USING SOUTH AFRICAN FLY ASH AS A COMPONENT OF ALKALI-

USING SOUTH AFRICAN FLY ASH AS A COMPONENT OF ALKALI-
USING SOUTH AFRICAN FLY ASH AS A COMPONENT OF ALKALIACTIVATED BINDER
JULIA SHEKHOVTSOVA
A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of
PHILOSOPHIAE DOCTOR (CIVIL)
In the
FACULTY OF ENGINEERING, BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND INFORMATION
TECHNOLOGY
UNIVERSITY OF PRETORIA
January 2015
ii
DECLARATION
I, the undersigned hereby declare that:
 I understand what plagiarism is and I am aware of the University‟s policy in this
regard;
 The work contained in this thesis is my own original work;
 I did not refer to work of current or previous students, lecture notes, handbooks or
any other study material without proper referencing;
 Where others people‟s work has been used this has been properly acknowledged and
referenced;
 I have not allowed anyone to copy any part of my thesis;
 I have not previously in its entirely or in part submitted this thesis at any university
for a degree.
Signature of student:
Name of student:
Julia Shekhovtsova
Student number:
04442165
Date:
January 2015
iii
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
I wish to express my gratitude to:

The University of Pretoria for the financial support of this project, the provision and
the use of laboratory facilities;

My supervisor, Professor Elsabe Kearsley for opportunity to work on this project, her
support, guidance, encouragement and help in improvement of this thesis

Dr R Kruger and Ash Resources for providing a part of fly ash for this study;

Mr Derek Mostert for helping me with experiment set up and valuable discussions of
the results;

Personnel of Civil Engineering Department (Jenny Callanan, Vanessa Doman, Johan
Scholtz, Jaco Botha, Rikus Kock, Rita Peens and Petro Venter). One way or another
they were helping me during my study;

Staff of the Laboratory for Microscopy and Microanalysis at the University of
Pretoria (André Botha, Alan Hall, Antoinette Buys) for assistance during SEM
investigation;

Wiebke Grote and Jeanette Dykstra for conducting XRD and XRF analyses during
this study;

Dr Liezel Van Der Merwe and Dr Linda Prinsloo for their helpful input;

My husband, Maxim Kovtun for helping me on each stage of this study. For his
encouragement, unconditional support, love and believing in me;

My family and friends for being there for me.
iv
SUMMARY
This thesis focuses on alkali-activation of South African fly ash with the aim to utilize high
volumes of fly ash in construction material, such as concrete. This new type of binder does
not contain Portland cement and could reduce carbon dioxide emission related to Portland
cement production. At the same time fly ash utilization contributes to growth and economy of
the country, conservation of natural resources and improvement of environmental aspects.
Although numerous studies have been devoted to alkali-activated materials and geopolymers,
only a few studies were performed using South African fly ash. Rational technological
parameters such as elevated temperature curing and mix composition of alkali-activated fly
ash cements contained South African raw materials were determined in this thesis. Curing at
60 ºC for 16 hours gives the best trade between energy consumption and strength of the alkaliactivated fly ash cements. Alkali content should not exceed 12 % Na2O (preferably 9 %)
which causes high standard deviation of the compressive strength and coefficient of variation
between different batches of the concrete, as well as facilitates efflorescence formation.
Produced alkali-activated fly ash cements were characterized by using different techniques
(XRD, ATR-FTIR, SEM).
Alkali-activated fly ash cements are assumed to be low heat binders but the current study
shows that significant amount of energy can be released during elevated temperature curing of
these cements. Increased amount of alkali can cause temperatures up to 150 ºC which will
negatively affect structure development of alkali-activated fly ash cement resulting in
observed strength drop when alkali concentration exceeds 9 % Na2O of fly ash mass. This
finding is a valuable addition to the existing knowledge on alkali-activated materials which
was not mentioned anywhere previously.
For the first time initial shrinkage of alkali-activated fly ash cured at elevated temperature
during the first 24 hours was investigated in this thesis. Initial shrinkage of alkali-activated fly
ash depends on alkali content and increases with an increase in amount of alkali. The initial
shrinkage of alkali-activated fly ash concrete is significantly less, up to twofold, than the
shrinkage of fly ash-OPC blended concrete even when the latter was cured at room
temperature and 99 % relative humidity in comparison to curing of alkali-activated fly ash
concrete at 60 ºC in dry oven.
Heat cured alkali-activated fly ash concrete has engineering properties similar to OPC
concrete‟s properties. The alkali-activated fly ash concrete with 9 % Na2O, containing 500 kg
v
of fly ash per cubic meter with dolomite aggregates provides adequate workability, and has
the following characteristics:

Slump of fresh concrete
50 mm

Compressive strength at 28 days
45.5 MPa

Elastic modulus at 28 days
30 GPa

Poisson‟s ratio at 28 day
0.11

Modulus of rupture at 28 days
5.7 MPa

Split tensile strength at 28 days
3.2 MPa

Initial shrinkage (during first 24 hours)
1400 microstrain

Drying shrinkage after 1 year
300 microstrain

Creep after 1 year
600 microstrain
The durability indices indicate that the alkali-activated fly ash concrete is comparable to the
conventional concrete, and service life of structures made from the alkali-activated fly ash
concrete should meet modern requirements. The alkali-activated fly ash concrete developed
can thus be recommended for precast concrete units.
vi
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1
INTRODUCTION
1-1
1.1
Background
1-1
1.2
Problem statement
1-2
1.3
Objectives
1-3
1.4
Hypothesis
1-3
1.5
Methodology
1-3
1.6
Scope of research
1-5
1.7
Organization of the thesis
1-6
2
LITERATURE REVIEW
2-1
2.1
Introduction
2-1
2.2
Definition and historical background
2-1
2.3
Raw materials for alkali activation
2-4
2.3.1
Fly ash
2-4
2.3.2
Fly ash in South Africa
2-6
2.3.3
Blast furnace slag
2-7
2.3.4
Metakaolin
2-9
2.3.5
Other materials
2-10
2.4
Alkaline activators
2-11
2.5
Mechanisms and kinetic of reaction, reaction products
2-14
2.5.1
Reaction mechanism of alkali activation of metakaolin and fly ash
2-15
2.5.2
Reaction mechanism of alkali activation of slag
2-19
2.5.3
Hydration products
2-21
2.6
2.7
Factors affecting alkali activation and final material properties
2-22
2.6.1
Chemical and mineralogical composition of initial materials
2-22
2.6.2
Type, concentration and modulus of activator
2-22
2.6.3
Fineness of raw materials
2-23
2.6.4
Temperature, duration and type of curing
2-24
2.6.5
Water content
2-26
2.6.6
Age
2-27
Other
properties
of
geopolymer
binders
in
comparison
to
ordinary
Portland cement
2-28
2.7.1
Environmental aspects of geopolymer production
2-28
2.7.2
Compressive strength
2-29
vii
2.7.3
Shrinkage, creep, elastic constants
2-29
2.7.4
Acid and sulphate resistance, sea water resistance
2-30
2.7.5
Corrosion of reinforcement, resistance to carbonation, chloride ingress 2-32
2.7.6
Alkali-silica reaction
2-33
2.7.7
Fire resistance
2-34
2.8
Geopolymer issues
2-36
2.9
Application experience of alkali-activated/geopolymer binders and concretes
2-37
2.10
Alkali-activated materials in South Africa
2-38
2.11
Conclusions and study motivation
2-39
3
MATERIALS AND METHODS
3-1
3.1
Introduction
3-1
3.2
Characterization techniques
3-1
3.2.1
X-ray Diffraction
3-1
3.2.2
Attenuated Total Reflectance Fourier Transform Infrared spectroscopy 3-2
3.2.3
Scanning Electron Microscopy
3.3
3.4
3-3
Materials
3-3
3.3.1
Fly ash
3-3
3.3.2
Activating solutions
3-7
3.3.3
Aggregates
3-8
3.3.4
Mix proportions and synthesis of AAFA
3-8
Test methods
3-10
3.4.1
Strength of hardened paste and concrete
3-10
3.4.2
Deformations in pastes and concrete
3-11
3.4.3
Durability of concrete
3-14
3.4.4
Heat evolution during elevated temperature curing
3-15
3.5
Conclusions
3-16
4
EXPERIMENTAL STUDY ON ALKALI-ACTIVATED FLY ASH CEMENT
PASTES
4-1
4.1
Introduction
4-1
4.2
Trial experiment of AAFA cement pastes producing
4-1
4.3
Factors affecting strength of alkali-activated fly ash (AAFA) cement paste
4-2
4.3.1
Effect of sodium oxide content and age
4.3.2
Effect of temperature and duration of elevated temperature curing on the
compressive strength
4-2
4-7
viii
4.4
4.3.3
Effect of water to binder solids ratio
4-12
4.3.4
Effect of mineralogical composition of initial fly ash
4-13
4.3.5
Effect of activator type
4-14
4.3.6
Effect of SiO2 concentration
4-16
Characterization of AAFA cement pastes
4-19
4.4.1
Porosity
4-19
4.4.2
XRD study
4-20
4.4.3
ATR-FTIR characterization
4-23
4.4.3.1 Effect of sodium oxide content and age
4-23
4.4.3.2 Effect of temperature
4-28
4.4.3.3 Effect of different activators
4-30
SEM observation
4-33
4.4.4
4.5
Temperature development in AAFA cement pastes during elevated temperature
curing
4-45
4.6
Shrinkage of AAFA cement pastes during elevated temperature curing
4-51
4.7
Conclusions
4-55
5
EXPERIMENTAL
STUDY
ON
ALKALI-ACTIVATED
FLY
ASH
CONCRETE
5-1
5.1
Introduction
5-1
5.2
Trial experiments of AAFA concrete producing
5-1
5.3
Evaluation of short and long-term properties of AAFA concrete
5-5
5.3.1
Strength of concrete
5-6
5.3.1.1 Compressive strength development
5-6
5.3.1.2 Tensile strength
5-7
Deformations of concrete
5-9
5.3.2.1 E-value and Poisson‟s ratio
5-9
5.3.2.2 Shrinkage during first 24 hours
5-10
5.3.2.3 Drying shrinkage
5-11
5.3.2.4 Creep performance
5-12
Durability of concrete
5-14
5.3.3.1 Basic acid immersion test
5-14
5.3.2
5.3.3
5.3.3.2 Oxygen permeability index, water sorptivity, chloride conductivity,
porosity
5-17
5.4
Quantification of CO2 emission
5-19
5.5
Conclusions
5-22
ix
6
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
6-1
6.1
Introduction
6-1
6.2
Conclusions
6-1
6.3
Recommendations
6-4
7
REFERENCES
7-1
APPENDIX A EXAMPLE OF MIX DESIGN OF ALKALI-ACTIVATED FLY ASH
CEMENT PASTE
A-1
APPENDIX B SUITABILITY OF USING “WATER TO BINDER SOLIDS” RATIO AS A
VARIABLE PARAMETER INSTEAD OF SOLUTION TO FLY ASH MASS RATIO,
WATER TO FLY ASH MASS RATIO AND ETC
B-1
APPENDIX C TABLE OF DENSITIES OF AQUEOUS SODIUM HYDROXIDE
SOLUTIONS
C-1
APPENDIX D RECOMMENDED FACTORS FOR
AND
SUITABLE FOR
ESTIMATING E FOR DESIGN PURPOSES FOR DOLOMITE
APPENDIX E
D-1
SHRINKAGE CONE METHOD. CORRELATION BETWEEN HEIGHT
AND VOLUME CHANGES
E-1
APPENDIX F TABLES FROM CHAPTER 4
F-1
APPENDIX G DESIGN OF CONCRETE MIXTURES FROM CHAPTER 5
G-1
x
LIST OF TABLES
Table 2.1 Reaction products in different alkali-activated materials
2-21
Table 3.1 Chemical composition of fly ashes
3-4
Table 3.2 Phase composition of fly ashes, weight %
3-7
Table 3.3 Mix composition and curing condition of AAFA pastes
3-9
Table 3.4 Mould material properties
3-16
Table 4.1 Compressive strength, standard deviation and coefficient of variation at 28 days of
alkali-activated
classified
Lethabo
fly
ash
cement
(larger sample population)
paste
4-6
Table 4.2 Chemical composition of amorphous phase of fly ashes, %
Table 4.3 Quantitative XRD analysis of AAFA pastes amorphous phase, weight %
Table 4.4 Values of maximum temperature peak and the time of its appearance
3
Table 5.1 Material consumption for concrete producing, kg/m
4-14
4-23
4-48
5-6
Table 5.2 Average compressive strength and standard deviation values of AAFA concrete
and fly ash – OPC blended concrete at different time
5-7
Table 5.3 Modulus of rupture and split tensile strength of GP and NC concrete at 28 day and
its standard deviation
5-8
Table 5.4 E-values and Poisson‟s ratios of GP and NC concrete at 28 day and its standard
deviation
Table 5.5 Instantaneous strain and elastic modulus of GP and NC concretes
5-9
5-13
Table 5.6 Average compressive strength and standard deviation values of AAFA concrete
and fly ash – OPC blended concrete cured in H2SO4 acid (pH=2)
5-15
Table 5.7 Durability indices
5-18
Table 5.8 Ranges of durability indices
5-18
Table 5.9 CO2-e emission from different raw materials, kg/per kg produced material
5-20
Table 5.10 Material consumption and an estimation of CO2-e emission associated with raw
materials for concrete production
5-21
Table 6.1 Comparison of properties of alkali-activated fly ash concrete (GP) and Ordinary
Portland cement-fly ash blended concrete (NC)
6-4
xi
LIST OF FIGURES
Figure 1.1
Outline of study organization
1-4
Figure 2.1
27
2-2
Figure 2.2
29
Al MAS NMR of true geopolymer (Davidovits, 2008)
Si MAS NMR spectra of Na-geopolymers with Si/Al of (a) 1.15, (b) 1.40, (c)
1.65, (d) 1.90, and (e) 2.15 (Duxson et al., 2005)
2-2
Figure 2.3
Geopolymer terminology according to Davidovits (2005)
2-4
Figure 2.4
Statistical overview of ash produced and sold by Eskom (Eskom Holding Ltd,
2012)
Figure 2.5
2-6
Type of activator versus 28-day strength for different types of slag (20 °C;
fineness = 450±300 m2/g; alkali solution/slag = 0.41; sand/ slag = 2)
(Wang et al., 1994)
Figure 2.6
2-8
24 Hour flexural strengths of specimens containing metakaolin with different
solution concentrations (Alonso and Palomo, 2001)
Figure 2.7
2-10
Effect of solution concentration on the compressive strength of alkali-activated
fly ash at 7 days (Katz, 1998)
Figure 2.8
2-12
Compressive strength of alkali activated fly ash binder with different activators
(Fernandez-Jimenez and Palomo, 2005a)
Figure 2.9
The
28-day
compressive
strength
2-13
of
alkali-activated
slag
(Bakharev et al., 1999)
pastes
2-14
Figure 2.10 Conceptual model for geopolymerization (Duxson et al., 2007b)
2-16
Figure 2.11 Reaction sequence of geopolymerization (Provis and van Deventer, 2007)
2-16
Figure 2.12 The schematic description of mechanical properties evolution (FernandezJimenezet al., 2006b)
2-17
Figure 2.13 Descriptive model of the alkali activation of fly ash (Fernandez-Jimenez,
2005c)
2-18
Figure 2.14 Heat evolution and cumulative heat of alkali-activated fly ash with different
sodium silicate solutions (Ma et al., 2012)
2-19
Figure 2.15 Heat evolution and cumulative heat of alkali-activated metakaolin with partial
replacement by fly ash (Zhang et al., 2014)
Figure 2.16 Slag rate of hydration vs. time (Fernandez-Jimenez and Puertas, 1997)
2-19
2-20
Figure 2.17 Strength development profiles of geopolymer mortars synthesized from fly ash
(FA1, FA2, FA3), ground granulated blast-furnace slag (GGBS) and a blend of
fly ash and slag (FA3+GGBS) (Lloyd, 2009)
2-28
Figure 2.18 Residual compressive strength of AAFA after thermal loading (Rasad and
Figure 3.1
Zeedan, 2011)
2-35
A multiple reflection in ATR crystal (www.perkinelmer.com, 2014)
3-3
xii
Figure 3.2
Particle size distribution of used fly ashes
3-5
Figure 3.3
SEM images of classified Lethabo fly ash
3-6
Figure 3.4
X-ray diffraction pattern of fly ashes
3-6
Figure 3.5
ATR-FTIR spectra of fly ashes
3-7
Figure 3.6
Shrinkage cone method for measuring shrinkage
3-12
Figure 4.1
Effect of Na2O content on the compressive strength development of alkaliactivated unclassified Lethabo fly ash
Figure 4.2
Effect of Na2O content on the flexural strength development of alkali-activated
classified Lethabo fly ash
Figure 4.3
4-2
4-3
Effect of Na2O content on the compressive strength development of alkaliactivated classified Lethabo fly ash
4-4
Figure 4.4
The surface of AAFA paste samples after 28 days of curing
4-7
Figure 4.5
Effect of curing temperature on the compressive strength of AAFA cement
pastes
Figure 4.6
4-9
Effect of duration of elevated temperature curing on the compressive strength of
AAFA cement pastes cured at: a) 60 and b) 80 ºC
4-11
Figure 4.7
Effect of water to binder solids ratio on the compressive strength
4-12
Figure 4.8
Compressive strength comparison of Matla and Lethabo AAFA pastes at
different age
Figure 4.9
4-13
Compressive strength development of samples activated by different alkaline
solutions
4-15
Figure 4.10 Effect of SiO2 concentration on the compressive strength of AAFA paste with
constant Na2O of 3 % of fly ash mass
4-17
Figure 4.11 Effect of SiO2 concentration on the compressive strength of AAFA paste with
constant Na2O of 6 % of fly ash mass
4-17
Figure 4.12 Effect of SiO2 concentration on the compressive strength of AAFA paste with
constant Na2O of 9 % of fly ash mass
4-18
Figure 4.13 Effect of sodium oxide content in AAFA paste on the porosity of
specimens
4-19
Figure 4.14 XRD pattern of AAFA cement pastes containing unclassified Lethabo fly ash
with different sodium oxide content after 45 days of curing
4-20
Figure 4.15 XRD pattern of AAFA cement pastes containing classified Lethabo fly ash with
different sodium oxide content after 72 days curing
4-21
Figure 4.16 Relative intensities of hydroxysodalite peaks at different sodium oxide content in
AAFA cement pastes containing unclassified Lethabo fly ash
4-22
xiii
Figure 4.17 Relative intensities of hydroxysodalite peaks at different sodium oxide content in
AAFA cement pastes containing classified Lethabo fly ash
4-22
Figure 4.18 ATR-FTIR spectra of AAFA pastes with different sodium oxide content at 1 day
(after heat curing)
4-24
Figure 4.19 ATR-FTIR spectra of AAFA pastes with different sodium oxide content
at 28 days
4-25
Figure 4.20 ATR-FTIR spectra of AAFA pastes with different sodium oxide content
at one year
4-26
Figure 4.21 ATR-FTIR spectra of AAFA paste with 9 % of sodium oxide cured at different
temperatures at the age of one year
4-29
Figure 4.22 ATR-FTIR spectra of AAFA pastes contained different levels of soluble silica at
the age of one year
4-31
Figure 4.23 ATR-FTIR spectra of AAFA pastes activated by different concentrations of
potassium hydroxide at the age of one year
4-32
Figure 4.24 Microstructure of unclassified Lethabo AAFA cement paste with 3 % sodium
oxide a) × 500; b) × 1300; c) × 3000
4-34
Figure 4.25 Microstructure of unclassified Lethabo AAFA cement paste with 6 % sodium
oxide a) × 500; b) × 2000; c) × 3000
4-35
Figure 4.26 Microstructure of unclassified Lethabo AAFA cement paste with 9 % sodium
oxide a) × 500; b) × 2000; c) × 2000
4-36
Figure 4.27 Microstructure of unclassified Lethabo AAFA cement paste with 12 % sodium
oxide a) × 500; b) × 2000; c) × 2000
4-37
Figure 4.28 Microstructure of unclassified Lethabo AAFA cement paste with 15 % sodium
oxide a) × 500; b) × 2000; c) × 2000
4-38
Figure 4.29 Microstructure of classified Lethabo AAFA cement paste with 3 % sodium
oxide
4-40
Figure 4.30 Microstructure of classified Lethabo AAFA cement paste with 6 % sodium
oxide
4-41
Figure 4.31 Microstructure of classified Lethabo AAFA cement paste with 9 % sodium
oxide
4-42
Figure 4.32 Microstructure of classified Lethabo AAFA cement paste with 12 % sodium
oxide
4-43
Figure 4.33 Microstructure of classified Lethabo AAFA cement paste with 15 % sodium
oxide
4-44
Figure 4.34 Temperature development in AAFA cement pastes with different sodium oxide
content during elevated temperature curing (18 prisms)
4-46
xiv
Figure 4.35 Influence of sample size and mould‟s material on the temperature profiles of
AAFA cement paste with 9 % Na2O during heat curing
4-47
Figure 4.36 Influence of sample size and mould‟s material on the temperature profiles of
AAFA cement paste with 12 % Na2O during heat curing
4-48
Figure 4.37 Influence of sample size and mould‟s material on the temperature profiles of
AAFA cement paste with 15 % Na2O during heat curing
4-48
Figure 4.38 Relationship between time of appearance of maximum temperature and sodium
oxide content for moulds of different sizes
4-50
Figure 4.39 Early age shrinkage of AAFA cement pastes with different sodium oxide
concentration during elevated temperature curing at 60 °C for 24 hours
4-52
Figure 4.40 „Maximum shrinkage rate and shrinkage magnitude vs. Na2O content‟
relationship of AAFA cement pastes
4-52
Figure 4.41 Early age shrinkage of OPC paste with w/c of 0.28 during elevated temperature
curing at 60 °C for 24 hours
4-53
Figure 4.42 Average mass losses of AAFA cement pastes with different sodium oxide
concentration after elevated temperature curing at 60 °C for 24 hours
4-53
Figure 4.43 Mass loss - early age shrinkage relationship of AAFA cement pastes after
elevated temperature curing at 60 °C for 24 hours
Figure 5.1
4-55
Strength development of alkali-activated fly ash concrete with different
concentrations of sodium oxide
Figure 5.2
5-1
Effect of variation of fly ash content and water to binder solids ratio on the
compressive
strength
and
workability
of
AAFA
concrete
different age
Figure 5.3
at
5-2
Effect of water to binder solids ratio on the average compressive strength of
AAFA concrete
5-3
Figure 5.4
Strength development of AAFA concretes with 9 % and 12 % Na2O
Figure 5.5
Individual strength results for mixtures with 9 % and 12 % of sodium oxide and
their average (AS) and characteristic (CS) strength
Figure 5.6
5-4
Strength variation of five bathes of AAFA concrete with 9 % sodium oxide at
different age and their average strength
Figure 5.7
5-3
5-5
Strength development of AAFA concrete and fly ash – OPC blended
concrete
5-7
Figure 5.8
In situ shrinkage of NC and GP concretes during first 24 hours
5-11
Figure 5.9
Drying shrinkage of NC and GP concretes
5-12
Figure 5.10 Creep performance of GP and NC concretes
5-14
xv
Figure 5.11 Strength development of AAFA concrete and fly ash – OPC blended concrete
placed in H2SO4 acid (pH=2)
5-15
Figure 5.12 Appearance of fly ash – OPC blended concrete exposed to H2SO4 acid (pH=2) at
182 days
5-16
Figure 5.13 Appearance of AAFA concrete exposed to H2SO4 acid (pH=2) at 182 day 5-17
Figure 5.14 Concrete CO2emissions system diagram (Flower and Sanjayn, 2007)
5-19
xvi
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
AAFA
Alkali Activated Fly Ash
AAM
Alkali Activated Material
AAR
Alkali Aggregate Reaction
AAS
Alkali Activated Slag
ATR FTIR
Attenuated Total Reflectance Fourier Transform Infrared
spectroscopy
CS
Characteristic Strength
FA
Fly Ash
FAC
Fly Ash Cenosphere
HC
Heat Curing
GP
Geopolymer
GPC
Geopolymer Concrete
LOI
Loss on Ignition
MAS NMR
Magic Angle Spinning Nuclear Magnetic Resonance
Ms
Silica modulus
NBO
Non-bridging oxygen
NC
Concrete containing Portland Cement
OPC
Ordinary Portland Cement
SANS
South African National Standard
SEM
Scanning Electron Microscopy
XRD
X-ray Diffraction
XRF
X-ray Fluorescence
xvii
TERMINOLOGY
Amorphous phase
non-crystalline phase of material without a long-order structure
characteristic to crystal
Autogenous shrinkage
Carbon
shrinkage due to chemical reaction without any loss of moisture
dioxide Carbon dioxide equivalent is a measure used to compare the
equivalent (CO2-e)
emissions from various greenhouse gases based upon their global
warming potential
Cenosphere
is a lightweight, hollow sphere made largely of silica and alumina
and filled with air or inert gas
Heat curing
same as elevated temperature curing, heat treatment – curing of
paste/concrete at temperatures higher than ambient
M2O
alkali oxide, where M is Na or K
Paste
in this thesis refers to alkali-activated fly ash paste without any
fine and coarse aggregates
Plerosphere
is a relatively big fly ash particle packed inside with fine fly ash
particles
Silica modulus
weight ratio of silicon oxide to sodium oxide
Sodium silicate
same as Na2O·nSiO2, liquid glass, water glass, soluble glass – a
chemical alkaline compound containing sodium oxide and silicon
dioxide used in this thesis in aqueous form
1-1
1
INTRODUCTION
1.1
BACKGROUND
It is known that concrete is one of the most widely used construction materials and Ordinary
Portland Cement (OPC) usually has been used as a binder component in it. Production of
OPC requires high energy efforts and has a significant impact on the global emissions of
greenhouse gases. During the production of 1 tonne of Portland cement between 0.73 and 0.99
tonnes of CO2 is released to the atmosphere (Hasanbeigi et al., 2012; Mahasenan et al., 2003;
Flower and Sanjayan, 2007). One of the major cement manufacturers in South Africa, Pretoria
Portland Cement (PPC) reported that in 2011 its carbon footprint for cement was 892 kg CO2
per tonne of cement (PPC Integrated Annual report, 2011) which is an increase of 2.6 %
compared to 2010. The biggest part of the CO2 is emitted during clinker manufacture at 14001500 °C due calcination of limestone into lime at temperatures of 600-900 °C. Globally, the
cement industry accounts for approximately 5 % of the current anthropogenic carbon dioxide
emissions (Hasanbeigi et al., 2012).
Increased demand for construction materials and particularly concrete leads to increasing
pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. The problem of greenhouse gas emission is discussed
at international level. Treaties (such as the Kyoto protocol) that set binding obligations on
industrialized countries to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases were signed between many
countries including South Africa.
In the light of these events opportunities to reduce CO2 emission by using alternative binders
to OPC are investigated all over the world. Partial replacement of cement by fly ash or slag
was found to reduce concrete CO2 emissions by between 13 and 22 % (Flower and Sanjayan,
2007).
Alkali-activated binders and geopolymers are potential alternatives to OPC. Geopolymers are
inorganic materials with three-dimensional silico-aluminate structures resulting from
polycondensation. Davidovits called the reaction which takes place as a result of alkaline
activation of aluminosilicates at low temperatures geopolymerization (Davidovits, 1988).
According to data published in literature, carbon emissions of geopolymers can be 80 % less
than that of traditional cements (van Deventer et al., 2010) and greenhouse gas emissions can
be reduced by 44 to 64% (McLellan et al., 2011). Recent conclusions of Turner and Collins
(2013) show the CO2 footprint of geopolymer concrete to be only 9 % less than that of OPC
concrete.
1-2
According to van Jaarsveld et al. (2002) the formation of geopolymer starts from the
dissolution of aluminosilicates from the raw material in high pH alkaline solutions, with the
formation of mobile precursors which orientate then condensate and harden with the
formation of amorphous or semi-crystalline structure.
Rich sources of aluminosilicates, most widely used for alkali-activation, are fly ashes,
metakaolin and blast furnace slag.
Benefits of producing alkali-activated materials include:

Utilization of by-products of industry productions (fly ashes, slags, etc.)

Material with good properties can be produced;

Expanding the raw material base of the building industry without using natural mineral
resources;

1.2
Reduce greenhouse gas emission by cement replacement.
PROBLEM STATEMENT
In this particular work chemical activation of fly ashes will be investigated. Utilization of ash
is a very important problem for South Africa as energy production mostly relies on coal. Sasol
(petrochemical) and Eskom (power utility) are the largest coal processing companies in South
Africa. More than 30 million tonnes of coal is consumed annually by Sasol and about 8
million tonnes of gasification ash is produced (Matjie et al., 2005). Eskom consumes more
than 100 million tonnes of coal per annum (Eskom Holding Ltd, n.d) and more than 35
million tonnes of ash (fly + bottom) were produced in 2011 (Eskom Holding Ltd, 2011).
Almost 90 % of the ash produced by Eskom is fly ash. The morphological features of fly ash
results in improved workability of cement systems, while the pozzolanic activity makes fly
ash suitable for use as cement extender (Kruger and Krueger, 2005). However, in South
Africa only about 5 % of all fly ash produced by Eskom is beneficially used (Eskom Holding
Ltd, n.d; Bada and Potgieter-Vermaak, 2008) and millions of tonnes of ash are being stored
and disposed in ash dams and landfills annually, creating the risk of toxic elements present in
fly ash being released, into soils and ground water (Carlson and Adriano, 1993). There is
always a risk of failure of a fly ash disposal dam itself. The catastrophic dike failure at the
Kingston Fossil Fuel Plant (Tennessee, USA) has been reported in 2008. Massive release of
fly ash and mud sludge disrupted power and natural gas line, destroyed several homes,
causing an enormous impact on the environment (United States Environmental Protection
Agency, 2009).
1-3
This thesis is an attempt to develop an alternative application for South African fly ash as a
raw material for producing an environmentally friendly sustainable construction material.
The study contributes towards finding a solution for fly ash utilization and reducing the
impact of greenhouse gas emission by potential cement replacement. Although a considerable
amount of literature exists on alkali-activation of fly ashes, little is known about activation of
South African coal fly ash in particular.
1.3
OBJECTIVES
Since alkali-activated/geopolymer binders are quite new for South Africa it is necessary to
develop mix designs using local materials. The knowledge and understanding of the factors
affecting properties of alkali-activated cements and geopolymers will make a valuable
contribution to promoting fly ash utilization in these materials. In order to be able to produce
environmentally friendly inorganic material the main objectives of this study are to:

Develop and optimize the mix design of alkali-activated fly ash (AAFA) cement paste;

Investigate and understand factors affecting AAFA material properties;

Investigate possible reasons for loss in performance of AAFA cement pastes containing
high amount of alkali;
1.4

Evaluate properties of AAFA concrete;

Estimate carbon footprint of AAFA material production.
HYPOTHESIS
South African fly ash is suitable for alkali-activation and can be used for production of
Portland cement-free construction material.
1.5
METHODOLOGY
Initially it was decided to start working with AAFA cement pastes, to reduce experimental
material costs and obtain main trends before investigating alkali-activated concrete. Figure 1.1
represents an outline of the organization of the study.
During the first stage of experimental work the compressive strength of AAFA cement paste
was chosen as a main indicator of material properties. Experiments were performed in order
to understand the effect of the following parameters on the strength and microstructure of
AAFA cement pastes:

Sodium oxide content and age;

Temperature and duration of elevated temperature curing;
1-4

Water to binder solids ratio;

Mineralogy of initial fly ash;

Type of activator;

Soluble SiO2 concentration;
Sodium oxide content;
Age;
Temperature of curing;
Duration of elevated temperature
curing;
Water content;
Fly ash mineralogy;
Type of alkaline activator;
Soluble SiO2 at constant Na2O
Preliminary literature review
Alkali-activated paste
Compressive strength;
Microstructure (SEM);
XRD; ATR-FTIR
Carbon footprint calculation
Thesis writing
Alkali-activated concrete
Density;
Compressive strength;
Modulus of rupture;
Split cylinder strength;
Elastic deformation;
Creep;
Shrinkage;
Porosity;
Durability (oxygen permeability,
water sorptivity; chloride
conductivity);
Acid resistance;
Figure 1.1: Outline of study organization
The microstructure, morphology and composition of the resulting products of alkali-activation
were studied by scanning electron microscopy (SEM), X-ray diffraction (XRD) and
Attenuated Total Reflectance Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (ATR-FTIR). For the
1-5
first time, in-situ evaluation of volume changes as well as heat evolution of AAFA cement
paste samples were performed during elevated temperature curing.
Major parameters which may affect the strength and other properties of AAFA cement pastes
were investigated and compared to results published previously in literature. Optimal values
of these parameters were used to design AAFA concrete mixes and efficient conditions of
curing.
The following properties of heat cured AAFA concrete were measured to evaluate and
characterise material:
1) compressive strength;
2) density;
3) modulus of rupture;
4) split cylinder strength;
5) elastic deformations;
6) creep;
7) shrinkage during elevated temperature curing;
8) drying shrinkage;
9) porosity;
10) durability indices (oxygen permeability, water sorptivity and chloride conductivity);
11) acid resistance.
These properties were compared to previously published results on geopolymer concrete as
well as to properties of OPC-fly ash blended concrete. A basic estimation of the carbon
footprint of AAFA concrete raw materials was performed in order to estimate its
compatibility.
1.6
SCOPE OF RESEARCH
One low calcium fly ash from Lethabo power station was used for the majority of the
experimental work. In addition fly ash from Matla power stations was used to investigate the
effect of mineralogical composition on compressive strength of AAFA cement paste. Fly
ashes were activated by sodium hydroxide solution with concentrations from 3 to 15 % of fly
ash mass (in terms of Na2O). Water to binder solids ratio, temperature and duration of
elevated temperature curing were kept constant. For further investigations only Lethabo fly
ash was used. The Na2O content that provided the highest compressive strength at 28 days
was used to investigate the effect of temperature and duration of elevated temperature curing
on the strength development of AAFA cement pastes. Four different temperatures (25 °C,
40 °C, 60 °C and 80 °C) and six durations of elevated temperature curing (ranging from 4 to
1-6
24 hours with 4 hour intervals) were studied in order to find efficient curing conditions. The
effect of water to binder solids ratio (in the range of 0.18 to 0.29) on the strength development
of the AAFA cement pastes was investigated for the Na2O content that provided the highest
28-days compressive strength. The pastes were cured at 60 °C for 24 hours. The effect of
different concentrations (3–12 % of fly ash mass) of KOH and the effect of combined
activator consisting of NaOH and sodium silicate on the compressive strength of AAFA
cement paste at constant water to binder solids, temperature and duration of elevated
temperature curing were studied. The effect of soluble silicon oxide content on the strength
development of paste was investigated at constant sodium oxide content. The combined effect
of the variables on the compressive strength of AAFA cement pastes was not studied.
The Na2O content and curing conditions that provided the highest compressive strength of
AAFA cement paste was used to design AAFA concrete. The experimental work of this thesis
is limited to laboratory scale.
1.7
ORGANIZATION OF THE THESIS

Chapter 1 serves as introduction to the thesis.

