Civil Engineering Graduate Seminar Series: Thursday, October 11, 4:05 PM, Dow 641
Mary Christiansen, Michigan Tech Civil & Environmental Engineering, PhD candidate
“Geopoly-what?: An Introduction to Geopolymer Cements”
Since its development in the early 19th century, ordinary portland cement (OPC) has cornered the global concrete market based on its reputation to produce a reliable and functional building material. This success, however, comes at a cost. The production of OPC is reported to be responsible for 5-8% of global anthropogenic carbon emissions annually (Scrivener and Kirkpatrick 2008). Efforts to reduce the carbon footprint of this heavily relied upon building material have been somewhat successful, however much of the CO2 emitted during OPC production is inherent in the process and cannot be avoided. This realization has led researchers toward developing alternative low-CO2 binders. Geopolymer cement (GPC) is based on the alkali activation of a powdered aluminosilicate precursor (commonly fly ash or metakaolin). Concrete made with GPC has been shown to perform equally to or better than OPC concrete in terms of mechanical and durability performance. Additionally, geopolymer cement has the added value of a considerably smaller carbon footprint, with reported CO2 emission reductions of up to 80% as compared to OPC (Davidovits 1994; Duxson, Provis et al. 2007).
The presentation will include an introduction to geopolymer cement technology as well as an overview of the concept of creating geopolymers based on the alkali activation of waste glass. This system has the potential to further reduce the carbon footprint of geopolymer cement as well as to develop a dependable market for unsorted waste glass, which is currently an issue in many countries, including the United States.