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Mix Design and Compressive Strength of Geopolymer Concrete

containing Blended Ash from Agro-Industrial Wastes


Mohd Azreen Mohd Ariffin
1, a
, Mohd Warid Hussin
2,b
and M. Aamer Rafique Bhutta
3,c

1
PhD Student, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Malaysia
2
Professor of Civil Engineering, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia
3
Associate Professor of Civil Engineering, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia
a
myazreen@yahoo.com,
b
hjwaridhussin@yahoo.com,
c
aamer.bhutta@gmail.com
Keywords: alkaline activator, geopolymer concrete, POFA, PFA, mix proportions, compressive
strength.
Abstract. Geopolymer concrete is a type of amorphous alumino-silicate cementitious material.
Geopolymer can be polymerized by polycondensation reaction of geopolymeric precursor and alkali
polysilicates. Compared to conventional cement concrete, the production of geopolymer concrete has
a relative higher strength, excellent volume stability and better durability. This paper presents the mix
design and compressive strength of geopolymer concrete manufactured from the blend of palm oil
fuel ash (POFA) and pulverized fuel ash (PFA) as full replacement of cement with a combination of
sodium silicate and sodium hydroxide solution used as alkaline liquid. The density and strength of the
geopolymer concrete with various PFA: POFA ratios of 0:100, 30:70, 50:50 and 70:30 together with
sodium silicate to sodium hydroxide solution by mass at 2.5 and 1.0, are investigated. The
concentrations of alkaline solution used are 14 Molar and 8 Molar. Tests were carried out on
100x100x100 mm cube geopolymer concrete specimens. Specimens were cured at room temperature
and heat curing at 60

C and 90

C for 24 hours, respectively. The effects of mass ratios of PFA: POFA,


the alkaline solution to PFA: POFA, ratio and concentration of alkaline solution on fresh and
hardened properties of concrete are examined. The results revealed that as PFA: POFA mass ratio
increased the workability and compressive strength of geopolymer concrete are increased, the ratio
and concentration of alkaline solution increased, the compressive strength of geopolymer concrete
increases with regards to curing condition.
Introduction
Climate change due to global warming has become a major issue. Global warming is caused by the
emission of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide (CO
2
) which contributes about 65% of global
warming [1]. From cement manufacturing alone, the forecasted green house gas emission is expected
to rise about 6% annually from 1988 to 2015 [2]. Cement making consists of three major processing
steps: raw material preparation, clinker making in the kiln and cement making. Raw material
preparation and cement making are electricity-consuming processes, while the clinker kiln uses
almost all the fossil fuel in a typical cement plant. Clinker production is the most energy-intensive
production step, responsible for about 70%-80% of the total energy consumed [3].
In this regard, the term geopolymer was first used by Davidovits [4] to alkali aluminosilicate binders
formed by the alkali silicate activation of aluminosilicate materials as an alternative binder to the
Portland cement. In term of reducing the global warming, the geopolymer could reduce the CO
2

emission to the atmosphere caused by cement and aggregate industries by about 80% [3].
Geopolymers have emerged as novel engineering materials with the potential to form a substantial
element of an environmentally sustainable construction and building products industry [3,4]. These
materials are commonly formed by alkali activation of industrial aluminosilicate waste materials such
as fly ash, blast furnace-slag, and rice husk ash.
Advanced Materials Research Vol. 339 (2011) pp 452-457
Online available since 2011/Sep/02 at www.scientific.net
(2011) Trans Tech Publications, Switzerland
doi:10.4028/www.scientific.net/AMR.339.452
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Malaysia is the largest producer of palm oil and palm products in the world. Palm oil shell and husk,
by-products, are used as fuel in a boiler in the palm oil mill to produce steam for electricity generating
plant and palm oil extraction process. Although large amount of POFA is evident, much of the POFA
is disposed in land filling. Palm oil shell and husk, when burnt, is found to contain a high percentage
of silica which is one of the main constituents in producing geopolymer.
It is an agricultural waste and one of the pozzolanic materials used as partial replacement of ordinary
Portland cement in conventional cement to enhance the strength and durability of concrete proved by
previous research [5,6]. Manufacturing of geopolymer concrete using blended ash (PFA + POFA) as
an alternate for cement is examined in this study.
Previous studies have shown the successful use of PFA as a source material in manufacturing of
geopolymer concrete or mortar in terms of high strength and durability performance because of
low-calcium and high silica to alumina ratio in PFA [7]. Manufacturing of geopolymer concrete using
PFA-POFA blended ash as an alternate for cement is being examined in the present study. As a
relatively new construction material, there is little information available on the properties of
geopolymer concrete for structural applications. Since the preparation and hardening process of
geopolymer concrete is different from those of conventional concrete, the properties of geopolymer
concrete entirely depend on the source material to be used. To date there is no information or technical
data available on the development of geopolymer concrete using PFA-POFA blended ash as source
material.The present study deals with the manufacturing of geopolymer concrete using blended ash
from agro-industrial waste and to investigate the mechanical properties of this new material.
Geopolymer concrete are prepared using blended ash using PFA and POFA along with a solution of
sodium hydroxide and sodium silicate as an alkaline activator to activate the synthesis by chemical
reaction with blended ash, consequently, an optimum mix proportions with specified compressive
strength is achieved. This paper presents the results of studying materials, mixture composition,
workability and compressive strength of geopolymer concretes.
Materials
Dry PFA obtained from the silos of Kapar Power Station, Selangor, Malaysia was used. POFA
obtained from burning of palm oil shell and husk at temperature of 940
o
C from a Kahang mill,
Kluang Johor, Malaysia. The PFA and POFA have a mean particle size of 45 m and a percentage
passing through 92.9% for PFA and 90 % for POFA. The main chemical compositions of the ashes
used in this study are shown in Table 1. The silica/alumina ratio (SiO
2
/Al
2
O
3
) is approximately 1.3 for
fly ash whereas POFA has higher silica content and reactive silica. To activate the blended ash, a
commercial grade sodium hydroxide (NaOH) and sodium silicate (Na
2
SiO
3
) solutions were used as
alkaline activator. Local crushed granite sand with a specific gravity of 2.62 and aggregates (10mm
sizes) were used for making concrete. In order to improve the workability, a high range water reducer
super plasticizer (SP) and extra water (W) added to the mixture.