Chapter 2 presents a comprehensive literature review on alkali-activated binders and
geopolymers. Synthesis process, properties of alkali-activated binders, different variables
affecting them, materials used for the manufacture and curing condition are discussed as well
as challenges faced during geopolymer production.

Chapter 3 describes the composition of initial materials, techniques and methods used
in experimental program.

Chapter 4 presents the results of the study of AAFA paste. Factors affecting the
compressive strength of alkali-activated paste are discussed. SEM, XRD and ATR-FTIR
analysis of certain mixes are presented. This chapter also contains results of volume changes
of AAFA cement pastes with different concentrations of Na2O during elevated temperature
curing, which was not previously published anywhere.

Chapter 5 contains the results and discussion of the experimental study of AAFA
concrete. Evaluation of properties of AAFA concrete are presented and compared to already
published results on geopolymer concrete. An estimation of CO2-e emission related to the
materials used for alkali-activated concrete production was performed.

Chapter 6 gives the conclusions and recommendations for future studies.

Chapter 7 contains a list of References
2-1
2
LITERATURE REVIEW
2.1
INTRODUCTION
This chapter provides a comprehensive literature review of alkali-activated binders and/or
geopolymers. Terminology, materials used for the manufacture, synthesis process, properties
of alkali-activated binders, different variables affecting them as well as their production
challenges is discussed. In South Africa it is a relatively new material which is not used in
general and few local material studies have been performed. The information presented in this
chapter gives basic principles of alkali activation and will be useful for future studies.
2.2
DEFINITION AND HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
Alkali-activated binders are the materials produced by the reaction between initial materials,
consisting of silicon and aluminium oxides as well as alkaline solutions. As a result the glassy
phase of aluminosilicates is partially or completely dissolved in the alkaline activator with the
subsequent formation of a well compacted structure formed at low temperatures. The main
reaction product is X-ray amorphous aluminosilicate gel (Palomo et al., 1999a). This gel has
been found to be responsible for the cementitious properties of the final material (Criado et
al., 2008) and its quantity affects the mechanical strength of the final product (Zhang et. al.,
2013).
The term „geopolymer‟ was first used in the end of the 1970s. French scientist Davidovits
(2005) called inorganic material containing a three-dimensional silico-aluminate framework
resulting from inorganic polycondensation reaction which takes place as a result of alkaline
activation of aluminosilicates at low temperatures a „geopolymer‟.
It is obvious that both types of materials are produced through alkali activation of
aluminosilicates. The question arises:
Are alkali-activated materials geopolymers and vice versa?
All geopolymers are part of the bigger group of alkali-activated materials, as Davidovits said
alkali activation or alkalination is the first step of geopolymerization. But not all alkaliactivated materials are geopolymers, only those that have three-dimensional frameworks and
where the aluminium in the product structure is presented in the IV-fold coordination. For
investigating the molecular framework of geopolymers Davidovits suggested the use of
Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (MAS-NMR) spectroscopy. For geopolymer cement 27Al MASNMR displays a singular resonance at 55 ppm shown on Figure 2.1 which indicates that Al is
2-2
of the AlQ4(4Si) unit and tetrahedral coordinated. The absence of any of other resonance and
the extremely narrow peak at 55 ppm, excludes any residual singular building units of low
molecular weight such as dimers and trimers. However, 27Al MAS-NMR cannot differentiate
between the various frameworks proposed for geopolymer materials (based on poly(sialate)
(Si-O-Al-O-), poly(sialate-siloxo) (Si-O-Al-O-Si-O-) or poly(sialate-disiloxo) (Si-O-Al-O-SiO-Si-O-)). This differentiation is carried out with
29
Si MAS-NMR spectroscopy where the
29
chemical shift δ( Si) depends on the local environments of the 29Si nucleus.
Figure 2.1: 27Al MAS NMR of true geopolymer (Davidovits, 2008)
29
Si MAS NMR spectroscopy of fully cured geopolymers, as shown in Figure 2.2, reveals a
broad resonance located around -85 to -95 ppm, depending on the Si/Al ratio, which can be
linked to the resonance of tetrahedral silicon. The absence of sidebands indicates that
specimens were fully cured and no free soluble silicon components are present in the pore
solution (Duxson et al., 2005).
Figure 2.2: 29Si MAS NMR spectra of Na-geopolymers with Si/Al of (a) 1.15, (b) 1.40, (c)
1.65, (d) 1.90, and (e) 2.15 (Duxson et al., 2005)
2-3
The hydraulic binders yielding hydrated calcium silicate C-S-H produces peaks on the NMR
MAS
29
Si in the region -68 to -85 ppm attributable either to the monosilicate (Q0) or the
disilicates (Q1)(Q2), while the peaks, which characterize the geopolymer, occur in the region 85 to -100 ppm and correspond to the three-dimensional lattice (Davidovits, 2008).
One of the first attempts to manufacture alkali-activated concrete was undertaken by Purdon
in 1940 (Purdon, 1940). Different types of activator solutions were introduced to the mixture
of coarse aggregate, sand and granulated blast furnace slag. Relatively high compressive
strengths of between 20 MPa and 45 MPa were obtained after 28 days of curing.
In 1959 a book by the Soviet scientist Glukhovsky on “Soil silicates” was published. He
suggested using various friable soils and wastes of manufactures as fillers and soluble glass or
alkaline solutions as binder (Glukhovsky, 1959). Later the same author developed the
technology for alkali-activated slag cement production (Glukhovsky and Pakhomov, 1978).
These books are not widely known in the international scientific community as they were
published in Russian. The production of alkali-activated slags cement was however adopted
on industrial scale in the former USSR.
In 1976 Davidovits patented the invention of a wood-fiber panel covered on one side with a
layer of white hydrosodalite that had been obtained by reaction between kaolin and caustic
soda (U.S. Patent No. 3940470, 1976).
In 1979 Davidovits introduced a new term – „geopolymer‟ for inorganic material with threedimensional silico-aluminate structures, formed as a result of polycondensation reaction or socalled geopolymerization (Davidovits, 2005). These silico-aluminate structures can be
expressed using Equation 2.1:
Mn[–(SiO2)z–AlO2]n·wH2O
(2.1)
where M is a cation (K, Na, Ca) and n is the degree of polycondensation, z is 1, 2, 3 or >> 3
and w has a value up to about 7.
Davidovits called these frameworks „polysialates‟ (U.S. Patent No 4349386, 1982). Sialate is
an abbreviation for silicon-oxo-aluminate building unit. Polysialates are chain and ring
polymers that can be cross-linked together with Si4+ and Al3+ in IV-fold coordination with
oxygen as indicated in Figure 2.3 (Davidovits, 2005).
Later it was discovered that the addition of ground blast furnace slag, which is a latent
hydraulic cementitious product, to the polysialate type of geopolymer, accelerates the setting
2-4
time and significantly improves compressive and flexural strength (U.S. Patent No 4509985,
1985).
In 1987 Davidovits suggested the use of nuclear magnetic resonance for studying the structure
of geopolymer. The works of Davidovits created interest in studying geopolymers and their
properties all over the world.
Figure 2.3: Geopolymer terminology according to Davidovits (2005)
2.3
RAW MATERIALS FOR ALKALI ACTIVATION
Theoretically any material containing silicon and aluminium oxides can be activated by
alkalis (Pachego-Torgal et al., 2008b). A brief introduction to the main initial materials used
for alkali activation will be given in this section. Fly ash will however be the focal point in
this review as only this material fits the scope of the present research.
2.3.1
Fly ash
Fly ash, or pulverized fuel ash, is a residue derived from the combustion of pulverized coal in
furnaces of thermal power plants. It consists essentially of microscopically small particles of
aluminium silicate glass. The characteristics of fly ash vary according to the combustion
operation system as well as the coal composition (Xu, 1996). Fly ash has pozzolanic
properties, which means that it is able to develop strength when it reacts with lime (e.g. lime
liberated by hydrating Portland cement) in the presence of moisture, which makes it a
valuable cement extender.
2-5
Fly ash may be used as a cement extender, either by grinding it with Portland cement at a
cement factory or mixing it on site with Portland cement for use in concrete, mortar or plaster.
According to SANS 50197-1 (2000), the following types of Portland cement/fly ash blended
cements can be produced in South Africa:

Portland fly ash cement CEM II/A-V containing 6-20 % by mass of fly ash;

Portland fly ash cement CEM II/B-V containing 21-35 % by mass of fly ash.
The addition of fly ash to cement has been investigated in numerous studies (Dhir et al., 1988;
Fraay et al., 1989; Langan et al., 2002; Kearsley and Wainwright, 2003). Some of benefits of
using fly ash in concrete can include:

Improved workability of the cement systems due to the morphology of fly ash
particles;

Increased compressive strength as a result of the reduced water demand;

Improved durability due to the pozzolanic reaction between fly ash and calcium
hydroxide resulting in a greater amount of calcium silicate hydrate.
Fly ash is actively been used in alkali-activated cements and concretes (Görhan and Kürklü,
2014; Nuruddin et al., 2012; Mandal and Pal, 2012; Arioz et al., 2012; Al Bakri et al., 2011;
Oh et al., 2012; Chindaprasirt et al., 2007; Hardjito and Rangan, 2005; van Jaarsveld et al.,
2003; Palomo et al., 1999). The binder structure in low-calcium alkali-activated system is
known to be disordered, highly cross-linked aluminosilicate gel (N-A-S-H type gels).
Reaction of high-calcium fly ash-based geopolymer is more complex due to presence of
soluble Ca (Li et al., 2013). Compared to low-calcium fly ash, activated high calcium
exhibited a different composition of the hydrate assemblages. Ca species of oxides and
silicate minerals from high-calcium fly ash could either (1) precipitate as Ca(OH)2, (2) be
bonded in geopolymeric gel by replacing cations within the geopolymer or (3) react with
dissolved silicate and aluminate species to form C-S-H gel (Guo et al., (2010)). Yip et al.
(2005) suggested that the coexistence of geopolymeric gel and C-S-H gel is possible and is
responsible for the strength increase.
The activation mechanism of fly ash in a basic environment was studied by Katz (1998). He
found that the degree of reactivity increases with increasing concentration of the activator
solution and curing temperature. Fernandez-Jimenez and Palomo (2003) reported that the
most important factors influencing alkali activation are: percentage of unburnt material,
amount of reactive silica, particle size distribution and content of vitreous phase. They
suggested using fly ashes with the following characteristics: the percentage of unburned
2-6
material should be lower than 5 %, the Fe2O3 content should not be higher than 10 %, the CaO
content should be low, the content of reactive silica should be between 40-50 %, the
percentage of particles with size lower than 45 μm should be between 80 and 90 % and the
vitreous phase content should be high.
Winnefeld et al. (2010) have studied alkali-activated low and high calcium fly ashes. They
concluded that high vitreous phase content and low calcium content are important factors
determining the reactivity and the performance of fly ashes in alkali systems. Thus, the
investigated low calcium fly ashes were much more reactive than the high calcium lignite coal
fly ashes and using high calcium fly ash does not seem to be suitable for alkali activation
according to them. However, high calcium fly ashes used in this study had high sulfate
content and low amount of reactive phase and thus strength development high-calcium fly
ashes was low.
In contrary to previous study, Diaz-Loya et al. (2011) obtained the highest compressive
strength of geopolymer concretes produced from high-calcium fly ash. Diaz et al. (2010)
concluded that the setting time of geopolymers increases exponentially as the CaO content
decreases below 20 %, however the decrease in CaO is accompanied by decline in the
compressive strength of resulting geopolymer. Thus, both low- and high-calcium fly ashes
can be successfully used for alkali-activation.
Fly ash in South Africa
South Africa produces more that 40 million tonnes of ash annually. Sasol produces about 8
million tonnes of gasification ash per year (Matjie et al. 2005), while Eskom produced more
than 35 million tonnes of ash (fly + bottom) in 2011 (Eskom Holdings Ltd, 2011). Figure 2.4
shows a statistical overview of ash produced and sold by Eskom.
50
40
Ash, Mt
2.3.2
30
Produced
20
Sold
10
0
2000
2002
2004
2006
2008
2010
2012
2014
Year
Figure 2.4: Statistical overview of ash produced and sold by Eskom (Eskom Holdings
Ltd, 2012)
2-7
More than 90 % of Eskom ash is fly ash. However, in South Africa only about 5 % of all fly
ash produced by Eskom is beneficially used (Eskom Holding Ltd, n.d.; Bada and PotgieterVermaak, 2008) and millions of tonnes of ash are being stored and disposed in ash dams and
landfills annually, creating the risk of toxic elements present in fly ash being released, into
soils and ground water (Carlson and Adriano, 1993) suggesting that utilization of ash is a very
important problem for South Africa.
For South Africa siliceous fly ashes (SANS 50197-1:2000) are typical but their characteristics
vary from plant to plant (Bosch and Willis, 1990). In some cases the chemical composition of
fly ash from the same plant may vary significantly due to processing coal from different
basins making the use of generated ashes in Portland cement concrete almost impossible.
Utilizing a large amount of such fly ashes in alkali-activated materials and geopolymers will
improve the ecological situation in the region, allow producing materials with good properties
and also extend the raw-materials base of the building industry. It is thus necessary to
comprehensively investigate and create a database of knowledge about alkali-activated South
African fly ashes in general, using fly ash with a good consistency for better understanding of
the newly formed material.
2.3.3
Blast furnace slag
Blast furnace slag is a by-product of iron making and results from fusion of limestone with
minerals from the coke and siliceous and aluminous residue remaining after the reduction and
separation of iron from the ore. This material has very high economic value when rapidly
cooled which leads to vitrified reactive material that has hydraulic properties. The principal
hydration products of slag are essentially similar to those found in Portland cement, making
slag a valuable material for cement replacement. According to the European standard Portland
slag cement may contain up to 30 % (mass) of granulated blast furnace slag, while in blast
furnace cement this amount even is higher, up to 95 % (mass) (EN 197-1, 2000).
Slag has been extensively used for alkali activation in numerous studies (Wang et al., 1995;
Barharev et al., 1999; Xu et al., 2008). The main difference of slag-based alkali-activated
systems from low-calcium alkali-activated binders is the presence of high amount of calcium
oxide. Assessment of reaction products formed by alkali activation of slag showed that the
main reaction product is an aluminium-substituted calcium silicate hydrate (C-A-S-H type)
gel, with disordered tobermorite-like C-S-H (I) type structure. More information on the
reaction mechanism of alkali activation of slag is presented in the following section.
2-8
Slag is also the main component of alkali slag cement, which has been studied in detail in the
USSR by the scientists Glukhovsky and Pakhomov (1978). Authors investigated alkali slag
cements containing slags with various chemical compositions. Their results have shown that
cements can be manufactured using both basic and acid slags with the correct choice of
alkaline activator. A criterion of choice is the basicity index of slag. The setting time of the
cements depend on the nature and quantities of the alkaline component, the basicity of the
slag, its structure, fineness, type and additive condition. Setting time fluctuate: initial setting
occurs from 30 minutes to 1 hour; with the final set from 2 to 5 hours. Strengths of cements
with a specific surface area of 300-350 m2/kg and 3 % Na2O varied from 50 MPa to130 MPa
for concretes and from 40 MPa to 100 MPa for mortars.
Douglas et al. (1991) investigated alkali slag concrete with different percentages of Na2O. The
compressive strength of alkali slag concrete samples varied from 45.4 MPa to 59.6 MPa at 28
days.
Wang et al. (1994) investigated type and fineness of slag and their influence on properties of
alkali-activated mortars. Figure 2.5 shows the effect of slag type on the 28 day strength for
different activators. It is clearly seen that the type of slag has a significant influence on the
strength of mortars especially for systems where weak alkaline activators were used. The
authors also noticed that slag with high alumina content (up to 16.1 %) gives high early
strength, with a greater amount of slag reacting often leading to quick setting. Minor
constituents in the slag, such as P, F, S, Mn and Ti, often affect slag quality. The optimum
fineness is, 450-650 m2/kg for acid and neutral slags, and 400-550 m2/kg for basic slags.
2M Na2SO4
2M Na2CO3
2M WG(1)
4M NaOH
Figure 2.5: Type of activator versus 28-day strength for different types of slag (20 °C;
fineness = 450 ± 30 m2/kg; alkali solution/slag = 0.41; sand/ slag = 2) (Wang et al., 1994)
Fernandez-Jimenez et al. (1999) investigated the influence of specific surface of the basic slag
on the development of mechanical strength in alkaline-activated slag cement mortars. They
concluded that the effect of specific surface area is significant for flexural and compressive
strength only at 3 days of curing and not significant at other ages. Generally, the increase in
2-9
slag specific surface area favours the reactivity, but they indicated that the mixes with higher
specific surface area require higher mixing liquid content to obtain similar plasticity
conditions, which produces a decrease in final strengths. The variation of mechanical
strengths with specific surface area is highly influenced by the alkaline activator nature,
indicating that this is the main binary interaction. When the slag was activated using NaOH
and Na2CO3, an increase in the slag specific surface area from 450 to 900 m2/kg, resulted in
an increase in mechanical strengths. However, when the slag is activated with Na 2SiO3·nH2O
+ NaOH, mechanical strengths do not increase, but decrease when the specific surface area
increase.
2.3.4
Metakaolin
Metakaolin is formed from calcination of kaolin and provides an aluminium source with
reasonably well-defined stoichiometry close to 2SiO2·Al2O3. Metakaolin is not cementitious
by itself but having a high surface area of about 20000 m2/kg, when mixed with Portland
cement and hydrated, lime formed as a hydration product of cement is consumed by
metakaolin, C-S-H is formed resulting in increased strength of the product. Metakaolin may
also be activated by other materials such as alkali metal hydroxides, water glass, etc.
(Ramachandran, 2002).
Alkali activation of metakaolin has been the subject of numerous investigations (Wang et al.,
2012; Yip et al., 2008; Kong et al., 2007; Duxson et al., 2005; Duxson et al., 2007a, Duxson,
2006; Rowles, 2004). Davidovits (1994a) developed a new type of binder obtained from the
alkali activation of metakaolin with NaOH solution. The aluminosilicate kaolinite reacts with
NaOH at 100-150 °C and polycondenses into hydrated sodalite. Alonso and Palomo (2001a)
have studied the activation of metakaolin by sodium hydroxide solution with different
concentration. The results are shown on Figure 2.6.
Flexural strength
2-10
Figure 2.6: 24 Hour flexural strengths of specimens containing metakaolin with different
solution concentrations (Alonso and Palomo, 2001a). On the left side metakaolin to
Ca(OH)2 ratio is 7:3, on the right 1:1
Zibouche et al. (2009) studied the influence of secondary minerals in metakaolin on the
geopolymerization reaction. They compared two metakaolins, one from pure kaolinite and the
other from Algerian kaolin containing illite and quartz. Sodium silicate was used as alkaline
solution. They concluded that the secondary phases, at concentrations used in their work, do
not prevent the geopolymerization reaction.
2.3.5
Other materials
The source of alkali activation does not have to be one material but a combination of different
types of materials is possible too. Swanepoel and Strydom (2002) investigated the properties
of geopolymeric material obtained from a mixture of South African fly ash and kaolinite
activated by NaOH and sodium silicate solution. Specimens were cured for different times at
different temperatures. Compressive strength samples cured at 60°C for 48 hours show a
maximum strength of almost 8 MPa after 28 days.
Bernal et al. (2011) analysed sodium silicate-activated slag-metakaolin blends. Results
showed that increasing metakaolin content in binders leads to a reduction of compressive
strength and this effect was more significant when a higher silica modulus activator was used.
All the mortars assessed show mechanical strengths of at least 40 MPa after 7 days of curing.
Zhao et al. (2007) used combinations of slag and fly ash in the presence of low alkalinity
activator to manufacture alkali-activated binder. According to them fineness has a significant
effect on the material strength, but the particle size distribution is more important. The mass
ratio of fly ash to slag also has an influence on the mechanical strength. They noticed that the
inclusion of fly ash can reduce the cost without negatively affecting the strength.
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Fly ash cenosphere (FAC)/metakaolin-based geopolymeric composites with various FAC
contents were studied by Wang et al. (2011). According to them compressive strength,
thermal conductivities and bulk densities of the composites decreased with increasing FAC
contents.
Zhihua et al. (2003) refer to a new kind of alkali-slag-red mud cementitious material. The
blend of red mud and granulated blast furnace slag was activated by sodium silicate with
modulus 1.2 and sodium aluminate clinker. Cement paste specimens were cured in a fog room
at 20±3 °C for 24 h followed by curing in water at 20±2 °C. Compressive strength after 1 day
curing was 20.2 MPa, after 7 days – 36.5 MPa and after 28 days – 56.0 MPa. Geopolymers
synthesized at 23 °C and 40-50 % relative humidity from red mud and class F fly ash was
investigated by Zhang et al. (2014). 28-day compressive strength ranging from 11.3 to 21.3
MPa was obtained.
Binders based on a natural pumice-type pozzolan are known (Kani et al., 2011). Xu and van
Deventer (2000) studied the alkaline activation of some natural aluminosilicate minerals and
they reported that all of them have some reactivity and can be source materials for
geopolymers. The highest compressive strength of 18 MPa was obtained from the mineral
stilbite in a KOH solution.
A wide range of raw materials can be used for alkali activation. This study is focused only on
utilizing fly ash, as energy production in South Africa mostly relies on coal and big amounts
of fly ash are being generated annually, suggesting that the use of large volumes of fly ash in
alkali-activated binders is topical for South Africa.
2.4
ALKALINE ACTIVATORS
The most widely used alkali solutions in geopolymer synthesis are silicates, hydroxides and
mixtures thereof discussed in this section.
Sodium hydroxide is commonly used for synthesis of geopolymers due to its low price and
wide availability. However the use of it requires high caution due to the highly corrosive
nature of this activator. It is also necessary to keep in mind that NaOH flakes or pearls easily
absorb moisture from the air producing highly concentrated liquids that may provoke severe
burns. It is essential to restrict contact of the NaOH with air and keep it in sealed containers.
The solubility of NaOH at 25 °C is 53.3 % by mass (Provis, 2009). During dissolution of
NaOH in water heat is released which can cause vaporisation of the solution.
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Katz (1998) in his study of alkali-activated fly ash tested four sodium hydroxide
concentrations. The effect of the concentration of the solution on compressive strength at 7
days is shown on Figure 2.7 below. He concluded that the concentration of the alkaline
solution plays a significant role on compressive strength development. After 7 days, the
compressive strength of the mixture with the lowest concentration was only 0.2 MPa. He
supposed that this was due to weak Van Der Waals‟s forces between the small fly ash
particles and not to the formation of hydration products. The 4 M mixture produced a
compressive strength of 6.1 MPa after 7 days. Hence, the degree of reactivity increases with
the NaOH concentration.
Figure 2.7: Effect of solution concentration on the compressive strength of alkaliactivated fly ash paste at 7 days (Katz, 1998)
The use of potassium hydroxide solution is not common for geopolymer synthesis. However
Palomo, Grutzeck and Blanko (1999a) investigated the mechanism of activation of a fly ash
with highly alkaline solutions made with NaOH and KOH. They noticed that 12 M NaOH
solution gives faster activation and higher strength than 18 M KOH solution.
Van Jaarsveld and van Deventer (1999a) affirmed the significance of alkali metal cation effect
on every stage of the geopolymerization of fly ash. They claimed that the type of alkali metal
present influence the speed of condensation reaction and final structure formation. They also
mention that mixtures containing K+ had higher compressive strength but this may only be
true for systems activated using silicate solutions.
Sodium silicate is another widely used activator solution. Due to its lower pH it is often
preferred to alkali hydroxide solutions. The viscosity of silicate solutions is much higher than
that of alkali hydroxide solutions and the viscosity is a function of composition and
temperature. High viscosity of silicate solutions may be problematic as fresh geopolymer
mixtures may stick to mixing equipment.
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Hardjito and Rangan (2005) have noticed that higher concentration (in terms of molar) of
sodium hydroxide solution results in higher compressive strength. An increase in the ratio of
sodium silicate solution to sodium hydroxide solution (by mass) leads to higher compressive
strength of geopolymer concrete.
The use of alkali-carbonate solution is not common for geopolymerization of fly ash but it is
used for the alkali activation of high calcium materials. Wang et al. (1994) studied alkali
activation of slag with different types and concentration of activators. They concluded that the
anionic component of the activator solution has an effect on the strength and other properties.
The optimum dosage, taking all factors such as slag type, activator and curing condition, into
account is in the range between 3.0-5.5 % Na2O by slag weight. The authors suggested using
sodium silicate solution with a modulus of 0.75-1.25 for acid slag, 0.9-1.3 for neutral slag and
1.0-1.5 for basic slag.
Fernandez-Jimenez and Palomo (2005a) studied the influence of type and concentration of
alkaline activator on the properties of activated ash. They investigated three different alkaline
compounds: NaOH, sodium silicate and anhydrous sodium carbonate. Their results indicate
that the Na2O content plays an important role in the development of mechanical strength.
Increasing the concentration of the Na2O leads to increased mechanical strength as shown in
Figure 2.8. They also reported that the presence of soluble silica has a beneficial effect on
strength development while the presence of CO3 anion in the activator corresponds to material
with relatively low mechanical strength; even high contents of Na2O are available in the
NaOH+Na2CO3
(8.68 % Na2O;
6 % CO3)
NaOH+WG
(5.55 % Na2O;
7.14 % SiO2)
NaOH+WG
(7.74 % Na2O;
9.52 % SiO2)
NaOH
(6.51 % Na2O)
NaOH
(8.68 % Na2O)
NaOH
(13.7 % Na2O)
samples.
Figure 2.8: Compressive strength of alkali activated fly ash binder with different
activators (Fernandez-Jimenez and Palomo, 2005a)
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Bakharev et al. (1999) investigated alkali activation of Australian slag with sodium silicate,
sodium hydroxide, sodium carbonate, sodium phosphate, and combinations of these
activators. Figure 2.9 shows the compressive strength of alkali-activated slag pastes. The
compressive strength obtained for sodium silicate-activated slag cements was in the range
from 20 MPa to 40 MPa and depended on the modulus of the solution and concentration of
alkalis. They mentioned that at a high modulus early strength decreased, and the setting time
was significantly shortened. At high concentrations of alkalis the slag activated with the
sodium silicate solution was found to have a high shrinkage and behaved like fast-setting
NaSilicate
4 % Na
M=1
NaSilicate
6 % Na
M=1.25
NaSilicate
8 % Na
M=1.25
Na3PO4
7 % Na
Na2CO3
7 % Na
NaOH
7 % Na
Compound
activator
cement.
Figure 2.9: The 28-day compressive strength of alkali-activated slag pastes (Bakharev et
al., 1999)
NaOH, KOH, sodium or potassium silicates, Na2CO3 and Na2SO4 are commonly used as
activators. According to the majority of investigations the most effective ones for alkali
activation of fly ash are solutions of caustic alkalis and low modulus liquid glass, or
combinations of these. High level of caution has to be maintained during working with
concentrated alkali with obligatory use of protective clothing, gloves and eyewear. All pieces
of equipment have to be properly cleaned after each usage.
2.5
MECHANISMS AND KINETIC OF REACTION, REACTION PRODUCTS
There are two different models of alkali activation (Li et al., 2010). The first is alkali
activation of metakaolin or fly ash as example (Si + Al) by medium and high alkaline
solutions with the formation of poorly ordered structure but with good mechanical properties.
The second model is of blast furnace slag (Si + Ca) by mild alkaline solution with C-S-H gel
as the main reaction product. The exact mechanism of reaction which can explain the
hardening of alkali-activated binder is not yet fully understood (Pachego-Torgal et al., 2008a).
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2.5.1
Reaction mechanism of alkali activation of metakaolin and fly ash
Duxson et al. (2007b) proposed the mechanism for geopolymerization of aluminosilicate
sources shown in Figure 2.10. According to them geopolymerization goes through the
following steps:

Dissolution of solid aluminosilicate source in alkaline solution with liberation of
aluminate and silicate monomers.

The species released by dissolution are incorporated into the aqueous phase.
Dissolution of amorphous aluminosilicates is rapid at high pH, and this quickly
creates a supersaturated aluminosilicate solution.

In concentrated solutions this results in the formation of a gel, as the oligomers in the
aqueous phase form large networks by condensation. This process releases the water
that was nominally consumed during dissolution. Water plays the role of a reaction
medium and resides within pores in the gel. The time for the supersaturated
aluminosilicates solution to form a continuous gel varies considerably with raw
material processing conditions and solution composition and synthesis conditions.

