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DURABILITY OF STRUCTURE

REPORT of GEOPOLYMER CONCRETE


GREEN CONCRETE
Tu T. Nguyen
December 2009

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I. Introduction
This subject points out a view of material behaviour, particularly behaviour of concrete. As well
as fresh concrete technology has advanced at a pace similar to many other aspects of concrete
technology over the past three decades, and indeed many these advances have been inner-
dependent. For example, the availability of super-plasticizer has enabled workable concrete to
be produced at lower water/binder ratio thus increasing the strength.

In this paper, one report will be concerned with objective, principle and durability of structure
with its potential in application.

II. Specification
With the increasing concern of the natural resources and environment, new technologies have
been developed or are under developing in construct materials, particularly, in concrete.

This paper requires submitting a research report to give an overview on these technologies. An
example of any one particular technology should be provided to find out advantage and
disadvantage of objective, principles, what is the effect on durability and sustainability of
structure with potential in application.

There is no limit on the topics. For example, it could be high performance concrete for particular
application, self compacting concrete, or the concrete used to abate CO2, etc.

III. Overview on application of advanced concrete technology


Concrete is the world’s most important construction material. However, an abundance of raw
material such as rock, gravel, sand and water in the concrete reaches approximately 75-90%
produced annually in North European countries (Concrete for the environment, 2003).
Therefore, the quality of concrete does not reach a necessary compressive strength. It is a
reason for new technologies which should be discovered. At the same time, the world is tackling
global warning and resources problem. New concrete technologies are an environmentally
friendly material and are – when correctly produced and used very durable as a consequence.
Structures at the ends of their lives can be demolished and recycled as aggregate in new
concrete or for road construction. Hence, there are some of these advanced concrete
technologies to examine in this paper.

- Development of a Sustainable Concrete Waste Recycling System - Application of Recycled


Aggregate Concrete Produced by Aggregate Replacing Method (Yasuhiro Dosho) (Journal of
Advanced Concrete Technology, Volume 5.1 (2007): In this paper, the research showed the
reuse of construction waste is highly essential from the viewpoint of Life Cycle Assessment
(LCA) and effective recycling of construction resources. Therefore, a promotion of the reuse of

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construction waste is necessary to achieve three basic concepts: (1) assurance of safety and
quality, (2) decrease of environmental impact, and (3) increase of cost effectiveness of
construction. This paper outlines the development of a recycling system, application of recycled
aggregate concrete produced by the aggregate replacing method, which is effective in reducing
both cost and environmental impact from the viewpoint of LCA for concrete waste generated by
the demolition of large-scale buildings. Result of this study showed that the adoption of the
developed recycling system was confirmed to recycle concrete waste produced from the
demolition buildings in a highly effective manner reducing both recycling cost and environmental
impact.

- Geopolymer concrete technology (Dr. Erez Allouche) (Sciencedaily, 2009): This research is
led by an assistant professor of civil engineering at Louisiana Tech University and associate
director of the Trenchless Technology Center. In this paper, the research outlines a comparison
between old concrete (Portland cement concrete (PCC)) and new concrete based Inorganic
polymer concrete (geopolymer) in pumping carbon dioxide (CO2) into our atmosphere. The
research showed the geopolymer will contribute lower CO2 than the PCC do. In addition,
geopolymer concrete (GPC) features greater corrosion resistance, substantially higher fire
resistance (up to 2400° F), high compressive and tensile strengths, a rapid strength gain, and
lower shrinkage in comparison to ordinary Portland cement.

- Danish Experiences with a Decade of Green Concrete (Claus Vestergaard Nielsen and Mette
Glavind) (Journal of Advanced Concrete Technology, Volume 5.1 (2007)): This research points
out a comparison of the Danish cement and concrete industry over last ten years. A reduction of
Portland clinker content, which means improved amount of CO2 in the concrete, was involved in
this area. Absorption of CO2 from the atmosphere was described in this 3-year project. It is the
result of several scientific investigations for instance determining the effect of concrete
emissions on the air quality and the solution to hydrocarbon pollution in concrete slurry at the
concrete plant. Finally the article contains examples of how to improve the sustainability of
concrete production and how to produce green concrete. Green concrete is the term used in
Denmark for environmentally friendly concrete production and structures.

