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Proceedings of National Conference on Advances in Structural Technologies (CoAST-2019), 1-3 Feb, 2019

Department of Civil Engineering


National Institute of Technology Silchar

A Brief Review of the Effect of Mineral Admixtures on the Properties of


Alkali Activated Composites.

Saswata Chattopadhyay1*, Subhajit Mondal1, Kushal Ghosh2 and Partha Ghosh3


1
2nd Year Undergraduate Student, Department of Construction Engineering, Jadavpur University, Kolkata, India
saswatachatterjee12@gmail.com
1 nd
2 Year Undergraduate Student, Department of Construction Engineering, Jadavpur University, Kolkata, India
subhajitm146@gmail.com
2
Ph.D Student and Junior Research Fellow, Department of Construction Engineering, Jadavpur University, Kolkata,
India
3
Assistant Professor, Department of Construction Engineering, Jadavpur University, Kolkata, India

Abstract. Several leading researchers are putting their effort in finding the most eco-friendly materials which can be used as
sustainable building and construction materials. Ordinary Portland Cement is a vital necessity in the production of concrete
which is the second most consumed material on earth. The production of cement releases huge amounts of greenhouse gases
which plays a vital role in climate change. Therefore to lower the carbon footprint, an alternative to this OPC is Geopolymer
which is an alkali aluminosilicate binder which when activated by alkali silicate solution has the same binding properties to
that of OPC. This paper investigates the effect of addition of mineral admixtures to alkali activated composites and their
subsequent modifications of the properties of the same, carried on by different researchers. Different researchers have aimed
to modify and change the properties of the alkali activated composites with mineral admixtures in recent years, and the data
are summarised to yield a comparative study. Mineral admixtures such as silica fume (SF), Ground granulated blast furnace
slag (GGBS), Metakaolin (MK), Oil Palm Fiber content etc. were studied for the impacts they have on the fresh and the
hardening properties of alkali activated composites. This paper focuses on finding the specific influences of the mineral
admixtures on the fresh and hardened properties of alkali activated composites and attempts to chart out a path to correlate
them in order to help future researchers find an optimal Geopolymeric mix design which balances strength and durability
parameters with sustainability and economic viability.
.

Keywords: Geopolymer, Workability, Flowability.

1. Introduction

With the growth of population and economy the growth of infrastructure is a necessity. The rise of infrastructure
demands has seen a spike of concrete use over the last decade. Concrete has become one of the largest
production materials with an annual global production of about one meter cube for each individual.[8] Concrete
is a mix of the cement paste and aggregates as its main components. The binder, in most of the cases, is Portland
cement, which has a very energy intensive manufacturing process. The raw materials in this case are limestone
and clay burned at very high temperatures. The conventional cement industry uses conventional sources of
energy to obtain this high temperatures. The manufacture of Cement is increasing around 4% annually and with
the production of 1 tonne of cement, nearly 0.93 tonnes of CO2 are produced into the environment. According to
the International Energy Authority, the cement industry is solely responsible for approximately 6% of all the
CO2 emissions globally. CO2 emissions contribute nearly 65% of global warming among all greenhouse gases.
The Cement industry is also responsible for producing SO3 and NOx, other than CO2 , which causes greenhouse
effect and acid rain. Therefore a suitable alternative to this is Geopolymer, an alkali aluminosilicate binder
which when activated by alkali silicate solution has the same binding properties to that of OPC. This new binder
materials which can replace OPC, by alkali activation, can reduce the carbon dioxide emissions to a much lesser
extent when compared to OPC. In addition to its CO2 emission reducing property, the fresh and hardened

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Proceedings of National Conference on Advances in Structural Technologies (CoAST-2019), 1-3 Feb, 2019
Department of Civil Engineering
National Institute of Technology Silchar

properties of alkali activated composites can be modified using mineral admixtures such as silica fume (SF),
Ground granulated blast furnace slag (GGBS), Metakaolin (MK). In recent times, Researchers have been
continuously trying to chart out the correlation between the fresh as well as hardened properties of the alkali
activated composites by using different mineral admixtures. In this context, a review of the effect of the mineral
admixtures on the properties of Alkali Activated Composites is presented.