After gelation the system continues to rearrange and reorganize, as the connectivity of
the gel network increases, resulting in the three-dimensional aluminosilicate network
commonly attributed to geopolymers.
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Figure 2.10: Conceptual model for geopolymerization (Duxson et al., 2007b)
Provis and van Deventer (2007) proposed the geopolymerization reaction sequence shown in
Figure 2.11. They conclude that the products of geopolymerisation reaction should include
both gel and zeolitic phases.
Figure 2.11: Reaction sequence of geopolymerization (Provis and van Deventer, 2007)
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Fernandez-Jimenez et al. (2006b) described the activation model of fly ash as follows. Firstly
the vitreous component of fly ash is dissolved and no strength development is observed
during this process. Secondly (induction period) an unstable aluminium rich gel precipitates.
The beginning of this stage is associated with the initial setting of the paste. During the third
stage Al-rich gel is transformed into Si-rich gel, considerably increasing the mechanical
strength. A schematic description of the evolution of mechanical properties is shown in Figure
2.12.
Figure 2.12: The schematic description of mechanical properties evolution (FernandezJimenez et al., 2006b)
The dissolution process starts with an attack on the fly ash particles by the alkaline solution
(Fernandez-Jimenez et al., 2005c). As a result the reaction product is generated both inside
and outside the shell of the sphere until the ash particle is completely or almost completely
consumed (Figure 2.13 a-c). At the same time, precipitation of reaction products occur as the
alkaline solution penetrates the larger sphere and fills up the interior space with reaction
product, forming a dense matrix (Figure 2.13 b). Due to the massive precipitation of reaction
products, some portions of smaller particles are covered with the products providing a crust
which prevents contact with the alkaline solution (Figure 2.13 e) thus resulting in unreacted
fly ash particles. As a consequence, several morphologies may co-exist in a single paste.
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Figure 2.13: Descriptive model of the alkali activation of fly ash (Fernandez-Jimenez,
2005c)
Palomo, Grutzeck and Blanco (1999a) concluded that the alkali activation reaction of fly
ashes is an exothermic process during which covalent Si-O-Si and Al-O-Al bonds break down
and ions migrate to the activation solution. The products of the fly ash destruction accumulate
during the induction period when heat release barely exists. Thereafter condensation of the
structure occurs accompanied by a strong exothermal step. As a result a material with poorly
ordered structure but high strength is formed. The authors mention that all the reaction steps
occur at almost the same time.
The kinetics of hydration of alkali-activated materials was investigated in several studies. Ma
et al. (2012) investigated the kinetics of hydration of fly ash activated with different sodium
silicate solutions at 40 °C as shown in Figure 2.14. They concluded that the heat released by
alkali-activated fly ash is considerably lower that for OPC and the addition of SiO 2 retarded
the reaction, while Na2O was favorable to the reaction.
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Figure 2.14: Heat evolution and cumulative heat of alkali-activated fly ash with different
sodium silicate solutions (Ma et al., 2012). The legend shows proportions of SiO2 (first
number) to Na2O (second number) in sodium silicate solution
Recent results of Zhang et al. (2014) on the effect of fly ash on geopolymerization
characterized by isothermal calorimetry are shown in Figure 2.15. They found that the
magnitude of the first exothermic peak, attributed to the dissolution stage of the solid
precursors decreased and delayed when metakaolin was partially replaced with fly ash.
Figure 2.15: Heat evolution (left) and cumulative heat (right) of alkali-activated
metakaolin with partial replacement by fly ash (Zhang et al., 2014)
2.5.2
Reaction mechanism of alkali activation of slag
Fernandez-Jimenez and Puertas (1997) investigated the kinetics of hydration of alkaliactivated slag at different temperatures. A mixture of water glass and NaOH solution was
used as activator. The degree of reaction was determined by means of the heat of hydration
after the induction period. They associated the first step of hydration with the first step on the
curves in Figure 2.16, beginning with the slag dissolution reaction. The second step was
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called the induction period or period of low reactivity. The third and fourth steps the authors
associated with the second peak on the curve. In these steps, a massive precipitation of
reaction products took place. The final and fifth step corresponds to a low reactivity period
and the end of reaction. They concluded that alkaline activation of slag is a fast process as the
second peak appears on the curve after less than 10 hours.
Figure 2.16: Slag rate of hydration vs. time (Fernandez-Jimenez and Puertas, 1997)
Krizan and Zivanovic (2002) analysed the heat release in alkali-activated GGBFS, and have
noticed that the higher Na2O and silica modulus were related to higher hydration levels.
Meanwhile, the process begins with the destruction of the Ca–O, Mg–O, Si–O–Si, Al–O–Al
and Al–O–Si bonds of the slag grain. Since the Ca–O and Mg–O bonds are much weaker,
more Ca and Mg enter into water than Al and Si, and the Si/Al-enriched layer forms quickly
on the surface of slag. The initial peak corresponds to the wetting and dissolution of slag
grains and adsorption of some ions onto the surface of slag grains, and the second peak to the
formation of precipitate layer at the slag particle surface. They mentioned that the
precipitation of C-S-H gel results in a very long induction effect, varying from about 5 to 14
h, observed before the appearance of the accelerated hydration peak. The higher the activator
dosage, the shorter is the induction period. When the slag grains were coated by a hydrate
layer, the hydration kinetics was controlled by a diffusion process until the completion of the
reaction with the diffusion process being affected by the degree of structural defectiveness.
The study of Wang and Scrivener (1995) mentioned that during the hydration of alkaliactivated slag, the products form by a dissolution and precipitation mechanism during the
2-21
early stages of reaction, but at later stages the reaction may continue by a solid state
mechanism.
Li et al. (2010) concluded that the reaction mechanism of alkali activation of GGBFS is more
complicated than geopolymers due to the significant content of calcium.
2.5.3
Hydration products
Results of different investigations show that the reaction products of alkali activation depend
on the type of raw materials used. However, it is commonly acknowledged that C-S-H is the
major reaction product in alkali-activated GGBFS and three-dimensional zeolite like polymer
is a binding phase in geopolymers (Li et al., 2010). In Table 2.1 typical reaction products
found by different researchers are shown.
Table 2.1: Reaction products in different alkali-activated materials
Type of raw
material
Type of activator
Authors
Low calcium silicate hydrate;
hydrotalcite
Slag
NaOH, sodium silicate
Wang and Scrivener,
(1995)
C-S-H phase; hydrotalcite;
hydrogarnet; tetracalcium aluminate
hydrate; stratlingite; ettringite
Slag
Sodium silicate +
KOH
Chen and Brouwers,
(2007)
Amorphous phase; faujasite (after
90 days)
Metakaolin
NaOH
Palomo et. al (1999b)
Amourpous phase; crystalline
phases presented in initial fly ash;
C-S-H phase in case of slag
Fly ash + Slag
Sodium silicate +
NaOH
Škvára et. al, (2003)
Amorphous alkali aluminosilicate
gel; + chabazite, Linde type A, NaPl (gismondine) zeolites,
hydroxysodalite in case of only
NaOH
Fly Ash
Sodium silicate +
NaOH
Bakharev, (2005b)
Aluminosilicates gel with lowordered crystalline structure; +
hydroxysodalite, herschelite in case
of NaOH; + hydroxysodalite,
Trona, Nahcolite in case of Na2CO3
Fly ash
NaOH, NaOH+sodium
silicate,
NaOH+Na2CO3
Fernandez-Jimenez and
Palomo, (2005a)
Reaction products
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2.6
FACTORS AFFECTING ALKALI ACTIVATION AND FINAL MATERIAL
PROPERTIES
Different factors affecting alkali-activated material properties will be discussed in this section.
The focus will be on alkali-activated materials based on fly ash due to the scope of this thesis.
2.6.1
Chemical and mineralogical composition of initial materials
According to Xu and van Deventer (2000) factors such as the percentage CaO, K2O, the molar
Si–Al ratio in the original mineral and the type of alkali had a significant effect on
compressive strength. Arjunan, Silsbee and Roy (2001) concluded that the chemical and
mineralogical composition of the low calcium fly ashes do not influence the alkali activation.
It was already previously mentioned that Fernandez-Jimenez and Palomo (2003) suggested
that the CaO content should be low in alkali-activated fly ashes. However Diaz et al. (2003)
only partially agreed with these fly ash requirements. They consider 5 to 15 % of CaO in fly
ash desirable for many applications.
The geopolymerization process is highly dependent on the individual fly ash source (Duxson,
2009). Knowledge of the chemical and mineralogical composition is critical as not all
aluminium and silica takes part in the geopolymerization process (Van Jaarsveld et al., 1997).
Hence a detailed analysis of the mineralogical composition of each batch of fly ash has to be
performed.
2.6.2
Type, concentration and modulus of activator
Komljenović et al. (2010) establish that the nature and concentration of the activator is the
most dominant parameter in the alkali activation process. KOH and NaOH+Na2CO3, showed
a very low activation potential compared to NaOH. Ca(OH)2 showed a considerable activation
potential, in most cases higher than NaOH. However, it must be taken into account that the
concentration of CaO was higher compared to that of the other activators. Concentration of
activator can also considerably influence the mechanical characteristics of alkali-activated fly
ash mortars. The increase in activator concentration led to increased compressive strength.
Guo et al. (2010) obtained a high compressive strength when the molar ratio of SiO2/Na2O for
the activator was 1.5 and Na2O content was 10 % of the fly ash mass.
Higher concentration of Na2O in the system does not always result in higher compressive
strength. The results of a number of studies prove this statement (Palomo et al., 1999a; Van
Jaarsveld and van Deventer, 1999a; Steveson and Sagoe-Crentsil, 2005b; Somna et al., 2011).
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Although the Na2O content may have improved the solubility of the aluminosilicate source,
the recent results of Heah et al. (2013) showed that excess Na2O content in the system could
seriously weaken the formed structure. Some researchers observed in geopolymers the
formation of zeolite (Provis et al., 2005; Bakharev, 2005b) or hydroxysodalite (Palomo et al.,
1999a; Fernandez-Jimenez and Palomo, 2005a). Correlation between zeolite formation and
decreased strength was observed in certain systems (Provis, 2009), but it is still unclear
whether zeolite formation leads to performance loss or high concentrations of alkali itself is
the problem or the decreased strength could even be caused by a combination of factors.
Panias et al. (2007) reported that the amount of sodium silicate solution in the synthesis of
geopolymers substantially affects the obtained compressive strength. Sodium silicate solution
controls the soluble silicate concentration and the predominant silicate species in the
geopolymeric system, improving the mechanical strength of the produced materials. A
maximum compressive strength of 41.3 MPa was achieved when the concentration of the
soluble Si in the aqueous phase of the geopolymeric system was equal to 2.3 M.
The results of Pacheco-Torgal et al. (2011) show that flexural and compressive strength of
metakaolin activated by sodium hydroxide solution increased with an increase in sodium
hydroxide. Alonso and Palomo (2001a) found that flexural strength values of metakaolin
activated by calcium hydroxide solution cured for 24 hours decrease as activator
concentration increase.
The different researchers refered to used different alkali concentrations for different raw
materials. Calcium free materials demand higher alkali concentrations. Mixtures of waterglass
and sodium hydroxide solution as activator gives better strength results for low calcium fly
ash. However, higher alkali contents does not necessary result in higher strength. Thus for
each particular fly ash there has to be an optimum and this topic will be studied in detail in the
following chapter. Special attention will be paid to the question of strength decreasing in
samples with raised alkali content if such be the case. The explanation of this phenomenon
will fill a gap in knowledge and will result in better understanding of the geopolymerization
process.
2.6.3
Fineness of raw materials
Wang et al. (1994) claimed that optimum fineness depends on slag basicity coefficient,
activator and curing conditions. The higher fineness the higher strength. However, a certain
workability is nessesary for shaping of products: if the workability and alkali amount are kept
constant the optimum range of fineness is: 450-650 m2/kg for acid and neutral slags, 400-550
2-24
m2/kg for basic slags. The authors noticed that the strength increase with increased fineness
was more pronounced at early ages. This statement was shared by Somna et al. (2011).
Strength development of original fly ash with a median particle size of 41 µm was lower than
that of ground fly ash with a median particle size of 10.5 µm. They therefore concluded that
an increase in fineness of fly ash resulted in a significant increase in strength development of
paste especially at the early age of 7-14 days.
Based on the results of investigations into the reactivity of fly ashes Fernandez-Jimenez and
Palomo (2003) concluded that the fineness of the fly ashes plays an essential role in the
development of the mechanical strength of materials obtained after activation. When the
particle fraction sized higher than 45 µm was removed, the mechanical strength of alkaliactivated fly ash remarkably increase, reaching 70 MPa after 1 day.
Kumar and Kumar (2011) investigated the effect of mechanical activation of fly ash on
reaction and properties of resulting geopolymer. They concluded that reactivity of fly ash
increases rapidly when particle size is reduced to less that 5-7 μm. The 28-days compressive
strength of ambient-cured fly ash geopolymer increased from about 3 MPa when raw fly ash
was used, to more than 35 MPa for fly ash milled during 90 minutes. Measured heat evolution
shown that the maximum rate of heat evolution increased and time at which maximum peak
occurred shifted to lower time with increase in milling time.
Rahier et al. (2003) concluded that the reaction rate increases for alkali-activated
metakaolinite with decreasing metakaolinite particle size. They mentioned that for the largest
particles hindered mass transport occurs during the polymerization.
Fineness affects the compressive strength of geopolymers especially at early age for both high
and low calcium raw materials.
2.6.4
Temperature, duration and type of curing
Temperature of curing is a significant factor affecting the final properties of alkali-activated
fly ash cements. A wide temperatures range from ambient to 90 °C was used for producing
alkali-activated binders and concretes (Fernandez-Jimenez and Puertas, 1997; Van Jaarsveld
et al., 2002; Khale and Chaudhary, 2007; Chi, 2012; Ariffin et al., 2011; Muñiz-Villarreal et
al., 2011). Almost all researchers noticed the importance of heat treatment for fly ash-based
alkali-activated material with good mechanical properties (Bakharev, 2005b; Winnenfeld et
al., 2010; Criado et al., 2010; Kovalchuk et al., 2007). It was stated by Hardjito and Rangan
(2005) that heat curing temperatures can be as low as 30 °C, which would be attainable in
tropical climate conditions. Katz (1998) reported that no reaction took place at room
2-25
temperature and higher temperatures are needed for activating fly ash. However, the results of
Somna et al. (2011) disproved his assumption. Compressive strength values of 20-23 MPa at
28 days were obtained with NaOH concentrations of 9.5-14.0 M for samples cured at ambient
temperature. In this case they were however using ground fly ash with a median particle size
of 10.5 µm. Curing fly ash geopolymer at ambient temperature is possible although the
reaction in this condition is very slow (Hole, 2009).
Bakharev (2005b) reported that long pre-curing at room temperature was beneficial for
strength development of fly ash geopolymers. This statement is shared by Hardjito and
Rangan (2005). They also confirmed that higher curing temperature resulted in higher
compressive strength, although an increase in the curing temperature beyond 60 °C did not
increase the compressive strength substantially. Longer curing time improved the
polymerization process resulting in higher strength.
Palomo et al. (1999a) affirmed that the activation reaction is notably influenced by the
temperature. Temperature is especially important for 2 and 5 hours of curing. The mechanical
strength of prisms cured at 85 °C is much higher than those cured at 65 °C. The longer the
duration of curing, the higher the average strength becomes.
Bakharev et al. (1999) reported that heat curing produced considerable acceleration in
strength development of alkali-activated slag, while Fernandez-Jimenez et al. (1999)
mentioned that the increase of curing temperature does not favour the increase of mechanical
strengths of slag mortars at later ages, but has a positive effect at early ages when the activator
is Na2SiO3·nH2O + NaOH or Na2CO3.
Wang et al. (1994) mentioned the effect of different types of curing regimes on compressive
strength. For example, phosphorous slag (neutral or acid in nature) activated by water glass
had a strength of 30 MPa under normal curing, 62 MPa after steam curing and 71-76 MPa
after autoclaving, while basic granular blast furnace slag activated by the same solution had a
strength of 80 MPa under normal curing and 85-95 MPa after steam and autoclaving.
Van Jaarsveld et al. (2002) supposed that mild curing improve physical properties while
curing under higher humidity is not usually beneficial. Rapid curing and/or curing at too high
temperatures will result in cracking and thus have a negative effect on physical properties.
Different curing conditions are used for different raw materials and activators. Almost all
authors admitted the importance of heat treatment for alkali-activated low calcium fly ash
with preferable pre-curing at ambient temperature.
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2.6.5
Water content
It is known that water plays an important role in hydration process of Portland cement.
Generally, with the given concrete materials and testing conditions, the quantity of used
mixing water determines the strength of the concrete, so long as the mix is of a workable
plasticity. This basic principle has been brought out by Duff Abrams (1919) and known as
Abram‟s law.
Fernandez-Jimenez and Palomo (2005a) mentioned the importance the „water to binder ratio‟
for alkali-activated fly ash binder. Hardjito and Rangan (2005) reported that as the ratio of
water to geopolymer solids by mass increases, the compressive strength of fly ash-based
geopolymer concrete decreases. They admitted that water released during the chemical
reaction that occurs in the formation of geopolymers leaving behind discontinuous pores in
the matrix. The water in a geopolymer mixture plays no role in the chemical reaction, but it
provides workability during handling.
In contrast, Duxson et al. (2007) stated that water consumed during dissolution of
aluminosilicates released during condensation, plays the role of a reaction medium, resideing
within pores in the gel. Such gel structure is commonly referred to as bi-phasic, with the
aluminosilicate binder and water forming two phases.
Zuhua et al. (2009) reported that water is indispensable during geopolymerization, especially
for the destruction of solid particles and the hydrolysis of dissolved Al 3+ and Si4+ ions. The
results of their work also indicated that 7.4 % of structural water is necessary to keep stable
strength of calcined kaolin-based geopolymer.
Provis and van Deventer (2007) believed that water affects the geopolymerization in each
stage. The stated that the rate of aluminosilicate dissolution decreases in the presence of
additional water. While the rate of condensation or polymerisation reaction is hypothesised to
increase in the presence of additional water under the very water-poor conditions prevalent
during geopolymerization.
Panias et al. (2007) agreed that water content is a crucial parameter in the synthesis of fly ashbased geopolymers for the development of mechanical strengths. A reduction of water content
in the synthesis of fly ash geopolymers improved their compressive strength.
The results of Van Jaarsveld et al. (2002) show that the water content, curing as well as
calcining conditions affect the final properties of a geopolymer. Steveson and Sagoe-Centsil
(2005a) studied relationships between composition, structure and strength of metakaolin-
2-27
derived inorganic polymers and they reported that the compressive strength showed a clear
correlation with the water content and microstructure. Low water content samples had lower
porosity and higher compressive strength, while high water content samples were very porous
and weak as a result.
Wang et al. (1994) advised researchers to consider liquid to slag (l/s) ratio when alkali is used
in liquid form. Increasing l/s ratio results in increased alkaline activation due to the
introduction of more alkali and a simultaneous increase of pore volume in hardened concrete
due to introducing more water. The effect of l/s ratio on the compressive strength is positive at
lower l/s ratios.
2.6.6
Age
De Vargas et al. (2011) reported that temperature and age only affected the strength gain of
alkali-activated fly ash samples with Na2O/SiO2 molar ratios of 0.3 and 0.4. For the
Na2O/SiO2 0.20 samples, mechanical results changed very little with time.
Stability of amorphous geopolymer gels was studied by Lloyd (2009) through the use of
accelerated ageing tests. The strength development of metakaolin-based geopolymers, cured
and aged at 23 °C was very rapid in the first 3 days, achieving almost 70 MPa. But after 28
days a clear, statistically significant, decline in strength development was observed.
Accelerated ageing of geopolymers were done in the following order: sealed samples were
cured for 28 days in water baths, after the initial 24 hours in moulds. Samples were then cured
in water baths at 95 °C. After one day of ageing at 95 °C the compressive strength increased.
Between one and three days at 95 °C a dramatic reduction in compressive strength was
evident and the strength then remained relatively stable for the next 25 days of ageing at 95
°C. The strength loss observed was approximately 60 % of the cured value and the author
concluded that it could lead to failure of concrete produced with this type of binder. Unlike
metakaolin-based geopolymers, fly ash-based geopolymers were found to be resistant to
strength regression during accelerated ageing, in fact the strength of those samples were even
higher after 28 days of ageing at 95 °C than before ageing suggesting that fly ash can provide
the basis for long-lasting materials.
The author also reported that fly ash-containing geopolymer mortars increased in strength
over a six-month period as shown in Figure 2.17, while the strength of alkali-activated slag
remained constant over the test period, indicating that slag reacts in a short period of time.
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Figure 2.17: Strength development profiles of geopolymer mortars synthesized from fly
ash (FA1, FA2, FA3), ground granulated blast-furnace slag (GGBS) and a blend of fly
ash and slag (FA3+GGBS) (Lloyd, 2009)
2.7
OTHER PROPERTIES OF GEOPOLYMER BINDERS IN COMPARISON TO
ORDINARY PORTLAND CEMENT (OPC)
This section provides a review of engineering properties of geopolymers.
2.7.1
Environmental aspects of geopolymer production
Production of cement requires high energy efforts and has a significant impact on the global
emissions of Greenhouse Gases. During the production of 1 tonne of cement between 0.73
and 0.99 tonnes of CO2 is released to the atmosphere (Hasanbeigi et al., 2012; McLellan et al.,
2011; Flower and Sanjayan, 2007). One of the major cement manufacturers in South Africa
Pretoria Portland Cement (PPC) reported that in 2011 its carbon footprint for cement was 892
kg CO2 per tonne of cement which is an increase of 2.6 % compared to 2010 („PPC Integrated
Annual Report‟, 2011). Globally, the cement industry accounts for approximately 5 % of the
current anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions (Hasanbeigi et al., 2012).
Geopolymer manufacture consumes less energy and results in reducing greenhouse emission
with Portland cement replacement. According to data published in literature carbon emissions
of geopolymers can be 80 % less than traditional cements (van Deventer et al., 2010) or
reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 44-64% (McLellan et al., 2011). Recent conclusions of
Turner and Collins (2013) show the CO2 footprint of geopolymer concrete is only 9 % less
than that of OPC concrete. The CO2 footprint of alkali-activated concretes is highly dependent
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on the type, concentration and dosage of the alkali activators (as production process of alkali
have relatively high CO2 emissions) as well as curing conditions for the concrete and the mix
proportions of the ingredients (Yang et al., 2013). Heath et al. (2014) believe that using
multiple initial aluminosilicate sources, activators and curing temperatures for geopolymer
manufacture lead to a complex mix design and has potential to reduce global warming
potential of geopolymers compared to Portland cement.
In light of the latest tendencies: the distribution of carbon credits under the Kyoto agreement
and the possibility of applying carbon taxes in South Africa, the advantage of geopolymer
binders over OPC binders is obvious. At the same time giving an economic value to industrial
by-products and utilizing it in large amounts will lead to improvement of the environment,
economic and social life.
2.7.2
Compressive strength
The compressive strength of geopolymers will not be discussed here in detail as previously it
was already mentioned that many factors, such as raw material composition, type and
concentration of activator, etc. affect strength. Wallah and Rangan (2006) reported that low
calcium fly ash-based geopolymer concrete with consistent reproducible quality and longterm stability can be produced. The behaviour and failure mode of fly ash-based geopolymer
concrete in compression is similar to that of Portland cement concrete (Rangan, 2009).
2.7.3
Shrinkage, creep, elastic constants
Li et al. (2005) measured the drying shrinkage of cement and geopolymer mortar prisms. The
drying shrinkage of three geopolymer mortars with different water to cementitious material
ratios (0.34-0.42) was 0.084 %, 0.065 % and 0.048% at 150 days, while the drying shrinkage
of Portland cement mortar was 0.091 % at the same age at 0.34 water-cementitious materials
ratio. The shrinkage of geopolymers was lower than Portland cement materials and it seemed
to be affected by water content in the system.
Results of Atiş et al. (2009) show that the shrinkage of slag mortar activated by liquid sodium
silicate and sodium hydroxide was 3 and 6 times more than the shrinkage of Portland cement
and Portland cement mortar, respectively. The shrinkage of sodium carbonate activated slag
mortar was lower or similar to Portland cement mortar. So it can be concluded that shrinkage
of alkali-activated slags are highly affected by the type of activator.
Rangan (2009) reported that low calcium fly ash geopolymer concrete undergoes very little
drying shrinkage, about 100 micro strains after one year. This value is significantly smaller
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than that usually observed in Portland cement concrete. He also noticed that the values of
basic creep coefficients are about 50 % of that recommended for Portland cement concrete,
between 0.6 and 0.7 for 40 MPa, 47 MPa and 57 MPa geopolymer concrete and between 0.4
and 0.5 for geopolymer concrete with compressive strength of 67 MPa.
Recent work of Sagoe-Crentsil et al. (2013) investigated the creep behaviour and drying
shrinkage performance of fly ash geopolymer concrete and compared them to equivalent
grade of OPC concrete. It was reported that drying shrinkage values fell below the standard
700 µstrain limit, with geopolymer typical values less than 400 µstrain. Values of creep
coefficients were found to be 45 % lower in geopolymer concrete than corresponding OPC
concrete.
Works of scientists from Australia (Rangan et al., 2005) show that the values of Young‟s
modulus of fly ash-based geopolymer concrete are similar to those of Portland cement
concrete using the same coarse aggregate type. The Poisson‟s ratio falls between 0.12 and
0.16, that is within the range observed for Portland cement concrete. The stress-strain relation
in compression of fly ash-based geopolymer concrete is also similar to Portland cement
concrete.
2.7.4
Acid and sulphate resistance, sea water resistance
First of all it is necessary to take into account that the main reaction product of geopolymers is
aluminosilicate gel with a three-dimensional structure which is different from products of
hydration of OPC and thus the behaviour of geopolymers in different aggressive
environments will differ from OPC binders.
Gourley and Johnson (2005) affirmed that appropriately formulated and cured geopolymer
concrete (GPC) is virtually acid resistant compared to OPC concrete. They reported that
sewer pipe concrete made of 60 MPa OPC concrete and repeatedly immersed in pH=1
sulphuric acid had more that 10 % mass loss after 30 cycles while GPC had less than 2 %
mass loss.
Bakharev (2005c) also investigated durability of geopolymers exposed to 5 % solutions of
sulphuric and acetic acids. The best performance with the least weight loss was recorded for
samples activated by sodium hydroxide solution. However the samples activated by
combination of sodium and potassium hydroxide solution performed well with 4.5 % strength
loss in the first month (compared to the initial compressive strength determined after precuring – heat – cooling periods) and about 10 % strength decline in the second month of
exposure, which continued over the next 4 months, reaching 38.3 % after 6 months of testing.
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Samples activated by sodium hydroxide solution had a rapid strength loss of about 45 % after
2 months of exposure, recovered slightly and had about 40 % strength reduction after 6
months of testing. OPC and OPC + FA paste samples had 91 % and 69 % strength loss,
respectively, after 2 months, and about 91 % and 84 %, respectively, after 6 months of
exposure.
Bakharev et al. (2003) also found that alkali-activated slag (AAS) concrete exposed to acetic
acid solution had a superior durability to OPC concrete in the same conditions. If compared to
specimens stored in water, OPC samples had about 47 % and AAS about 33 % strength
reduction when stored in the acid solution for 12 months. After 12 months of exposure, OPC
had a pH decreased to below 9 to a depth of 22 mm, while AAS concrete had a pH reduction
to below 9 to a depth of 16 mm.
It was found by Song (2007) that geopolymer resistance against sulphuric acid attack in terms
of the surface appearance, mass loss and residual compressive strength was superior to
Portland cement paste. Geopolymer concrete samples retained their shapes without softening
and peeling after immersion in a 10 % sulphuric acid solution for 56 days or in 1 % acid for
one and a half years. In the same acidic situation, the paste in the outer layer of Portland
cement concrete was completely dissolved and destroyed, exposing aggregates after only 28
days.
Palomo et al. (1999b) studied metakaolin mixtures activated with NaOH and waterglass when
submitted to sulphuric acid (pH=3), sea water (pH=7) and sodium sulphate (pH=6) for 90
days. They reported a minor flexural strength decrease from 7 to 28 days immersion, between
28 and 56 days flexural strength rises, decreasing again from 56 to 90 days and rising from
that day onward. The behaviour was similar for all solutions. According to these authors,
unreacted sodium particles are not in the structure of the hardened material, remaining in a
soluble condition thus when in contact with a solution they are leached increasing the binder
porosity and lowering mechanical strength. On the other hand, the strength increase after 3
months indicates that the reaction process is still evolving, with the formation of zeolitic
precipitates (faujasite) thus lowering porosity and increasing strength.
Bakharev (2005a) found that geopolymer material produced using class F fly ash exposed to
sulphate solutions showed no visual signs of deterioration. After 5 month of immersion in
different solutions weight gain was observed for all samples, except those that were activated
by mixture of NaOH and KOH and were immersed in Mg2SO4 solution. The OPC and OPC +
fly ash samples were covered with a 1-mm thick white cover when exposed to the magnesium
sulphate solution and the part which was immersed in sodium sulphate was cracking. OPC
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and OPC + fly ash samples immersed in the solution of sodium and magnesium sulphate had
the most significant deterioration and gained in weight 9.1 % and 7.3 % respectively. The
authors concluded that the best performance in different sulphate solutions was observed in
geopolymer activated by sodium hydroxide solution.
At the same time Lloyd et al. (2012) affirmed that mass loss as measure of corrosion is not an
accurate method of measure for the penetration of acid into material due to the details of the
degradation mechanism, which involves the formation of a degraded product layer on the
sample surface. They suggested that corroded depth should be measured as it was found to be
more sensitive to mechanisms of degradation than mass loss.
Li et al. (2005) showed that geopolymer mortar prisms immersed in sodium sulphate solution
did not undergo any dangerous expansion, and formation of gypsum and/or ettringite was not
observed.
The resistance of fly ash-based geopolymer concrete in 5 % sodium sulphate solution and in 2
%, 1 % and 0.5 % sulphuric acid solutions was investigated by Wallah et al. (2005). The
changes in compressive strength, mass and length of samples were measured for various
exposure periods. The results showed excellent resistance to sulphate solution of fly ash-based
geopolymer concrete. Acid attack did however reduce the compressive strength of
geopolymer concrete more than 2.5 times after 1 year of exposure in 2 % sulphuric acid
solution. The reduction of compressive strength was much lower in the case of 1 % and 0.5 %
concentration.
Recent results of Bernal and Provis (2014) show that exposure of alkali-activated materials
(AAM) to sulphate salts can negatively affect the structure of these materials, depending on
the cation accompanying the salt. Immersing AAM to the Na2SO4 favours the structural
evolution, while immersing to the Mg2SO4 promotes the destruction of the main reaction
products via cation-exchange mechanism.
In general it can be concluded that the performance of geopolymers in acid environment is
better than that of OPC binders. The mechanism of sulphate attack accepted for OPC binders
cannot be applied to geopolymers as no Ca(OH)2 is formed during geopolymerization and no
gypsum and ettringite will be generated.
2.7.5
Corrosion of reinforcement, resistance to carbonation, chloride ingress
The main reason for failure of reinforced concrete structures is the corrosion of reinforcement
(Bertolini et al., 2004). In OPC binders, steel bars are protected by a passivity layer, due to the
2-33
high alkalinity of calcium hydroxide. Corrosion of steel bars may happen if the pH decreases
thus destroying the passivity layer, due to carbonation or chloride ingress.
Work of Morris and Hodges (2005) showed that steel, copper and type 316 stainless steel can
be successfully embedded in fly ash-based geopolymers. Aluminium and zinc cannot be used
due to severe corrosion in contact with the fresh binder.
Roy et al. (2000) compared chloride diffusion of OPC and alkali-activated binders and
reported that the alkali-activated binders had almost half of the diffusion values of the OPC
binders. Bakharev et al. (2001b) investigated the resistance of alkali-activated slag concrete to
carbonation by examining the performance of AAS concrete in two carbonation tests. It was
found that AAS concrete of Grade 40 had lower resistance to carbonation than that of OPC
concrete.
At the same time Miranda et al. (2005) confirmed that activated fly ash mortars passivate
reinforcing steel as rapidly and effectively as Portland cement mortars.
The results of the rapid chloride penetration test for alkali-activated granulated blast furnace
slag/metakaolin blends, are dominated by pore solution chemistry, and show almost no
change from 28 to 90 days of curing, contrasting other measures of the pore system (Bernal et
al., 2011). Some studies about chloride diffusion clearly show that alkali-activated binders are
able to prevent the ingress of harmful elements that could start steel corrosion.
Accelerated carbonation testing shows rapid carbonation accompanied by a loss in strength,
and this occurs faster at higher metakaolin content. Recent conclusions made by Bernal et al.
(2012) state that accelerated testing is very aggressive towards alkali-activated binders. The
pore solution pH under this test is significantly lower than at natural CO2 concentrations,
leading to a falsely short predicted service life.
Little information was found in literature about the resistance of geopolymers to carbonation,
chloride ingress and corrosion of steel reinforcement.
2.7.6
Alkali-silica reaction
Alkali-silica reaction is a chemical reaction of alkali cations and hydroxyl ions from concrete
pore solution and reactive silica which occurs in aggregates. The reaction causes expansion,
cracking, loss of strength and may lead to complete destruction of the concrete (Diamond,
1975).
2-34
Although alkali-activated fly ashes and metakaolin contain a high level of alkali elements,
they do not appear to be associated with the occurrence of alkali-silica reaction because of the
lack of calcium. That problem must be taken into consideration when calcium based binders
are used Pacheco-Torgal et al. emphasized (2012). This statement is proved partially by
results of Bakharev et al. (2001a). They investigated the durability of AAS concrete exposed
to alkali-aggregate reaction (AAR) and reported that expansion of AAS concrete prisms was
0.04 % after 50 days and 0.1 % after 22 months. The expansion in OPC concrete was about
0.03 % after 22 months of experiment. It was found that AAS concrete had lower resistance to
alkali-aggregate attack than that of OPC concrete of similar grade.
Li et al. (2005) have been using crushed quartz glass with amorphous silica content above
90 % as reactive fine aggregate to investigate the presence of alkali-silica reaction in
geopolymer mixtures compared to normal cement mixtures. Geopolymer mortar samples were
prepared from metakaolin, silica fume and alkaline activators and cured at 60 °C for 3 hours,
then at 20 °C for 21 hours. Cement mortar samples were cured at 20°C for 24 hours. The
largest expansion, 0.72 % at 90 days, was observed for mortar with high alkali cement with
0.94 % alkali content. Mortars with low alkali cement (0.59 % and 0.47 % alkali content)
generated 0.53 % and 0.46 % expansions at 90 days. Geopolymer mortar with 12 % alkali
content exhibited only 0.01 % expansion at 14 days. At 90 days the rate of expansion even
decreased to -0.03 %. The authors concluded that geopolymers do not generate any dangerous
alkali-silica reaction.
Fernandez-Jimenez et al. (2007) reported that the expansion recorded in alkali-activated fly
ash mortar after 16 days did not exceed the limit established in the accelerated method.
However, after 180 days of accelerated testing, expansion in the prisms exceeded that ceiling
(regardless of the type of activating solution used). Such expansion was nonetheless less
intense than in OPC mortars under similar conditions.
2.7.7
Fire resistance
Some literature shows that alkali-activated fly ash (AAFA) is more resistant to elevated
temperatures than traditional Portland cement (Rashad and Zeedan, 2011). The relative
residual strengths, for all AAFA pastes activated with liquid sodium silicate were superior to
that of traditional Portland cement systems after exposure to 200 °C, 400 °C, 600 °C, 800 °C
and 1000 °C. AAFA system appears more useful than OPC as a fire resistant binder. The
initial strength for the higher activator concentration was 47.3 MPa while the residual strength
after exposure to 1000 °C was 33.4 MPa (see Figure 2.18). In Figure 2.18 M2 contains lower
concentration of activator, M3 – moderate, M4 – higher concentration of activator. The initial
2-35
strength at lower activator concentration and moderate activator concentration were 5.5 MPa
and 15.6 MPa respectively while their residual strengths were 36.3 MPa and 40.3 MPa
respectively after exposure to 1000 °C. Consequentially, it could be better to use lower
concentrations of sodium silicate to activate fly ash required for fire resistant bonding
materials. Unfortunately, authors did not provide information on the dimensional stability of
the material produced.
Figure 2.18: Residual compressive strength of AAFA after thermal loading (Rasad and
Zeedan, 2011)
Kong and Sanjayan (2010) found that elevated temperature strength is dependent on the
aggregate size of the geopolymer concrete. Concrete containing smaller sized aggregates (<10
mm) explodes at temperatures much lower than 800 °C, while geopolymer concretes
containing larger aggregates (>10 mm) are more stable in elevated temperatures with a
consistent strength loss of 61.8 % due to differing thermal expansion between geopolymer
matrix and aggregate.
Bakharev (2006) studied thermal stability of geopolymers prepared using low calcium fly ash
and sodium and potassium alkaline activators. It was found that samples with sodium
containing activators had rapid deterioration of strength at 800 °C which the author connected
to an increase in average pore size. The compressive strength of fly ash activated with
potassium silicate was significantly increased with heating and deterioration of strength
started only at 1000 °C. Even though the thermal properties of geopolymer materials were