Table 1. Chemical compositions (%) of PFA and POFA.
Type
SiO
2
Al
2
O
3
Fe
2
O
3
CaO

MgO

Na
2
O

K
2
O

P
2
O
5
LOI

PFA
46.7 35.9 5.0 3.9 0.8 0.6 0.5 0.4 1.0
POFA 53.5 1.9 1.1 8.3 4.1 1.3 6.5 2.4 18.0
Testing Procedures
Preparation of specimens
All geopolymer concrete specimens were prepared with alkaline solution to blended ash ratio
of 0.4 by mass. The concentrations of NaOH to solution were 8M and 14M. The ratios by mass of
sodium silicate (Na
2
SiO
3
) to sodium hydroxide (NaOH) were 2.5 and 1. Both coarse and fine
Advanced Materials Research Vol. 339 453
aggregates were in saturated surface dry condition. The blended ash and the aggregates were first dry
mixed together in 80 liter capacity pan mixer for five minutes. The alkaline liquid containing sodium
hydroxide and sodium silicate was added to mixture and mixed for another five minutes. The super
plasticizer was used to maintain the workability of geopolymer concrete. Additional water was also
added to mixture. The mix proportions are given in Table 2. The workability of the fresh concrete was
measured by means of the conventional slump test. The test specimens 100x100x100mm cubes for
compressive strength test were prepared. The specimens were compacted in two layers with tamping
twenty five strokes per layers, followed by compaction on a vibration table for ten seconds to remove
the air voids. After casting, the specimens were covered using vacuum bagging film.

Table 2. Mix proportions of geopolymer concrete.
Mix Mix proportions (kg/m
3
) Ratio
PFA:
POFA
PFA POFA NaSiO
3


NaOH

Sand Aggregate W SP
Solution/
(PFA+
POFA)
W /
Solution
NaSiO
3
:NaOH Ratio = 2.5 : 1
70:30 290 124 119 48 530 1234 29 7 0.4 0.20
50:50 207 207 119 48 530 1234 31 7 0.4 0.34
30:70 124 290 119 48 530 1234 33 7 0.4 0.52
0:100 0 429 119 48 530 1234 64 7 0.4 0.60
NaSiO
3
:NaOH Ratio = 1 : 1
70:30 290 124 83.5 83.5 530 1234 27 7 0.4 0.16
Curing
Test specimens were placed in an oven at 90C for 24 hours and at a room temperature for 7,
14 and 28 days. In case of heat curing, the test specimens were demolded and kept at room
temperature for 7 days until testing.
Compressive strength test
The compressive strength tests were conducted accordingly. The specimens cured at room
temperature were tested at 7, 14 and 28 days. On the other hand, 90C heat cured specimens were
tested at 24 hours and after 7 days at room temperature.
Results and Discussion
Figure 1 represents the effects of curing period and PFA: POFA ratio on compressive strength of
geopolymer concretes cured at room temperature (28C). The concentration of sodium hydroxide
solution was kept constant at 14M in all PFA:POFA ratios. The compressive strength of geopolymer
concretes is significantly influenced by both curing period and PFA:POFA ratio. The compressive
strength of geopolymer concretes with PFA:POFA (0:100) ratio is very low due to low alumina as
shown in chemical composition in Table 1. The compressive strength is gradually increased with an
increase in PFA:POFA ratio. The highest compressive strength of 25 MPa was achieved at the
blended ash ratio of 70:30% (PFA:POFA).This is attributed to the gradual hardening of the
geopolymer concrete by a substantially fast chemical reaction under alkaline condition on Si-Al
minerals present in PFA. The test is currently going on to examine the strength development of
geopolymer concrete after prolonged curing at room temperature.