- High strength concrete (Bill Price) (Newman J. and Choo B.S, 2003):
The water/cement ratio is main cause for the strength of the paste. However, the paste’s
strength depends on the porosity, because of the fragment size distribution of the crystalline
phases and in-homogeneities within the hydrated paste.

Therefore, this technology outlines a new method will manufacture a newly mixture of concrete
with higher strength by a reduction in water/cement ratio as a consequence of less capillary

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porosity in the paste. A reduction of capillary porosity also supports the structure of fine-textured
hydration products which have a higher strength than the previous concrete. In addition, the
capillary porosity can be decreased by evaluating the particle size distribution of the
cenemetitious materials in order to increase the potential packing density.

IV. Choice of research report


Concrete and its constituent parts are available and used globally. It has been, is, and will
continue to be the major construction material for mankind. As a consequence, we have a
responsibility for concrete's effective design, construction and efficient use. Future resources,
energy consumption, performance, durability, environmental and social impacts as well as
economies are all importance ons which concrete’s sustainability will be evaluated - and this
has a global significance. Increasingly, both political and practical levels, construction has to
address and implement sustainability and towards this goal. However, Portland cement
production, which is popular use in the global, is a major contributor to carbon dioxide (CO2)
emissions. It has pumped into the atmosphere about five to eight percent of all human-
generated atmospheric CO2 worldwide. Production of Portland cement is currently toping 2.6
billion tons per year worldwide and growing at 5 percent annually (Erez Allouche, 2009).

In comparison to ordinary Portland cement (OPC), geo-polymer concrete (GPC) features


greater corrosion resistance, substantially higher fire resistance (up to 2400° F), high
compressive and tensile strengths, a rapid strength gain, and lower shrinkage. Perhaps Geo-
polymer concrete's greatest appeal is its life cycle greenhouse gas reduction potential; as much
as 90% when compared with OPC (Erez Allouche, 2009).

In addition, as a considerable concern of the world when the world runs out resource and deals
with global-warming, using concrete as a construction material actually helps us protect natural
resources and offers consumers benefits that are not available with other building products such
as steel or wood. In an area of increased attention to the environmental impact of construction
and sustainable development, concrete has much to offer. Therefore, in this paper, geo-polymer
concrete or “Green concrete” as an advanced concrete technology is reported to estimate
positive and negative effect of this technology on environment and resources. The new
technology is being concerned by human-being in the future, with objective and principle to
provide the effects on durability and sustainability of structure with its potential in application.

Geo-polymer concrete has additionally the potential for basically reducing CO2 emissions,
producing a more durable infrastructure capable of design life. It has a long life circle in
comparison with Portland cement concrete about hundreds of years instead of tens (Erez

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Allouche, 2009). Particularly, it can self-protect aquifers and surface bodies of fresh water via
the elimination of fly ash disposal sites.

V. Characteristic of Geoplymer concrete


V.1 Principle
The term “geopolymer” was invented by Davidovits in 1978. This inorganic aluminosilicate
polymer is synthesized from predominantly silicon and aluminium material of geological origin or
by-product materials such as fly ash, chemicial composition of geopolymer materials are similar
to Zeolite. (R.Malathy (n.d.)).

Environmentally driven geopolymer applications are based on the implementation of (K,Ca)-


Poly(sialate-siloxo) / (K,Ca)-Poly(sialate-disiloxo) cements. In industrialized countries (Western
countries) emphasis is put on toxic waste (heavy metals) and radioactive waste safe
containment. On the opposite, in emerging countries, the applications relate to sustainable
development, essentially geopolymeric cements with very low CO2 emission. Both fields of
application are strongly dependent on politically driven decisions.