found to be superior to Portland cement concretes when exposed to 800-1000 °C, due to high
shrinkage as well as large changes in compressive strength and microstructure with increasing
temperature in the range of 800-1200 °C these materials were found unsuitable for refractory
insulation applications.
2-36
Lemougna et al. (2011) found that geopolymer products from volcanic ash were relatively
stable to heat, retaining about 60 % of their initial compressive strength and shrinking slowly
up to 900 °C. The compressive strengths of the heated materials and their thermal behaviour
were suitable to use this material for low-grade refractories as well as in potential building
applications.
2.8
GEOPOLYMER ISSUES
Even though geopolymers seem to be materials with a big potential the question naturally
arises: why it is still not widely used?
In general, even if there are assumptions that alkali-activated materials were used thousands
of years ago during the construction of the Egyptian pyramids, for modern science it is a
rather new material known for the last 30 years. It is much safer to use Portland cement which
is well known already for more than one and a half century. The absence of any regulatory
documentation and standards, unified requirements to raw materials, testing techniques and
methods on this particular binder do not simplify the evolution of geopolymers. The durability
question of these binders still remains open. Even though widely accepted accelerated
durability tests which are used for OPC concrete give an indication of the expected
performance, it is not a definite proof. Therefore, the process of adoption of new materials to
industrial scale application is very slow and requires verification over time in the real-world
(Duxson and van Deventer, 2009).
Some problems during material synthesis could arise. Using concentrated alkaline solutions
for activation can cause some problems induced by the highly corrosive nature of alkalis and
sufficient safety precautions need to be in place during the synthesis process. In case of using
by-products as a raw material for alkali activation, inconsistency of chemical composition can
be a serious issue. Fast settings may occur when calcium containing raw materials are used
(Lee and van Deventer, 2002). Efflorescence on alkali-activated/geopolymer materials is
another possible problem, (Škvára et al., 2009; Pachego-Torgal, 2012 et al.; Temuujin and
Van Riessen, 2009), but efflorescence can be reduced either by the addition of alumina-rich
admixtures, such as calcium aluminate cements, or by hydrothermal curing at elevated
temperatures (Kani et al., 2011).
Van Deventer et al. (2012) mentioned that it was important to control the rheology of alkaliactivated concrete without adversely affecting the final properties of hardened concrete by the
use of chemical admixtures as superplasticisers. The results of Puertas et al. (2003) have
demonstrated that the nature of superplasticisers had a very marked effect upon the activation
process and the behavior of cements containing activated slag. However, this effect was not
2-37
so strong in case of alkali-activated fly ash cements. Thus, there is a need to develop whole
set of new admixtures for alkali-activated fly ash cements (Van Deventer et al., 2012).
Alkali activators (sodium and potassium silicates, sodium and potassium hydroxides, sodium
carbonate) are freely available on the South African market; however, their prices are rather
high and will significantly affect commercial profitability of production of alkali-activated
materials.
2.9
APPLICATION EXPERIENCE OF ALKALI-ACTIVATED/GEOPOLYMER
BINDERS AND CONCRETES
Few successful examples of using alkali-activated binders and concretes on industrial scale
can be found in literature.
In the former USSR a few plants produced AAS binder. A wide range of products and
structures were made for industrial, civil, agricultural, hydraulic and road construction. It was
established during maintenance that alkali slag concrete strength increased by 1.5-2.5 times
after 6-12 years compared to the designed strength. The strength of concrete piles was 70
MPa while design strength was only 30 MPa. Concrete in the stressed trays in the
Tatarbynarsk irrigation system increased in strength from 25 MPa to 50 MPa. The freezethaw resistance of the concrete from those trays after 9 years maintenance was 700 cycles
without visible defects. Water impermeability increased from 1 to 2 MPa (Glukhovsky and
Pakhomov, 1978). Multistory residential buildings in Lipetsk town, Russia that were built in
the late seventies using AAS concrete are still operating to this day.
Australian researchers in collaboration with the Ukrainian scientist Krivenko (Xu et al., 2008)
investigated the properties of alkali-activated concrete manufactured in 1964 and 1982 after
more than 20 years of maintenance. Samples were taken from pre-stressed irrigation chutes,
drainage systems, residential 15-storey buildings and slabs. All samples had good appearance
without visible cracks and no evidence of alkali-aggregate reaction. All samples had strength
significantly higher than designed strength and excellent durability over service life of up to
35 years in aggressive conditions.
Rocla adapted a conventional pipe making process to make steel reinforced geopolymer
concrete pipes in an existing plant (Gourley and Johnson, 2005). The authors mentioned those
pipes pass all Australian Standard requirements. Sleeper trial specimens made from
60-80 MPa geopolymer concrete have been interspersed in mainline tracks since 2002 without
any problem arising. In 2011 Rocla reported on the successful use of geopolymer materials in
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commercial scale production. 3000 components have been produced for a customer‟s patented
crypt. The project required 2500 tonnes of geopolymer material (Rocla Pty Ltd, 2011).
Geopolymer concrete is currently actively promoted in Australia. The E-Crete™ R&D Batch
plant of “The Zeobond Group” was used to develop mix designs and supply concrete for
precast wall panels at “Antonello Precast”. Precast concrete was successfully used for
implementation in several projects (Zeobond Pty Ltd, n.d.).
Wagners Concrete Pty Ltd (Australia) produce environmentally advanced concrete under the
brand name Earth Friendly Concrete. A geopolymer binder is made from the chemical
activation of two industrial wastes – blast furnace slag and fly ash. This geopolymer has been
used on a number of different projects in Australia and a total volume of over 3000 m³ has
been poured already. They also won a contract to supply 33 large floor beams that will form
three suspended floor plates of the new Global Change Institute building at the University of
Queensland (Aldred and Day, 2012; Wagners Concrete Pty Ltd, 2012).
2.10 ALKALI-ACTIVATED MATERIALS IN SOUTH AFRICA
Not a lot of works on alkali activation of South African fly ash have been done until now and
even less has been published.
Van Jaarsveld et al. started working on stabilisation and solidification of waste materials
through geopolymerization. After their work it has become apparent that these materials could
be used for immobilisation of heavy metals and the fabrication of structural products (Van
Jaarsveld et al., 1997; Van Jaarsveld et al., 1999b).
Shuttleworth (1995) investigated factors influencing the reactivity of fly ash in the synthesis
of mineral polymers. It was found that Sasol, Matla and Lethabo fly ashes are the most
reactive, while Thuthuka, Matimba and Duvha fly ashes had lowest strength development due
to high Fe2O3 content. Na2O and CaO content of fly ash glass are important for early strength
development. Even though only three mix formulations were used in the study, it was found
that reaction kinetics was strongly influenced by the initial mix proportions.
The research of Swanepoel and Strydom (2002), (Swanepoel, 2001) on geopolymerization of
fly ash and kaolinite mixtures yielded conflicting results. They reported the potential
suitability of South African fly ash for geopolymerization despite achieving quite low strength
(8 MPa) at high energy efforts (60 °C for 48 hours).
2-39
Gokhale (2001) investigated immobilisation of organic substances into a geopolymeric
matrix. It was found that the addition of 5 % of chlorophenol almost destroyed the fly ashbased matrix.
The possibility of using industrial wastes and fly ash in particular as a raw material for
manufacturing geopolymeric insulating refractory material were performed by Jonker (2006)
at Tshwane University of Technology. Acceptable geopolymeric porous insulating refractory
material with low shrinkage, relatively high (13.8 MPa) strength and service temperature at
1220 °C were developed.
Muntingh (2006) analysed the diffusive properties of fly ash-based geopolymers by two
independent methods. It was found that the Chloride Diffusion Coefficient for all
geopolymeric formulations used in this study was significantly lower than for OPC or any
other concrete mixture, suggesting that geopolymers are durable materials.
2.11
CONCLUSIONS AND STUDY MOTIVATION
From the review of existing literature it can clearly be seen that the interest in geopolymer
binders increased in the last decade, suggesting that it has a big potential and can be an
alternative binder to well-known Portland cement in the not so distant future. South African
companies, such as Eskom and Sasol produce huge amounts of ash and only about 5 % of it is
beneficially used indicating that the utilization of ash is a very important problem for South
Africa. Giving an economic value to this industrial by-product and utilizing it in large
amounts in alkali-activated material production will lead to improvement of the environment;
allowing production of materials with good properties and also extending the raw-materials
base of the building industry.
Basic principles of geopolymerization were presented in this chapter. Alkali activation of fly
ash was a subject of numerous studies; however it was found that the properties of the final
material varied significantly. One of the reasons for that is the quality of the initial source of
aluminosilicates for geopolymer production (chemical composition, reactivity, particle size
distribution, etc.). Thus, each particular fly ash has to be tested for suitability in geopolymer
production that will also expand the already existent database of geopolymer knowledge.
The knowledge and understanding of the factors affecting the nature and properties of alkaliactivated cements and geopolymers is very important for producing material with a good
performance. Thus, a “variable parameter – property” relationship will be investigated in this
study using local materials. Special attention will be paid to the question of strength
decreasing in samples with raised alkali content, as the explanation of this phenomenon is not
2-40
clear (Provis, 2009). This will fill a gap in knowledge and enable a better understanding of the
alkali activation process.
The evaluation of strength, permeability, shrinkage and creep behaviour of AAFA concretes
will give an idea of the durability of these materials. Calculation of carbon footprint related to
mixture components give an indication of environmental effectiveness of these materials and
will make a valuable contribution to promoting the use of these materials in South Africa.
3-1
3
MATERIALS AND METHODS
3.1
INTRODUCTION
This chapter starts from the characterization of initial materials used for the preparation of
alkali-activated fly ash (AAFA) pastes and concretes. A brief overview of evaluation
techniques and methods used in this thesis along with procedures of sample preparation is
provided here in order to obtain and understand relationships between strength, microstructure
and composition of the AAFA cement pastes. Standard methods and techniques described in
literature are discussed in this chapter and applied in experiments.
The experimental part of this thesis developed in two stages: 1) investigation of AAFA pastes;
2) investigation of AAFA concrete. Each part consists of material synthesis and their
chemical and physical characterization.
The methodology of this thesis is to obtain the maximum, within the bounds of scope,
information about alkali-activation of local fly ashes, parameters affecting their properties as
well as characterization of the final material with the aim of promoting AAFA binders as a
material for greater fly ash utilization or even as a potential alternative to Portland cement.
3.2
CHARACTERIZATION TECHNIQUES
3.2.1
X-Ray Diffraction (XRD)
The samples for XRD analysis were prepared using a back loading preparation method. Small
samples prepared for phase determination test were pre-ground in a mill. After addition of 20
% internal standard of Si (Aldrich 99 % pure) for determination of crystalline and amorphous
content, milling in a McCrone micronizing mill with alcohol was conducted. They were
analysed using a PANalytical X‟Pert Pro powder diffractometer with X‟Celerator detector and
variable divergence and receiving slits with Fe filtered Co-Kα radiation. The data was
collected in the angular range 5°≤2θ≤90° with a step size 0.008° 2θ and a 13 s scan step time.
The phases were identified using X‟Pert Highscore plus software. The relative phase amount
(weight %) was estimated by the Rietveld method using Autoquan/BGMN software
employing Fundamental Parameter Approach. In the Rietveld method an observed data
pattern is compared to a calculated pattern. By variation of all parameters the difference
between the calculated and observed pattern is then minimized by a least square procedure,
until the best possible fit is obtained.
3-2
The background was fitted by the polynomial order which was determined automatically
depending on the angular range. Amorphous compounds are invisible for the Rietveld
method. Only crystalline phases are taken into account and their sum is normalized to 100%.
The amount of the crystalline phases is overestimated should amorphous material be present.
To overcome the problem an internal standard is added (a known amount of pure crystalline
phase) and the overestimation of this phase and of all the other phases can be corrected. From
the overestimation of the standard phase a correction factor is calculated, which is in turn
applied to all crystalline phases.
The recalculated weight percentage is the amount of phases taking into account the true
weight of the internal standard added. It represents the sample after the addition of an internal
standard phase. The amorphous content is calculated, based on the actual sample.
3.2.2 Attenuated Total Reflectance Fourier Transform Infrared spectroscopy (ATRFTIR)
There are two most common forms of solid sample preparation for IR spectra collection; both
involve grinding material to fine powder and then dispersing it in a matrix. Ground material
can be dispersed in a liquid, for example in mineral oil, or pressed with potassium bromide
(KBr) re-crystallization which results in a clear glassy disk ready to be analysed. Attenuated
total reflectance (ATR) FTIR allows transmission spectra without using any matrix but it is
essential to provide good optical contact between the sample and ATR crystal.
An attenuated total reflection accessory operates by measuring the changes that occur in a
totally internally reflected infrared beam when the beam comes into contact with a sample as
it shown in Figure 3.1. An infrared beam is directed onto an optically dense crystal with a
high refractive index at a certain angle. This internal reflectance creates an evanescent wave
that extends beyond the surface of the crystal into the sample held in contact with the crystal.
This evanescent wave protrudes only a few microns (0.5-5 μ) beyond the crystal surface and
into the sample. In regions of the infrared spectrum where the sample absorbs energy, the
evanescent wave will be attenuated or altered. The attenuated energy from each evanescent
wave is passed back to the IR beam, which then exits the opposite end of the crystal and is
passed to the detector in the IR spectrometer. The system then generates an infrared spectrum
(www.perkinelmer.com, 2014).
3-3
Figure 3.1: A multiple reflection in ATR crystal (www.perkinelmer.com, 2014)
The most frequently used small crystal ATR material is diamond because it has the best
durability and chemical inertness. The small area ATR crystal top-plates generally provide
only a single reflection but this is sufficient, given the very low noise levels.
In this thesis FTIR was performed using a Golden Gate diamond ATR cell (Bruker), which
fits in the macro sample compartment of a Vertex 70v (Bruker Optics) spectrometer. The
contact area between the sample and the diamond ATR crystal was 2 mm diameter. After the
crystal area has been cleaned and the background collected, the powdered alkali-activated
cement paste was placed onto the small crystal area. The sample height was not more than a
few millimetres. Once the solid has been placed on the crystal area, the pressure arm was
positioned over the sample area. Then the pressure arm locked into a precise position above
the diamond crystal and force is applied to the sample, pushing it onto the diamond surface.
Spectra were recorded with 32 acquisitions at 4 cm-1 resolution over a spectral range of 4000600 cm-1 for hardened samples with different sodium oxide content at comparison testing age
in transmittance mode.
3.2.3
Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM)
Samples of AAFA cement paste were crushed for SEM investigation. Fractured surfaces of
activated fly ashes, coated with carbon or gold, were investigated by scanning electron
microscopes JEOL JSM 5800 (Japan) at 20 kV and Zeiss Ultra Plus scanning electron
microscope (Carl Zeiss, Germany) at 3 kV. SEM analysis was performed at different ages.
3.3
MATERIALS
3.3.1
Fly ash
Although there are a number of raw materials used for alkali-activation, fly ash is of particular
interest in South Africa due to its accessibility around Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Limpopo
provinces. There are few major producers of fly ash in South Africa: Ash Resources (Ltd) Pty
and their Durapozz, Durapozz Pro, SuperPozz, Pozzfill ashes and Pozzsand (Lethabo and
3-4
Matla power stations); Ulula Ash (Kriel power station) and Sephaku Smartash and Hardash
(Kendal power station). Fly ashes from other power stations are not widely used due to their
inconsistent composition.
A few batches of fly ash obtained from Lethabo power station were used as only source of
aluminosilicates for the majority of the experimental work presented in this thesis. In addition,
fly ash from Matla power station was used for comparison. These particular fly ashes were
chosen because they have consistent quality and comply with the chemical and physical
requirements of SANS 50450-1:2014. Using other South African fly ashes (except of fly
ashes from Kriel and Kendal power stations) is possible at this stage as deviations in initial
material composition can only be taken into account once the factors affecting alkaliactivation are quantified. Fly ashes used in this study are siliceous fly ashes (SANS 501971:2000), which means the proportions of reactive calcium oxide is less than 10 % by mass.
The chemical composition of each fly ash batch was monitored by X-Ray fluorescence
spectrometry (XRF) at the Geology Department of the University of Pretoria and is shown in
Table 3.1.
Table 3.1: Chemical composition of fly ashes, % by mass
SiO2
Lethabo I
Lethabo II
55.14
55.22
Lethabo III Lethabo IV
53.86
55.83
Matla
Uncertainty
53.44
0.4
Limit of
detection
0.02
TiO2
1.50
1.57
1.56
1.56
1.74
0.03
0.0032
Al2O3
32.17
31.93
30.78
30.25
30.21
0.3
0.01
Fe2O3
3.61
3.36
3.30
3.92
2.92
0.3
0.0097
MnO
0.03
0.02
0.03
0.03
0.03
0.0065
0.0013
MgO
0.81
0.73
1.14
1.13
1.85
0.1
0.0118
CaO
4.50
4.57
4.34
4.05
6.38
0.07
0.01
Na2O
<0.01
<0.01
0.23
0.16
0.39
0.11
0.0265
K2O
0.76
0.87
0.82
0.75
0.85
0.06
0.005
P2O5
0.27
0.42
0.52
0.43
0.93
0.08
0.01
Cr2O3
0.04
0.06
0.04
0.04
0.02
0.0053
0.0006
NiO
0.01
0.02
0.02
0.02
0.01
0.01
0.0013
V2O5
0.03
0.02
0.03
0.03
0.03
0.0018
0.0008
ZrO2
0.04
0.03
0.05
0.05
0.04
0.005
0.0009
SO3
0.13
0.23
-
-
-
SrO
0.13
0.12
-
-
-
LOI
0.67
0.80
2.51
0.86
1.01
The chemical composition of fly ashes used is consistent and fits in the range of typical values
declared by the producer.
3-5
The particle size distribution of all used fly ashes was measured using the Malvern
Mastersizer laser diffraction instrument in the Civil Engineering Laboratory of the University
of Pretoria and shown in Figure 3.2.
6
Lethabo I
Volume, %
5
Lethabo II
Lethabo III
4
Lethabo IV
3
Matla
2
1
0
0,1
1
10
Size, µm
100
1000
100
1000
100
Lethabo I
Volume, %
80
Lethabo II
Lethabo III
60
Lethabo IV
Matla
40
20
0
0,1
1
10
Size, µm
Figure 3.2: Particle size distribution of used fly ashes
From the Figure 3.2 it is clearly seen that all fly ashes except of Lethabo I have almost the
same particle size distribution. The principal difference between these ashes that Lethabo I is
unclassified fly ash with the median size of 102.5 µm, known under the trade name Pozzfill.
The other samples were significantly improved by particle size distribution classification with
finer particles grade (median size in range 10.5 – 11.6 µm) and more than 80 % of particles
are finer than 45 µm. Unclassified Lethabo I fly ash was used only for trial mixes but not for
the majority of experiments. Fly ash has microscopically small particles consisting of
aluminium-silicate glass (Krüger, 2003) mostly spherical shape and hollow (cenospheres) or
packed by small microspheres inside of bigger ones (plerosphere). The morphology of typical
classified fly ash is shown in Figure 3.3.
3-6
Figure 3.3: SEM images of classified Lethabo fly ash
The crystalline phases of fly ashes were analysed by X-ray powder diffraction method (XRD)
at the Geology Department of the University of Pretoria. The XRD patterns of all used fly
ashes are shown in Figure 3.4. 20 % silicon was added to the fly ash as internal standard for
determination of amorphous (glass) content. Size of the fly ash was reduced before XRD
analysis by milling fly ash with ethanol in the McCrone micronizing mill for 5 minutes. The
relative phase amounts were estimated using the Rietveld method. Fly ashes consist mainly of
amorphous phase with crystalline inclusion of mullite and quartz. Phase composition of fly
ashes is shown in Table 3.2.
Lethabo I
Q
M
Silicon
Silicon
Lethabo II
Silicon
Lethabo III
M
Lethabo IV
Q
Matla
M
M
H
M
M
Intensity
H
10
20
30
40
50
60
Position 2Θ, °
70
80
90
Figure 3.4: X-ray diffraction pattern of fly ashes M – mullite, Q – quartz, H – hematite
3-7
Table 3.2: Phase composition of fly ashes, weight %
Lethabo I
Lethabo II
Lethabo III
Lethabo IV
Matla
Amorphous
61.7
59.9
59.4
56.0
57.5
Mullite
25.8
29.9
27.1
30.0
35.2
Quartz
11.6
10.2
12.6
13.1
7.3
Hematite
0.9
-
0.8
0.9
-
The ATR-FTIR spectra of original fly ashes are shown on Figure 3.5. All spectra exhibit the
broad band with several peaks at around 1055-1020 cm-1 attributed to T-O-Si (where T= Si or
Al) asymmetric stretching vibration of TO4 tetrahedral molecules and typical for silicates and
aluminosilicate glasses and minerals (Lee and Van Deventer, 2002). Broad weak peaks at
around 902-904 cm-1 and at 821 cm-1 can be assigned to mullite (Voll et al., 2002). A weak
double band at 790-775 cm-1 and a shoulder at 692 cm-1 assigned to quartz (Ghosh, 1978;
Zhang et al., 2012a). The results of IR analysis are in agreement with XRD results.
Lethabo II
1800
904.0
821.0
Lethabo IV
1054.9
1024.1
Transmittance, %
Lethabo III
Matla
1400
1000
Frequency, cm -1
600
Figure 3.5: ATR-FTIR spectra of fly ashes
3.3.2
Activating solutions
Sodium hydroxide flakes (98.5 % purity) obtained from Protea Chemicals were dissolved in
distilled water in order to obtain activating solution. Activator solutions were prepared and
3-8
cooled down to room temperature before mixing. The Na2O content in the mixture has been
calculated as percentage of fly ash mass.
Activating solutions with different Na2O and SiO2 contents were prepared as well to
investigate the effect of soluble silicates at constant sodium oxide contents. Concentration of
SiO2 was varied from 3 to 12 % of fly ash mass with 3 % intervals. Commercially available
sodium silicate solution (Silchem 2008 from Protea Chemicals) containing 14.17 % Na2O and
29.05 % SiO2, with silica modulus (Ms) of 2 and density of 1530 kg/m3 was used.
Caustic potash (91 % purity) was used for making an activator solution and compared to
mixture with caustic soda solution to investigate the effect of alkali metal cation on the
strength of paste. The purity of sodium and potassium hydroxide was not taken into account
during mixture design and it was assumed to be 100 % final amount of total alkali to fly ash
mass. The actual alkali content was slightly lower and the water to binder solids ratio
increased when potassium hydroxide was used as activator as 8 % of the impurities in caustic
potash were water.
3.3.3
Aggregates
Dolomite sand with a fineness modulus of 3.86 and 9 % passing the 75 µm sieve was used to
produce AAFA concrete. Crushed dolomite stone (9.5 mm) was used as the coarse aggregate
for concrete. Dolomite aggregates were chosen due to their abundance in South Africa as well
as their popularity in the construction industry. Dolomite sand and stone was obtained from
Lyttelton Dolomite (Pty) Ltd, Pretoria, South Africa.
3.3.4
Mix proportions and synthesis of AAFA
AAFA pastes were prepared in three series: 1) Na-series, where sodium hydroxide solution
was used as an activator; 2) Na-Si series, where combinations of sodium hydroxide and
sodium silicate were used; 3) K-series where the activator was potassium hydroxide. Detailed
mix composition and curing conditions for different series are shown in Table 3.3. The
mixture ID indicates tested variable and its value. For example, the sample Na3 contained 3 %
of Na2O in respect of fly ash mass. For T65D4 temperature and duration of heat treatment
were variables at 65 °C and 4 hours respectively.
3-9
Table 3.3: Mix composition and curing condition of AAFA pastes
Mixture ID
Actual content
of alkali, % of
fly ash mass
w/s
Temper
ature of
curing
(°C)
Duration
of curing
(h)
Material content (kg/m3)
M2O
SiO2
Na3
2.96
-
0.20
60
24
1544
59.8
Sodium
silicate
(Ms=2)
-
Na6
5.91
-
0.20
60
24
1527
118.2
-
297.0
Fly ash
MOH
Water
304.6
Na9
8.86
-
0.20
60
24
1499
174.2
-
287.7
Na12
11.93
-
0.20
60
24
1469
227.5
-
277.9
Na15
14.78
-
0.20
60
24
1438
278.3
-
268.1
T65D4
8.86
-
0.20
65
4
1499
174.2
-
287.8
T70D4
8.86
-
0.20
70
4
1499
174.2
-
287.8
T75D4
8.86
-
0.20
75
4
1499
174.2
-
287.8
T25D24
8.86
-
0.20
25
24
1499
174.2
-
287.8
T40D24
8.86
-
0.20
40
24
1499
174.2
-
287.8
T60D4
8.86
-
0.20
60
4
1499
174.2
-
287.8
T60D8
8.86
-
0.20
60
8
1499
174.2
-
287.8
T60D12
8.86
-
0.20
60
12
1499
174.2
-
287.8
T60D16
8.86
-
0.20
60
16
1499
174.2
-
287.8
T60D20
8.86
-
0.20
60
20
1499
174.2
-
287.8
T60D24
8.86
-
0.20
60
24
1499
174.2
-
287.8
T80D4
8.86
-
0.20
80
4
1499
174.2
-
287.8
T80D8
8.86
-
0.20
80
8
1499
174.2
-
287.8
T80D12
8.86
-
0.20
80
12
1499
174.2
-
287.8
T80D16
8.86
-
0.20
80
16
1499
174.2
-
287.8
T80D20
8.86
-
0.20
80
20
1499
174.2
-
287.8
T80D24
8.86
-
0.20
80
24
1499
174.2
-
287.8
WS0.18
8.86
-
0.18
60
24
1545
179.4
-
262.7
WS0.22
8.86
-
0.22
60
24
1466
170.2
-
306.3
WS0.24
8.86
-
0.24
60
24
1420
164.9
-
331.1
WS0.26
8.86
-
0.26
60
24
1370
159.1
-
357.9
WS0.29
8.86
-
0.29
60
24
1326
154.0
-
381.0
K3
2.88
-
0.20
60
24
1525
57.5
-
305.5
K6
5.46
-
0.21
60
24
1501
107.3
-
301.0
K8
8.19
-
0.21
60
24
1474
158.0
-
296.0
K11
10.92
-
0.21
60
24
1445
206.6
-
290.6
Na3Si3
2.97
3.00
0.20
60
24
1504
29.8
155.2
224.0
Na3Si6
3.00
6.00
0.20
60
24
1462
1.5
301.8
147.6
Na6Si3
6.00
2.92
0.20
60
24
1491
90.2
150.1
218.8
Na6Si6
6.00
5.85
0.20
60
24
1451
59.8
292.1
149.1
Na6Si9
5.94
8.77
0.20
60
24
1414
30.8
427.0
82.5
Na6Si12
5.89
12.1
0.20
60
24
1388
-
577.5
-
Na9Si3
8.89
3.00
0.20
60
24
1474
143.5
152.1
212.2
Na9Si6
8.91
6.00
0.20
60
24
1398
109.7
288.7
132.9
Na9Si9
8.91
8.96
0.20
60
24
1379
82.1
425.4
64.9
Na9Si12
8.95
12.0
0.20
60
24
1356
55.1
560.1
-
Na5.7Si6.5
5.70
6.45
0.20
60
24
1438
48.0
319.6
137.9
MatlaNa9
8.86
-
0.24
60
24
1419.62
164.9
-
331.1
3-10
The samples of AAFA pastes were prepared by mixing fly ash with the activating solution in
a pan mixer for 4 minutes. The mixture was transferred into moulds, vibrated for an
appropriate time to remove air and then cured at mentioned conditions. The amount of alkali
and SiO2 introduced with the activator solution was calculated as percentages of fly ash mass.
To regulate the amount of water in pastes, water to binder solids ratio was used as a variable
(Rangan, 2008). Total amount of water was calculated as the sum of water necessary to
produce MOH (solid) from M2O and distilled water added to produce alkaline solution, where
M is Na or K. Binder solids were calculated as a sum of fly ash mass, M2O and SiO2 if any.
Water to binder solids ratio was chosen as low as possible and was kept constant at 0.2 for all
experiments unless otherwise mentioned. An example of mix design is presented in Appendix
A. AAFA materials were characterized on paste samples to eliminate any possible effect on
the result by minerals in the aggregates.
The concrete mix design was made based on results presented in Chapter 4. Consumption of
materials per cubic meter of concrete along with curing condition details is provided in
Chapter 5. Fly ash, sand and coarse aggregate were premixed for 1-1.5 min and then an
activator solution was added. All components were mixed together for another 3 to 4 minutes.
Fresh concrete was cast into different sized moulds, vibrated to remove air and then placed
into oven for heat treatment. In this work, all paste/concrete samples were not sealed during
heat curing. After elevated temperature curing, all samples were demoulded and tested after
one-hour. The remaining samples were kept in a room with constant temperature and
humidity (25±2 °C; 55±5 % respectively) until testing age.
3.4
TEST METHODS
3.4.1
Strength of hardened paste and concrete
Flexural strength of AAFA paste was determined using 40×40×160 mm prisms. Samples
were tested immediately after elevated temperature curing, at 28, 91, 182 and 364 days. Paste
compressive strength was determined on halves of 40×40×160 mm prisms, broken during
flexural testing. Specimens were tested at rate of 2400±200 N/s until fracture (SANS 501961:2006). The test results are expressed as a mean of the six compressive strength
determinations made on a set of three prisms. If one result within the six determinations
varied by more than ± 10 % from the mean of the six, this result was discarded and the mean
of remaining five results was calculated. If further result within these five determinations
varied by more than ± 10 % from their mean, the set of results should be discarded. However,
some of the obtained results contain more than one outlier, these values were clearly marked
3-11
but were not discarded as strength deviation of AAFA pastes seem to be higher than that of
Portland cement.
Compressive strength of AAFA concrete was determined using 100 mm cubes crushed at a
rate of 0.3±0.1 MPa/s until the specimen fails (SANS 5863:2006). At least three cubes were
used for strength determination.
Flexural strength (modulus of rupture) of hardened 100×100×500 mm concrete beams at 28
day was determined by the two-point loading method that produces a constant bending
moment along the central part of the test specimen (SANS 5864:2006).
Splitting tensile strength was recorded for 28 days cylindrical 150×300 mm AAFA concrete
specimens at 0.03±0.01 MPa/s until failure. Tests were conducted according to SANS
6253:2006.
3.4.2
Deformations in pastes and concrete
Modulus of elasticity and Poisson‟s ratio were obtained for heat cured AAFA concrete
cylinder specimens with dimensions 150×300 mm at the age of 28 days in compression.
Strain-measuring device was attached to the specimen by embedded gage points. Then
specimen with the device was subject to stress in the range of 0 to 40 % of ultimate strength
and readings responding to longitudinal and transverse deformations were taken. Tests are
conducted according to ASTM C 469-02.
Creep of heat cured (60 °C for 24 hours) AAFA concrete was studied for a period of one year
using 150×300 mm cylinders. The creep test was conducted on two series of AAFA concrete,
all of them after elevated temperature curing. For the first sample series, creep testing was
started immediately after elevated temperature curing period, while for the second series it
was begun at the age of 28 days. Samples were loaded at sustained stress of 40 % of the
compressive strength on the day of loading in a spring-loaded system while a third cylinder
was kept unloaded. An external strain-measuring device was used to measure strain on two
gage lines on the perimeter of each specimens. Creep load was checked and adjusted if it was
necessary at every measurement. Change in length was measured before and after loading,
then daily for a week, then weekly for a first month and monthly until 1 year. Creep was
calculated in microstrains.
Drying shrinkage behavior of heat cured AAFA concrete was studied for a one year on a set
of three beams with dimensions of 100×100×300 mm. Metal anvils were embedded in
concrete, 15 mm from sample ends, during casting. All AAFA concrete samples were subject
3-12
to elevated temperature curing and it is expected that the measurements do not represent the
full pattern of volumetric changes AAFA paste experienced. Dimensional measurements were
taken on hemispherical surfaces of anvils using a micrometer equipped with invar steel
reference bar against which the measuring equipment was checked before each use.
Measurements were recorded at regular time intervals and length change was calculated in
microstrain.
In this research, all samples were not sealed during elevated temperature curing but only
covered with film. In-situ evaluation of volume changes of paste during heat treatment gives
valuable information about strains in the sample. The shrinkage cone method for measuring
the shrinkage from work of Eppers and Müller (2010) was revised and adapted to measure
length changes of AAFA cement paste and concrete during elevated temperature curing at
60 °C for the first 24 hours. A laser was pointed vertically at the surface of a cone-shaped
sample in a cylindrical jar, shown in Figure 3.6. The cone geometry of the sample ensures that
the change in height corresponds to the linear length change of the material. The shrinkagemeasuring device in this thesis consists of a Micro Epsilon optoNCDT1700 laser-optical
sensor with a measuring range of 2 mm on a stand, which allows displacement measurement.
The distance is linearized and then issued via an analogue interface.
Figure 3.6: Shrinkage cone method for measuring shrinkage
The AAFA cement pastes were prepared in a Hobart mixer according to SANS 50196-1:2006.
Fly ash was placed in the mixer bowl, the alkaline solution was added and paste was mixed by
3-13
hand for a minute. The hand mixing was used at the initial stage of the mixing to prevent spill
of fly ash in case if mechanical mixing would be applied from the beginning. After hand
mixing, the pastes were mechanically mixed for additional one and a half minute. The AAFA
cement concrete was prepared in a pan mixer by one minute mixing of dry components,
adding the alkaline solution and additional one and a half minute mixing. AAFA
paste/concrete was cast into the pre-heated cone-shaped mould (covered with a removable
plastic cone to prevent direct contact with metallic surface) and then was compacted. A
reflector made out of light white plastic was embedded into paste surface and the specimen
was weighed. The reflector was made from plastic to prevent its sinking into fresh sample
under gravity action, which would significantly influence the readings. The sample‟s effective
height was calculated as difference between cone mould height, the distance from the mould‟s
top and to reflector measured with vernier calliper and the reflector thickness and was used as
the reference length for calculating the shrinkage. Cone geometry of the sample ensures that
volume change in the sample corresponds to the sample height change. More information on
this topic can be seen in Appendix E. The specimen was placed into an oven underneath the
pre-heated measuring device so that the laser beam was reflected by reflector disc. The laser
was adjusted to have a maximum range, and the measurements were started as soon as the
oven was closed. The process from the beginning of mixing fly ash with an activator to the
first displacement measurement took about 5 minutes. The relative displacement was recorded
by data logger (Graphitech, Japan) with a ten seconds interval during 24 hours. After this
period of time specimen was weighed and the total mass loss was calculated as a percentage
as in Equation 3.1.
Mloss = (m1-m2)/(m1-mm)·100%
(3.1)
Where m1 – mass of the mould with paste/concrete before elevated temperature curing, g; m2
– mass of the mould with sample after elevated temperature curing, g; mm – mass of the
empty mould, g.
Length change of sample was calculated according to Equation 3.2:
ΔL = (Li-L0)/L
(3.2)
Where Li – laser reading at i-time, µm; L0 – initial laser reading, µm; L – samples effective
height, m.
As the measurements were taken during elevated temperature oven curing, the effect of
thermal expansion of the cone and measuring device itself were eliminated by pre-heating
them before the experiment for at least 24 hours at the temperature of experiment. The raw
3-14
materials (fly ash, sodium hydroxide solution, aggregates) were kept in a room with
controlled environment (25±2 ºC and 65±5 % relative humidity) for at least 24 hours before
the test.
AAFA pastes with varying concentrations of sodium oxide and concrete were studied in-situ
for volume changes during elevated temperature curing in oven.
3.4.3
Durability of concrete
To evaluate the transport properties and durability of produced concrete a few techniques,
known in South Africa as durability indices, were applied to AAFA concrete samples
(Alexander et al.,1999; Beushausen and Alexander, 2008). Samples for durability index tests
were dried in the oven at 50 °C for 7 days.
Oxygen permeability testing was conducted on 30 mm thick, 68 mm diameter heat cured
AAFA concrete samples. These samples were dried in an oven at 50 °C for 7 days, measured
by calliper and placed in a compressive collar with a rigid sleeve. The sample with collar and
rigid sleeve was placed into the permeability test chamber and oxygen under gauge pressure
(100±5 kPa) was allowed to flow though the permeability cell. Pressure readings with time
were automatically taken until the pressure dropped to 50±2.5 kPa, or for 6 h±15 min,
whichever comes first. The coefficient of permeability is determined from the slope of the line
produced when the natural log of the ratio of initial pressure to pressure at any time is plotted
against time (SANS 516-2:2009). Test result was calculated from the mean of four test
determination of the same material.
Water sorptivity testing consists of measuring the mass of water absorbed with time from the
bottom of a concrete sample, of which the sides had been sealed. The sorptivity was
determinated from the slope of the straight line produced when the mass of absorbed water is
plotted against the square root of time and calculated according to Equations 3.3 and 3.4.
√
Where
(3.3)
is the slope of the best fit line from plotting
against √ ;
is the mass of
absorbed water at each weighing period, g.
(3.4)
Where
is the water sorptivity, mm/hr0.5;
vacuum saturated mass of the specimen, g;
is the slope of the best fit line, g/hr0.5;
is the mass of the sample, g.
is the
3-15
The test result was calculated as the mean of four determinations. Tests were conducted
according to SANS 516-3:2009.
Chloride conductivity testing consists of measuring the electrical current passed through a
30 mm thick slice of 68 mm diameter core. The specimens are saturated with 5 M NaCl
solution before the test. A potential difference of 2, 5 or 10 V was applied cross the ends of
the specimen, which was immersed in a sodium chloride solution. The conductivity was
determined from the specimen dimension and the specimen electrical resistance
((thickness/area) × (current/potential difference). Test result was calculated as the mean of
four determinations. Tests were conducted according to SANS 516-4:2009.
Basic acid immersion tests were conducted on two series of heat cured AAFA concrete 100
mm cubes. Firstly, samples were immersed in sulphuric acid immediately after elevated
temperature curing, while the second set of samples were immersed after 28 days of curing.
The compressive strength of samples immersed in acid was compared to strength of samples
cured at constant room temperature and humidity. Change in mass and appearance of samples
was also evaluated. Concentration of sulphuric acid was that to achieve a pH of solution 2-3.
The pH of the solution was checked monthly by indicator strips and acid was added to
maintain a pH of 2-3.
3.4.4
Heat evolution during elevated temperature curing
The heat evolution of AAFA cement pastes during elevated temperature curing was
investigated during the first 24 hours in order to obtain information, which might correlate
with some physical properties. During the first part of the temperature development test
AAFA pastes with different sodium oxide contents were cast into a plastic mould of three
40×40×160 mm prisms. For each mix, six moulds were cast with a total paste volume of 4.6 l.
The pastes with different alkali content were cured separately. Moulds were placed into an
oven at 60 °C immediately after casting. Grounded thermocouples were embedded into the
cores of moulds during casting. Two thermocouples were measuring temperature in the oven.
Temperature development in the sample cores was recorded at one minute intervals for the 24
hours of elevated temperature curing using a data logger (Graphitech, Japan).
During the second part of the test, moulds of different sizes, made of metal and plastic were
used. AAFA pastes with 9, 12 and 15 % Na2O were studied. Temperature development of the
pastes with 3 and 6 % Na2O was not investigated due to results obtained during the first part
of the test. Each of the three pastes was cast into a set of plastic and metal moulds (one of
each): 100 mm and 150 mm cubes, 40×40×160 mm prisms. The total volume of each mix was
3-16
10.2 l. Grounded thermocouples were placed in the core of each mould. All six moulds were
put into the oven at 60 °C and the temperature development in sample cores was recorded for
the 24 hours of elevated temperature curing. Properties of moulds material are presented in
Table 3.4.
Table 3.4: Mould material properties
Steel
Density,
kg/m3
7850
Specific heat
capacity, J/(kg·K)
452
Thermal conductivity,
W/(m·K)
40
Thermal diffusivity, 106
m2/s
11.27
Nylon 6
1160
1700
0.28
0.14
Material
The oven used in this work was not equipped with a refrigerator. The net volume of the oven
was 202.5 l. The ratio between paste and the oven volume was constant at 0.0228 and 0.0504
for the first and second part of the experiment respectively.
3.5
CONCLUSIONS
This chapter describes the initial materials, experimental procedures, and brief theory of used
