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Stabilization/solidification (S/S) is commonly applied to treat heavy metal-contaminated soils through the use of lime and ordinary Portland cement (OPC). Recently, reactive magnesia (MgO) has emerged as a novel binder for S/S of heavy metal-contaminated soils; however, a comprehensive comparison between MgO, lime (CaO), and OPC for S/S application is still missing. This study compares the S/S efficiency of MgO, CaO, and OPC for soils contaminated by six individual heavy metals (Pb, Cu, Zn, Ni, Cd, and Mn) through unconfined compressive strength (UCS) test, one stage batch leaching test, and microstructural analysis. The addition of binders can transform soluble heavy metal salts to insoluble hydroxides and their complexes, and hence the leachability of heavy metals decreases. However, the level, to which the leachability can be reduced, is highly pH dependent. Contaminated soils treated with MgO have pH of 9-10.5, at which the leachability of Pb and Zn is much lower than that of OPC- or CaO-treated soils with pH of 10.5-13; for example, the leached Pb and Zn from MgO-treated soils are only 0.1%-3.3% and 0.1%-9.4% of those from OPC-treated soils, respectively. On the other hand, the leached Cd and Mn from OPC-treated soils are 0.1%-28.5% and 0.1-10.7% of those from MgO-treated soils, respectively, due to the high pH and the formation of calcium silicate hydrate (CSH) in OPC-treated soils. OPC and CaO are more effective than MgO in decreasing the Ni leachability at high original concentrations, but less effective at low original concentrations. For all soils except those contaminated by Zn, the OPC generally produces a much higher UCS, up to two orders of magnitude, than the CaO and MgO. The results of study indicate that no single binder can treat all types of heavy metal-contaminated soils perfectly, and the selection of binder is a site-specific problem.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: The Science of the total environment
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