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EYE ON CHINA
NCKU researcher develops new use of reservoir sediment
Yi-Chong Liao, a young researcher from Department of Resources Engineering at National Cheng Kung University (NCKU), southern Taiwan, has discovered the capacity of calcined zeolite to absorb nitrogen is better than that of natural zeolite when he recycles water reservoir sediment for zeolites.

He said, “Water reservoir sediment in Taiwan precipitates with a mean amount of 14 million metric tons annually. Developing zeolites from water reservoir sediment can solve the huge amount of precipitating sediment, about 4.33 million metric tons per year. ”

Since zeolites can be applied for gas purification, adsorption of heavy metal ions, and used as catalyst, Liao’s investigation provides an alternative for consuming the precipitating sediment and also raises the economic value of reservoirs.

The product, zeolite, can be not only applied in agriculture for fertilizer enhancement, soil moisturizing, and as a pH controller, but in industry: for remediation of heavy ions pollution, water purification, waste gas control, radiation absorbent and additive of spinning fiber.

Liao explained, “Water reservoir sediment with high water content has fine particle size and contains silicon and aluminum elements from the weathering of natural rocks without any heavy metal ions.”

The huge amount of sediment greatly shortens the usage life of water reservoirs and causes landfill problems. One solution is to use the sediment to manufacture lightweight aggregates (LWAs) which can be used as ingredients in the manufacture of lightweight aggregate concrete for the construction of high-rise buildings, according to Liao.

Liao’s research has proposed a procedure to produce LWA made of fine sediments, which were dredged from the Shihmen Reservoir in the northern Taiwan.

He noted that the research originated from a new concept of recyclable reservoir sediment and he sees the sediment as materials can be reprocessed to something new. He has extended the use of reservoir sludge to develop zeolite minerals.

The application is expected to benefit many, including the areas of agriculture, aquaculture and chemistry, according to Liao.

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