Determination of the Chemical, Physical and Mechanical Characteristics of Electric Arc Furnace Slags and Environmental Evaluation of the Process for Their Utilization as an Aggregate in Bituminous Mixtures

Materials (Basel). 2021 Feb 7;14(4):782. doi: 10.3390/ma14040782.


Road construction is an activity that demands a significant amount of aggregates for bituminous mixtures. In addition, these aggregates must be of a suitable quality for use, even more so on high traffic roads. In response to this problem, and in order to avoid the extraction of new raw materials, research is being carried out using industrial waste as a substitute for conventional aggregates. In this way, the extraction of raw materials is reduced and landfilling of waste is avoided. However, these wastes must have certain properties and environmental advantages over natural aggregates. Otherwise, the use of waste would not be environmentally beneficial but would be more damaging to the environment. For this reason, this research evaluates the viability of using electric arc furnace slag as aggregates for bituminous mixtures, the main objectives being the determination of the characteristics of the by-product, the particularities and the critical points to be taken into account for its subsequent use in mixtures. At the same time, the environmental advantages of treating this waste to obtain a usable aggregate are evaluated in comparison with the processing of a natural aggregate. The results showed that electric arc furnace slags have a suitable chemical composition and excellent physical and mechanical properties for use in bituminous mixtures, even on high traffic roads. At the same time, it was determined that their use produces a considerable reduction in environmental afflictions. Therefore, it could be affirmed that the use of electric arc furnace slags in bituminous mixtures is recommendable as a way to develop more sustainable materials for construction.

Keywords: aggregate; bituminous mixture; characterization; circular economy; electric arc furnace slag; life cycle assessment; metallurgical industry; mining waste; sustainable construction.