V.2 The chemical composition


The first chemical element in the geo-polymer founded in 1970 is the aluminosilicate kaolinite
reacts with NaOH at 100°C-150°C and polycondenses into hydrated sodalite (a tecto-alumino-
silicate), or hydro-sodalite (Davidovits, 2002):

Si2O5,Al2(OH)4 + NaOH ⇒ Na(-Si-O-Al-O)n

kaolinite hydrosodalite

The polymerisation process involves a substantially fast chemical reaction under alkaline
condition on Si-Al minerals, those results in a three dimensional polymeric chain and ring
structure consisting of -Si-O-Al-O- bonds, as follows:
Mn [-(SiO2) z–AlO2] n.wH2O
Since n is the degree of poly-condensation, M is predominantly a monovalent cation (K+, Na+),
althought Ca2+ may replace two monovalent cations in the structure (Davidovits J., 1999). In
the same result, Davidovits pointed out that although the SiO2/Al2O3 ratio given by z is 1, 2 or 3
for the sialate-siloxo and sialate-disloxo-chains, even z can be higher than 3 (up to 32). This can
be exaplained by cross linking of poly-silicate chains with a silicate link (-Si-O-Al-O-) bonds
(Figure 2).
Therefore, the geo-polymer material diagram can be shown as described by equations below
(Edward G. Nawy, 2008):

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Figure 1 – Geo-polymer backbone and geo-polymer precursor
Edward shows the formation of geo-polymer materials is shown in the first equation in figure 1,
it is not clear since setting and hardening of geo-polymer precursor. Therefore, in terms of the
second equation (geo-polymer backbone) shown in figure 1, water is released during the
chemical bonds. The water removed from the geo-polymer matrix during the curvature. This is
completely different from Portland cement concrete mixture during the hydration process.
Hence, there are 2 main constituents of geo-polymer which are the source materials and the
alkaline liquids. The most common alkaline liquid used in geo-polymerisation is a combination of
sodium hydroxide (NaOH) or potassium hydroxide (KOH) and sodium silicate or potassium
silicate.

Figure 2 Geo-polymer molecular networks


V.3 Material
Materials includes fly-ash (FA), sand Aggregates (SA), alkaline liquid (AL), water (W), super-
plasticizer (SP). In the batches of fly ash, the molar Si-to-Al ratio was about 1-3. A combination
of sodium silicate solution and sodium hydroxide solution was chosen as the alkaline liquid. The
sodium hydroxide (NaOH) solution was prepared by dissolving either the flakes or the pellets in
water. The mass of NaOH solids in a solution varied depending on the concentration of the
solution expressed in terms of molar, M. sand is small Aggregates in geo-polymer mortar. To
improve the workability of the fresh geo-polymer mortar, super-plasticizer was used in most of
the mixtures (Nguyen and Bui and Dang, 2008).

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Figure 3: The beginning of the geo-polymers phase development on the surface of the fly ash
particle

V.4 Setting time of geo-polymer mortar


Types of fly ash, composition of alkaline liquid and ratio of alkaline liquid to fly ash by mass are
the factor during setting time of geo-polymer mortar. However the most important factor is the
curing temperature. The figure below shows curing temperature has a significant effect on a
similarity of setting time between initial setting-time and final setting-time.

Figure 4 Effect of curing temperature on setting time (Nguyen and Bui and Dang, Recent
Research Geo-polymer Concrete, 2008)

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Figure 5: Room temperature setting for concrete made of geo-polymer cements and Portland
cements. (Geo-polymer: Inorganic Polymeric New Materials, Journal of Thermal Analysis, Vol
37, Davidovits, 1991)

V.5. Compressive strength

As a highly above, GEO-polymer concrete has a major difference from Portland cement
concrete is the binder (Edward G. Nawy, 2008). The silicon and aluminium oxides in the low-
calcium fly ash react with the alkaline liquid to form the geo-polymer paste that binds the loose
coarse aggregates, fine aggregates and other did not react materials together to form the geo-
polymer concrete. As in case of Portland cement concrete, the coarse and fine aggregates
occupy about 75% to 80% of the mass of geo-polymer concrete.

Figure 6: Fly ash before reacting with Figure 7: Fly ash after reacting with alkaline
alkaline liquid liquid

Therefore, the compressive strength and workability of geo-polymer concrete are influenced by
the proportions and properties of the constituents that make the geo-polymer paste.
Experiment results (Hardjito and Rangan, 2005)

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- In terms of molar a higher concentration of the sodium hydroxide sodium results in the
higher compressive strength of geo-polymer concrete.
- The higher ratio of sodium silicate solution to sodium hydroxide solution by mass results
in the higher compressive strength of geo-polymer concrete.
- The addition of naphthalene-sulfonate-based super-plasticizers, up to 4% of fly ash by
mass, improves the workability of fresh geo-polymer concrete. However, there is a slight
degradation in the higher compressive strength of geo-polymer concrete of harden
concrete when the super-plasticizers dosage is greater than 2%.
- The slump value of the fresh geo-polymer concrete increases when the water content of
the mixture increases.
- The H2O/Na2O molar ratio increases, the compressive strength of geo-polymer concrete
decreases.
- The effect of the Na2O/Si2O molar ratio on the compressive strength of geo-polymer
concrete is insignificant.

