You are on page 1of 7

The 3rd ACF International Conference- ACF/VCA 2008 D.

23

SUSTAINABLE CONCRETE TECHNOLOGY FOR THE 21th CENTURY


Tony C. Liu -Dr.Visiting Research Fellow; Jenn Chuan Chern - Dr. Distinguished Professor Department of Civil Engineering, National Taiwan University, Chinese Taipei.

ABSTRACT: Concrete

is the most widely used construction material for infrastructure needs in the Asian region and in the world. Unfortunately, the concrete industry is one of the largest consumers of natural resources and energy, and is responsible for large emissions of carbon dioxide that is one of the greenhouse gases responsible for global warming. It is imperative that the concrete industry be play an active role in balancing the infrastructure needs and the protection of our environment. To help meeting the sustainable development challenges facing the concrete industry, this paper reviews some environmentally-friendly and sustainable concrete technology including the improved cement manufacturing technology, the use of supplementary cementing materials, recycling concrete and other materials, enhancement of service life of concrete structures. Emerging technologies that have the potential to significantly contribute to sustainable concrete industry are identified. Institutional barriers against the wide-spread used of environmentally-friendly concrete technology are discussed. The regulatory (codes and specifications) restrictions, technical concerns, and construction practices needed to overcome the barriers are identified. By sharing this information, it is hoped that the concrete industry in the Asian region would contribute to sustainable development by adopting the sustainable concrete technology to save natural resources, energy, and protect the environment.
KEYWORDS:

concrete durability, life-cycle cost, performance-based specification, recycled concrete aggregate, supplementary cementing materials, sustainable development

1- INTRODUCTION Concrete is the most widely used construction material for new and replacement infrastructure. It is estimated that the concrete production in the world is expected to rise from about 10 billion tons in 1995 to almost 16 billion tons in 2010 [Ref. 1]. Unfortunately, concrete industry is one of the largest consumers of natural resources and energy, and is responsible for large emissions of carbon dioxide that is one of the greenhouse gases responsible for global warming. The sustainable development is frequently defined as the development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. By this definition, sustainable development encompasses three general elements: environmental stewardship, social responsibility, and economic prosperity. The challenges facing the concrete industry to meet both the current and future generations sustainable development include: 1. Populations will continue to increase. The world population in 2008 was about 6.7 billion and it was predicted that by 2050 the worlds population will reach 10 billion. Asia covers only 8.6% of the earths total surface area, but it contains 60% of the worlds population. 1168

The 3rd ACF International Conference- ACF/VCA 2008 2. 3. Infrastructure needs will grow in order to provide for the basic needs of the increasing population. Natural resources are limited. The mineral resources (limestone and aggregates) and non-renewal energy necessary for cement and concrete productions are becoming scarce. There is an urgent need to reduce the green house emissions, particularly carbon dioxide (CO2) to combat global warming.

4.

