Production of reactive magnesia from desalination reject brine and its use as a binder

Shaoqin Ruan, EH Yang, C Unluer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study investigated the feasibility of producing reactive MgO cement from reject brine obtained from a desalination plant and evaluated its use as a binder in comparison to a commercial MgO. The mechanical performance of the samples cured under carbonation conditions for up to 28 days were further supported by x-ray diffraction (XRD), thermogravimetric analysis/differential scanning calorimetry (TGA/DSC) and field emission scanning electron microscopy (FESEM) analyses. Samples involving synthetic MgO revealed higher strengths than those with commercial MgO, in line with the higher reactivity of the former. The increased dissolution of synthetic MgO led to its enhanced hydration and carbonation, resulting in samples with denser structures and improved performances. The findings highlighted issues regarding the large-scale production of MgO from reject brine and CO2 emissions of this process. The major environmental impact was associated with the production of the alkali base (NaOH), which could be improved via the identification of sustainable alkali sources used during production. Overall, the production of MgO from reject brine can save natural resources and pave the way for the sequestration of CO2 as stable carbonates in cement-based mixes.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101383
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of CO2 Utilization
Early online date4 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


  • carbon footprint
  • mechanical performance
  • production
  • reject brine
  • synthetic magnesia


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