Figure 8: Effect of water-to-polymer solids ratio by mass on compressive of geo-polymer


concrete. (Hardjito, D. and Rangan, B. V. Development and Properties of Low-Calcium Fly
Ash-based Geopolymer Concrete, Research Report GC1, Faculty of Engineering, Curtin
University of Technology, Perth, 2005)
As can be seen from the above, compressive strength depends on curing time and curing
temperature. As the curing time and curing temperature increase, the compressive strength
increases. Curing temperature in (600C- 900C), curing time in (24h-72h), compressive strength
400-500 kG/cm2 as shown in figures below.

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Figure 9 - Extra water effects

Figure 10 - Effect of curing temperature

Figure 11 - Curing time effect

Figure 12 Effects of saturated water specimens

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V.6 Corrosion resistance

The corrosion resistance of geo-polymer concrete is similar to this property of geo-polymer


cement. Geo-polymer concreted has been excellent properties within both acid and salt
environments since limestone has not used as a material in concrete. It is especially suitable for
tough environmental conditions. The geo-polymer concrete can be become bend when it is in
sea water environment. This can be useful in marine environments and on islands short of fresh
water; in contrast Portland cement concrete is impossible in sea water.

Two grades of AAFG concretes were prepared for this investigation. G54 represents a
Geopolymer concrete synthesised at high temperature (12 hours at 70°C) whereas G71 was
achieved at ambient. They were used in resistance of corrosion in Fly Ash based Geo-polymer
concrete research by X. J. Song, M. Marosszeky, M. Brungs, R. Munn.

As can be seen in Figure 11, the binder in the normal PC55 concrete shows significant
degradation the aggregate becoming exposed after only 4 weeks in 10% sulphuric acid. By
contrast, Geo-polymer concrete cubes, G71 and G54, remained structurally intact in the same
acidic environments after 56 days, though some very fine localised cracks were observed (X. J.
Song, 2005)

Figure 13: Appearance of concrete specimens exposed in 10% sulphuric acid (Left: PC55 for 28
days, right: AAFG for 56 days)
(X. J. Song, M. Marosszeky, M. Brungs, R. Munn, 2005)

The samples are indicated that AAFG concrete is durable in 10% sulphuric acid up to 56 days
by Song. In case of Portland concrete, the hydration compounds were naturalised by sulphuric
acid and dramatically the binder disintegrated.

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Figure 14 Mass change in 10% sulphuric acid
(X. J. Song, M. Marosszeky, M. Brungs, R. Munn, 2005)

The samples have a low mass loss (figure 12) of Geo-polymer concretes in this research. This
view is similar to Davidovit (1990) and Rostami and Brendley (2003).

The compressive strength was used in this research to evaluate the impact of acid attack on
mechanical performance. Although the strength reduction (Figure 13) was significant within the
first week of immersion, this trend then became stable with residual strength up to 33 ~ 42 MPa
after 56 days acid exposure (X. J. Song, M. Marosszeky, M. Brungs, R. Munn, 2005).

Figure 15 Compressive strength change of AAFG concretes in 10% sulphuric acid

In addition, there is very interesting to compare the acid resistance between G54 and G71. a
significant difference has shown in the 28 days strength development in the research. As
expected, G54 has higher compressive strength than G71 due to the effect of higher
temperature curing. However, both of them have a very similar trend in resisting sulphuric acid
attack, in terms of mass change (Figure 12), compressive strength reduction (Figure. 13).

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Therefore AAFG concretes are acid resistant regardless of curing conditions. It also seems that
Geopolymer concretes have the potential to be used in the production of pre-cast sewer pipes
(high temperature curing) as well as in the repair of corroded pipes.