2. METAKAOLIN
2.1 Workability
Zhang et al[4] prepared Metakaolin (MK) blended with FA to produce FA/MK based Alkali Activated
Composites and reported that the fluidity of the mortar was found to increase with the increased percentage of
MK. The increased percentage of MK resulted in prolonging the respective setting times.

Fig 1a: Impact of increasing MK substituted GBFS Fig 1b: Impact of increasing MK substituted GBFS
on flow of GPMs on setting time of GPMs

With increasing the activator solution:binder ratio while keeping all the factors constant the flowability
increased. This was natural since the water content increased which increased the flowability. The mortar
samples activated with high solution took more time to set and the workability also increased. Figure 2
illustrates flow and setting time with increasing S:B ratio.

Figure 2: Effect of activator solution on workability

Cheng et al.[2] also reported that the effect of more metakaolinite in the system resulted in slower setting time.
Zhang et al.[1] also mentions the effects of alkaline solution on the workability of the mortars. Since the alkaline
solution was a mixture of NaOH and SiO2 , he found that increasing the NaOH molarity diminished the flow. As
the SiO2 to Na2O ratio was increased the degree of dissolution and hydrolysis were accelerated, thereby
inhibited the polycondensation. The effect of Na+ negatively affected the setting time and the workability but

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Proceedings of National Conference on Advances in Structural Technologies (CoAST-2019), 1-3 Feb, 2019
Department of Civil Engineering
National Institute of Technology Silchar

an increase in heat of hydration. Hence MK doped with sodium could be used as heat evolutionary in AAS
systems.

Fig 3a: Effect of solution modulus in workability Figure 3b: Effect of Solution Modulus on setting time
keeping other factors constant keeping other factors constant

2.2 Strength
Zhang et al.[4] had reported the effect of compressive strength by varying FA/MK based Alkali Activated
Composites. It was reported that the Alkali Activated Composites containing 66.7% MK, after steam curing for
6 days, the compressive strength increased by 35.5%. Fig 4a. illustrates the above.

Fig 4a: Effect of MK substituted samples on compressive Fig 4b: Effect of MK substituted Slag on strength with
strength with time keeping other factors constant varying activator concentration

Yunsheng et al. charted out some properties of FA/MK mortars. FA/MK were taken in the ratios of 70/30,
50/50, 30/70, 10/90 and 0/100, by weight. NaOH and sodium silicate solution having molar ratio of 3.2 was
used as alkaline activator solution. It was ultimately noted that the Alkali Activated Composites containing 30%
FA and 70% MK which was steam cured for 8 hours at 80 C, resulted in higher compressive strength. The
compressive and flexural strengths noted were 32.2 and 7.15 MPa, respectively. Li et al. prepared FA/MK-based
Alkali Activated Composites with the ratios of FA/MK being 50/50, 30/70, and 10/90, by weight. NaOH and
sodium silicate solution was used as alkaline activator solution and polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) fibers (2%) was
used as reinforcements. It was seen that the addition of high content of MK in the Alkali Activated Composites
showed good fiber–matrix bond. It resulted in a higher flexural strength. Similarly, the addition of lower MK
content in the Alkali Activated Composites, led to lower flexural strength.

3. GGBS (GROUND GRANULATED BLAST FURNACE SLAG)


3.1 Workability

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Proceedings of National Conference on Advances in Structural Technologies (CoAST-2019), 1-3 Feb, 2019
Department of Civil Engineering
National Institute of Technology Silchar

Pradip Nath et al.[6] reported the effect of varying proportions of GGBS included in fly ash based mortars and
concrete. It was seen that the workability reduced with the the slump and flow values with the inclusion of slag.
All the mixtures were mixed with the same amount of alkali activator, the one with no slag content showed the
highest slump and flow value. Fig 6. Discusses the flow value of GGBS replaced with fly ash mortars. Similarly
it was seen that the binder fly ash took more than 24 hours to set while the same binder replaced with slag
showed considerable amount of decrease in the setting time. Addition of slag increased the reactivity of the
source material leading to an increase in the rate of geopolymerisation. Addition of a calcium based source
material can lead to the formation of a cross-linked hybrid sodium-calcium-aluminate gel system which leads a
decrease in the setting time results in an increase of the stiffness of the geopolymer matrix [12] Sanjay Kumar et
al[14] reported the setting time of partially replaced fly ash with GBFS at 270C and reported that with increasing
GBFS content, the setting time decreased. Neat fly ash samples took more than 295 minutes to set whereas even
an addition of 5% slag reduced the setting time to 105 minutes. The optimum value was 25% slag content which
gave minimum value of 45 minutes. It reports that the distinction between the initial and final setting time was
negligible.

