Usability of Treated Wastewater in Concrete Essay Example


Usability of Treated Wastewater in Concrete

Usability of Treated Wastewater in Concrete


The concept of the sustainable environment affects a majority of industries in the production department. One amongst the issues raised by environmentalist is the need to realize active utilization of available resources for their continued benefits to the society. Water is one of the crucial and scarce resources, requiring a conscious effort in its use. Koci, Rocha, and Zakuciova (2016) introduce Circular Economy (CE) which seeks to enhance a countries economy through the efficient use of resources and energy resources. In particular, CE seeks to tap energy present in the waste material through a recycle and reuse process with an aim to influence economic growth through maximizations of available resources. In line with CE mission, is the treatment of waste water and use its utilization in other productive areas. Researchers on wastewater treatment present its application in the agricultural fields; however, this essay identifies its use in concrete as a building material. Important areas developing the discussion include concrete and its preference as a building material, treating wastewater and treated water in concrete production.


The infrastructure within a society is a function of the availability of building materials and their cost-effectiveness, especially in a time of economic crisis. Civil engineers in their research to discover construction materials, continue to improve the availability and quality of available resources. According to Concrete (2017), concrete is one of the widely available materials whose use dates back in history. In particular, the societal dependency on the material for infrastructure follows the particular advantages conceivable from its use. Concrete (2017) discusses the specific advantages which develop an understanding of its position as a preferred construction material. To begin with, Concrete (2017) mentions of its strength following its constituent properties. Concrete consists of three elements of sand, cement, and water. Based on Concrete (2017), suitable concrete has the characteristics of low moisture content, minimal aggregate, and a higher ratio of cement compared to the other elements. However, the determination of the ratios of the elements includes an engineer’s input and the particular construction site. The important factor contributing to its strength is the drying property which is a function of the moisture content reacting chemically and influencing a stronger binding of the sand to the cement (Constructorator, 2015; Concrete, 2017). Constructorator (2015), suggests that concrete continues to gain strength with each passing year making reducing the probability of reconstruction which also provides the advantage of resource conservation.

Concrete contributes to environmental benefits with the examples of allowing easy seepage of natural water to the ground, minimizing erosion and flooding, and resistance to natural disasters such as hurricanes and tornadoes (Concrete 2017). Moreover, Constructorator (2015) presents the advantage of safety in concrete construction generated from its inert properties, prevention of entry of pollutants and provides optimal temperature balance. Constructorator (2015) includes the safety advantage of resisting weathering making it suitable for all-weather conditions. Economically, apart from cost saving with the reduction in maintenance, Constructorator (2015) discusses the energy efficiency of concrete structures. The thermal mass provided through concrete allows the active harvesting of natural energies such as the solar energy proving close to 20% of the total construction cost. Moreover, through concrete, there is the ability to maximize the optimal energy performance significantly cutting energy cost to about 29% (Constructorator 2015). To highlight the energy-saving realized through building with the material, Constructorator (2015), presents the examples of a 20% to 25% saving registered by the Cobalt Engineering Report and a 59% energy saving report by the University of British Columbia.

Concrete (2017) mentions different types of cement performing a different function in enhancing the properties of concrete. The imperative is the structural differences and chemical compositions of the cement that together increase the preference of its use by the designers, builders, and engineers (Constructorator 2015). Moreover, Constructorator (2015), includes the abilities of different types of cement to reduce the rates of carbon IV oxide emission. An example is the substitution of the conventional cement with those made from limestone meeting the green building rates as well as increasing the recyclability of the product (Constructorator 2015). The constituents of concrete enhance the recyclability of its products contributing to a sustainable environment. Constructorator (2015), identifies that the process of making concrete begins and ends with a recycle mechanism. More specifically, many waste products including industrial byproducts are utilized in the cement kiln as components necessary in making cement (Constructorator 2015). In addition, the reusability of used concrete realizes the manufacturing of construction materials of rock aggregates and granular materials. Therefore, the presented benefits of concrete outperform other materials such as wood.

In representing the use of concrete and its suitability in construction is the case of the Eureka Tower in Melbourne, Australia. In regards to Kable (2017), the building is 52, 724 ft² constructed on a reclaimed land. In particular, using concrete as its material of construction, the building has a strong foundation supporting its 984.3 ft² high and 91 floors. It specific features ranks it among the leading tallest residential towers engineered by competent professionals in various fields. Based on Kable (2017), the construction materials for the special floor include both reinforced and pre-stressed concrete. Total concrete for the entire building amounts to 110,000 tons accounting for the 150mm slab thickness, 800mm deep perimeter beams, and supporting the 200,000-ton weight of the building Kable (2017).