To help meeting the sustainable development challenges facing the concrete industry, this paper presents some environmentally-friendly and sustainable concrete technology including the improved cement manufacturing technology, the use of supplementary cementing materials, recycling concrete and other materials, enhancement of service life of concrete structures. Emerging technologies that have the potential to significantly contribute to sustainable concrete industry are also presented. 2- IMPROVED CEMENT MANUFACTURING TECHNOLOGY Cement is made by heating limestone and other raw materials to 1400 1450 oC in a rotary kiln. Fossil fuels such as coal and oil have usually been used to provide heat for the burning process. In the process, limestone (CaCO3) first breaks down to calcium oxide (CaO) and carbon dioxide (CO2). CaO then further reacts to form the portland clinker. The clinker is ground with a small amount of gypsum into a product (i.e., cement). Some types of cement also include other constituents in addition to clinker and gypsum, such as limestone filler, ground granulated blast furnace slag, fly ash, or other mineral by-products from industrial processes. The most important environmental effects of cement production are the use of energy (fossil fuel and electricity), emission of carbon dioxide, and the use of natural raw materials (mainly limestone). The manufacture of cement requires about 4 GJ of energy per ton of finished produce and the about 1 ton of CO2 emissions per ton of cement. The worldwide production of cement accounts for almost 7 percent of the total world CO2 emissions [Ref. 2]. Since the early 90s, the cement industry has made major strides in reducing energy consumption by some 20% [Ref. 3]. This has been achieved primarily by placing wet production facilities with modern dry-processing plants. Modernization of cement plants and machinery has decreased the electricity consumption during milling of cement, with consequent reduction of CO2 emission from power plants. Using certain wastes as alternative fuels in the cement kiln eliminate wastes that would otherwise be incinerated or landfilled. Waste materials that the cement industry has used as alternative fuels include petroleum coke, used tires, rubber, paper waste, waste oils, sewage sludge, plastics, and spent solvent. Apart from recovering the thermal energy of the waste, this leads to significant reductions in the emissions of CO2. Up to 20% of the total thermal energy requirement at a New Zealands cement factory has been routinely replaced by the used oil, making possible a very significant reduction in the consumption of non-renewable coal [Ref. 4]. Supplementary cementing material (SCM) including waste products from other industries, such as fly ash and ground granulated blast furnace slag, can be ground with clinker to produce blended cement. Increasing the use of SCM, and thus reducing the cement content, represents a technically-proven approach to reducing greenhouse gas and air pollutant emission. Limestone filler is being increasingly used in Europe in the clinkering and grinding phases of portland cement production [Ref. 5]. These materials also have the added advantages of reducing energy 1169

The 3rd ACF International Conference- ACF/VCA 2008 consumption, using materials otherwise destined for landfill, and increasing plant capacity without installing new kilns, and improved concrete performance. 3- USE OF SUPPLEMENTARY CEMENTING MATERIALS Supplementary cementing material (SCM), such as fly ash, ground-granulated blast-furnace (GGBF) slag, or silica fume, is one of the most sustainable construction materials because it Recovers an industrial byproduct through beneficial use when incorporate into concrete, Avoids disposal of industrial byproducts, Reduces Portland cement content in concrete, resulting in decreased emission of greenhouse gas and decreased use of natural raw materials, and Increases structure service life by improving the durability of concrete. The current annual production of fly ash is on the order of 900 million tons worldwide, with major production occurring in China, India, and the U. S. [Ref. 5]. The use rate and the way fly ash is batched in concrete vary from country to country as shown in Table 1. One of the major developments in the area of fly ash utilization in concrete has been the technology of highperformance, high-volume fly ash concrete [Refs. 6 and 7]. Studies have shown that, when the water-cementitious materials ratio (w/cm) is maintained at 0.30 or less in the superplasticized concrete mixtures, up to 60 percent of portland cement can be replaced by ASTM Class F or Class C fly ash to obtain excellent long-term mechanical and durability properties [Ref. 7]. Table 2 shows an example mixture proportion for a high-volume fly ash (HVFA) concrete. The compressive strengths of this HVFA mixture were 8, 55, and 80 MPa at 1, 28, and 182 days, respectively. Extensive laboratory tests [Ref. 7] concluded that the Youngs modulus of elasticity, creep, drying shrinkage, and freezing and thawing characteristics of HVFA concrete are comparable to normal portland cement concrete. The HVFA concrete also has high resistance to water permeation and chloride-ion penetration. Another by-product that is useful for cement substitution is ground-granulated blast-furnace (GGBF) slag. Although the world production of this slag is approximately 100 million tons per year, only approximately 25 million tons of slag are processed into the granulated form that has the cementitious properties [Ref. 8]. Because GGBF slag is derived as a by-product from the blast-furnaces manufacturing iron, its use has environmental benefits. The use of GGBF slag in concrete significantly reduces the risk of damages caused by alkali-silica reaction, provides higher resistance to chloride ingress, reduces the risk of reinforcement corrosion, and provides high resistance to attacks by sulfate and other chemicals. The use of GGBF slag in concrete has increased in recent years and this trend is expected to continue. Laboratory work by Lang and Geiseler [Ref. 9] on a German blast furnace slag cement (405 m2/kg specific surface area) containing 77.8 percent slag showed that excellent mechanical and durability characteristics were achieved in super-plasticized concrete mixtures with 455 kg/m3 cement content and 0.28 w/cm. The compressive strengths at ages 1, 2, 7, and 28 days were 13, 37, 58, and 91 MPa, respectively. The concrete also showed good resistance to carbonation, penetration of organic liquids, freezing and thawing cycles (without air entrainment), and salt scaling. Approximately 5 million tons of GGBF slag were used in concrete mixtures annually in Taiwan. Up to 55% of the portland cement (ASTM Type V) had been replaced by GGBF slag in concrete mixtures where high sulfate resistance is required. In the moderate sulfate resistance applications, 45% of portland cement (ASTM Type II) can be replaced by GGBF slag with excellent 1170