equipment. Various types and concentrations of activator solutions as well as synthesis
conditions were employed to produce the AAFA cement paste with the aim to better
understand and predict final material properties. The methodology was divided into two main
parts: the synthesis of AAFA materials and their characterization. Several analytical
techniques have been proposed to characterize hardened material, while the others have been
performed in-situ during elevated temperature curing of AAFA cement pastes/concrete in
order to obtain more information about reaction kinetics and deformations.
4-1
4
EXPERIMENTAL STUDY ON ALKALI-ACTIVATED FLY ASH CEMENT
PASTES
4.1
INTRODUCTION
Different variables affecting the compressive strength of alkali-activated fly ash pastes will be
discussed in this chapter. Numerous works have been done on this theme; however the
literature review shows that the properties of alkali-activated fly ash products are highly
affected by the initial material composition, their proportions and curing conditions. Not
many published results on factors affecting alkali activation of South African fly ash were
found. Thus it is necessary to establish a “variable parameter-property” relationship to better
understand the activation of local fly ash and find the most suitable mixture proportions and
curing conditions. Compressive strength was chosen as the main indicator of material
properties and structure development due to the ease and affordability of this testing
technique. Determination of compressive strength for the majority of samples in this chapter
was performed on halves of 40×40×160 mm prismatic specimens broken during flexural
strength testing. All samples were prepared without using any fine aggregate to eliminate the
influence of aggregate mineralogy on the characterization of paste composition. The
microstructure and composition of the resulting products of alkali activation were studied by
scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and X-ray diffraction (XRD). Attenuated Total
Reflectance Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (ATR-FTIR) spectra of AAFA pastes
are discussed in detail. The shrinkage cone method was adopted and used for the first time to
measure length changes of AAFA cement pastes during elevated temperature curing
immediately after casting.
4.2
TRIAL EXPERIMENT OF AAFA CEMENT PASTES PRODUCING
Samples in this section were prepared using unclassified Lethabo fly ash and different
concentrations of sodium oxide, calculated as percentage of fly ash mass. Water to binder
solids ratio was kept constant at 0.2. Samples were cured in an oven at 60 °C for 24 hours.
Compressive strength of AAFA cement pastes is shown on Figure 4.1. The error bars on all
figures in this chapter represent the deviation of the compressive strength of six samples
tested from the mean. Table F.1 in Appendix F contains the results of compressive strength
tests.
4-2
80
Compressive strength, MPa
after heat curing
7 days
60
28 days
56 days
40
20
0
3
6
9
12
15
Sodium oxide content, % of fly ash mass
Figure 4.1: Effect of Na2O content on the compressive strength development of alkaliactivated unclassified Lethabo fly ash
The results show that the compressive strength of alkali-activated unclassified fly ash strongly
depends on sodium oxide concentration. Increasing of sodium oxide content from 3 % to 6 %
and 9 % result in significantly increased compressive strength at all testing ages. Further
increasing of sodium oxide concentration to 12 % and 15 % affected only early compressive
strength (immediately after heat curing and 7-days). 28-days compressive strength of Na12
and Na15 was lower compared to Na9 (56.3 MPa, 52.6 MPa and 57.0 MPa respectively).
However, it is interesting to notice that the difference between Na9 and Na12 in compressive
strength is minimal, but the compressive strength of Na15 dropped compared to Na9 and
Na12 after 28 days of curing. This observation indicates the presence of an optimal
concentration of sodium oxide. In the next section results obtained for classified fly ash will
be discussed in detail and compared to published literature.
4.3
FACTORS AFFECTING STRENGTH OF ALKALI-ACTIVATED FLY ASH
(AAFA) CEMENT PASTE
4.3.1
Effect of sodium oxide content and age
All samples for this test were prepared using one batch of classified Lethabo fly ash at
constant water to binder solids ratio of 0.2 and cured at 60 °C for 24 hours. The Na2O content
has been calculated as percentage of fly ash mass. The influence of the Na2O content on the
flexural and compressive strength of AAFA paste is shown in Figure 4.2 and 4.3 respectively.
Flexural and compressive strength and standard deviation values are shown in Table F.2 and
F.3 respectively in Appendix F.
4-3
14
Flexural strength, MPa
after heat curing
12
7 days
10
28 days
8
91 days
182 days
6
364 days
4
2
0
3
6
9
12
15
Sodium oxide content, % of fly ash mass
Figure 4.2: Effect of Na2O content on the flexural strength development of alkaliactivated classified Lethabo fly ash
Despite the fact that the water to binder solids ratio was constant of 0.2 for all mixes in this
section, consistency of mixes was different from each other. Mix Na3 was dry and lumpy
while mix Na15 had a viscous flow. Na2O from solid NaOH was considered as a part of solids
because it was assumed that sodium would be bond in the paste matrix. Different researchers
use different parameters to regulate water content in alkali-activated mixes (Katz, 1998;
Barbosa et al., 2000; Fernandez-Jimenez and Palomo, 2003; Rangan, 2008; Bernal et al.,
2013; Puertas and Torres-Carrasco, 2014) which leads to a confusion of terms and makes it
impossible to compare results of different research groups. Thus, for future studies it is
recommended to use consistency as a constant parameter for investigation of effect of sodium
oxide content on the compressive strength.
Flexural strength of Na6 AAFA paste, shown in Figure 4.2, is higher than that of Na3,
however there is no clear trend between further increasing in sodium oxide and flexural
strength.
4-4
Compressive strength, MPa
80
a)
70
60
50
40
after heat curing
7 days
28 days
91 days
182 days
364 days
30
20
10
0
3
80
Compressive strength, MPa
b)
6
9
12
Sodium oxide content, % of fly ash mass
15
after heat curing
70
7 days
60
28 days
91 days
50
182 days
40
364 days
30
20
10
0
3
6
9
12
15
Sodium oxide content, % of fly ash mass
Figure 4.3: Effect of Na2O content on the compressive strength development of alkaliactivated classified Lethabo fly ash
The process of alkali activation starts from the dissolution of fly ash vitreous phase with the
subsequent formation of aluminosilicate gel and requires the presence of strong alkalis
(Palomo et al., 1999a). The higher the amount of aluminosilicates gel, the higher the
mechanical strength (Criado et al., 2007a). The dissolution rate of the vitreous phase of
aluminosilicates and the resulting compressive strength of the final material is strongly
affected by the concentration of the alkaline solution (Fernandez-Jimenez and Palomo, 2005a;
Fernandez-Jimenez et al., 2005c) and this is confirmed by the present study. An increase in
Na2O from 3 to 9 % by fly ash mass resulted in a significant increase in the compressive
strength of paste at all ages. Figure 4.3 b shows that the optimum of sodium oxide lies
between 9 and 12 % of fly ash mass. Calculated, using fitted functions, maximum
compressive strength corresponds to sodium oxide content of 10.6 to 11.9 % of fly ash at
different age. A further increase in alkaline content above 12 % however did not result in an
4-5
increase in compressive strength but decreased strength. This is in good agreement with the
results published by Steveson and Sagoe-Crentsil (2005b) and Gou et al. (2010) who noticed
an increase in compressive strength with increased alkali content up to 10 % but a decrease in
strength at 12 % and 15 %. A question of strength reduction at higher alkali concentration was
repeatedly raised in publications. Somna et al. (2011) reported a decrease in compressive
strength for a sodium hydroxide concentration of 16.5 M compare to 9.5-14 M, due to early
precipitation of aluminosilicate products. Rattanasak and Chindaprasirt (2009) found that
higher concentrations of Si4+ and Al3+ were obtained with a 10 M NaOH solution compared to
a 15 M NaOH solution. Concentration of OH‾ beyond some point resulted in a decrease in Al
and Si which were able to participate in the geopolymerization. Palomo et al. (1999a)
indicated that the strength decrease of the alkali cement is caused by an excess of OH¯
concentration in the system. Some correlation between zeolite formation and decreases
strength has been observed in certain systems (Provis, 2009; Criado et al., 2007a). However it
is still unclear whether the concentration of alkalis itself or other factors caused by high alkali
concentration is the reason for the strength decrease in some cases. To explain the
phenomenon, detailed characterization of AAFA cement pastes with different concentrations
of alkali will be performed and discussed later in this chapter in order to find a correlation
between composition, microstructure and the compressive strength.
In this study, a gain in strength of up to 30 % and more was observed after 28 days of curing
for all samples (see Table F.3, Appendix F). A noticeable change in compressive strength
with time was observed by other researchers (De Vargas et al., 2011; Somna et al., 2011).
This confirms that age has a significant effect on the strength of AAFA cement pastes, and the
structural development does not stop with the discontinuation of elevated temperature curing.
The strength increase probably relates to the transformation of aluminosilicate gel to more
stable structures (Škvara et al., 2009; Ravikumar et al., 2010). At the age of 28 days the
highest compressive strength value was again obtained for the 9 % Na 2O paste. The paste
with 12 % Na2O yielded a higher compressive strength value after 91 and 182 days but after
one year of curing the strength of Na12 was lower than Na9. The difference in compressive
strength values between 9 and 12 % at later ages is negligible and therefore using lower alkali
content is more economical, as the alkali is the most expensive component in the AAFA
cement paste composition. Therefore, 9 % Na2O can be considered as the most suitable alkali
concentration to produce AAFA cement paste containing the South African fly ash studied in
this research.
It should be mentioned that the greatest gain in strength was observed for AAFA cement
pastes with high alkali content. Similar findings were reported by De Vargas et al. (2011).
4-6
The authors explained that the gain in strength with time was caused by additional reaction
products generated during the reaction between alkali activator and fly ash microspheres,
which packed inside plerospheres. The alkaline solution first partially dissolved the external
layer of the plerosphere and only then attacked the microspheres.
As can be seen from the standard deviation values in Table F.3 (Appendix F), the observed
compressive strength of the 15 % Na2O paste samples varied significantly. It can be assumed
that the high concentration of alkali in the pastes results in inconsistent compressive strength.
Additional tests were performed on larger sample populations for Na9, Na12 and Na15 pastes
to establish the distribution of the compressive strength and results are shown in Table 4.1.
Curing conditions were the same as in the first test. Samples Na3 and Na6 were not studied in
this test due to their relatively low compressive strength compared to samples with higher
alkali content and satisfactory standard deviation. At least 36 compressive strength
determinations at the age of 28 days were performed for each of these pastes. For the paste
with 9 % Na2O, 6 results within 36 determination of the compression strength varied by more
than ± 10 % from the mean, which was 16.7 % of the total sample population. For the paste
with 12 % Na2O, 7 strength values out of 42 varied by more than ± 10 % from the mean,
which was also 16.7 %. The paste with 15 % Na2O had 18 strength values out of 36 varied by
more than ± 10 % from the mean, which represented 50 % of the total sample population. The
strength deviation was thus greater for AAFA cement pastes containing 15 % Na2O.
Table 4.1: Compressive strength, standard deviation and coefficient of variation at 28
days of alkali-activated classified Lethabo fly ash cement paste (larger sample
population)
Na2O, % fly
ash mass
Average strength,
MPa
Standard deviation,
MPa
Coefficient of
variation, %
9
51.4
4.52
8.8
12
41.4
3.33
8.1
15
35.6
5.79
16.3
Results show that the coefficient of strength variation within the large batch of Na15 paste
was much higher than that of Na9 and Na12 pastes (16.3 %, 8.8 % and 8.1 % respectively). It
is interesting to note that high alkali content affects not only the deviation of compressive
strength within a batch but also between two batches of the same composition. The average
28-days strength of the Na9 paste for the second (large) batch was almost the same as for the
first batch (51.4 MPa and 50.8 MPa respectively) while the average 28-days strength of Na15
paste for the second batch was much lower than for the first batch (35.6 MPa and 49.8 MPa
respectively). The same trend could be observed for Na12 paste where the average 28-days
strength for the first batch was 48.6 MPa while it reached only 41.4 MPa for the second batch.
4-7
Limited strength deviation should be expected because of variability of fly ash composition
due to variations in coal composition and burning conditions. Nevertheless, the strength
deviation between batches was much greater with higher alkali concentrations.
Another important observation was the formation of efflorescence on surfaces of Na12 and
Na15 paste samples after 28 days of hardening (See Figure 4.4). Qualitative XRD analysis of
efflorescence showed the presence of thermonatrite, which is sodium carbonate. The
formation of efflorescence is an indirect indicator of excess Na2O in the AAFA cement pastes
with 12 and 15 % Na2O. The excess alkali migrates with moisture to the surface of the
samples and produces salts, which appear as white efflorescence. The presence of excess
alkali could be one of the causes of the lower strength, high standard deviation, and variations
in the strength between the batches of AAFA cement pastes.
Figure 4.4: The surface of AAFA paste samples after 28 days of curing
Efflorescence formation is not only an aesthetical problem but also a technical one. As
efflorescence formation require some time to develop, plaster or paint applied on surfaces of
such materials immediately after their production can come off with time. Thus, careful
selection of alkali dosage should be implemented.
4.3.2 Effect of temperature and duration of elevated temperature curing on the
compressive strength
It is expected that an elevation of curing temperature would accelerate the dissolution of the
amorphous phase of fly ash and, as a result, the strength development of the AAFA cement
paste. Previous research showed that temperature accelerated the alkali activation of
metakaolin (Alonso and Palomo, 2001a) as well as slag pastes (Bakharev et al., 1999). The
accelerating effect of elevated temperature also applies to fly ash pastes (Katz, 1998). Results
4-8
presented in this thesis confirm the trend. Some researchers (Swanepoel and Strydom, 2002;
Chindaprasirt et al., 2007) reported 48 hours as optimal heat curing duration. In order to
obtain the values of curing temperature and duration which provide the maximum
compressive strength, mixtures containing 9 % Na2O at constant water to binder solids ratio
were subjected to different temperatures and periods of heat treatment. Table F.4, Appendix F
presents the compressive strength and standard deviation values of samples from this test.
The importance of elevated temperature curing can be clearly seen in Figure 4.5a. Samples
cured at 25 °C did not set after 24 hours and could be hardly demoulded after 7 days, when
the compressive strength was 1.1 MPa. Even such low strength was an indicator of chemical
reaction between the fly ash and the activator solution. The strength of the paste cured at
60 °C for 24 hours and tested immediately after the elevated temperature curing exceeded the
strength of the paste cured at 25 °C for 91 days. Curing of the AAFA cement paste at 25 °C is
not practical due to slow strength development, intensive efflorescence formation, relatively
low strength and high standard deviation (see Table F.4, Appendix F). Thus, elevated
temperature curing is necessary to provide faster strength development and lower standard
deviation of the strength. An increase in temperature from 25 to 60 °C produced significant
acceleration in the strength development. Immediately after elevated temperature curing, the
paste cured at 40, 60 and 80 °C for 24 hours had a compressive strength of 1.6 MPa, 49.4
MPa and 53.0 MPa, respectively. The increase in the compressive strength of the paste was a
result of an increase in the degree of polymerization caused by the elevation of curing
temperature (Rovnaník, 2010). It is important to note that when the paste was cured at
elevated temperature for 24 hours, an increase in the temperature to above 60 °C did not result
in a considerable gain in compressive strength. The use of 60 °C instead of 80 °C for
prolonged elevated temperature curing of AAFA cement pastes will require less energy and,
thus, will be more economical.
4-9
Compressive strength, MPa
80
a)
60
40
after heat curing for 24 h
20
28 days
91 days
0
20
40
60
Temperature, °C
80
Compressive strength, MPa
80
60
40
after heat curing for 4 h
20
28 days
91 days
0
55
60
65
70
75
Temperature, °C
80
85
Figure 4.5: Effect of curing temperature on the compressive strength of AAFA cement
pastes
After 28 days of curing the compressive strength of sample T40D24, T60D24 and T80D24
increased from 1.6, 49.4 and 53.0 MPa to 25.5, 59.1 and 63.5 MPa, respectively. Sample
T25D24 could not be demoulded at 1 day but it still gained 10.9 MPa after 28 days of
hardening. Compressive strength of the AAFA cement pastes increased with the reaction time
and the gain was greater in case of the pastes cured at low temperatures (25 and 40 °C). At the
age of 91 days, the paste cured at 80 °C had lower compressive strength in comparison to the
paste cured at 60 °C. This strength decrease was probably caused by the contraction of
aluminosilicate gel due to dehydration and excessive shrinkage occurring during the curing at
high temperatures for 24 hours (Van Jaarsveld et al., 2002). Chindaprasirt et al. (2007) drew
conclusions on the effect of elevated temperature curing on strength considering 7-days
strength results, but the results of this study and other studies (De Vargas et al., 2011; Arioz et
al., 2012) show that the difference in strength of AAFA cement pastes cured at low and high
4-10
temperatures decreases with age and even more, lower temperatures could lead to higher
strength in the long term.
Another important observation is the long-term gain in compressive strength of the AAFA
cement pastes cured at elevated temperatures for different period of time. After 28 days of
hardening, the compressive strength of sample T60D4 raised by 20 times from 2.1 MPa to
41.5 MPa, while the compressive strength of sample T80D4 increased only by 1.4 times from
36.0 to 50.8 MPa (see Table F.4 Appendix F). For samples T60D24 and T80D24, the
compressive strength increased from 49.4 to 59.1 MPa and from 53.0 to 63.5 MPa,
respectively showing the 1.2 times gain for the both samples. These results show that the
aging of the AAFA cement pastes has a greater effect on the strength development of the
pastes cured at the lower temperature for a short period of time.
Palomo et al. (1999a) showed that the speed of reaction between alkali and fly ash depend on
curing temperature, especially in the first few hours. A relatively small increase in
temperature of elevated temperature curing resulted in a significant gain in the compressive
strength of the pastes cured for a short period of time (Figure 4.5b). Increasing the
temperature from 65 to 70 °C produced a significant increase in the strength from 3.2 to 15.5
MPa. A further increase (by 5 °C) doubled the strength from 15.5 to 30.5 MPa. Subsequently,
increasing the temperature to 80 °C did not lead to a significant increase in the strength in
comparison to 75 °C. After 28 and 91 days of hardening, the difference in the strength of the
AAFA cement pastes, cured at elevated temperatures in the range of 60 to 80 °C, was not
significant. Thus, despite the significant effect the increase in the curing temperature (in the
range from 60 to 80 °C) has on the early compressive strength of the pastes, the difference in
the curing temperature has a limited effect on the long-term strength of the pastes when
elevated temperature curing was applied for a short period of time (4 hours).
Figure 4.6 shows the effect of duration of elevated temperature curing on the compressive
strength of the AAFA cement pastes cured at 60 and 80 °C.
4-11
80
Compressive strength, MPa
a)
60
40
after heat curing at 60 °C
20
28 days
91 days
0
0
4
8
12
16
20
Duration of heat curing, hours
24
80
Compressive strength, MPa
b)
60
40
20
after heat curing at 80 °C
28 days
91 days
0
0
4
8
12
16
20
Duration of heat curing, hours
24
Figure 4.6: Effect of duration of elevated temperature curing on the compressive
strength of AAFA cement pastes cured at: a) 60 and b) 80 ºC
After 4 hours of elevated temperature curing at 60 °C (see Figure 4.6a), the compressive
strength of the paste tested immediately after the curing was 2.1 MPa. With other parameters
being equal, the compressive strength of the paste cured at 80 °C was 36 MPa (see Figure
4.6b). This once again confirms that temperature during the initial curing plays a key role in
the strength development of AAFA cement pastes. For longer durations of elevated
temperature curing, the difference in the strength of the pastes cured at 60 and 80 °C becomes
less prominent. The compressive strength of sample T60D24 was 49.4 MPa while T80D24
was 53.0 MPa. It is important to note that a significant increase in the compressive strength,
tested immediately after heat curing, of the paste cured at 60 °C was observed only when the
duration of the curing was increased to 16 hours (see Figure 4.6a). Subsequent increase in the
duration of heat curing did not result in a substantial increase in strength. A similar trend was
observed when the paste was cured at 80 °C (see Figure 4.6b). Insignificant strength gain took
place when the duration of heat curing exceeded 16 hours. In the long term, curing at 80 °C
4-12
for more than 16 hours negatively affected the compressive strength. At 28 and 91 days, the
pastes cured in an oven for 20 and 24 hours had lower strength in comparison to the paste
cured for 16 hours. Van Jaarsveld et al. (2002) reported that curing for longer periods of time
at elevated temperature appeared to weaken the microstructure suggesting that small amounts
of structural water needed to be retained in order to reduce cracking and maintain structural
integrity. Despite the fact that few researchers (Swanepoel and Strydom, 2002; Chindaprasirt
et al., 2007) reported 48 hours as an optimal duration of elevated temperature curing, results
of this study confirmed the findings made by Van Jaarsveld et al. (2002) and indicated that the
duration of elevated temperature curing should be limited to 16 hours.
Effect of water to binder solids ratio
To establish the effect of water to binder solid ratio on the compressive strength of paste,
mixtures containing 9 % Na2O and cured at 60 °C for 24 hours was used. For this experiment
fly ash to sodium hydroxide ratio were kept constant but the amount of water added varied. In
Table F.5 (Appendix F) compressive and flexural strength of pastes with different water to
binder solids ratios are shown. Figure 4.7 shows compressive strength – water to binder solids
ratio relationship.
80
Compressive strength, MPa
4.3.3
60
40
20
after heat curing
28 days
0
0,16
91 days
0,18
0,2
0,22
0,24
0,26
Water to binder solids ratio
0,28
0,3
Figure 4.7: Effect of water to binder solids ratio on the compressive strength
Increasing in the water to binder solids ratio of the pastes from 0.18 to 0.29 resulted in a
decrease in the compressive strength from 49.3 to 21.3 MPa but the consistency of the pastes
improved. From the same mixtures different independent variables reflecting the amount of
water (liquid to solid ratio, water to fly ash ratio, etc.) were recalculated and plotted against
compressive strength in Appendix B. Fernandez-Jimenez and Palomo (2005a) admitted the
importance of water to binder ratio. According to Davidovits (1988), no water combined
4-13
within the geopolymer. Water acts as carrier of alkalis (Škvára et al., 2009) and provides
consistency to the fresh geopolymer mixture (Hardjito and Rangan, 2005). Škvara et al.
(2009) reported that about 65 % of all water in geopolymers was in “free” condition as it was
evoporable at 180 °C, with 30 % persumed to come from nano-pores in the geoplymer gel.
The water introduced to the paste could evaporate from unsealed samples during elevated
temperature curing, thus negatively affecting the final structure of material. Samples should
therefore preferably be sealed to prevent extensive moisture evaporation. During the design of
AAFA cement concretes a required workability should be achieved at the lowest possible
water to binder solids ratio.
Effect of mineralogical composition of initial fly ash
Fly ash from Matla power station was used for sample preparation in this test. A mix
composition with 9 % Na2O of fly ash mass, water to binder solids ratio of 0.24 cured at
60 °C for 24 hours was used. The compressive strength and standard deviation values are
shown in Table F.6 (Appendix F) and compared with Lethabo fly ash paste in Figure 4.8.
60
Compressive strentgh, MPa
4.3.4
Matla
Lethabo
50
40
30
20
10
0
1
28
Age, days
91
Figure 4.8: Compressive strength comparison of Matla and Lethabo AAFA pastes at
different age
Samples of Matla and Lethabo fly ash tested immediately after oven curing and at 28 days
had almost the same compressive strength values. The compressive strength values of samples
of Matla fly ash at 91 days were much lower compare to Lethabo fly ash, 44.9 MPa and 56.2
MPa respectively.
A significant difference in 91 days strength values between samples of the two different fly
ashes is evident. Particle size of two fly ashes is almost the same as it can be seen in Figure
4-14
3.1. There is a slight difference in CaO content (see Table 3.1 Lethabo II and Matla); however
this difference is small to affect compressive strength. Significant differences can be observed
in the mineralogical composition of the fly ashes. The quantity of crystalline mullite is higher
in Matla fly ash than in Lethabo (see Table 3.2, Lethabo II and Matla), affecting the
amorphous alumina oxide content. The elemental composition of the amorphous phase shown
in Table 4.2 was calculated by subtracting the contribution of the crystalline phases from XRF
data (Rickard et al., 2011).
Table 4.2: Chemical composition of amorphous phase of fly ashes, %
Fly ash name
Main oxides
SiO2
Al2O3
CaO
SiO2/Al2O3
Matla
36.2
4.9
6.4
7.3
Lethabo
36.6
10.5
4.3
3.5
It can be seen from Table 4.2 that the SiO2/Al2O3 ratio of Matla fly ash is higher compare to
Lethabo fly ash. The concentration of reactive aluminium is lower in Matla fly ash at almost
the same SiO2 content so the total amount of reactive phases is less and might result in the
formation of a smaller amount of the gel responsible for final strength of the paste. This could
be the reason the lower compressive strength value of samples containing Matla fly ash.
4.3.5
Effect of activator type
In this paragraph the effect of activator type on the compressive strength will be shown for
three examples. According to literature reviewed the caustic alkalis and alkali silicates were
found to be the most suitable for alkali activation of low calcium fly ash. Thus, it was decided
not to use alkaline salts of weak acid, such as carbonates or sulfates for alkali activation of
South African fly ash.
In this experiment the effect of potassium hydroxide (KOH) and sodium silicate solution
(Na2O·nSiO2) as activators was investigated and compared to mixtures where sodium
hydroxide (NaOH) was used as activator. Water to binder solids ratio and curing conditions
were the same for all mixtures. As the purity of potassium hydroxide was lower than that of
sodium hydroxide, the actual percentage of potassium oxide in the mixture was lower.
However, even if it is not possible to directly compare the strength of pastes with different
concentrations the trend is still clear. A sodium silicate solution with a silica modulus of two
was used with a 10 M sodium hydroxide solution in proportion 2:1 by mass. The silica
modulus of produced silicate activator solution was 1.14. Additional water was added to
produce water to binder solid ratio of 0.2. A percentage of sodium oxide per fly ash mass was
introduced with sodium silicate and sodium hydroxide solutions calculated by taking the
4-15
chemical composition of both liquids into account. Compressive strength results and standard
deviation values for this test are presented in Table F.7 (Appendix F). Compressive strength
development of samples activated by different alkaline solution showed on Figure 4.9.
110
Compressive strength, MPa
100
after heat curing
90
7 days
80
28 days
70
91 days
60
182 days
50
364 days
40
30
20
10
0
Figure 4.9: Compressive strength development of samples activated by different alkaline
solutions
It seems that the alkali metal cation significantly affects the compressive strength
development. Smaller ionic size of Na
+
compare to K+ results in better dissolution of raw
materials (Abdul Rahim et al., 2015). Previous studies found that more of the fly ash dissolves
in the sodium-based system than in the potassium equivalent, and similar results were found
for metakaolin (Steveson and Sagoe-Crentsil, 2005a, b). The compressive strength of samples
activated with potassium hydroxide is significantly lower than that activated with sodium
hydroxide not only for comparable samples, but even if the amount of alkali present is higher
in mixtures containing potassium. These results differ from results presented by Van Jaarsveld
et al. (1999a), who reported that potassium-containing matrixes are stronger than those
containing sodium. The authors however used a combination of sodium and potassium
hydroxide with Na, K silicate solution, which is a much more complex system, where along
with Na-K the joint effect of soluble silicates were working as well. The results of this study
support the outcome of Steveson and Sagoe-Crentsil (2005b) who also noticed that the
sodium-based inorganic polymer is stronger than its potassium-based equivalent.
Nevertheless, the compressive strength of metakaolin activated by potassium hydroxide
solution was found to be higher than fly ash based materials (Steveson and Sagoe-Crentsil,
4-16
2005a,b). That again confirms the importance of availability of reactive aluminosilicates, in
other words the chemical and even more the mineralogical composition of the initial source of
aluminosilicates.
From Figure 4.9, it can clearly be seen that the addition of soluble silicates to the activator
mixture dramatically affects the compressive strength. Even if the total amount of the alkali
for the mixture with combined activator was 5.7 % of fly ash mass compare to 6 % for sodium
hydroxide solution mixture, the compressive strength values immediately after heat curing
were 76.7 MPa and 36.0 MPa respectively. These results are in good agreement with results
of Fernandez-Jimenez and Palomo (2005a) who obtained more than 55 MPa in compression
for a total amount of Na2O of 5.55 % and 7.74 % for SiO2 with respect to fly ash mass for
NaOH – sodium silicate combined activator.
For both NaOH-activated and NaOH + sodium silicate-activated fly ash mixtures, the alkali
content in the present study was almost the same and at the other parameters being equal, the
only difference was the presence of additional 6.5 % soluble SiO2 (per fly ash mass), which
contribute to strength performance and doubled the compressive strength. Soluble silica added
with alkaline silicate solution participates in the alkali activation process, increasing the
amount of total reactive phase and as a result the quantity of final aluminosilicate gel
responsible for the performance of hardened material. In the case of alkali hydroxide
solutions, silicate species leach out from the vitreous phase of fly ash, while the alkali silicate
solution is a more complex system and soluble silicate are already present in the aqueous
phase along with the silicates gradually leached from the vitreous phase of fly ash. An
increase in the concentration of silicate leads to an increased degree of polymerization of
silicates (Korneev and Danilov, 1996). Thus, the higher strength of sodium silicate-activated
samples is conditional not only on the increased amount of aluminosilicates gel, but also
probably on the degree of polymerization. A more detailed study of different concentrations
of soluble silicates at different amounts of alkali was conducted.
4.3.6
Effect of SiO2 concentration
To study the effect of soluble SiO2 (introduced with alkaline activator) on the compressive
strength of AAFA paste, mixtures of sodium silicate with silicate modulus of two and sodium
hydroxide at different proportions were used as activator to produce the pastes at fixed Na 2O
concentrations of 3, 6 and 9 % of fly ash mass. Concentration of SiO2 was varied from 3 to
12 % of fly ash mass with 3 % intervals. Water to binder solids ratio of all mixtures was kept
constant at 0.2. Samples were cured at 60 °C for 24 hours and then tested in compression at
different ages. Samples containing 3 % Na2O were not produced with 9 and 12 % SiO2 due to
4-17
the relatively low silicate modulus of the sodium silicate used. Table F.8 (Appendix F)
presents the compressive strength and standard deviation values for the Na-Si series of AAFA
cement pastes. Figures 4.10-4.12 show the effect of soluble silicate concentration on strength
development of the pastes at different fixed sodium oxide concentrations.
after heat curing
7 days
28 days
91 days
182 days
364 days
Compresssive strength, MPa
120
100
80
60
40
20
0
0
3
6
Concentration of SiO2 in activator, % of fly ash mass (at 3 % Na2O)
Figure 4.10: Effect of SiO2 concentration on the compressive strength of AAFA paste
with constant Na2O of 3 % of fly ash mass
after heat curing
7 days
28 days
91 days
182 days
364 days
Compressive strength, MPa
120
100
80
60
40
Flash
setting
20
0
0
3
6
9
12
Concentration of SiO2 in activator, % of fly ash mass (at 6 % Na2O)
Figure 4.11: Effect of SiO2 concentration on the compressive strength of AAFA paste
with constant Na2O of 6 % of fly ash mass
The compressive strength of pastes presented in Figure 4.10 is a function of SiO2 content used
with a fixed Na2O concentration of 3 % of fly ash mass. It can be clearly seen that addition of
3 % soluble SiO2 did not affect the compressive strength of pastes at any investigated age in
comparison to sample without addition of soluble SiO2. Addition of 6 % SiO2 did not affect
the strength of samples tested immediately after heat curing or after 7 days. However, the
4-18
strength of samples with 6 % SiO2 tested after 28 days was 30.8 MPa compared to 26.1 MPa
of sample without any addition of silicate but with the same Na2O content. With age this
difference becomes even more pronounced. It is also clearly visible that the strength
development of samples activated only by sodium hydroxide solution was completed by 28
days, while samples containing Na-Si activator continue to gain strength up to 182 days.
When the concentration of sodium oxide was constant at 6 %, the concentration of SiO 2
introduced with sodium silicate becomes a very important parameter affecting the
performance of the paste (see Figure 4.11). The presence of as little as 3 % of SiO 2 increases
the compressive strength significantly. Increasing concentration of SiO2 to 9 % of fly ash
mass results in increased average compressive strength but also scatters compressive strength
values. This scattering effect is more significant at higher SiO2 contents of 12 %. The
compressive strength of Na6Si12 was much lower than that of Na6Si9 suggesting that the
concentration of SiO2 increase the compressive strength only up to a certain point, but a
further increase in SiO2 content lead to decreased compressive strength.
after heat curing
7 days
28 days
91 days
182 days
364 days
Compressive strength, MPa
120
100
80
60
40
Flash
setting
20
0
0
3
6
9
12
Concentration of SiO2 in activator, % of fly ash mass (at 9 % Na2O)
Figure 4.12: Effect of SiO2 concentration on the compressive strength of AAFA paste
with constant Na2O of 9 % of fly ash mass
The same trend was observed in Figure 4.12 where the addition of only 3 % SiO2 to the
activator solution (at 9 % Na2O per fly ash mass) increases the compressive strength by 30 to
40 % at different ages compared to mixtures where only sodium hydroxide was used. Increase
in SiO2 to 9 % of the fly ash mass leads not only to higher strength, but higher strength
deviation as well. Compressive strength results of Na9Si12 was lower than that of Na9Si9.
In this study mixtures with 6 % SiO2 and 6 or 9 % Na2O provoked flash setting of the AAFA
paste in the mixer, before paste was cast into moulds. The mixture with 9 % Na 2O and 9 %
4-19
SiO2 was cast into moulds but set about 10 minutes after mixing. It is interesting to note that
this mixture becomes fluid after an hour in the oven. These solutions were not stable and
precipitation was formed. In general the presence of soluble SiO2 in the activator solution is
preferable for the compressive strength compared to activator where only alkali hydroxides
used. The highest compressive strength at 28 days was obtained for paste with 9 % Na2O and
9 % SiO2 of fly ash mass. Similar findings were reported by Ma et al. (2012). However,
regardless of Na2O content, high SiO2 content (9 and 12 % of fly ash mass) resulted in higher
deviation of compressive strength. Thus the optimal silica content for activator solution in this
study with respect to 6 and 9 % Na2O is 3 % of fly ash mass.
4.4
CHARACTERIZATION OF AAFA CEMENT PASTES
Detailed characterization of AAFA cement pastes with different concentrations of sodium
hydroxide is the main aim of this section in order to obtain information about the structure
and composition of the secondary products of alkali activation which might be helpful in
explaining the variation of strength and strength drop for samples with high alkali dosages.
Porosity
To see whether there is any difference in porosity of hardened mixtures with all five levels of
sodium oxide content, a basic porosity test was performed. Three slices of AAFA paste cut
from prismatic specimen were weight in dry and water saturated condition. Apparent porosity
was calculated as the difference between saturated and dry specimen mass divided by sample
volume (measured by hydrostatic weighing). Figure 4.13 shows the relationship between
porosity and sodium oxide content in AAFA paste.
35
30
Porosity, %
4.4.1
25
20
15
10
y = -1,681x + 36,583
R² = 0,983
5
0
3
6
9
12
Na2O, % of fly ash mass
15
Figure 4.13: Effect of sodium oxide content in AAFA paste on the porosity of specimens
4-20
It can clearly be seen that there is linear relationship between sodium oxide content and
porosity. Pore volume decreased with increasing sodium oxide content in the system, thus
samples with 15 % Na2O denser than samples with lower alkali content and supposed to be
stronger, but results shows the drop in strength. To see if there was any change in composition
of hardened AAFA paste with increasing alkali content, XRD and ATR-FTIR analysis were
performed.
XRD study
Two independent series of AAFA pastes produced at different times from different batches of
Lethabo fly was analyzed at different ages using XRD techniques and their patterns are shown
in Figures 4.14 and 4.15.
Q
M Silicon
HS
M
Silicon
Silicon
Q
HS
M
M
M
M
Q
M
M
Q
M
Na15
Intensity
4.4.2
Na12
Na9
Na6
Na3
10
20
30
40
50
2Θ, degrees
60
70
80
90
Figure 4.14: XRD pattern of AAFA cement pastes containing unclassified Lethabo fly
ash with different sodium oxide content after 45 days of curing, where Silicon is
chemically pure silicon, added to determinate amount of amorphous phase, M – mullite, Q –
quartz, HS – hydroxysodalite
4-21
Q
M Silicon
HS M
Silicon
Silicon
Q
HS
M
M
M
M
Q
M
M
Q
M
Intensity
Na15
Na12
Na9
Na6
Na3
10
20
30
40
50
60
2Θ, degrees
70
80
90
Figure 4.15: XRD pattern of AAFA cement pastes containing classified Lethabo fly ash
with different sodium oxide content after 72 days curing, where Silicon is chemically pure
silicon, added to determinate amount of amorphous phase, M – mullite, Q – quartz, HS –
hydroxysodalite
The major minerals observed in AAFA samples are quartz (SiO2) and mullite
(Al(Al1.272Si0.728O4.864) and they were revealed in initial fly ash. Those phases seems to be
unaffected by alkali activation, as the intensity of peaks is almost the same in all samples
irrespective of batch of fly ash and analysis date.
The most distinct change in both XRD patterns is the appearance of new peaks at around
16.19° 2Θ and 28.21° 2Θ in Na6, Na9, Na12 and Na15 samples that were assigned to the
formation of sodalite (Na8Al6Si6O24Cl2). However, the crystal structure of hydro- or hydroxysodalite is almost similar to that of sodalite, but contains water molecules or NaOH in the
cavities of crystal lattice. By heating or under reduced pressure, all or a part of this water can
be easily removed from the crystal lattice without being associated with any structural
deformation and destruction (Henmi, 1987). Therefore, sodalite is regarded as
hydroxysodalite in this thesis. The relative intensity of hydroxysodalite peaks, shown in
Figures 4.16 and 4.17, was found to be a linear function of sodium oxide content, suggesting
that the amount of hydroxysodalite formed increased with increasing sodium hydroxide
content irrespective of batch of fly ash. The presence of sodalite in alkali-activated materials
was stated in previous studies (De Silva et al., 2009; Fernandez-Jimenez et al., 2006a). The
4-22
authors also noticed that the amount of sodalite depends on alkali concentration. Some
investigations are ongoing into whether observation of zeolites in geopolymers is linked to
change in material performance. Correlation between zeolite formation and decreased strength
was observed in certain systems, however it is still unclear if zeolite formation leading to loss
of material performance or any other factor (Provis, 2009). It seems that the newly formed
phase of hydroxysodalite is not responsible for the strength drop observed in this research for
Na15 samples as the phase was found not only in Na15 samples but in samples with different
concentration of sodium oxide as well.
The distinct peak at around 16.19º 2Θ was not found in Na6 samples, however a visible hump
could be observed. The peak at around 28.21º 2Θ is more sensitive to sodium oxide content
change as can be seen from Figures 4.16 and 4.17. For each additional 3 % of sodium oxide
Relative peak intensity
at around 28.21 ° 2Θ