VI. Geo-polymer concretes and the Green-house Global-warming challenge


According to the research of Davidovits in 1991, CO2 emissions resulting from chemical
reactions will continue to increase with industrial development. This is specifically the case for
Portland cement manufacturing. Cement results from calcinations of limestone (calcium
carbonate) and silico-alumnious material according to the reaction:
5CaCO3 + 2SiO2 = (3CaO,SiO2)(2CaO,SiO2) + 5CO2 [1]
The production of 1 tons cement generates 0.55 tons of CO2 and needs the burn of carbon-fuel
into 0.42s of CO2. To simplify: 1T cement = 1T CO2. However, The production of 1 tone of
Geopolymeric cement generates 0.180 tones of CO2, from combustion carbon-fuel, compared
with 1.00 tones of CO2 for Portland cement. Geo-polymeric cement generates six times less
CO2 during manufacture than Portland cement. This simply means that, in newly industrialising
countries, six times more cement for infrastructure and building applications might be
manufactured, for the same emission of green house gas CO2. (Davidovits J, 2002). Indeed,
Geopolymeric cement only requires the calcinations at 800°C for two geological ingredients,
Carbunculus and KANDOXI. High furnace slag is a by-product that no longer needs any
subsequent treatment. In addition, it is the processing of the development carried out on
inorganic alumino-silicate polymers or geo-polymers (Davidovits, 1985), resulting from the geo-
polymeric reaction:
2Si2O5.Al2O2 + K2(H3SiO4)2 + Ca(H3SiO4)2 = (K2O.CaO)(8SiO2.2Al2O3.nH2O [2]
The equation [2] release less CO2 emission than the first equation. Therefore, geo-polymer
concrete is more “green” than Portland cement concrete.

VII. Advantages and disadvantages of Geopolymer concrete


VII.1.Advantages
Fristly, This is one of the primary advantages of geopolymers over traditional cements from an
environmental perspective is largely associated with releasing much lower CO2 emission than
Portland cement. This is mainly due to the absence of the high-temperature calcinations step in
geopolymer synthesis.

Secondly, Geo-polymer concrete offers several economic benefits over Portland cement
concrete. The price of a ton of fly ash is only small fraction of the price of a ton of Portland
cement; therefore, after allowing for the price of the alkaline liquids required making the geo-
polymer concrete, the price of fly-ash-based geo-polymer concrete is estimated to be about 10
to 30% of Portland cement concrete. Furthermore, the very little drying shrinkage, low creep,
excellent resistance to sulphate attack, and good acid resistance offered by the heat-cured, low-

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calcium, fly-ash-based geo-polymer concrete may yield additional economic benefits when it is
used in infrastructure application.

The other factor is geopolymer concrete offers increase resource efficiency by producing
concrete products with longer services lives.

Corrosion resistance and high strength of geo-polymer are other factors. Geo-polymer concrete
still keeps high compressive strength after mass loss and resisting from acid attack.

VII.2 Disadvantages
Regardless of all these positive attributes, geo-polymer concrete is finding it hard to enter the
modern market today. A main reason is because large cement companies are basically scared
that the profit margins go down and financial risk. Another reason, the cost of geo-polymer is
major factor. It is more expensive than Portland cement about 60% per cubic meter. (Cement 
and Concrete Research, Pacheco, Torgal et al., p 93).

In the construction industries view, “green cement” has yet to establish itself as a viable, just
recognised or proven technology (Cement and Concrete Reseach, vol 37, p1591, Duxson et al,
2007).

VIII. Conclusion
Construction and concrete industry have been utilising a tremendous amount of resources and
energy. Therefore, they have a responsibility to reduce environmental impacts in their activities.
For the concrete industry to contribute to the sustainable development of mankind, it is
necessary to promote technical development for further reduction of environmental impacts. To
promote this, it will be necessary to introduce environmental design systems based on
environmental performance, develop environmental performance evaluation tools and construct
systems for their actual application.

It is obvious that the concrete sector also has to consider the reduction of environmental
impacts in their technologies towards the sustainable development of human beings. The new
century of concrete technologies is beginning with geo-polymer concrete. It releases lower
carbon dioxide than traditional concrete. Geo-polymer offers many advantages in durability of
structure such as increase of corrosion resistance, high compressive strength. Geo-polymer
also has a high economic effect in concrete market today.

In future, national and global environmental laws in regards to C02 emissions should force the
Portland cement and concreting companies to convert to use ‘green cement’.

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