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February 9th, 2010

Geopolymer: A cheaper, greener alternative for cement

Published on February 9th, 2010 | By: pwray@ceramics.org

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In the revolutionary way that aerogel is starting to redefine insulation, geopolymer may be poised to redefine cement, concrete and a lot of other advanced composite materials. And, like aerogel, geopolymer hasn’t received the public attention it should.

In this video,  geopolymer expert Trudy Kriven, a professor of material science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, explains how geopolymers are essentially inorganic polymers made from readily available aluminum- and silica-containing materials.

As Kriven explains, a motive for finding a replacement like geopolymer for traditional Portland cement is environmental: Portland cement production requires a tremendous amount of energy to heat and convert the raw materials (at 1450°C), and can generate nearly one ton of CO2 for every ton of processed cement.

Geopolymer, on the other hand, doesn’t have to be fired. In addition, Kriven notes, geopolymer is twice as strong as cement in compression, three-times as strong in flexure and can set up in one day.

The reality is that given the need to reduce global CO2 emissions and given the plans for large scale construction and transportation growth in countries such as China, alternatives to Portland cement are extremely important.

Besides using geopolymer to make concrete, this novel material can be used for fire and corrosion resistant coatings, water and air filtration, CO2 sequestration materials, projectile armor, substrates for solar and fuel cells, and even a paint substitute.

Adding for clarification . . . Trudy’s comments at around the 3 minute mark can be misconstrued when she says the geopolymer “looks like a ceramic, feels like a ceramic, but wasn’t fired at high temperature.” She is referring to “traditional” ceramics that are fired in a kiln or sintered. However, geopolymer falls within the broad grouping of “ceramic materials.”

 


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4 Responses to Geopolymer: A cheaper, greener alternative for cement

  1. Moslih says:

    Geopolymer binder or geopolymer cement is a great alternative to Ordinary Portland cement. It is expected to be used in a large scale for the next five years.

  2. Bhagwant Singh says:

    Dear Sir/madam
    I would like to use your noble research to save the environment by using the same to make the Bricks. Pl. reply me along with terms and conditions. At this time the cost of the cement in India is roughly Rs5/per kg

  3. carroll d. sugg says:

    i am an artist seeking a medium. by round-about way via mystery of great pyramid construction and then davidovitz and the drexel team and then looking for an un-scientific formula, i came upon your site. i’d be interested in learning that a way was available to retrieve raw geo-polymer materials from some of the closed mining operations around here in the western massachusetts and southern vermont area.
    thanks, carroll

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