Award Date

12-1-2016

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Civil and Environmental Engineering and Construction

First Committee Member

Nader Ghafoori

Second Committee Member

Samaan Ladkany

Third Committee Member

Mohamed Kaseko

Fourth Committee Member

Hualiang Teng

Fifth Committee Member

Pradip Bhowmik

Number of Pages

469

Abstract

This study aimed to fully replace Portland cement (PC) with environmentally friendly binders capable of improving longevity of concrete. The new binders consisted of different proportions of natural Pozzolan and slag which were alkaline-activated with various combinations of sodium hydroxide and sodium silicate. A step-by-step research program was designed to (1) develop alkali-activated natural Pozzolan/slag pastes with adequate fresh and strength properties, (2) produce alkali-activated natural Pozzolan/slag mortars to assess the effects of dominant variables on their plastic and hardened properties, and (3) finally produce and assess fresh, mechanical, dimensional, transport and durability properties of alkali-activated natural Pozzolan/slag concretes. The major variables included in this study were binder combination (natural Pozzolan/slag combinations of 70/30, 50/50 and 30/70), activator combination (sodium silicate/sodium hydroxide combinations of 20/80, 25/75 and 30/70), and sodium hydroxide concentration (1, 1.75 and 2.5M). The experimental program assessed performance of alkali-activated natural Pozzolan/slag mixtures including fresh properties (flow and setting times), unit weights (fresh, demolded and oven-dry), mechanical properties (compressive and tensile strengths, and modulus of elasticity), transport properties (absorption, rapid chloride penetration, and rapid chloride migration), durability (frost resistance, chloride induced corrosion, and resistance to sulfuric acid attack), and dimensional stability (drying shrinkage). This study also compared the performance of alkali-activated natural Pozzolan/slag concretes with that of an equivalent reference Portland cement concrete having a similar flow and strength characteristics.

The results of this study revealed that it was doable to find optimum binder proportions, activator combinations and sodium hydroxide concentrations to achieve adequate plastic and hardened properties. Nearly for all studied alkali-activated concretes, workability and setting times were in the acceptable ranges. Overall, a 50/50 combination of natural Pozzolan and slag developed the highest strengths. Increasing slag content to 70%, however, was useful for mixtures with high NaOH concentrations (2.5M) and for acceleration of initial reactions. The strength of alkali-activated concretes improved with increases in sodium silicate portion of activator. Regarding effects of sodium hydroxide concentration on strength properties, there were optimum NaOH molarities which increased with an increase in slag portion of the binder. A 50/50 combination of natural Pozzolan and slag also proved to be the optimum combination for the results of absorption test. NaOH concentration and sodium silicate dosage had marginal effects on the absorption and volume of permeable voids. The chloride penetration depth reduced with decreases in natural Pozzolan portion of the binder (particularly from 70 to 50%), sodium silicate dosage, and NaOH concentration. A nearly similar trend was seen for the drying shrinkage of studied alkali-activated natural Pozzolan/slag concretes, as reduction of these variables also reduced the drying shrinkage. The mass loss of alkali-activated concretes subjected to acid attack increased with increases in slag content, sodium silicate dosage, and sodium hydroxide concentration. The failure time in corrosion test improved (increased) with increases in natural Pozzolan content, sodium silicate dosage, and sodium hydroxide concentration. The frost resistance of alkali-activated concretes improved as slag portion of the binder was increased. An increase in sodium silicate dosage was beneficial in improving frost resistance of concretes made with binders having 50 and 70% slag. An opposite trend was seen when slag portion of the binder was reduced to 30%.

The mechanical properties (compressive strength, tensile strength and elastic modulus) of alkali-activated concretes made with activators having 20 and 25% sodium silicate were lower than those of the reference Portland cement concrete. As sodium silicate dosage of activator was increased to 30%, the compressive strengths of alkali-activated concretes were similar to those of the reference Portland cement concrete. Absorption of the studied alkali-activated natural Pozzolan/slag concretes was averagely 26% lower than that of the reference Portland cement concrete. Their chloride penetration depths were significantly lower (averagely about 80%) than that of the reference Portland cement concrete. The average drying shrinkage of alkali-activated natural Pozzolan/slag concretes was lower than that of reference PC concrete by nearly 26%. While the drying shrinkage of the worst performed alkali-activated natural Pozzolan/slag concrete was about 25% higher than that of the reference Portland cement concrete, there were several alkali-activated concretes that shrank considerably less than the reference Portland cement concrete. The corrosion and acid attack resistances of alkali-activated natural Pozzolan/slag concretes were significantly higher than that of the reference Portland cement concrete. The frost resistance of alkali-activated concretes having binders made with 50 and 70% slag was significantly higher than that of the reference Portland cement concrete. On the other hand, the frost resistance of concretes made with binders having 30% slag was similar to or less than (depending on sodium silicate content) that of the reference Portland cement concrete.

Keywords

Alkali-activated binder; Durability; Geopolymer; Natural Pozzolan; Slag; Sustainability

Disciplines

Civil Engineering | Engineering Science and Materials | Materials Science and Engineering

Language

English


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