The 3rd ACF International Conference- ACF/VCA 2008 performance. Concrete containing 45-50% of GGBF slag was commonly used for concrete slurry wall constructions in Taiwan. Silica fume is a by-product resulting from the reduction of high-purity quartz with coal or coke and wood chips in an electric arc furnace during the production of silicon metal or ferrosilicon alloys. The condensed silica fume contains between 85 and 98 percent silicon dioxide and consists of extremely fine spherical glassy particles (the average particle size is less than 0.1m). Because of its extreme fineness and high silicon dioxide content, condensed silica fume is a very efficient pozzolanic material. The worldwide production of silica fume is estimated to be about 2 million tons [Ref. 5]. Because of limited availability and the current high price relative to portland cement and other pozzolans or slag, silica fume is being used primarily as a propertyenhancing material [Ref. 10]. In this role, silica fume has been used to provide concrete with very high compressive strength or with very high level of durability or both. It has been used to produce concretes with reduced permeability for applications such as parking structures and bridge decks and for repair of abrasion damaged hydraulic structures. One of the major barriers against the use of large quantities of fly ash and other supplementary cementing materials in concrete is the current prescriptive-type of specifications and codes. The prescriptive-type of specifications generally place limits on the maximum percentage of the cement that can be replaced by the supplementary cementing materials. For example, ACI 318 Building Code limits the maximum percentage of fly ash or other pozzolans to not exceed 25% of the total cementitious materials by mass for concrete exposed to deicing chemicals. Highperformance concrete mixtures being produced with HVFA concrete prove that prescriptive specifications hinder the widespread use of fly ash and other supplementary cementing materials. Replacing the prescriptive-type of specifications and codes with performance-based specifications and codes will accelerate the rate of utilization of fly ash and other supplementary cementing materials and can provide economic and environmental benefits. 4- RECYCLING CONCRETE AND OTHER MATERIALS It is estimated that 1 billion tons of construction and demolition (C&D) waste are generated annually worldwide. Whether C&D waste originates from clearing operations after natural disasters (e.g., major earthquakes) or from human-controlled activities, the utilization of such waste by recycling can provide economic and environmental benefits. In recent years, utilizing C&D waste for new construction through recycling and reuse has received increased attention throughout the world, especially in the European countries, Japan, U. S., and Taiwan. Practical and economic experiences from Japan and Denmark suggest that road base and sub-base materials are expected to be the most important area of use of C&D waste. When used for such purposes, C&D waste (primarily of broken concrete, bricks, and stone) can substitute for up to 20% of the consumption of natural sand, gravel, and crushed stone, thereby saving natural resources [Ref. 11]. At present, more than 95% of C&D waste is being recycled and used mainly as road base material in Japan [Ref. 12]. Recycled concrete has also been used as partial replacement of coarse aggregate for the concrete structures and concrete pavements. For example, 35% of the coarse aggregate was replaced with recycled concrete aggregate for the cast in-place concrete for all foundations and 50% of the basement walls and columns in a new high school outside Oslo [Ref. 3]. Extensive testing of hardened concrete properties indicated that they were comparable to all natural aggregate concrete. The use of recycled concrete aggregate did not cause any noticeable increase in cracking and other durability problems [Ref. 3]. Since the 1990s, other by-products have been successfully used in concrete. These materials include used foundry sand and cupola slag from metal-casting industries, post-consumer glass, 1171