Figure 6a: Effect of GGBS substituted Fly Ash Figure 6b: Effect of various factors combined
in workability[6] with activator solution fixed[6]

The effect of Sodium Silicate to Sodium hydroxide ratio, also known as the solution modulus was investigated
in the Alkali Activated Composites, by keeping the slag and the alkaline activator content fixed at 10% and
40%, and changing the amount of sodium silicate or the sodium hydroxide content in the alkaline activator. The
workability of the Alkali Activated Composites decreased with the increase of the sodium silicate content.
Increasing the Sodium Silicate:Sodium hydroxide ratio, keeping the other variables constant, decreased setting
time to an extent. When the ratio of SiO2:Na2O was increased it amount of silica content increased, which
enhanced the geopolymerisation process.

3.2 Strength
Pradip Nath[6] et al reports that the compressive strength of Alkali Activated Composites having fly ash only,
showed the least strength. Keeping the alkaline activator content fixed (40%) and the solution modulus fixed at
2.5, it was seen that the concrete gained 10 N/mm2 at 28 days for every 10% increment of the slag content. At
the end of 56 days however each mixture shows similar rate of development of compressive strength. Fig7
illustrates the following.

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Proceedings of National Conference on Advances in Structural Technologies (CoAST-2019), 1-3 Feb, 2019
Department of Civil Engineering
National Institute of Technology Silchar

Figure 7: Effect of Fly Ash Substituted GGBS in


compressive strength of mortar[6]

Fig 8 also mentions the effect of alkaline activator and the solution modulus on the compressive strength of
concrete and mortar, keeping the amount of GGBS:Fly ash ratio fixed at 10%. The increase of alkaline activator
from 35% to 45% reduced the strength of the concrete samples. For concrete samples the strength decreased by
24% for 40% of alkaline activator compared to that of 35% alkaline activator. Mortar samples showed less
prominent decrease, although the 45% activator solution samples showed 24% reduction in compressive
strength with respect to 35% activator solution samples.

Figure 8: Effect of activator concentration on the


compressive strength of concrete with 10% GGBS[6]

According to Partha Sarathi Deb et al.[7], the effect of solution modulus on the 28 days compressive strength
which was less prominent than the action of GGBS or the activator solution amount. In case of mortar samples,
at the end of 28 days, solution modulus of 1.5 showed higher strength than those with solution modulus of 2.0 or
2.5 and so on. The strength development was prominent up to 56 days with decrease of solution modulus, as
shown in Fig 9.

Figure 9: Effect of solution modulus on varying


proportions of Slag:Fly ash ratio[7]

Sanjay Kumar et al.[14] casted samples of fly ash replaced with GBFS, which were cured at 27 0C. It was seen
that with increasing GBFS content, the compressive strength increased. The rate of development of compressive
strength was more prominent for 15% GBFS addition. The increase in strength is due to the formation of C-S-H
gel.[15] K.Parthiban[16] reported the same results with replacing fly ash with GBFS, which were cured at ambient
temperature. When the solution modulus and mix ratio was held constant, the replacement of GGFS added to
the strength of concrete. 100% replacement of fly ash with solution modulus 1.5 showed the highest strength of
53.87 MPa while neat fly ash gave result of compressive strength of 21.35 MPa.

