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Published by Balaji Alagu

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Published by: Balaji Alagu on Jan 05, 2012
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Balaji A+918056822019balaji280191@hotmail.com
For centuries, since the discovery of OPC(Ordinary Portland Cement) the constructionindustry has been using it as a majorconstruction material due to itsextraordinary properties as a good binder onthe addition of water, development of strength with time and its outstandingdurability on exposure to atmosphericconditions. But everything has its own goodand bad, so is the case with OPC. It isconsidered to be a serious atmosphericpollutant. Studies have shown that one tonof carbon dioxide gas is released into theatmosphere for every ton of Portland cementmanufactured. The so called “blendedcements” using ingredients such as fly ash,silica fume and metakoalin etc. helped insuppressing the CO
emissions, but theworld is still in need of some other newtechnology to bring down the globalwarming. Scientists have involved insynthesizing new materials of constructionwithout increasing the carbon level in theatmosphere. Geopolymer is one suchmaterial that has been found and it isanalogous to cement in its properties.Geopolymers are materials that are obtainedby alkali activation of natural pozzoloans orpozzoloans, which has binding properties.They are considered eco-friendly as theirproduction does not involve any CO
 emission and has been used widespread inthe construction industry recently. Many of its special properties such as rapid hardeningand gain in strength at early stages andresistance to chemicals etc. have attributedto its use as a new construction material. Butit has its own limitations as a bindingmaterial when compared to ordinaryPortland cement in strength, application anddurability. Studies have been carried out inthis field and the following are discussed inthis paper. The raw materials involved in thegeopolymerization process and theconceptual model of the process have beendiscussed. Structural characterization of thegeopolymeric material has been explained.Blending the geopolymers with OPC has
2 / 10attributed to the mechanical strength and ithas been studied. The properties of low-calcium fly ash based geopolymer concretehave been discussed. Works on geopolymercomposites resulting in fire resistantmaterials has been studied. Studies haveshown that geopolymers have proven to bean excellent material for retrofitting worksand immobilizes toxic waste materialswithin its matrix. Studies revealed that theadditions of natural alkali pozzoloans(potassium or sodium aluminosilictaes)helped in substantially reducing the alkali-aggregate reaction and it has been discussed.The special properties of the geopolymericbinders are enhanced by the calcination of these materials and its various effects havebeen studied. Studies all around the worldhave been carried out considering this as afuture material and as a replacement of cement and still research are going on thesematerials to improve their properties.
 Geopolymers are inorganic binders whosename was coined by Davidovitis in 1970’s.The prefix “
” was to symbolize therelationship of the binders to geologicalmaterials i.e. natural stone/minerals. Theyare formed by the alkali activation of readilyavailable natural or industrial byproducts of aluminosilicate materials like clays, ashes,natural pozzoloans (solidifies upon alkaliactivation). They are considered as eco-friendly materials as their production do notinvolve any decomposition of limestonewhich contributes to the CO
emission. Thealuminosilicate materials on activation by analkali solidify to a material which possessesa 3-D network of aluminate and silicateunits with charge balancing cations.Geopolymer binders are twocomponent systems that consists of thefollowing,
Reactive solid componentcontains SiO
and Al
Alkaline activation solutionWhen the above two componentscomes in contact with each other, hardeningresults due to the formation of analuminosilicate network ranging fromamorphous to crystalline. Geopolymersvaries from the OPC in many aspects suchas strength, durability etc.
Properties of geopolymers
Resistance to chemicals( in particularacids)
High density, low permeability
Rapid hardening with high ultimatestrengths
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Temperature stable
Ability to bind toxic chemicals
Ecological construction material(low CO
 Raw materials
Theoretically any material composed of silica and aluminium can be used tosynthesize geopolymeric binders. Butpractically, only few materials have beenused in the manufacturing of geopolymersso far and those materials are listed below:(a)
kaolinitic clays(b)
fly ashes(d)
blast furnace slag(e)
mixtures of fly ashes and slag(f)
mixtures of fly ahses and metakoalin(g)
mixtures of slag and metakoalin(h)
mixtures of slag and red mud(i)
mixtures of fly ashes and non-calcined materials like kaolin andstilbite
Geopolymerisation process
The geopolymerization process follows asimple mechanism of transformation of asolid aluminosilicate source into a syntheticalkali aluminosilicate. The dissolution of thesolid aluminosilicate source by alkalinehydrolysis (consuming water) producesaluminate and silicate species. Thedissolution of solid particles at the surfaceresulting in the liberation of aluminate andsilicate into the solution has always beenassumed to be the mechanism responsiblefor the conversion of solid particles duringgeopolymerization. The species released bydissolution are incorporated into the aqueousphase, which may already contain silicatepresent in the activating solution. Thecomplex mixture of silicate, aluminate andaluminosilicate species is thereby formed.Dissolution of amorphous aluminosilicatesis rapid at high pH, and this quickly createsa supersaturated aluminosilicate solution. Inconcentrated solutions this results in theformation of a gel, as the oligomers in theaqueous phase form large networks bycondensation. This process releases thewater that was nominally consumed duringdissolution and it resides within the pores inthe gel. This type of gel structures is knownas bi-phasic, with aluminosilicate binder andwater forming the two phases. The time forthe supersaturated aluminosilicate solutionto form a continuous gel varies accordinglywith the raw material processing conditionsand solution composition and synthesiscondition. After gelation the systemcontinues to rearrange and reorganize, as theconnectivity of the gel network increases,

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