Palaszczuk Government funding is helping a Queensland mining company turn the dust produced in sawing sandstone into an environmentally friendly cement product suitable for use in building everything from airport runways to nuclear waster containers.
Minister for Innovation, Leeanne Enoch, said today that North Burnett-based Eidsvold Siltstone had received $56,400 in Ignite Ideas funding to work with QUT researchers in determining how the fine talc-like powder produced from sawing sandstone into blocks could be turned into metakaolin, a cement strengthener commonly used in Europe and the United States.
“Eidsvold Siltstone is thinking outside of the square in exploring ways to turn a product that is normally waster into a potential export business,” Ms Enoch said. “This is a Regional Queensland company that has identified an opportunity to lead the way in technology advancement equivalent to what is being achieved in Europe and the States, aiming not only to ensure its own commercial success but also ensure employment growth in the district.”
Eidsvold Siltstone managing director Michael Whitty said that Ignite Ideas funding had helped him identify the optimal minute particle size the dust needed to be reduced to and the temperature needed in the kiln to produce the most reactive metakaolin.
Mr Whitty said the dust needed to be finer than cement powder but not as fine as silica fume.
“The idea goes back to 2014 when I shipped some rock samples to the Geopolymer Institute in France,” Mr Whitty said. “They immediately jumped on it, tested it, and told me that I have an excellent precursor for geopolymer cement and asked if I have a business plan for it. Suddenly we have a market for our by-product which would increase profitability of our pebble tumbling which is a by-product in itself from our main business of cutting and selling stone.”
Geopolymer cement, sometimes referred to as “E-crete”, reduces the embedded carbon dioxide by at least 60 per cent compared with traditional Portland cement, and can be used for airport runways, underground grouting operations in mining and civilian tunnelling and the encapsulation of nuclear waste. It relies on minimally processed natural materials or industrial by-products to significantly reduce its carbon footprint, while also being very resistant to many common concrete durability issues.
Mr Whitty said metakaolin was widely used in structural cement in Europe and America instead of flyash because of a range of advantages including increased tensile and strength and reduced shrinkage.
“My immediate task is to develop this metakaolin to a point that satisfies our very potential export market,” Mr Whitty said. “We can be leading the way in Australia and try and keep up with a growing international trend in the geopolymer cement market.”
The Ignite Ideas Fund is part of the Palaszczuk Government’s $420 million Advance Queensland initiative designed to develop new products and create jobs.
The government has so far supported 203 Queensland businesses through $26.5 million of Ignite Ideas funding over three rounds of the program’s merit-based assessment process – driving more that 1000 jobs.
For more information on the program and its recipients visit the Advance Queensland Ignite Ideas Fund webpage (http://advance.qld.gov.au/industry/ignite-ideas-fund.aspx).
Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy
Minister for Small Business
Hon Leeanne Enoch MP