engineer informed that the agency will now be moving into the pilot phase, which entails testing the material at a site in St. Elizabeth. This phase is expected to end by April this year. If the tests are successful, Mr. Blair said the initiative could result in savings on road construction and repair.
“We can treat the waste and use it in road construction, so there should be savings there, because you are using a material that is normally a waste in the road construction process,” he pointed out.
The red mud project is one of two initiatives the NWA has embarked upon in a bid to find alternative and cheaper materials to be used in road construction. The other measure, which is already on stream, involves the use of a product called Pavezyme to construct several roads, which were recently completed.
Mr. Blair explained that the agency has been able to save money using Pavezyme as it allows road builders to use the existing materials at the site to form the base of the road.
“We’ll rip up the existing marl and we add this product to it and it stabilises the existing marl and then we re-lay it and compact it and then we surface it with asphalt, concrete or whatever material we want to use on it,” he outlined.

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