Relative peak intensity
at around 16.19 ° 2Θ
the intensity of the peak at 28.21º 2Θ almost doubled.
2
y = 0,098x + 0,1647
R² = 0,9303
1
0
9
12
Na2O, % of fly ash mass
6
y = 0,2543x - 0,5817
R² = 0,9655
4
2
0
15
6
9
12
15
Na2O, % of fly ash mass
2
1
y = 0,0806x + 0,2468
R² = 0,9617
0
9
12
15
Na2O, % of fly ash mass
Relative peak intensity
at around 28.21 ° 2Θ
Relative peak intensity
at around 16.19 ° 2Θ
Figure 4.16: Relative intensities of hydroxysodalite peaks at different sodium oxide
contents in AAFA cement pastes containing unclassified Lethabo fly ash
6
4
y = 0,526x - 2,185
R² = 0,9952
2
0
6
9
12
Na2O, % of fly ash mass
15
Figure 4.17: Relative intensities of hydroxysodalite peaks at different sodium oxide
contents in AAFA cement pastes containing classified Lethabo fly ash
The presence of small but distinct double peaks at 37.69º 2Θ, 37.92º 2Θ and a peak at 44.29º
2Θ in Na12 and Na15 samples is attributed to the presence of thermonatrite (hydrated sodium
carbonate), suggesting excessive sodium hydroxide in those samples which react with carbon
dioxide in the air.
4-23
It is known that fly ash usually contains amorphous phase, which does not contribute to
diffraction peaks but appears in the diffraction pattern as a halo around 20-35° 2Θ and can be
seen in Figure 4.14 and 4.15. A known weight of Aldrich 99 % pure silicon was added to the
sample prior to phase analysis for determination and quantification of amorphous content.
Quantitative analysis of alkali-activated pastes presented in Table 4.3 shows that the quantity
of amorphous phase slightly increased with increasing of sodium oxide content.
Table 4.3 Quantitative XRD analysis of AAFA pastes amorphous phase, weight %
AAFA cement paste containing
unclassified Lethabo fly ash
AAFA cement paste containing
classified Lethabo fly ash
4.4.3
Na3
Na6
Na9
Na12
Na15
65.08
64.72
66.70
66.70
70.25
66.42
67.57
68.03
70.37
70.24
ATR-FTIR characterization
4.4.3.1 Effect of sodium oxide content and age
Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectra of hardened samples at different ages with different
sodium oxide contents were analysed and the results are shown in Figure 4.18, 4.19 and 4.20.
At frequencies higher than 1800 cm-1, no significant difference in spectra between samples
was observed. The spectra only display the bands of water adsorbed by the solid samples, at
around 3700 cm-1. A few bands at ~ 2360 cm-1 have been assigned to carbon dioxide trapped
in cavities of solid samples (Farmer, 1974). Thus only the IR spectra from 1800 cm-1 to 600
cm-1 are illustrated in this section.
Bands at 1600-1700 cm-1 can be assigned to bending vibrations of H-O-H in water molecules
(Bakharev, 2005a). The band at about 1440-1460 cm-1 is related to the formation of carbonate
by reaction of alkali metal hydroxide with atmospheric CO2 (Farmer, 1974). The high
intensity of the carbonate peak in Na12 and Na15 samples indicate excessive amount of alkali
which was not consumed during geopolymerization and reacted with carbon dioxide in the air
with the formation of efflorescence on sample surfaces. The presence of alkali carbonate is
confirmed by XRD results.
The strongest band in the initial fly ash is centred at ~1055 cm-1 and can be attributed to T-OSi (where T= Si or Al) asymmetric stretching vibration of TO4 tetrahedral molecules and
typical for silicate and aluminosilicate glasses and minerals (Lee and van Deventer, 2002;
Zhang et al., 2013). The frequency of this band depends on the state of hydration, nonbridging oxygen (NBO) concentration and Al content (Zhang et al., 2013).
740
729
684
740
727
649
867
653
692
684
740
727
771
649
653
692
684
1010
Na3
740
727
Na6
848
1010
848
792
684
867
1010
Na9
Trancmittanse, %
653
912
867
867
692
1085
848
Na12
1054
1010
1413
1027
Na15
1440
1697
1650
4-24
684
730
798
771
840
1800
740
773
1012
1054
900
1085
821
692
1010
879
653
Initial fly ash
1400
1000
Frequency, cm -1
600
900
800
700
Frequency, cm -1
600
Figure 4.18: ATR-FTIR spectra of AAFA pastes with different sodium oxide content at
1 day (after heat curing)
1024
1012
1800
1500
1200
900
Frequency, cm-1
600
900
692
684
729
653
740
692
788
773
Initial fly ash
740
848
692
875
653
644
740
873
727
848
Na3
773
790
881
684
773
792
848
653
634
740
867
792
684
773
912
692
867
649
1054
848
1024
653
Na12
800
700
Frequency, cm-1
649
692
725
871
1008
Na9
821
1085
740
729
1085
796
649
684
773
1460
653
692
1404
Na15
900
1054
Transmittance, %
740
725
771
798
1689
1649
4-25
Na6
600
Figure 4.19: ATR-FTIR spectra of AAFA pastes with different sodium oxide content at
28 days
900
1085
1800
1500
1200
900
Frequency, cm -1
600
900
684
690
651
684
653
684
Na3
653
692
634
725
771
790
684
873
653
703
725
Na6
688
740
727
773
788
873
649
767
792
684
651
883
Na9
740
788
775
821
Initial fly ash
873
686
646
723
740
1054
1008
Na12
800
700
Frequency, cm -1
690
873
769
802
1085
740
723
873
653
649
644
684
773
796
1024
1460
1417
1695
1649
Na15
1012
1054
Transmittanse, %
4-26
600
Figure 4.20: ATR-FTIR spectra of AAFA pastes with different sodium oxide content at
one year
4-27
The strongest band in alkali-activated pastes was observed at lower frequencies
(1010-1008 cm-1) compared to spectra of fly ash. Such a big shift (45-47 cm-1) suggests that
the reorganization of TO4 species and formation of new product with different microstructure
compare to initial fly ash has taken place. This shift can be attributed to the partial
replacement of SiO4 specie by AlO4, resulting in a change in the local chemical environment
of Si-O bonds (Davidovits, 2008) and is an indicator of geopolymer formation.
A broad hump at 900 cm-1 and at 821 cm-1 in the initial fly ash vanished as a result of alkali
activation and it is not found in AAFA pastes. However a new small shoulder appeared at
~868 cm-1 for Na12 and Na15 after 1 day curing, for 28 days-samples at ~
881 cm-1 (Na3), in Na6 at 875 cm-1 and Na9 at 873 cm-1. For Na12 and Na15 a clear band
appeared and there is a slight shift towards lower frequencies, 871 and 867 cm-1 respectively.
For one year samples a shoulder around 873 cm-1 was observed in all AAFA paste samples,
except Na12, where the shoulder appeared at 883cm-1, however such a low intensity of this
band may relate to an inhomogeneous distribution of mineral matter in the sample. This band
was not revealed in the initial fly ash and its intensity seems to be sensitive to sodium oxide
concentration. Andini et al. (2008) linked this band to Al-O symmetric stretching vibrations in
tetrahedral and attributed this peak to geopolymer formation, while Gervais et al. (1987) and
Rahier (1997) linked this peak to the presence of non-bridging oxygen. Uchino et al. (1989)
suggested that the band around 870 cm-1 is due to an overlap of Si-OH bending vibrations and
a Si-O stretching vibration of Si-OH which can be caused by some bond breakage sites in the
network structure of geopolymeric cement products. Despite the conclusions made by other
researchers the band at around 868 cm-1 was assigned in this thesis to out-of-plane bending
vibration in carbonates as the intensity of this band seems to be in strong correlation with the
intensity of the band at around 1440-1460 cm-1 which is undoubtedly caused by carbonate
species. A detailed study of published IR spectra of different carbonate minerals (Farmer,
1974) shows that band at ~868 cm-1 can be assigned to sodium carbonate hydrate
(thermonatrite) which was also found on the XRD pattern of AAFA cement pastes. Alonso
and Palomo (2001b) also assigned bands between 865 and 875 cm-1 to the presence of
carbonates.
There is a very small but clear peak at 912 cm-1 in the Na15 sample and a shoulder in Na12
after 1 day curing at elevated temperature. A noticeable shoulder can be observed in Na15
after 28 days of curing. Zhang et al. (2012a) assigned this band to stretching of Si-O‾ (M, Me,
Fe) where M is an alkali metal or Me is alkali-earth metal, or Si-OH. Lancellotti et al. (2013)
assigned this band to stretching vibrations of Al(VI)-OH. The authors also noticed that the
presence of Al(VI) could be related to less geopolymerization. Thus, the presence of a band at
4-28
around 912 cm-1 in elevated cured samples could be an indicator of less polymerized or
depolymerized structure and lower compressive strength as a result. This conclusion is in
good correlation with the compressive strength of AAFA cement pastes results presented
earlier in this chapter.
Comparison of the vibrational spectra of crystalline quartz (Ghosh, 1978; Saikia et al., 2008)
with that of initial fly ash made it possible to detect a shoulder around 1085 cm-1and a very
weak double band at 790-775 cm-1 assigned to quartz. A shoulder at 692 cm-1 in the initial fly
ash and AAFA paste can also be attributed to quartz (Ghosh, 1978; Zhang et al., 2012a). The
presence of quartz has been confirmed by XRD results.
The peak at 740 cm-1 present in the initial fly ash was observed in AAFA as a shoulder is due
to the stretching motion of elongated AlO6 octahedra (Schroeder and Lyons, 1966) and can be
attributed to mullite (Zhang et al., 2012a). The other bands of mullite were not detectible by
FTIR probably due to the overlapping of bands by Si-O stretching vibration in quartz or
secondary aluminosilicate gel (Fernandez-Jimenez and Palomo, 2005b). A new broad peak at
725-729 cm-1 is observed in AAFA cement pastes. These external bands are associated with
the presence of rings with a variable number of units, which may in turn bond to form threedimensional structures (Fernandez-Jimenez and Palomo, 2005b). Increases in the number of
members of a ring cause the bands to shift towards lower frequencies. Specifically, the band
appearing at around 720-730 cm-1, according to aluminosilicate theory may be associated with
the T–O bonds in the interconnected tetrahedral that form single four rings (S4R) or double
four ring (D4R) units. Criado et al. (2007b), Fernandez-Jimenez and Palomo (2005b) said the
band appearing between 730-720 cm-1 might be associated with Al-rich structures having a
Si/Al ratio close to one, such as hydroxysodalite. The presence of hydroxysodalite was
confirmed by XRD analysis in this study.
Peaks at 684 and 653 cm-1 observed in the initial fly ash as well as in all AAFA cement pastes
suggest that the phase assigned to those peaks was not altered during alkali activation. A new
shoulder at 649 cm-1 that was not present in the initial fly ash was observed in all age samples,
starting from Na6. Fernandez-Jimenez et al. (2005b) associated this band with single six rings
or double six ring units. However, no other phases except hydroxysodalite were found in
alkali-activated pastes using XRD. Ilia et al. (2009) assigned this band to vibrations in Si-OAlIV (Al in octahedral coordination).
4.4.3.2 Effect of temperature
Infrared spectra of AAFA cement pastes at the age of one year cured at different temperatures
is shown in Figure 4.21. There is a noticeable difference in intensity of peaks at around
4-29
1460 cm-1 which is assigned to carbonate species. This peak is higher for samples cured at
25 °C and 40 °C compared to 60 °C. Actually, samples with 9 % sodium oxide cured at 25
and 40 °C had white efflorescence on the surface a few days after curing in oven, suggesting
that not all alkali was consumed by the geopolymerization process. A new peak was observed
at around 849 cm-1 in the sample cured at 25 °C. Bakharev (2005c) assigned this band to TOH stretching modes, where T is Si or Al. Zhang et al. (2009) admitted that the existence of
Si-OH may be a result of decreased degree of condensation, thus a reduction in mechanical
strength. The compressive strength obtained in this research for samples cured at 25 °C was
lower than that of other samples cured at elevated temperatures, which is in good correlation
1417
1479
1699
1652
with the assumption of Zhang et al. (2009).
653
649
684
727
877
1054
1024
684
1054
1024
1008
848
653
649
25°C
684
680
740
729
848
877
1027
1054
1010
653
649
877
1392
1461
694
740
727
877
1010
40°C
1691
1652
Transmittance, %
703
796
773
796
775
877
1492
1461
1423
1695
1650
60°C
1800
1400
1000
Frequency, cm -1
600
900
800
700
Frequency, cm -1
600
Figure 4.21: ATR-FTIR spectra of AAFA paste with 9 % sodium oxide cured at
different temperatures at the age of one year
4-30
4.4.3.3 Effect of different activators
Figure 4.22 shows the effect of soluble silica on the ATR-FTIR spectra of pastes. It seems
that soluble silica does not have a noticeable effect on the overall structure of pastes compared
to samples where only sodium hydroxide as activator was used, as no new bands were
observed.
Figure 4.23 shows the effect of different concentrations of potassium oxide on the FTIR
spectra of pastes at the age of one year. The intensity of peaks at 1633, 1400, 831 and
700 cm-1 seems to be related to potassium oxide concentration. Those peaks are clearly
defined and have strong intensity in the K11 sample. Farmer (1974), Miller and Wilkins
(1952) assigned the peaks to the presence of potassium bicarbonate, which can be formed
when excessive amounts of alkali, not consumed during the polymerization process, reacts
with the carbon dioxide in the air.
The presence of a peak in potassium hydroxide activated cement pastes at around 900 cm-1,
found in the initial fly ash, suggest that the phase assigned to this band is not noticeably
affected by medium concentrations of potassium hydroxide activator compared to sodium
hydroxide, which vanished the peak already at a concentration of 3 %. Zhang et al. (2012a)
assigned a band between 915 and 900 cm-1 to stretching vibrations of Si-O‾. These bands are
usually found in fly ashes with a high reactivity. This means that the potassium hydroxide
solution is less effective in dissolution of fly ash compare to the sodium hydroxide solution.
However, the intensity of the band at 900 cm-1 is lower compare to its intensity in the initial
fly ash suggesting some alteration has taken place.
The presence of a peak at 868 cm-1, which was assigned to sodium carbonates in samples
activated by sodium hydroxide solution, is possible in samples activated by potassium
hydroxide solutions as sodium hydroxide was present in potassium hydroxide flakes as
impurity (amount of 0.5 %). The intensity of this peak in K8 and K11 samples is very low
compared to samples Na12 and Na15, which indicate insignificant amounts of sodium
carbonates.
Other distinct differences were observed at frequencies of 735-733 cm-1. A broad band was
observed at these frequencies in the initial fly ash, while for sodium hydroxide activated
samples of the same age this band is shifted towards lower frequencies, 727-723 cm-1,
suggesting the formation of Al-rich structures. Appearance of the band at the same
frequencies as in the initial fly ash indicates that this phase was not affected much by the
potassium hydroxide solution.
900
800
700
600
1500
1200
900
600
Frequency, cm -1
Frequency, cm -1
Figure 4.22: ATR-FTIR spectra of AAFA pastes contained different levels of soluble
silica at the age of one year
1800
1054
1012
1027
889
740
732
682
690
740
729
682
651
648
792
773
651
688
794
773
740
729
875
875
694
796
775
740
729
653
649
684
852
875
1054
796
775
740
730
694
653
649
684
Na3Si3
653
649
696
684
883
Na3Si6
790
779
858
Na3
1010
873
684
796
771
653
649
703
727
873
Na9Si3
858
916
889
1461
1697
1652
Transmittance, %
1461
1419
1697
1649
4-31
Na9
Na9Si9
653
796
775
831
734
923
900
881
871
1500
1200
900
-1
Frequency, cm
600
900
700
734
773
794
831
1054
1012
1800
867
904
1400
655
696
682
740
734
831
867
794
775
653
740
736
796
775
831
900
900
K11
1656
1633
Transmittance, %
K8
867
703
690
1054
1014
1463
1402
1641
K6
653
696
684
K3
1392
4-32
800
700
Frequency, cm-1
600
Figure 4.23: ATR-FTIR spectra of AAFA pastes activated by different concentrations of
potassium hydroxide at the age of one year
In general the results of ATR-FTIR are in agreement with the results of XRD. There is a
definite transformation of the glassy phase of the initial fly ash during alkali activation. The
presence of alkali carbonates in mixtures with high alkali content confirmed by both, XRD
and ATR-FTIR techniques, suggesting that not all alkali was consumed during the activation
process but it is unlikely that their presence would affect the compressive strength
significantly. The presence of Al-rich structures is confirmed by ATR-FTIR, while XRD
showed the prominent peak of hydroxysodalite. However the presence of hydroxysodalite
would not explain the strength drop as hydroxysodalite is observed not only in Na15 but in
Na9 and Na12 as well, with a negligible difference in its amount. Thus in the next section
microstructural characterization of AAFA pastes with different concentrations of sodium
oxide will be presented.
4-33
4.4.4
SEM observation
Scanning electron microscopy observations were performed on samples of AAFA cement
pastes containing unclassified Lethabo fly ash with different sodium oxide levels. The aim
was to see if there is any difference in structure of these mixtures which can possibly explain
observed trends in the strength development. SEM images of AAFA cement pastes with
different Na2O contents at the age of 40 days are presented in Figure 4.24 – 4.28.
Figures 4.24 – 4.26 show the microstructure of AAFA cement paste with 3, 6 and 9 % Na2O.
The surface of individual particles on these pictures is covered by shell shaped reaction
products (point 1, Figures 4.24 and 4.25) with smooth fly ash particles under it. It was found
in previous research that the reaction product of the alkaline solution and fly ash is disordered
aluminosilicates gel, also known as geopolymeric gel (Palomo et al., 1999a; Duxson et al.,
2007b). It can be seen that fly ash particles are glued to each other by reaction products. Voids
can be observed between fly ash particles indicating that not enough gel phase was formed to
fill it, resulted in friable appearance of the microstructure. The amount of unreacted fly ash
particles (point 2, Figures 2.26-2.28) decreased with increased concentration of sodium oxide,
and the matrix appears more continuous, which is evidence of increased gel formation (see
Figure 4.27 and 4.28). As it is assumed that the amount of aluminosilicates gel is responsible
for the mechanical properties of the final product (Zhang et al., 2013), it is expected that the
more continuous appearance of the matrix is related to the greater amount of gel resulting in
the higher compressive strength. This is in good correlation with the compressive strength
results with the exception of sample Na15. The matrix of sample Na15 appears continuous
and the structure looks more solid, but the compressive strength tends to be less than that of
Na9 and Na12.
Small cracks can be observed in these images (see point 3, Figure 4.27 and 4.28). The nature
of these cracks is not yet clear. De Vargas et al. (2011) discovered similar cracks in AAFA
based geopolymers. They reported that microfissures could be found easier in the samples
with higher amounts of alkali (Na2O/SiO2=0.4 compared to Na2O/SiO2=0.2) but they did not
observe a reduction in compressive strength. At the same time Fernandez-Jimenez and
Palomo (2005a) linked cracks with thermal treatment during the activation process or
mechanical damage during sample preparation for SEM observation. However all the samples
presented in the micrographs in this study had the same regime of heat treatment and were
prepared in the same way, but cracks were only observed in samples Na12 and Na15, where a
more continuous matrix is present.
4-34
a)
b)
1
1
c)
1
Figure 4.24: Microstructure of unclassified Lethabo AAFA cement paste with 3 %
sodium oxide a) × 500; b) × 1300; c) × 3000
4-35
a)
1
b)
c)
Figure 4.25: Microstructure of unclassified Lethabo AAFA cement paste with 6 %
sodium oxide a) × 500; b) × 2000; c) × 3000
4-36
a)
b)
c)
2
Figure 4.26: Microstructure of unclassified Lethabo AAFA cement paste with 9 %
sodium oxide a) × 500; b) × 2000; c) × 2000
4-37
a)
2
4
b)
3
c)
3
Figure 4.27: Microstructure of unclassified Lethabo AAFA cement paste with 12 %
sodium oxide a) × 500; b) × 2000; c) × 2000
4-38
a)
4
2
2
b)
3
c)
3
Figure 4.28: Microstructure of unclassified Lethabo AAFA cement paste with 15 %
sodium oxide a) × 500; b) × 2000; c) × 2000
4-39
The appearance of microcracks differs from long, wider cracks which most probably result
from sample preparation (point 4, Figures 4.24 and 4.28). Microcracks appear within the
continuous matrix and do not go out beyond its bounds. It was assumed that these
microcracks could be the cause of the strength drop and strength deviation at high Na2O.
SEM observations AAFA cement pastes containing classified Lethabo fly ash were conducted
on higher resolution scanning electron microscope at the age of 72 days. Figures 4.29 – 4.33
show the microstructure of classified Lethabo AAFA cement pastes with different
concentrations of sodium oxide.
At close inspection the major product of alkali activation reaction (aluminosilicates gel)
appeared to have a granular microstructure, which is clearly seen on higher resolution images
(point 5, Figures 4.29 – 4.33). These grains consolidate and formed a visually more solid
microstructure in samples with high alkali content. Again the denser microstructure contained
some cracks, which can explain the strength drop at samples with higher alkali content, are
observed. Ragged edges of these microcracks (point 3, Figure 4.32 and 4.33) suggest that
cracks were formed when material was not completely hardened yet. In fact, a strength
decrease was observed immediately after elevated temperature curing in some cases, thus it
was assumed that processes in AAFA cement pastes during heat curing might be the reasons
for compressive strength reduction in mixtures with high alkali content. Therefore, in-situ
evaluation of temperature development in sample cores and volume changes during elevated
temperature curing was conducted and the results are discussed in next sections.
4-40
5
Figure 4.29: Microstructure of classified Lethabo AAFA cement paste with 3 % sodium
oxide
4-41
5
Figure 4.30: Microstructure of classified Lethabo AAFA cement paste with 6 % sodium
oxide
4-42
Figure 4.31: Microstructure of classified Lethabo AAFA cement paste with 9 % sodium
oxide
4-43
5
3
Figure 4.32: Microstructure of classified Lethabo AAFA cement paste with 12 % sodium
oxide
4-44
3
3
3
Figure 4.33: Microstructure of classified Lethabo AAFA cement paste with 15 % sodium
oxide
4-45
4.5
TEMPERATURE DEVELOPMENT IN AAFA CEMENT PASTES DURING
ELEVATED TEMPERATURE CURING
A few calorimetric studies have been performed in order to follow the reaction of alkali
activation (Alonso and Palomo, 2001a; Krizan and Zivanovic, 2002; Brough and Atkinson,
2002; Deir, et al., 2014). In these studies, two main peaks were normally observed on the heat
evolution graphs. The first peak corresponded to the dissolution of the aluminosilicate source
in alkaline solutions; and the second peak indicated the formation of the reaction products
(Alonso and Palomo, 2001b). Zhang et al (2014) reported that the heat release rate of
metakaolin geopolymers increased monotonically with increasing NaOH concentration. An
increase of alkali content resulted in a higher total heat release of AAFA (Ma et al., 2012).
However, even if amount of heat, released during alkali activation, is known, it might
dissipate into surrounding environment or increase the temperature of a sample during
elevated temperature curing. Obviously, high rise of the sample‟s temperature can damage the
microstructure of alkali-activated material, influencing compressive strength and other
properties of the material. Temperatures widely used for alkali activation, are as high as 60 to
80 °C, which probably would not cause damage of the microstructure of AAFA. The
cumulative heat from an oven and the alkali activation process might lead to substantial rise
of sample‟s temperature, and affect the newly formed material microstructure. No studies
were found on how the heat released during the alkali activation process, affects the
temperature development inside of AAFA samples during elevated temperature curing. This
work provides data on the temperature development of NaOH-activated fly ash pastes during
elevated temperature curing at 60 °C. The test was conducted in two parts.
During the first part of the temperature development test AAFA pastes with different sodium
oxide contents were cast into a plastic mould of three 40×40×160 mm prisms. For each mix,
six moulds were cast with a total paste volume of 4.6 l (18 prisms). The pastes with different
alkali content were cured separately. Moulds were placed into an oven at 60 °C immediately
after casting. Grounded thermocouples were embedded into the cores of moulds during
casting. Two thermocouples were measuring temperature in the oven. Temperature
development in sample cores was recorded at one minute intervals for the 24 hours of
elevated temperature curing. The temperature profile for each mixture was obtained as an
average of four measurements and shown in Figure 4.34.
From Figure 4.34 it can be clearly seen that temperature inside of sample core increases with
increasing sodium oxide content. Temperature inside the Na3 sample did not differ from the
oven‟s temperature and was about 60 °C all the time. The maximum temperature in Na6 was
4-46
62.8 °C and the peak temperature was observed after 8.7 h in oven. The maximum
temperature of 68.3 °C for Na9 was observed after 8.9 h. The peak temperatures of 71.3 and
68.2 °C were observed after 12.2 h and 15.0 h for Na12 and Na15 respectively. Temperature
inside of the oven remained constant at 60 °C for all mixes.
80
Core temperature, °C
Core temperature, °C
80
60
60
40
40
20
20
Na3
0
0
4
8
12 16 20
Time in oven, h
Na6
0
24
80
oven
0
4
8
12 16
Time in oven, h
20
24
8
12 16 20
Time in oven, h
24
80
Core temperature, °C
Core temperature, °C
oven
60
60
40
40
20
20
Na9
0
4
8
12 16 20
Time in oven, h
Core temperature, °C
0
24
Na12
oven
0
0
4
80
60
40
20
Na15
oven
0
0
4
8
12 16 20
Time in oven, h
24
Figure 4.34: Temperature development in AAFA cement pastes with different sodium
oxide content during elevated temperature curing (18 prisms)
The time of maximum temperature appearance also depends on sodium oxide content. The
peak temperature of Na15 occurred the latest compared to other mixes. However, temperature
in Na15 mixture is also the first to exceed the oven temperature, which suggests a high early
heat release. Alonso and Palomo (2001a) reported a lower rate of polymer formation when
activator concentration increases. It has been mentioned that high activator concentrations
produced high pH in the liquid phase and anionic forms of silicate are more favoured,
4-47
delaying polymerization. It is interesting to note that the pastes with lower alkali content had
narrower temperature humps. The hump is wider for Na12 and Na15, thus these pastes were
exposed to temperatures higher that 60 °C for longer times, which might affected
microstructure of AAFA cement pastes.
During the second part of the test, moulds of different sizes made out of metal and plastic
were used. Three AAFA cement paste mixtures with 9, 12 and 15 % Na2O were cast on
different days. Temperature development of pastes with 3 and 6 % Na2O was not investigated
due to the results obtained during the first part of the test. Each of the three pastes was cast
into a set of plastic and metal moulds (one of each): 100 mm and 150 mm cubes, 40×40×160
mm prisms. The total volume of each mix was 10.2 l. Grounded thermocouples were placed
in the core of each mould. All six moulds were put into the oven at 60 °C and the temperature
development in sample cores was recorded for the 24 hours of elevated temperature curing.
Results of temperature development of AAFA cement pastes with 9, 12 and 15 % of Na2O are
shown in Figures 4.35 – 4.37. Table 4.4 gives values for maximum temperature peak and time
of its appearance after beginning of heat treatment.
160
150 mm metal cube
Core temperature, °C
140
150 mm plastic cube
100 mm metal cube
120
100 plastic cube
metal prism
100
plastic prism
80
oven
60
40
20
0
4
8
12
Time in oven, h
16
20
24
Figure 4.35: Influence of sample size and mould’s material on the temperature profiles
of AAFA cement paste with 9 % Na2O during heat curing
4-48
160
150 mm metal cube
150 mm plastic cube
100 mm metal cube
100 mm plastic cube
metal prism
plastic prism
oven
Core temperature, °C
140
120
100
80
60
40
20
0
4
8
12
16
Time in oven, h
20
24
Figure 4.36: Influence of sample size and mould’s material on the temperature profiles
of AAFA cement paste with 12 % Na2O during heat curing
160
150 mm metal cube
Core temperature, °C
140
150 mm plastic cube
100 mm metal cube
120
100 mm plastic cube
metal prism
100
plastic prism
oven
80
60
40
20
0
4
8
12
Time in oven, h
16
20
24
Figure 4.37: Influence of sample size and mould’s material on the temperature profiles
of AAFA cement paste with 15 % Na2O during heat curing
Table 4.4: Values of maximum temperature peak and the time of its appearance
Thermocouple was
embedded in:
150 mm metal cube
Na9
Time of
Peak
appearance
temperat
of peak
ure, °C
temperature,
min
108.7
327
Na12
Time of
Peak
appearance
temperat
of peak
ure, °C
temperature,
min
119.3
397
Na15
Time of
Peak
appearance
temperat
of peak
ure, °C
temperature,
min
136.7
521
150 mm plastic cube
122.7
455
141.0
515
153.4
555
100 mm metal cube
78.0
422
93.2
543
132.9
637
100 mm plastic cube
96.3
378
115.0
496
137.1
621
40×40×160 mm metal prism
66.2
528
73.4
620
74.9
731
40×40×160 mm plastic prism
73.1
447
82.1
587
98.7
686
oven
63.6
487
70.2
546
73.7
671
4-49
Several trends can be observed in the results. All trends were true for all alkali concentrations
used in the study. The first trend is that the maximum temperature in the samples was higher
when the pastes were cured in the plastic moulds in comparison to metal ones. The difference
in the maximum temperature became more prominent with increase in the mould (sample)
size. The trend can be explained by difference in thermal conductivity properties of the
materials moulds were made of. Plastic moulds are less conductive, providing more insulation
thus preserving the heat emitted during the alkali activation process more effectively than
metal moulds. Hence, peak temperatures are higher in plastic moulds. This effect must be
taken into account because the excessive heat can damage the paste microstructure or it can be
effectively
used
for
self-curing
of
AAFA
cement
concretes
thus
decreasing
temperature/energy consumption during elevated temperature curing.
The second trend is the time of appearance of the peak temperature. For prisms and 100 mm
cube moulds, the peak appears earlier in case of plastic moulds compared to metal moulds.
The reverse can be seen in case of 150 mm cube moulds. The difference in the trend between
different mould sizes is again governed by thermal conductivity of the materials moulds are
made of. In case of prisms and 100 mm moulds, plastic preserves the heat emitted during the
alkali activation process which accelerates the process, and the temperature inside of the
samples reaches its maximum earlier in comparison to metal moulds. For 150 mm moulds, the
reverse pattern can be seen. Before intensive alkali activation process takes place, a certain
amount of energy must be transferred to activate the system. The amount of energy increases
with increase in the sample size. At the initial stage, plastic moulds decrease energy flux
transferred from the oven environment to the paste sample in comparison to metal moulds.
This factor does not play a crucial role in the case of prisms and 100 mm cube moulds
because the ratio of open area (top side of the moulds) to total volume is much higher in
comparison to 150 mm moulds. Therefore, the trend is influenced by mould size and material.
It is very important to note that the time of appearance of the peak temperature is affected by
alkali concentration. The time of maximum temperature peak appearance, shown on Figure
4.38, increases with increase in alkali concentration from 9 to 15 % Na2O, which is in good
correlation with the results of Alonso and Palomo (2001a). This is true for all types of moulds
regardless their size and material. Therefore, increased amount of alkali delays the alkali
activation process, which is proven by the results of compressive strength obtained for
samples cured in oven at the same condition for 4, 8 and 12 hours. Sample Na9 had
compressive strength of 2.1 MPa after 4 hours of curing at 60 °C, while sample Na15 did not
set yet by that time. The compressive strength of Na9 after 8 hours of curing was 15.2 MPa,
while Na15 – 1.5 MPa. Rate of strength development can be an indirect indicator of reaction
rate, it is eight times faster in Na9 than in Na15 (Strength development rate of
4-50
Na9=δR/δt=(15.2-2.1)/4=3.28 MPa/h; Na15=(1.5-0)/4 =0.38 MPa/h; relative strength
development rate 3.28/0.38=8.6). With time the difference in reaction rate becomes less
prominent as the compressive strength of Na9 after 12 hours in oven was 28.5 MPa, and for
Na15 – 8.3 MPa. As the strength development rate of Na15 accelerates relative strength
development of Na9 was only twice faster than Na15. (Strength development rate of
Na9=(28.5-15.2)/4=3.33 MPa/h; Na15=(8.3-1.5)/4=1.7 MPa/h; relative strength development
rate 3.33/1.7=1.95).
800
Time of maximum temperature,
min
150 mm metal cube
150 mm plastic cube
100 mm metal cube
100 mm plastic cube
metal prism
plastic prism
700
600
500
400
300
9
12
15
Na2O, % of fly ash mass
Figure 4.38: Relationship between time of appearance of maximum temperature and
sodium oxide content for moulds of different sizes
The third trend indicates that the maximum core temperature inside the paste samples
increases with increase in the sample size and alkali concentration. The lowest temperature
corresponds to metal prism moulds and was 66.2 °C, 73.4 °C and 74.9 °C for Na9, Na12 and
Na15 pastes respectively. In case of 150 mm plastic cube moulds, the temperatures for the
Na9, Na12 and Na15 AAFA pastes reached 122.7 °C, 141.0 °C and 153.4 ºC respectively.
These temperatures are the highest among all temperatures. The high temperatures cause
internal stresses in the pastes due to thermal gradient and make all free water to boil. The
boiling water produces vapour resulting in build-up of pressure inside the materials
microstructure causing local microcracks and thus loss in the mechanical performance of the
AAFA pastes. The alkali concentration higher than 9 % Na2O significantly increases the
amount of heat released during the alkali activation process which can be seen not only by the
maximum temperatures reached in the paste samples but also by the temperature developed in
the oven during elevated temperature curing. The ratio between paste and oven volume was
higher than in the first part of the temperature development test and the oven was not
equipped with a refrigerator resulting in the heat emitted by the AAFA pastes Na9, Na12 and
Na15, increasing the oven temperature up to 63.7 °C, 69.3 °C and 72.7 °C respectively.
4-51
All pastes in this chapter (except of pastes from section 4.5) were prepared in plastic moulds
and their volume was more than 9 l. According to the temperature profiles of Na9, Na12 and
Na15 the peak temperatures for these pastes were about 73.1 °C, 82.1 °C and 98.7°C
respectively. It is clearly seen that the temperature inside Na15 samples is very high. Pretoria,
where all experiments were conducted, lies at high altitude and thus the boiling point
temperature of water is about 95 °C, which means that all free water was boiling in Na15
samples and extensive vapour pressure built up inside the sample. Samples with 15 % sodium
oxide has a continuous solid microstructure, so the internal pressure could not be released but
induced internal strains in newly formed paste microstructure. As the vapour pressure reaches
its maximum, internal strains break the newly formed microstructure and local microcracks
with a width of a few hundred nanometres are observed (see Figure 4.33, bottom picture, right
lower corner). For samples Na9 and Na12 vapour pressure should be much lower as the
temperature inside of these samples was considerably less. The presence of a more friable
microstructure compared to Na15 in this case would be convenient as the vapour could escape
through it.
The temperature development test showed that the AAFA pastes might experience significant
core temperature rise, dependent on the ratio of paste to oven volume, size, alkali
concentration and mould material. Thus, future research has to take into account possible
temperature rise in sample cores and in curing ovens as the excessive temperatures can affect
the material performance.
In-situ evaluation of volume changes during elevated temperature curing was performed for
the AAFA pastes with different sodium oxide concentrations as shrinkage strains might also
lead to crack formation.
4.6
SHRINKAGE
OF
AAFA
CEMENT
PASTES
DURING
ELEVATED
TEMPERATURE CURING
Early age shrinkage values for this test not necessary represent the amount of evaporated
water during elevated temperature curing as along with a volume changes due to water
evaporation, the chemical shrinkage and the thermal movement are also present. Shrinkage
results of the AAFA cement pastes during heat curing are shown in Figure 4.39. Each line is
an average of two measurements.
Early age shrinkage, microstrain
4-52
6000
4500
3000
Na3
Na6
Na9
Na12
Na15
1500
0
0
4
8
12
Time in oven, h
16
20
24
Figure 4.39: Early age shrinkage of AAFA cement pastes with different sodium oxide
concentration during elevated temperature curing at 60 °C for 24 hours
It can be seen that the shrinkage value in the first 24 hours of elevated temperature curing
strongly depends on alkali concentration. The maximum value of early age shrinkage of Na3
AAFA cement paste was almost 3300 microstrain. For Na6, Na 9, Na12 and Na15 these
values were 3800, 4300, 4700 and 5200 microstrain respectively. There is a linear relationship
between sodium oxide content and maximum early shrinkage value, shown in Figure 4.40.
Maximum shrinkage rate is also a function of sodium oxide content as shown in Figure 4.40.
Increase in sodium oxide content from 3 % to 15 % resulting in reduced maximum shrinkage
rate.
Maximum shrinkage rate,
microstrain/h / Magnitude of
shrinkage, microstrain
8000
y = 155,4x + 2851,1
R² = 0,9981
6000
4000
2000
y = 16164x-0,802
R² = 0,9609
0
3
6
9
12
Na2O, % of fly ash mass
15
Figure 4.40: ‘Maximum shrinkage rate and shrinkage magnitude vs. Na2O content’
relationship of AAFA cement pastes
In case of Na15 paste, the presence of the second phase of shrinkage (second slope – after 4
hours) could indicate that intensive shrinkage took place when early microstructural bonds
4-53
had been developed. This would cause significant damage of the microstructure resulted in
formation of microcracks.
It is important to note that absolute values of the early age shrinkage of the AAFA cement
pastes during elevated temperature curing are not critical even though they are relatively high.
For comparative purposes, shrinkage of OPC paste with water to cement ratio of 0.28 was
measured during elevated temperature curing (conditions were kept the same) and shown on
Figure 4.41. It can be seen that the shrinkage of the OPC paste exceeded 11000 microstrain in
less than an hour. This shrinkage value is more than twice as high as the highest shrinkage of
the AAFA cement pastes. The total shrinkage of the OPC paste would be even greater but
could not be measured because it readily exceeded the laser measurement limits.
Early age shrinkage,
microstrain
12000
9000
6000
OPC paste (w/s of 0.28)
3000
0
0
4
8
12
16
Time in oven, h
20
24
Figure 4.41: Early age shrinkage of OPC paste with w/c of 0.28 during elevated
temperature curing at 60 °C for 24 hours
Average mass losses during elevated temperature curing for mixtures with different sodium
oxide concentrations are shown in Figure 4.42.
Mass loss , %
4
3
2
y = -0,268x + 3,97
R² = 0,9703
1
0
3
6
9
12
Sodium oxide content, % of fly ash mass
15
Figure 4.42: Average mass losses of AAFA cement pastes with different sodium oxide
concentration after elevated temperature curing at 60 °C for 24 hours
4-54
The observed trend shows that mass losses decreases with increase in alkali concentration. In
general mass losses were expected to be much higher than obtained results due to water
evaporation. There are few possible reasons for such results. The first one is carbonation.
Mass loss due to water evaporation could be compensated by a gain in mass caused by
carbonation of the paste sample surfaces. The mass gain due to carbonation might increase
with increase in alkali concentration because more alkali was available to react with CO2 in
the air. The pastes with 12 and 15 % Na2O had considerably lower mass loss during elevated
temperature curing in comparison to the rest of the pastes studied. As it was observed during
strength tests in section 4.3.1, these pastes had excessive amounts of alkali, which was not
bound in microstructure and was freely available for carbonation. However, no extensive
efflorescence formation was observed immediately after elevated temperature curing in this
test. Efflorescence formation was observed but only a few days after elevated temperature
curing.
The second possible reason of the low mass loss is a sealing effect that might take place
during the first minutes of elevated temperature curing. The sealing effect is the formation of
a hard and vapour-impermeable crust of alkali activation products on the surface of samples.
The sealing effect could be less prominent when lower alkali concentration was used, because
the microstructure of Na3 and Na6 pastes, studied during SEM investigations, appeared
friable and more porous due to the smaller amount of products formed during alkali activation
reaction (see Figure 4.24 and 4.25). That fact that mass losses are higher in pastes with lower
alkali content is reconciled with the arguments given in the previous section. For pastes with
lower alkali content water evaporates through the loose microstructure, while more solid
microstructure of samples with high alkali content prevent extensive evaporation, but might
be affected by vapour pressure.
In Figure 4.43 the „mass loss-shrinkage‟ relationship is shown. It can be seen that samples that
had more mass loss, shrank less. It seems that the dominating factor, affecting early age
shrinkage has a chemical nature. For example, the Na3 sample had not much of reaction
products and major part of early age shrinkage can be related to the evaporated water.
Early age shrinkage, microstrain
4-55
6000
5000
4000
y = -562,14x + 5131,8
R² = 0,9645
3000
2000
1000
0
0
0,5
1
1,5
2
Mass loss, %
2,5
3
3,5
Figure 4.43: Mass loss - early age shrinkage relationship of AAFA cement pastes after
elevated temperature curing at 60 °C for 24 hours
In contrast the Na15 sample did not lose any mass during the heat curing, however it had the
highest shrinkage value, because more fly ash particles were dissolved in high alkaline
solution, causing chemical contraction. In this thesis, unsealed cone samples were used to
monitor shrinkage during heat curing, thus early age shrinkage value represent shrinkage due
to chemical reaction as well as water evaporation, which cannot be separated.
4.7
CONCLUSIONS
In this chapter different factors affecting the compressive strength of AAFA pastes as well as
their characterization were presented. The main conclusions of this chapter are summarized as
follows:

