Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 26, Issue 9, pp 9123–9136 | Cite as

Migration characteristics and toxicity evaluation of heavy metals during the preparation of lightweight aggregate from sewage sludge

  • Rundong LiEmail author
  • Tianchu Shu
  • Yanlong Li
  • Feiyuan Fang
  • Tianhua Yang
Research Article


A lightweight aggregate (LWA) was manufactured from municipal sewage sludge, gangue, and coal ash. The product performance and environmental safety of the sintered material were evaluated by changing the sludge blending ratio and sintering temperature. The distribution and migratory transformation characteristics of heavy metals in LWA were examined by BCR sequential extraction in combination with inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES). The environmental safety performance of LWA was comprehensively evaluated by the OPTI index for the first time. The leaching concentration of the heavy metals Pb, Ni, Cu, and Zn in raw materials without sintering reached 1.17, 1.6, 7.84, and 7.56 mg/L, respectively, far exceeding the regulatory threshold value. At 1250 °C, sintering with 60% sludge content resulted in Cu and Zn leaching concentrations of only 0.41 mg/L and 0.37 mg/L, respectively. Furthermore, a big portion of heavy metals were in the residual fraction of sintered LWA. The proportion of comprehensive pollutant toxicity index is only 199.17. Additionally, the mechanical properties of sintered LWA exceed the standards stipulated in the GB/T1743.1-2010 standard. Using sewage sludge to manufacture lightweight aggregate is not only environmentally safe but also produces LWA with good engineering characteristics.


Lightweight aggregate Sewage sludge Engineering properties Heavy metal BCR sequential extraction OPTI 


Funding information

This research was financially supported by the “National Key Research and Development Program of China (project no. 2017YFC0703100)” and “National Natural Science Foundation of China” in the form of a research grant (no. 51576134).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rundong Li
    • 1
    Email author
  • Tianchu Shu
    • 1
  • Yanlong Li
    • 1
  • Feiyuan Fang
    • 1
  • Tianhua Yang
    • 1
  1. 1.College of Energy and Environment, the Key Laboratory of Clean Energy in Liaoning ProvinceShenyang Aerospace UniversityShenyangChina

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