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
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 generates 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.
Run time: 15 minutes.