The 3rd ACF International Conference- ACF/VCA 2008 wood ash from pulp mills, sawmills, and wood-product manufacturing industries, sludge from primary clarifiers at pulp and paper mills, and de-inking solids from paper-recycling companies [Refs. 13 and 14]. Although recycled concrete aggregate has been successfully used as road base and fill material and as aggregate in new concrete, a significant amount of C&D waste is still disposed of in landfills. However, the future outlook for recycling concrete is favorable because the local natural aggregate sources and the suitable landfill sites for industrial waste are becoming scarce. Furthermore, improvements in demolition, processing, and handling technologies will improve the quality and decrease the cost of recycled concrete aggregates. 5- ENHANCEMENT OF SERVICE LIFE OF CONCRETE STRUCTURES
Large future savings in natural resources and energy can result if the concrete structures are much more durable. For example, the resource efficiency of the concrete industry would increase by a factor of

five if the service lives of most structures built today were 250 years instead of the conventional 50 [Ref. 15]. More recent developments in the use of high-performance concrete, low permeability concrete mixtures, proper use of air-entrainment, epoxy-coated reinforcement, protective coatings, and corrosion-reducing admixtures have greatly increased the service life of concrete. Extending the service life of the existing infrastructure (instead of removal and rebuild) through periodic inspection, evaluation, proper maintenance, and appropriate repair not only requires less natural resources and energy but also minimizes environmental impacts. Experience indicates that poor-quality concrete structures will deteriorate prematurely and frequently require costly repairs and result in waste of natural resources and energy. From a comprehensive review of the
durability of concrete structures by Mehta and Burrows [Ref. 16], it concluded that todays concreting practice, driven by demand for fast-track construction methods and lower initial cost, is generally responsible for the reported epidemic of durability of concrete structures. Therefore, life-cycle cost

approach should be considered by the owners by seeking a better and durable concrete structure rather than lower initial cost. 6- EMERGING TECHNOLOGIES Some emerging technologies that have the potential to significantly contribute to sustainable concrete industry are as follows. Ultra-High Strength Concrete Recent developments in ultra-high strength concrete possess a unique combination of superior compressive and tensile strengths, ductility, and durability. For a given loading condition, structures constructed with ultra-high strength concrete will be lighter and more durable than the conventional concrete structures while requiring less raw materials and energy and generating fewer CO2 emissions. Carbon Dioxide Absorption Upon exposure to air, concrete has the potential to absorb atmospheric CO2. Recent research [Ref. 17] confirms that the carbonation of concrete is a mechanism that absorbs as much as 50% of the total CO2 emission from the original cement production. Further studies are still required to accurately quantify the carbonation of concrete as a mechanism to mitigate CO2 emissions. Nanotechnology Nanotechnology is a very active research area all over the world. Initially the applications of nanotechnology were in the areas of electronics, bio-mechanics, and machine components. Recently, a number of researchers started investigations on the applications of nanotechnology in 1172

The 3rd ACF International Conference- ACF/VCA 2008 concrete composites. Among the emerging research that may contribute to sustainable development includes [Ref. 18] Nano-catalysts that could greatly reduce the clinkering temperature in cement production with corresponding reduction in energy consumption and CO2 emission, Silicon dioxide nano-particles (nano-silica) for ultra-high performance concrete, Nano-binders or nano-engineered cement-based materials with nano-sized cementitious components, Incorporation of carbon nano-tubes into the concrete matrix that would result in stronger, ductile, more energy absorbing, and durable concrete in a more sustainable manner, and New generation of super-plasticizers for total workability control and supreme water reduction. 7- CONCLUSIONS Concrete industry can contribute to sustainable development by adopting the following sustainable technology to save natural resources, energy, reducing CO2 emissions, and protect the environment: Improving cement manufacturing technology Greater use of supplementary cementing materials Recycling concrete and other materials Enhancement of service life of structures Research and use of emerging technologies Development and use of performance-based specifications and codes Use life-cycle cost approach by seeking better and durable concrete structure rather than lower initial cost. Table 1 2004 Coal ash production and use in concrete [Ref. 7] Country China India U.S. Russia Germany UK Production (106 tons) >600 >110 >60 60 33 10 Used in Concrete, % >15 15 10 5 12 10

