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Partnership for Research in Geopolymer Concretes

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - PRIGeoC (Partnership for Research in Geopolymer Concretes)

Reporting period: 2016-06-01 to 2018-05-31

Concrete, owing to its availability, easy preparation and fabrication, is the most popular construction material. However, the cement industry is facing unprecedented challenges caused by energy resources and CO2 emissions. Despite the incremental improvements in process efficiency adopted by the cement industry in recent years, Ordinary Portland cement production is still responsible for around 6% of all man-made global carbon emissions. The proposed project aims to develop green concretes by using novel geopolymer materials as new binder and recycled concrete as part of the aggregates. The geopolymer is a type of amorphous alumina-silicate products. It can be synthesized by poly-condensation reaction of geopolymetric precursor and alkali polysilicates, which are available in natural materials or from industrial by-products. Geopolymer materials represent an innovative technology that is generating considerable interest in the construction industry, particularly in light of the ongoing emphasis on sustainability. However, although numerous geopolymer systems have been proposed, most are difficult to work with and require great care in their mixing process. Furthermore, the lack of long-term performance and durability data is also a barrier to the acceptance and widespread commercial use of geopolymer concretes in the construction industry. The proposed research will cover not only the finding of novel geopolymers but also provide long-term performance and durability data for geopolymer concretes used in different environments. The research outcome will have a great impact on our understanding of how geopolymer concretes perform in different environments and how their mechanical properties and performance can be improved by using correct mixing processes. The research will also provide vital information on how to revolutionise the production of concrete materials and how to engineer concrete binders using different geopolymers to tailor the properties of the resulting concrete.
Some highlights of the activities taken by the consortium of the project are:

• 15 researchers were directly involved in the knowledge exchange and training.

• Organised the mid-term meeting (in Liverpool) on November 6-7, 2017.

• Organised three workshops (one in Ho Chi Minh City, August 4, 2016; one in Bangkok, December 15, 2017; one in Ho Chi Minh City, April 29, 2018).

• 4 journal papers published and another 4 are submitted.

• 4 conference papers were published.

List of publications:

Journal papers:
[1] C.Y. Heah, Y.M. Liew, A.M. Mustafa Al Bakri, H. Kamarudin (2017): Thermal resistance variations of fly-ash geopolymers: foaming responses. Scientific Reports 7 (DOI: 10.1038/srep45355) 1-11.
[2] Y.M. Liew, C.Y. Heah, L.Y. Li, N.A. Jaya, M.M.A.B. Abdullah,T.S. Jin, & K. Hussin (2017): Formation of one-part-mixing geopolymers and geopolymer ceramics from geopolymer powder. Construction and Building Materials 156, 9-18.
[3] T. Phoo-ngernkham, S. Hanjitsuwan, L.Y. Li, N. Damrongwiriyanupap & P. Chindaprasirt (2018): Adhesion characterisation of Portland cement concrete and alkali-activated binders. Advances in Cement Research. (https://doi.org/10.1680/jadcr.17.00122).
[4] S. Hanjitsuwan, T. Phoo-ngernkham, L.Y. Li, N. Damrongwiriyanupap & P. Chindaprasirt (2018): Strength development and durability of alkali-activated fly ash mortar with calcium carbide residue as additive. Construction and Building Materials 162, 714-723.

Conference papers:
[1] Cong Tang, Shudong Li, Lisa Li, James Ren, Ahmad Kamal Ariffin, “FE modelling of Auxetic behaviours and applications in civil and engineering materials”, Int'l Conference on New Materials and Applications (NMA 2017), Guilin, China, July 20 to 22, 2017. (LJMU, Tsinghua and Malaysia partners).
[2] Yue Huang, Shamala Ramasamy, “Correlation between Hardness and Water Absorption Properties of Geopolymer Coating using Saudi Kaolin and White Clay”, the 2nd World Congress on Biopolymers 04-05 August 2016 in Manchester, UK.
[3] Yue Huang, Nattapong Damrongwiriyanupap, “Mechanical Properties of Fly Ash Geopolymer Mortar Containing Recycled Glass”, the 7th International Conference on Geotechnique, Construction Materials and Environment, 21-24 November 2017 in Mie, Japan.
[4] Cong Tang, , Lisa Li, Changan Wang, Glynn Rothwell, Jin Wang and James Ren, “Use of Statistical Methods in predicting structures with Auxetic Behaviours”, 9th International Conference on Auxetics and Related Systems, Sheffield, 10th to 13th September 2018.
The exchange programme provided by this RISE project has offered a great opportunity for researchers, particularly young researchers, to develop their skills and gain experience in the fields that are likely to drive concrete research over the next decade. It helped them to develop the international contacts necessary for a successful long-term career, and prepare them for making use of new facilities and new tools available in the world. The program also allowed individual partners to take advantage of the skills of talented researchers from highly respected research institutions both inside and outside Europe and to learn from their experiences.

We have so far made 59.67 secondment months (the total secondment months planned for this project in 4 years are 115 months), delivered three workshops, published 8 journal papers, and presented 4 papers in conferences. The project so far involved 15 researchers, most of them are PhD research students or early career researchers. As the outcomes of this project, UniMAP has been awarded two international research collaboration grants from UK Royal Society, and UniPho has been awarded a Newton Fund grant from UK Royal Academy of Engineering for an academic-industry joint research project.

Geopolymer represents an innovative technology that is generating considerable interest in the construction industry, particularly in light of the ongoing emphasis on sustainability. The proposed project aims to develop green and sustainable concretes by using novel geopolymer materials as the new binder and recycled concrete as part of the aggregates. The research work covers not only the finding of novel geopolymers, which can be used as binders in concrete, but also provides long-term performance and durability data for geopolymer concretes used in different environments. Thus, the research has a great scientific impact on our understanding of how the geopolymer concrete structures perform in various different environments and conditions and how their mechanical properties and performance can be improved by using the correct mixing processes. The project will also make a significant contribution to our society by developing innovative, sustainable and robust concrete products which use novel geopolymers as binders and recycled concrete as part of aggregates, and have improved performance when compared to OPC concrete, which will benefit to our public because the expanded use of green concrete in the construction industry can help to mitigate global warming and climate change.