Prospects for Paper Sludge in Magnesium Phosphate Cement: Composite Board Properties and Techno-Economic Analysis


This study investigated the feasibility of utilizing paper sludge (PS) as feedstock in the production of composite boards that are lightweight, durable and environmentally friendly. PS samples were collected from recycled newsprint (RN), corrugated recycled (CR) and virgin pulp (VP) pulping mills in South Africa. The PS was dried and mixed with magnesium phosphate cement to produce boards in a central composite design. Three different fillers including fly ash, calcium carbonate and silica fume were also added to the mix as binder replacement. The PS was characterized before use, and the produced composite board was evaluated for mechanical and physical properties. The boards produced had medium to high density (0.52—1.12 g/cm3) that could be used for non-structural interior applications. The results showed that boards containing RN had the highest mean value for modulus of elasticity (MOE) of 769 MPa. The mean MOE for boards containing CR- and VP-PS was 357 and 411 MPa, respectively. Calcium carbonate had the best effect on the board properties. Techno-economic analysis was simulated for four different types of feedstock scenarios at different locations including a combined scenario. Sensitivity analysis revealed that decreased feedstock cost resulted in decreased minimum required selling price. The analysis also revealed that the combined scenario proved to be the most cost-effective and profitable option for the future.

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Availability of data and material

The data used and/or analyzed during the study are available from the corresponding author on request.


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The authors would like to thank the Paper Manufacturers Association of South Africa (PAMSA) in conjunction with Kimberly-Clark (Pty) for the scholarship received by the first author.


Funding for this study was provided by the Paper Manufacturers Association of South Africa (PAMSA) in conjunction with Kimberly-Clark (Pty).

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LT and JG conceived the study. All the authors designed and coordinated the experiments. AC performed the experiments and drafted the manuscript. SA, LT and JG reviewed the manuscript. SA corrected and revised the manuscript. All authors approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Luvuyo Tyhoda.

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Chimphango, A., Amiandamhen, S.O., Görgens, J.F. et al. Prospects for Paper Sludge in Magnesium Phosphate Cement: Composite Board Properties and Techno-Economic Analysis. Waste Biomass Valor (2021).

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  • Biocomposites
  • Board properties
  • Paper sludge
  • Phosphate cement
  • Techno-economic analysis