454 Advanced Manufacturing Systems















Figure 1. Effects of curing period and PFA:POFA ratio on compressive strength
of geopolymer concretes.

Figure 2 shows the effect of molarity or concentration of sodium hydroxide solution and curing period
on the compressive strength of geopolymer concretes at room temperature (28

C). From Figure 2, it is


observed that alkaline concentration and curing period are proportional to the compressive strength of
geopolymer concrete. It is evident that the concentration of NaOH regarding to curing period has an
effect on the compressive strength of geopolymer concrete. This might be due to the acceleration in
the geopolymerization process with the increase of the NaOH concentration or molarity in certain
curing period. The compressive is gradually increased with increasing curing period at high Molar
concentration of 14.















Figure 2. Effects of curing period and NaOH concentration on compressive
strength of geopolymer concretes.

Figure 3 exhibits the influence of sodium silicate to sodium hydroxide solution by mass at different
curing periods on the compressive strength of geopolymer concretes. The concentration of sodium
hydroxide solution was kept constant at 14M with PFA:POFA ratio of 70:30 by mass. As seen in the
Figure, the result indicates that with Na
2
SiO
3
:NaOH ratio of 2.5, geopolymer concrete showed high
compressive strength. The trend is similar to the previous studies on low calcium fly ash-based
geopolymer concrete reacted by sodium-based alkaline solution indicated that the higher the silicate
to hydroxide solution ratio resulted in higher compressive strength [5,7].
NaOH concentration:
PFA:POFA ratio
Age (days)
Age (days)
Advanced Materials Research Vol. 339 455
















Figure 3. Effects of sodium silicate to sodium hydroxide solution ratio on
compressive strength of geopolymer concretes.
Figure 4 represents the effect of curing temperature on compressive strength of geopolymer concretes
at different curing periods. The geopolymer concretes were prepared using POFA and PFA as source
materials and cured at room temperature (28

C for 7-days) and heat-cured at 60

C and 90C for 24


hours plus 7-days at room temperature. In general, the compressive strengths of geopolymer concretes
are increased with an increase in curing temperature. The compressive strength of geopolymer
concretes using PFA (70%) is significantly increased due to complete polymerization process
involves a substantially fast chemical reaction under alkaline condition on Si-Al minerals, that results
in a three-dimensional polymeric chain and ring structure consisting of Si-O-Al-O bonds [7]. On the
other hand, the geopolymer concretes using POFA (100%) show very low compressive strength
which may be attributed to incomplete polymerization or very slow chemical reaction due to less
alumina in POFA.















Figure 4. Effects of curing temperature and PFA:POFA ratio on
compressive strength of geopolymer concretes.


Na2SO3:NaOH =
Age (days)
PFA : POFA ratio (%)
456 Advanced Manufacturing Systems
Conclusions
The blended ash from agro-industrial waste (PFA and POFA) was used as the source material, instead
of the Portland cement, to manufacture the geopolymer concrete. The results obtained and the
observation made in this study are as follows :
1. The compressive strength of geopolymer concrete is significantly influenced by both curing
period and PFA:POFA ratio. The compressive strength is gradually increased with an
increase in PFA:POFA ratio. The highest compressive strength of 25 MPa was achieved at the
blended ash ratio of 70:30% (PFA:POFA).
2. It is evident that the concentration of NaOH regarding to curing period has an effect on the
compressive strength of geopolymer concrete. This might be due to the acceleration in the
geopolymerization process with the increase of the NaOH concentration or molarity in certain
curing period. The strength is gradually increased with increasing curing period at high Molar
ratio of 14.
3. Geopolymer concrete shows high compressive strength at Na
2
SiO
3
:NaOH ratio of 2.5.
4. Geopolymer concretes give higher compressive strength at high temperature. This is because
of complete polymerization process during heat curing at high temperature.
5. The compressive strength of geopolymer concrete is gradually increased with prolonged
curing period and significantly improved at curing period of 28 days. The 28 days compressive
strength of geopolymer concrete achieved in this study is 25 MPa which can be used for
structural applications.
Acknowledgement
The authors wish to acknowledge the help and co-operation received from the technical staff of the
Structure and Materials Laboratory of the Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) in conducting the
experimental work. The financial support received from the university is also gratefully
acknowledged.
References
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Advanced Materials Research Vol. 339 457
Advanced Manufacturing Systems
10.4028/www.scientific.net/AMR.339


Mix Design and Compressive Strength of Geopolymer Concrete Containing Blended
Ash from Agro-Industrial Wastes
10.4028/www.scientific.net/AMR.339.452

DOI References
[3] Gartner E.: Industrially Interesting Approaches to Low-CO2, Cement, Cement and
Concrete Research, 34(9), 2004, pp.1489-1498.
doi:10.1016/j.cemconres.2004.01.021