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Engineering Properties and Construction Applications of Phosphogypsum

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The fertilizer industry, in producing phosphoric acid from phosphate rock deposits has a by-product of 4.5 to 5.5 tons of phosphogypsum for each ton of phosphoric acid produced. Relatively little of the by-product is currently utilized; and the handling of vast quantities (worldwide annual production currently is about 150,000,000 tons) of this waste material is causing serious problems in many countries of the world. In some countries new fertilizer plants have been prohibited or existing plants have been ordered closed because of the lack of stockpiling space and other environmental problems. As a measure of the stockpiling and conservation problems, Central Florida alone is estimated to have stockpiles exceeding one billion tons by the year 2000. A great challenge lies ahead to find better uses for the land holding these stockpiles; and to conserve non-renewable resources by finding new uses for the stockpiled material. An attempt is being made herein, to point a way towards the ideal of finding large tonnage uses for phosphogypsum in its in-situ (stockpiled) unpurified state.

The construction industry is one of the world’s largest industries; and it is an industry that exists almost everywhere. Recent research related to the engineering properties of unpurified phosphogypsum alone and in various stabilizing mixtures, and a number of recent successful construction industry applications, indicate the future potential for the utilization of very significant quantities of the basic material. The authors have brought together the primary available data on tests of engineering properties and have presented the current state-of-the-art on construction applications. These data should also be of assistance and an incentive for further construction industry applications and for future creative research related to the utilization of phosphogypsum.

The authors wish to especially acknowledge and express appreciation to the Florida Institute of Phosphate Research for their sponsorship of much of the research reported herein, and their sponsorship of the Symposium and Workshop Proceedings which included many of the references in this volume.