Table 2 Mixture proportion for a high volume fly ash concrete [Ref. 19] Material Portland Cement Fly Ash (ASTM Type F) Water Coarse Aggregates Fine Aggregates Super-plasticizer W/CM 1173 Quantity 150 kg/m3 200 kg/m3 102 kg/m3 1220 kg/m3 810 kg/m3 7 L/m3 0.29

The 3rd ACF International Conference- ACF/VCA 2008 REFERENCES 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. Concrete Technology for a Sustainable Development in the 21stst Century, Edited by Odd E. Gjorv and Koji Sakai, Spon Press (UK), Feb 2000, 432pp. Malhotra, V. M.: Making Concrete Greener with Fly Ash, ACI Concrete International, Vol. 21, No. 5, May 1999, pp 61-66. Concrete for the Environment, Newsletter, Danish Technological Institute, June 2003. Concrete in Sustainable Development, Cement and Concrete Association of New Zealand, Wellington, New Zealand, 2007. Malhotra, V. M.: Reducing CO2 Emissions, ACI Concrete International, Vol. 28, No.9, 2006, pp 42-45. Malhotra, V. M. and Ramezanianpour, A. R.: Fly Ash in Concrete, 2nd Edition, CANMET, Energy, Mines and Resources Canada, Ottawa, 1994, 307pp. Malhotra, V. M.: CANMET Investigations Dealing with High-Volume Fly Ash Concrete, Advances in Concrete Technology, 2nd Edition, CANMET, Ottawa, Canada, 1994, pp 445-482.
Mehta, P. Kumar, Concrete Technology for Sustainable Development, ACI Concrete International, Vol. 21, No. 11, 1999, pp 47-53.

Lang, E. and Geisler, J. F.: Use of Blast Furnace Slag Cement With High Slag Content for High-Performance Concrete, Concrete in the Service of Mankind Radical Concrete Technology, editors: R. K. Dhir and P. C. Hewlett, E&FN Spon, 1996, pp 67-76. 10. ACI Committee 234: Guide for the Use of Silica Fume in Concrete, ACI 234-96 Report (Reapproved 2000), American Concrete Institute, Farmington Hills, MI, 2000. 11. Hansen T. C. and Lauritzen, E. K.: Concrete Waste in a Global Perspective, Recycling Concrete and Other Materials for Sustainable Development, ACI SP 219, Edited by Tony C. Liu and Christian Meyer, 2004, pp 35-46. 12. Kasai, Y.: Recent Trends in Recycling of Concrete Waste and Use of Recycled Aggregate Concrete in Japan, Recycling Concrete and Other Materials for Sustainable Development, ACI SP 219, Edited by Tony C. Liu and Christian Meyer, 2004, pp 11-34. 13. Naik, T. R.: Greener Concrete Using Recycled Materials, ACI Concrete International, Vol. 24, No.7, July 2002, pp 45-49. 14. Recycling Concrete and Other Materials for Sustainable Development, ACI SP 219 Edited by Tony C. Liu and Christian Meyer, 2004. 15. Metha, P. K.: Greening of the Concrete Industry for Sustainable Development, ACI Concrete International, Vol. 24, No.7, July 2002, pp 23-28. 16. Mehta, P. K. and Burrows, R. W.: Building Durable Structures in the 21st Century, Concrete
International, Vol. 23, No. 3, Mar 2001, pp 57-63.

17. 18.

CO2 Uptake during Concrete Life Cycle, Danish Technological Institute 2006. Nanotechnology of Concrete Retrieved from http://www.voyle.net/2006%20Research/Research-06-046.htm. 19. Metha, P. Kumar: Advancements in Concrete Technology, ACI Concrete International, Vol. 21, No. 6, June 1999, pp 69-76.

1174