Treating Wastewater

Koci et al. (2016) identify waste as a considerable burden in the environment especially regarding its adverse effects to the population. However, it is important to dispose of the waste with a minimum amount of energy and materials in reducing its effects to the environment. In light of the mission in CE, waste management aims to utilize the material flows in recovering as many benefits as possible from these wastes as part of resource management initiatives. However, the effective recycling and reuse of waste is a function of the type of material as it also dictates the method of tapping the waste flows. The imperative in managing the recycling process is the balance of the input to generate an output following the argument by Koci et al. (2016) that the technologies consume fuels and energy which are scarce resources.

Wastewater is a rich type of waste although its composition varies from one municipal to another (Koci et al. 2016). Despite the differences, the main constituents are the biodegradable components containing a variety of useful nutrients with the examples of nitrogen and phosphorus. According to Koci et al. (2016), these nutrients are useful in making fertilizers applied to boost the agricultural production. Moreover, Koci et al. (2016) identify the application of CE as being central in realizing other usefulness of these waters including energy generation and material recovery. The treatment process includes an incineration stage of the sludge from the sewage where heat in the form of energy becomes recovered (Koci et al. 2016). The remaining substance is an ash composed of the toxic and useful minerals although in a reduced mass. According to Koci et al. (2016), the ash stage presents a challenge in the recovering process of the useful material, especially since their concentration is low is the sludge phase of the treatment process.

Treated Wastewater in Concrete

Water is essential for the process of cement manufacturing as one of the materials producing concrete. Based on Reddy, Babu, and Reddy (2011), the quality and quantity of water determine the properties of the cement as well as that of the concrete. Proper concrete requires appropriate calculation of the ratio of the constitutive element to ensure its meeting the advantages discussed. Mixing of concrete requires portable water without the heavy metals. Wastewater is untreated water containing high amounts of nutrients both beneficial and harmful such as the heavy metals. However, Reddy et al. (2011) present that a treatment process of the water can allow its use in a cement mixer and concrete making having effectively removed the harmful chemicals. The particular importance of water in the mixing process is the provision of viscosity and hardening through cementing both the gravel and sand through a chemically reactive process.

Koci et al. (2016) explain the process of wastewater treatment where the incineration of the sewage occurs in large plants such as cement kilns that require high energy to operate. In this case, the treated water provides an alternative form of obtaining minerals such as phosphorus. Although phosphorus is extensively utilized in the making of fertilizer, it helps improve the quality of concrete where its application helps conserve light energy through a thermal absorption property and illumination. Moreover, following the test by Reddy et al. (2011), the use of treated wastewater generates more strength on the concrete in the initial 3- 7th days of application. Moreover, the treated water reduces the setting time for cement. The particular advantage of the water to the concrete is the availability of useful minerals in relatively high concentration following the filtration process.


In summary, sustainable environment requires the active participation in effective utilization of resources including water. Water being a scarce resource makes its necessary to improve its recyclability and reuse for a various advantageous purpose like the making of concrete. Wastewater, being rich in minerals presents a resourceful channel of material flow especially of the main minerals of nitrogen and phosphorus. Concerning the advantages of treated wastewater in concrete, the typical application includes the mixing of cement and concrete to enhance the strength of the material in construction. Moreover, the availability of phosphates in the water enhances the thermal properties of the building and energy conservancies.


Concrete, S. (2017). Why concrete is better?. Retrieved from

Constructorator. (2015). Reasons why concrete is used to build commercial properties. Retrieved from

Kable. (2017). Eureka Tower, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Retrieved from

Koci, V., Rocha, J. L., & Zakuciova, K. (2016). The concept of Circular Economy applied to CCS, Waste and Wastewater Treatment Technologies. In International Conference on Sustainable Energy & Environmental Science (SEES) Proceedings. Global Science and Technology Forum, 80.

Reddy, M. B., Babu, R. G., & Reddy, R. I. (2011). Effect of heavy metal present in mixing water on properties and sulfate attack on blended cement mortar. International Journal of Civil and Structural Engineering, 1(4), 804.