4. SILICA FUME

4.1 Workability

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Proceedings of National Conference on Advances in Structural Technologies (CoAST-2019), 1-3 Feb, 2019
Department of Civil Engineering
National Institute of Technology Silchar

J. Durgaprasad et al.[9] reported that the workability of Geopolymer concrete decreased with the addition of
silica fume. Slump of normal OPC cement was significantly higher than the Geopolymer concrete of fly ash and
silica fume. The viscous nature of the Geopolymer paste with respect to the normal OPC paste was due to the
interaction of cohesion forces acting in the system. Figure 10 shows the slump values for different proportions
of SF added. Collins et al[13] reported that alkali activated concrete, activated by hydrated lime and sodium
metasilicate, which has been replaced by 10% condensed silica fume (CSF) showed less workability than pure
AAS concrete which is only activated with powdered sodium metasilicate and hydrated lime.

Figure 10: Effect of SF on slump value of AAS[9]

3.2 Strength
Debabrata Dutta et al. [10] prepared a Alkali Activated Composites mix containing fly ash with 0%, 2.5%, 5% SF
by weight of fly ash and cured for 850C for 48 hrs. After 28 days from casting the Alkali Activated Composites
mortar was tested for compressive strength. Mortar samples prepares with neat fly ash showed 26 MPa, while
the 2.5% SF replaced mortar showed 31 MPa and the 5% showed 36 MPa. This results clearly showed that
increasing SF content leads to higher strength gains due improvement in porosity.

Figure 11a. Effect of SF on Compressive Strength


of Concrete[9]

J. Durgaprasad et al.[9] reports that with increasing SF content the compressive strength steadily increases. The
concrete mixes were cured at 1000C for 72 hours and the strength was measured at the end of 28 days which
gave results as shown in Fig 11a. The results showed that the compressive strength increased stradily up to 40%
SF, this is evident from the microstructural analysis of the concrete samples tested. It showed that the concrete
has a porous structure and the SF occupies the pores without any hindrance and adds to the compactness of
concrete. Hence the strength of concrete steadily increased. Other authors like Escalante-Garcia et al.[11] found
out that SF levels of 5-10% was optimum amount, any further increase of SF amount decreased the compressive
strength.

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Proceedings of National Conference on Advances in Structural Technologies (CoAST-2019), 1-3 Feb, 2019
Department of Civil Engineering
National Institute of Technology Silchar

Figure 11b: Effect of SF on Tensile Strength and Flexural


Strength of Concrete[9]

Flexural Strength and tensile strength characteristics of hardened concrete showed the same type of
improvement like compressive strength. As is evident from Fig 11b. the rate of improvement of tensile strength
rapidly in case of 30 to 40 % replacement value.

5. CONCLUSION

The Mineral Admixtures used to modify the properties of Alkali Activated Composites has been briefly
investigated recently. The conclusion of the above literature review can be summarized as following:

(1) The addition of Metakaolin into Alkali Activated Composite prolonged the setting time and increased
the flowability of the composite.
(2) Researchers have investigated that addition of FA/MK in Alkali Activated increased the compressive
strength of the composite.
(3) The addition of GGBS into the composite retarded the workability and reduced the setting time of the
Alkali Activated Composite. It was also noted that the inclusion of GGBS increased the rate of
development of compressive strength of the composite.
(4) It was observed that silica fume has a negative effect on the workability of Geopolymer Composite,
though the increased SF content had a positive effect on the compressive strength of the composite.
(5) Researchers investigated that increase in SF beyond its optimum content had a negative effect on the
compressive strength of the composite, thus reducing its value.

References
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mortar”, Ain Shams Engineering Journal 2016.
[2] Cheng TW, Chiu JP, “Fire-resistant geopolymer produced by granulated blast furnace slag”. Miner Eng
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[3] Buchwald A, Hilbig H, Kaps Ch. “Alkali-activated metakaolin-slag blends performance and structure in
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[13] Collins Frank, Sanjayan JG. “Effects of ultra-fine materials on workability and strength of concrete
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Proceedings of National Conference on Advances in Structural Technologies (CoAST-2019), 1-3 Feb, 2019
Department of Civil Engineering
National Institute of Technology Silchar

[14] Sanjay Kumar ,Rakesh Kumar, S. P. Mehrotra, “Influence of granulated blast furnace slag on the reaction,
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[16] K.Parthiban , K.Saravanarajamohan , S.Shobana , A.Anchal Bhaskar, “Effect of Replacement of Slag on
the Mechanical Properties of Fly ash Based Geopolymer Concrete”, International Journal of Engineering and
Technology (IJET).

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