The alkali content plays an important role in the development of the compressive strength
of the AAFA cement pastes and their microstructure. The recommended alkali
concentration is 9 % Na2O of fly ash mass which provides the highest compressive
strength and low standard deviation at 28 days. Excessive alkali content (> 9 % Na2O)
results in a decrease in strength, high standard deviation and high coefficient of strength
variation between different batches. Alkali content higher than 9 % Na 2O also causes
efflorescence formation and the formation of microcracks in the microstructure of the
pastes. Therefore, the amount of alkali must be strictly controlled during the production of
AAFA cement.

Temperature and duration of curing of the AAFA cement pastes affect the compressive
strength significantly. Curing at 25 °C is possible, but it is not practical due to delayed
setting, intensive efflorescence formation, very slow strength development, relatively low
4-56
strength at 28 days and large strength deviation. Therefore, it is important to provide
elevated temperature curing thus accelerating the strength development of the AAFA
cement pastes.

Elevated curing temperature has a greater effect on the early strength than the long-term
strength, especially of the pastes cured for a short period of time. An increase in
temperature over 60 °C did not noticeably affect 28- and 91-days compressive strength of
the AAFA cement pastes cured for 4 and 24 hours. A decrease in 91-days compressive
strength of the paste cured at 80 °C for 24 hours was observed in comparison to the paste
cured at 60 °C for the same period of time. The duration of elevated temperature curing
has a more prominent effect on the early strength. The 28- and 91-days compressive
strength is less affected by the duration of elevated temperature curing. There is no
significant increase in the early compressive strength when the duration of elevated
temperature curing exceeds 16 hours. Elevated temperature curing at 60 °C for 16 hours is
recommended for curing of the AAFA cement pastes.

The compressive strength of the AAFA cement pastes is significantly affected by the
water to binder solids ratio. The compressive strength decreases with an increase in water
to binder solids ratio. Therefore, AAFA cement concretes should be designed to achieve a
required workability at the lowest possible water to binder solids ratio.

Matla fly ash is suitable for alkali activation along with Lethabo fly ash, however the
long-term compressive strength of AAFA pastes on the base of Matla fly ash is slightly
lower compared to that of Lethabo. The reason for this difference is the mineralogical
composition of fly ashes. The more amorphous phase is present the higher the
compressive strength is.

Using potassium hydroxide as activator solution results in the lowest compressive
strength among all activator solutions, which makes it unfeasible to use. The presence of
soluble silicates in activator solution favours alkali activation and compressive strength
development as a result. Soluble silica added with alkaline silicate solution participates in
the alkali activation process, increasing the amount of total reactive phase and as a result
the quantity of final aluminosilicate gel responsible for the performance of hardened
material.

Increasing soluble SiO2 in activator solution at constant Na2O content lead to increase in
compressive strength only to a certain point, afterwards a strength decrease was observed.
However, regardless of Na2O content, high SiO2 content (9 and 12 % of fly ash mass)
4-57
resulted in higher deviation of compressive strength. The optimal silica oxide content for
activator solution in this study with respect to Na2O of 6 and 9 % of fly ash mass is 3 %.

X-ray diffraction analysis of AAFA pastes with different concentrations of sodium oxide
revealed the presence of a new phase – hydroxysodalite that was not observed in the
initial fly ash. However, the presence of hydroxysodalite is not related to the strength
decrease in pastes with higher alkali content, as hydroxysodalite was observed in paste
with 9 % Na2O as well.

ATR-FTIR analysis showed a shift of a main peak in alkali-activated paste compare to the
initial fly ash. This shift can be assigned to transformation of glassy phase of the initial fly
ash and is an indicator of alkali activation reaction. ATR-FTIR revealed the presence of
Al-rich structures and carbonates in AAFA pastes with 12 and 15 % Na 2O, which can be
supported by the results of XRD analysis. The presence of alkali carbonates suggest that
alkali was not only consumed during alkali activation reaction, and pastes with 12 and 15
% Na2O had an excess of alkali that led to the efflorescence formation.

Microstructure is known to be closely related to the mechanical strength of material. It
was observed in this chapter that with an increase in sodium oxide content microstructure
of AAFA pastes appeared to be more solid and less porous. However, mickocracks with
ragged edges were observed in pastes with 15 % Na2O as well. It was assumed that these
microcracks were formed during elevated temperature curing of AAFA pastes and might
be the reason for strength decrease and high strength deviation of AAFA pastes with 15
% Na2O.

It was found that the temperature inside AAFA paste samples depends on many
parameters, such as sodium oxide content, size of samples, mould material. Core
temperature of AAFA pastes increase slightly compare to oven‟s temperature with
increasing NaOH concentration when the ratio of paste to oven volume ratio was 0.0228
and only plastic prism moulds were used. Temperature inside the oven was not affected
by heat released during alkali activation process, when paste to oven volume ratio was
0.0228 and only plastic prism moulds were used.

Core temperature of the AAFA pastes increase significantly compares to oven‟s
temperature with increasing NaOH concentration and mould size. Temperature was also
affected by material moulds were made of when the ratio of paste to oven volume ratio
was 0.0504 and different sized and material moulds were cured together. Temperature
inside the oven can be affected by heat released during alkali activation process if the
4-58
oven not equipped with refrigerator. Temperatures inside of samples rose up to 100 °C
and promoted extensive water evaporation. Vapours built up a pressure inside the
samples, affecting newly formed microstructure and promoting microcrack formation.

For the first time early age shrinkage of AAFA pastes during elevated temperature curing
was investigated. It was found that early age shrinkage during elevated temperature
curing in oven is another possible reason for microcrack formation resulting reduced
compressive strength for 15 % Na2O pastes. Early age shrinkage value of AAFA pastes
was found to be dependent on sodium oxide content. Early shrinkage value of 5000
microstrain were recorded for AAFA paste with 15 % Na2O when paste had a low
compressive strength of 1.5 MPa and the flexural strength could not be detected. Thus
tensile stresses due to shrinkage were higher than developed strength to withstand
internal stresses and microcracks were formed.

It was substantiated in this chapter that higher sodium oxide contents in AAFA pastes
promote higher temperatures and shrinkage values during elevated temperature curing,
which induced internal stresses and lead to violation of microstructure continuity as a
result of microcrack formation and might affect mechanical strength of AAFA cement
paste.
5-1
5
EXPERIMENTAL STUDY ON ALKALI-ACTIVATED FLY ASH CONCRETE
5.1
INTRODUCTION
This chapter contains the results of testing alkali-activated fly ash concretes. Curing
conditions for all AAFA concretes was elevated temperature curing in a dry oven at 60 °C for
24 hours unless otherwise mentioned. The trial experiments were conducted to confirm the
main trends obtained for AAFA cement pastes. For further characterization of material, a big
batch of AAFA concrete with the most suitable design was cast to investigate the main shortand long-term properties of concrete and compare results with literature. Along with the
results on AAFA concrete, properties of fly ash-OPC blended concrete with the same binder
content are presented for comparative purposes.
TRIAL EXPERIMENTS OF AAFA CONCRETE PRODUCING
The effect of alkali concentration on the compressive strength development was studied on a
concrete mix with 400 kg/m3 of fly ash and water to binder solids ratio of 0.3 as shown in
Figure 5.1. Design of AAFA concrete mixes from this chapter presented in Appendix G.
80
Compressive strength, MPa
5.2
60
40
20
Na6
Na9
Na12
0
0
20
40
60
80
100
Age, days
Figure 5.1: Strength development of AAFA concrete with different concentrations of
sodium oxide
A mixture with 3 % sodium oxide was not used for preparation of AAFA concrete due to the
low compressive strength obtained for corresponding AAFA paste. A mixture with 15 %
sodium oxide was not used either as paste with such alkali content was found to have strength
lower than that of the 12 % Na2O mix. From Figure 5.1 it can be seen that with increasing
sodium oxide content the compressive strength of AAFA concrete increases. However, it
should be mentioned that the workability of all mixes was very low making the process of
5-2
concrete casting and finishing very difficult. Thus, it was decided to vary the amount of fly
ash in the mixture, rich mixtures are usually more workable. Water to binder solids ratio was
also varied. The effects of variation of fly ash content and water to binder solids ratio are
shown in Figure 5.2.
50
1
28
91
1
28
high workability
high workability
high workability
high workability
high workability
0
500
high workability
high workability
high workability
10
low workability
20
high workability
30
low workability
400
40
low workability
Compressive strength, MPa
60
91
0,3
0,35
Age, days / Water to binder solids ratio
Figure 5.2: Effect of variation of fly ash content and water to binder solids ratio on the
compressive strength and workability of AAFA concrete at different age (low workability
- 0 mm slump; high workability - about 50 mm slump)
From Figure 5.2 it is clearly seen that an increase in amount of fly ash from 400 to 500 kg per
cubic meter improved the workability of AAFA concrete without decreasing the compressive
strength. Increasing water to binder solids ratio improved workability of AAFA concrete
regardless of amount of fly ash used per cubic meter of concrete, but drastically decreased the
compressive strength of concrete. Fly ash content per cubic meter of concrete of 500 kg was
chosen for further testing.
The effect of water to binder solids ratio on the compressive strength was investigated on
concrete mixes containing 500 kg of fly ash per cubic meter at constant sodium oxide content
of 9 % of fly ash mass as shown in Figure 5.3. There is a linear relationship between water to
binder solids ratio and the compressive strength. Compressive strength of AAFA concretes
decreases with increasing water to binder solids ratio. The same trend was observed and
discussed for AAFA pastes in the previous chapter. The consistency of AAFA concrete
improved significantly with increasing of water to binder solids ratio. Water to binder solids
ratio of 0.2 as used for AAFA paste preparation, could not be used for making concrete as the
amount of dry components increased. A mix with water to binder solids ratio of 0.25 was very
dry with a slump of 0 mm, while water to binder solids ratio of 0.3 provided good workability
mix with 50 mm slump. Water to binder solids ratio of 0.35 was found to give the most
5-3
workable mixture with a slump of 70 mm, however the compressive strength of this mixture
was 35-40 % lower than that of mixture with water to binder solids ratio of 0.25. Thus, water
to binder solids ratio of 0.3 was chosen for preparation of a big batch of AAFA concrete, as
this ratio provided good workability with a strength reduction of 15-20 % in comparison with
the mix with the ratio of 0.25.
Compressive strength, MPa
70
60
50
y = 12,28x-1,202
R² = 0,981
40
y = 7,5968x-1,485
R² = 0,9918
30
y = 8,1794x-1,246
R² = 0,9558
20
1 day (immidiately after elevated temperature curing)
28 days
10
91 days
0
0,2
0,25
0,3
0,35
0,4
Water to binder solids ratio
Figure 5.3: Effect of water to binder solids ratio on the compressive strength of AAFA
concrete
The strength development of mixes with 9 and 12 % of sodium oxide at water to binder solids
ratio of 0.3 and fly ash consumption per cubic meter of 500 kg is shown on Figure 5.4.
Compressive strength, MPa
80
60
40
20
Na9
Na12
0
0
50
100
150
200
250
Age, days
300
350
400
Figure 5.4: Strength development of AAFA concretes with 9 % and 12 % Na2O
It is clearly seen from Figure 5.4 that compressive strength of Na12 is higher at all ages,
suggesting that this amount should be used for producing big batch of concrete. However, the
results of strength variation of mixtures with 9 % and 12 % sodium oxide at 28 days shown in
5-4
Figure 5.5 indicate, that using higher amount of alkali (12 % Na2O of fly ash mass) results not
only in higher average compressive strength of 54.0 MPa but at the same time in increased
standard deviation of 4.6 MPa in comparison to 51.7 MPa and 2.6 MPa respectively for mix
with 9 % sodium oxide. Characteristic strength of Na9 paste was 47.5 MPa compare to 46.4
MPa. Concrete with 9 % sodium oxide was chosen for making a big batch of concrete to
28-day compressive strength, MPa
study properties of AAFA concrete.
70
65
AS Na9
AS Na12
Na9
Na12
CS Na9
CS Na12
60
55
50
45
40
0
5
10
15
20
25
30
Test number
Figure 5.5: Individual strength results for mixtures with 9 % and 12 % sodium oxide,
their average (AS) and characteristic (CS) strength
Five batches of concrete with 9 % sodium oxide at water to binder solids ratio of 0.3 and
consumption of fly ash per cubic meter of 500 kg were cast at different days to confirm that
9 % Na2O gives consistent strength results. The results of average compressive strength of
each batch as well as average compressive strength between these batches at different testing
times are shown in Figure 5.6. The average compressive strength of AAFA concrete between
five batches immediately after elevated temperature curing (1-day strength) was 36.1 MPa,
after 28 days – 46.6 MPa and after 91 days – 58.8 MPa. The calculated standard deviation of
average compressive strength between different batches was 3.2 MPa for 1-day strength, 2.9
MPa for 28-day strength and 3.4 MPa for 91-day strength. Thus, the coefficient of strength
variation between batches was 8.8 % for 1-day samples, 6.2 % for 28-day samples and 5.8 %
for 91-day samples. Strength deviation of the AAFA concrete containing 9 % sodium oxide
within the batch approximates with strength deviation between batches, which is a good
indicator of stability of AAFA concrete compressive strength with 9 % sodium oxide.
5-5
Compressive strength, MPa
80
60
40
1 day
28 days
91 days
AS 1 days
AS 28 days
AS 91 days
20
0
1
2
3
4
5
Batch number
Figure 5.6: Strength variation of five bathes of AAFA concrete with 9 % sodium oxide at
different age and their average strength
The trials on AAFA concretes confirm the general trends obtained for AAFA paste study:

With increase in sodium oxide content the compressive strength of AAFA concrete
increases;

Higher amount of sodium oxide (12 %) results in higher strength variation of AAFA
concrete;

Increasing water to binder solids ratio increases the workability of AAFA concrete
but decrease its compressive strength;

Sodium oxide content of 9 % of fly ash mass provides sufficient repeatability of the
compressive strength at all ages.
5.3
EVALUATION
OF
SHORT
AND
LONG
PROPERTIES
OF
AAFA
CONCRETE
A big batch of AAFA concrete containing 9 % sodium oxide, water to binder solids ratio of
0.3 and fly ash consumption per cubic meter of 500 kg (tagged as GP) was produced for
detailed material characterization. Fly ash–OPC blended cement concrete with 500 kg of
binder (fly ash + OPC cement) per cubic meter, water to cement ratio of 0.4 (tagged as NC)
was cast, not for direct comparison of the strength and deformation properties of both
concretes, but rather for comparison in durability properties. Water to cement ratio of NC was
chosen so its consistency was similar to GP. Fine to coarse aggregate percentage ratio was
kept constant at 35:65 for both GP and NC concretes. Mix design of both concretes are shown
in Table 5.1.
5-6
Table 5.1: Material consumption for concrete producing, kg/m3
Material name
GP
NC
Fly ash
500
150
CEM 52.5 N
-
350
9-mm dolomite stone
1113.2
1157.5
Dolomite sand
603.1
623.3
NaOH
58.1
-
Water
150.4
200
Theoretical density
2424.8
2480.8
All GP samples were cured at 60 °C in a dry oven for the first 24 hours. Further curing was
done in two ways, to see how water curing influences properties of AAFA concrete. The first
set of samples was placed in a room with constant conditions (25±2 °C temperature and 55 %
relative humidity) until testing (tagged as GP (curing room)). To see how saturation in water
influences properties of AAFA concrete, a series of samples cured in the curing room was
placed into water for 24 hours before testing (tagged as GP (curing room + 24 h in water)).
Another set was cured in water (tagged as GP (water)). The first set of fly ash–OPC blended
concrete was cured at 25 °C and relative humidity of 99 % while the second set was steamed
at 60 °C for the first 24 hours. Both sets of NC samples were then placed into water until
testing age. Three samples were tested for each data point.
5.3.1
Strength of concrete
5.3.1.1 Compressive strength development
Compressive strength development of AAFA and fly ash-OPC concretes is shown in Figure
5.7. Compressive strength determination was conducted on sets of three cubes. Compressive
strength of GP after elevated temperature curing was 32.5 MPa which is comparable to the
strength of NC after steam curing (35.8 MPa). Further strength development of steamed NC is
similar to NC cured under normal conditions, thus, all GP results will be compared to NC
(normal). Table 5.2 contains the average compressive strength values and standard deviation
of GP and NC concretes at different ages.
5-7
Compressive strength, MPa
100
80
60
NC (normal)
40
NC (steam)
GP (curing room)
20
GP (curing room + 24 h in water)
GP (water)
0
0
50
100
150
200
250
300
350
400
Age, days
Figure 5.7: Strength development of AAFA concrete and fly ash–OPC blended concrete
Table 5.2: Average compressive strength and standard deviation values of AAFA
concrete and fly ash–OPC blended concrete
Compressive strength and standard deviation (in brackets), MPa at
different age, days
1
7
28
91
182
364
NC (normal)
22.5 (0.4)
45.2 (1.6)
61.3 (2.1)
78.0 (2.5)
81.9 (3.2)
80.8 (1.4)
NC (steam)
35.8 (2.5)
45.3 (2.2)
61.9 (2.1)
74.5 (5.7)
79.2 (2.4)
82.4 (1.1)
GP (curing room)
GP (curing room + water 24 h
before)
GP (water)
32.5 (2.1)
40.1 (3.9)
45.5 (2.8)
57.0 (3.6)
59.8 (2.8)
59.4 (0.8)
32.5 (2.1)
41.1 (4.5)
46.5 (1.5)
53.8 (2.0)
53.5 (2.3)
53.7 (0.3)
32.5 (2.1)
40.3 (3.6)
44.8 (1.8)
48.4 (0.3)
47.8 (2.0)
47.4 (1.6)
All series of GP had continuous strength gain until 91 days. After that, no significant strength
gain was observed. 28-day strength of GP cured in curing room was 45.5 MPa, while for
samples cured in water 28-day strength was 44.8 MPa. It seems that curing in dry condition is
preferable for compressive strength of AAFA concrete and this is become more prominent in
later age. 91-day compressive strength of GP (curing room) samples was 57.0 MPa, while the
same of GP (water) was only 48.4 MPa, which is 15 % lower than GP (curing room).
Compressive strength of samples submerged into water for 24 hours before testing was only
5 % lower than that of cured in dry conditions at the age of 91 days. In general, GP is stable in
water as concrete samples placed into water did not lose strength over the testing period.
5.3.1.2 Tensile strength
Three specimens of each series of GP and NC were cast. Beam samples with dimensions of
100×100×500 mm were subject of two-point loading for determination of modulus of rupture.
For splitting tensile strength, concrete cylinders with diameter of 150 mm and height of 300
5-8
mm were cast and subjected to compressive forces applied along two diametrically opposed
lines. Table 5.3 contains the results of modulus of rupture and split tensile strength of GP and
NC at 28 days.
Usually concrete is not expected to resist direct tension; however, the values of tensile
strength of concretes give an idea of the load at which concretes may crack, as cracking is a
form of tension failure.
GP concretes showed split cylinder strength in the same range than that of NC concrete
despite the great difference in the 28-days compressive strengths. Water curing and soaking of
GP concrete have a negative influence on the tensile strength, which correlates with
compressive strength results.
The tensile strength of concrete is usually ignored in the design of concrete structures;
however the design of concrete roads and pavements is based on flexural strength of concrete.
According to the Portland Cement Association, as cited in Addis (1994), flexural strength
may be taken as it shown in Equation 5.1
(5.1)
Where,
is the flexural strength, MPa;
is the cube compressive strength, MPa and
has a
value of 0.68.
The Joint CEB-FIB Committee, as cited in Addis (1994), used the following relationship
between compressive and tensile strength (Equation 5.2).
(5.2)
Where
is the split cylinder strength and
is the cube strength, MPa.
Table 5.3: Modulus of rupture and split tensile strength of GP and NC concrete at 28
day and standard deviations
Measured tensile strength and
standard deviation (in brackets), MPa
Calculated tensile strength , MPa
3.7 (0.26)
Flexural
(Equation 5.1)
4.6
Split
(Equation 5.2)
3.1
4.5 (0.32)
3.8 (0.31)
4.6
3.0
5.5 (0.46)
2.5 (0.03)
4.6
3.1
7.1 (0.33)
4.1 (0.28)
5.3
3.7
Flexural
Split
GP (curing room)
GP (curing room + water
24 h before)
GP (water)
5.8 (0.12)
NC (normal)
5-9
Table 5.3 shows the results of calculated values of tensile strength. The results show that the
measured flexural and split tensile strength of GP concretes is higher than the predicted
though calculations values. Similar trends were observed by Rangan (2009).
5.3.2
Deformations of concrete
5.3.2.1 E-value and Poisson’s ratio
It is known that the stiffness of aggregate and its volume contribute the most to the elastic
modulus of concrete in which it is used (Addis, 1994). Dolomite stone was used though out
the study for making both GP and NC concretes. In Table 5.4 the static modulus of elasticity
and Poisson‟s ratio of concretes at 28 days are shown.
Table 5.4: E-values and Poisson’s ratios of GP and NC concrete at 28 day and its
standard deviation
E-value (GPa)
Poisson’s ratio
GP (curing room)
32.9 (1.38)
0.11
GP (curing room + water 24 h before)
32.2 (1.18)
0.12
GP (water)
30.7 (1.00)
0.12
NC (normal)
43.5 (0.03)
0.12
The E-value of AAFA concrete is insignificantly higher for samples cured in dry conditions,
which correlates with the compressive strength at the same age. The values of elastic modulus
for GP are significantly lower compare to NC. However, comparison of these two values is
unfair due to the different concrete grades to which GP and NC can be assigned. In general,
elasticity modulus of GP concrete is lower than that of OPC concrete of similar grade with the
same type of aggregate. Alexander (1994) reported static elastic modulus of 37 GPa for
30 MPa OPC concrete and 44 GPa for 40 MPa concrete at 28 days. The lower elastic modulus
for AAFA concrete can be explained by weaker transition zones between aggregate and paste
for GP concretes due to higher porosity for example or elastic properties of aluminosilicate
gel is different compare to CSH gel.
Alexander and Davis (1992) suggested the relationship between compressive strength and
elasticity modulus of concrete made with South African aggregates, shown in Equation 5.3
that could be used for prediction of elastic modulus:
(5.3)
Where
is the static modulus of elasticity at 28 days for a particular age being considered,
GPa;
– characteristic cube strength, MPa, corresponding to the age considered;
-a
5-10
constant related to the stiffness of the aggregate, GPa;
- a strength factor, also related to the
aggregate characteristics, GPa/MPa.
Assuming that characteristic strength of GP for different curing conditions is 30 MPa.
Coefficients of
and
for different types of aggregates are presented in Appendix D.
Calculated according Equation 5.3 the elastic modulus of GP at 28 days is 37.5 GPa. The
measured E-values are about 20 % lower than the calculated E-values. If the same degree of
quality control is assumed for NC concrete as for GP, the characteristic strength of NC
concrete at 28 day will be 45 MPa. In this case, the calculated elastic modulus will be 44.2
GPa which is close to the measured value. The nature and elastic properties of AAFA binder
differ from that of OPC binder and lead to substantial difference between calculated and
measured E-value, indicating that Equation 5.3 cannot be used for predicting E-value of
AAFA concrete. The values of static Poisson‟s ratio of AAFA concrete are in the range of
typical values for OPC mortars and concretes (between 0.1 and 0.2 (Addis, 1994)).
5.3.2.2 Shrinkage during first 24 hours
The results of shrinkage during the first 24 hours will be presented in this section. The
Schleibinger shrinkage cone method for measuring autogeneous shrinkage of concrete was
adopted and used (Eppers and Müller, 2010). Shrinkage of GP was recorded in situ during
elevated temperature curing in oven at 60 °C. Shrinkage of NC during steam curing could not
be recorded due to inappropriate laser working conditions when condensate could affect
measurements and even disable measuring device. Thus, only shrinkage of normal cured NC
during first 24 hours was recorded. As blended cement concrete was cured in high humidity
room (about 99 % relative humidity) shrinkage of NC in this section can be considered as
autogeneous (chemical), while volume changes of GP concrete during heat curing could be
caused by drying shrinkage, chemical and even carbonation shrinkage which cannot be
separated. Thermal expansion can be expected during elevated temperature curing of AAFA
concrete. Figure 5.8 presents shrinkage of NC and GP concretes during the first 24 hours after
casting.
Early age shrinkage, microstrain
5-11
3500
3000
2500
2000
1500
1000
NC
500
GP
0
0
4
8
12
Time, hours
16
20
24
Figure 5.8: In situ early age shrinkage of NC and GP concretes during first 24 hours
Shrinkage of AAFA concrete (GP) in first 24 hours is significantly lower at 1460 microstains,
compare to 2800 microstrains in blended cement concrete (NC). The result was unexpected as
GP was cured at higher temperature thus water evaporation accompanied by volume changes
is supposed to be more intensive at this temperature. The different nature of the reaction in
AAFA binder compared to fly ash-OPC blended concrete results in such a substantial
difference in the shrinkage value. The shrinkage of AAFA paste with 9 % Na2O (Chapter 4) is
predictably higher than that of AAFA concrete, despite lower water to binder solids ratio,
4000 microstain in comparison to 1400 microstrain for concrete. The lower shrinkage value
for concrete is obvious as the paste volume in the concrete sample is about 38 % of total
sample volume while the residual volume is occupied by aggregates, which does not
participate in shrinkage and provide rigid skeleton.
The two-slope curve for the NC sample can probably be indicative of initial and final setting
of concrete binder, suggesting the possible use of the shrinkage cone method for
determination of concrete setting times.
5.3.2.3 Drying shrinkage
Drying shrinkage measurements for both GP and NC concretes were conducted on
100×100×300 mm beams. The drying shrinkage measurements of GP were started right after
elevated temperature curing (60°C for 24 hour) and cooling of samples. NC samples were
cured in water baths for 6 days and the first drying shrinkage measurements were taken on the
7th day. The samples of both concretes were then stored in a room with constant temperature
and relative humidity (25±2 °C and 55 % respectively) and measurements were taken at
regular time intervals for one year. Drying shrinkage of the concretes is shown in Figure 5.9.
5-12
Drying shrinkage, microstrain
600
500
400
300
200
GP
100
NC
0
0
50
100
150
200
250
Time, days
300
350
400
Figure 5.9: Drying shrinkage of NC and GP concretes
It can be seen from Figure 5.9 that drying shrinkage of NC is about 500 microstrain, while the
drying shrinkage of GP is about 360 microstrain after one year curing. The drying shrinkage
of GP concrete was expected to be lower compared to NC as the major part of shrinkage
occurred during elevated temperature curing. Sagoe-Crentsil et al. (2013) reported values of
drying shrinkage for 40 MPa geopolymer and OPC concretes (both of them steam cured at
60 °C) of 350 and 500 microstrains respectively. Wallah and Rangan (2006) reported drying
shrinkage of 100 microstrain but for higher strength geopolymer concrete.
5.3.2.4 Creep performance
The creep behaviour of AAFA and fly ash–OPC blended cement concretes was studied on
150×300 mm cylinders. GP was cured at 60 °C for 24 hours in a dry oven. The creep test of
first set of GP samples commenced immediately after elevated temperature curing under
sustained stress of 40 % of the compressive strength on this day. A second set of GP samples
after elevated temperature curing were placed in a room with constant temperature and
humidity (25±2 °C and 55 %). On the 28th day samples were placed under sustained stress of
40 % of the 28-days compressive strength. NC samples were cured in water and also placed
under sustained stress on the 28th day of curing.
Table 5.5 presents sustained stress and instantaneous (elastic) strain measured immediately
after the application of sustained load. Instantaneous elastic modulus was calculated as
sustained stress/instantaneous strain. The values of instantaneous elastic modulus are similar
to those presented earlier in Table 5.4 suggesting good repeatability of the results.
5-13
Table 5.5: Instantaneous strain and elastic modulus of GP and NC concretes
GP after heat curing (HC)
Cube
compressive
strength, MPa
32.5
10.87
Instantaneous
(elastic) strain,
microstrain
364
GP after 28 days
45.5
14.54
486
29.9
NC after 28 days
61.3
19.64
468
41.9
Sustained
stress, MPa
Instantaneous
elastic modulus,
GPa
29.8
Creep performance of both GP and NC concretes are shown on Figure 5.10. Specific creep
was calculated as creep strain per unit of applied stress. A basic creep coefficient was
calculated as a creep strain divided by elastic strain. In general it can be seen that creep
performance of GP concrete is better compared to NC concrete. After one year under load
specific creep of NC concrete was 30 microstrain/MPa, while the value of GP concrete was
only half of NC (less than 15 microstrain/MPa).
Sagoe-Crentsil et al. (2013) reported a basic creep coefficient for 40 MPa geopolymer
concrete of 0.6, while for the OPC concrete creep coefficient was about 1.8, both concretes
were steam cured. Wallah and Rangan (2006) obtained creep coefficients between 0.6 and 0.7
for heat cured geopolymer. Although, direct comparison of these results to that previously
published is unfeasible due to difference in aggregate type and ratio, age of concrete and other
factors, the results presented in this section have the similar trend to the results published
previously by other researchers.
700
a)
Creep, microstrain
600
y = 94,749ln(x) + 49,004
R² = 0,9528
500
400
GP (after HT)
300
GP (after 28 days)
NC (after 28 days)
200
y = 35,134ln(x) - 38,599
R² = 0,9335
y = 29,073ln(x) + 6,5852
R² = 0,8549
100
0
0
50
100
150
200
250
Time under load, days
300
350
400
5-14
Specific creep, microstrain/MPa
35
b)
30
y = 4,8252ln(x) + 2,4956
R² = 0,9528
25
20
y = 3,2337ln(x) - 3,5526
R² = 0,9335
15
10
y = 1,9991ln(x) + 0,4528
R² = 0,8549
5
0
0
50
100
150
200
250
Time under load, days
300
350
400
1,4
Basic creep coefficient
c)
1,2
y = 0,1993ln(x) + 0,1031
R² = 0,9528
1
0,8
y = 0,095ln(x) - 0,1043
R² = 0,9335
0,6
0,4
y = 0,0637ln(x) - 0,0135
R² = 0,8587
0,2
0
0
150
200
250
300
350
400
Time under load, days
Figure 5.10: Creep performance of GP and NC concretes: a) creep; b) specific creep; c)
basic creep coefficient
5.3.3
50
100
Durability of concrete
5.3.3.1 Basic acid immersion test
Basic acid immersion tests were conducted on three sets of samples. Samples of NC were
placed into H2SO4 acid after 28 days of curing in water (tagged as NC (acid after 28 days))
and compared to samples cured in water (NC (water)). The first set of GP samples were
placed into acid immediately after heat curing in oven, tagged as GP (acid after HC). The
second set of GP samples was places into acid after curing in oven and following curing in the
curing room (tagged as GP (acid after 28 days)). Both sets were compared to GP cured in
curing room and in water. Strength development of GP and NC cured in H2SO4 acid is shown
in Figure 5.11. Compressive strength and standard deviation values are presented in Table 5.3.
5-15
Compressive strength, MPa
90
80
70
60
50
40
NC (normal)
NC (acid after 28 days)
GP (curing room)
GP (water)
GP (acid after HC)
GP (acid after 28 days)
30
20
10
0
0
50
100
150
200
250
300
350
400
Age, days
Figure 5.11: Strength development of AAFA concrete and fly ash – OPC blended
concrete placed in H2SO4 acid (pH=2)
Table 5.6: Average compressive strength and standard deviation values of AAFA
concrete and fly ash–OPC blended concrete exposed to H2SO4 acid (pH=2)
Compressive strength and standard deviation (in brackets) at different
age, MPa
1
7
28
91
182
364
NC (normal)
22.5 (0.4)
45.2 (1.6)
61.3 (2.1)
78.0 (2.5)
81.9 (3.2)
80.8 (1.4)
32.5 (2.1)
40.1 (3.9)
45.5 (2.8)
71.1 (1.8)
75.4 (2.0)
69.8 (4.9)
57.0 (3.6)
59.8 (2.8)
59.4 (0.8)
40.3 (3.6)
44.8 (1.8)
48.4 (0.3)
47.8 (2.0)
47.4 (1.6)
41.0 (2.4)
44.6 (3.0)
47.0 (2.8)
45.1 (4.5)
50.0 (1.9)
49.7 (2.1)
46.8 (3.1)
NC (acid after 28 days)
GP (curing room)
GP (water)
GP (acid after HC)
GP (acid after 28 days)
There is a clear trend of strength decreasing of NC samples immersed in acid compared to
samples cured in water. At the age of 364 days, strength of NC (acid after 28 days) was 15 %
lower than that of NC (water), showing there is a chemical process behind this strength
decrease. Sulphuric acid reacts with calcium hydroxides of cement with formation of gypsum
containing two water molecules and increased volume. The gypsum then reacts with
tricalcium aluminate (C3A) to form complex salts that have needle-like appearance and
significantly increased volume. Volume changes related to the formation of new phases
induce internal stress, resulting in cracking and scaling of concrete. Visual observation of NC
samples immersed in sulphuric acid allows the detection of small needle-like white crystals
together with a thick white deposit on the surface with a brownish coloured surface under it
(see Figure 5.12). However, no visible crystals were found in the cross-sectional area of the
sample, probably due to relatively low permeability of NC concrete to the aggressive solution.
There were not any significant changes in dimensions of samples or signs of deterioration of
concrete.
5-16
Figure 5.12: Appearance of fly ash–OPC blended concrete exposed to H2SO4 acid
(pH=2) at 182 days
The attacking process of GP concrete with sulphuric acid should be completely different from
the NC concrete as GP made out of fly ash and NaOH does not contain any Ca(OH) 2 at all.
Moreover, it actually was different as the appearance of GP immersed in acid differs from NC
under the same conditions. There were not many crystals on the surface of samples. The
presence of crystals had a local character and they appeared to have “hedgehog” structure.
Slight peeling of sample surfaces was observed after 91 days of curing in acid (See Figure
5.13). Strength of GP (acid after HC) was 25 % lower than that of GP (curing room) and only
5 % lower than that of GP (water) at the age of 364 days. It seems that the immersing
environment (acid or water) is leaching out the activator and preventing on-going strength
development.
5-17
Figure 5.13: Appearance of AAFA concrete exposed to H2SO4 acid (pH=2) at 182 days
5.3.3.2 Oxygen permeability index, water sorptivity, chloride conductivity, porosity
Oxygen permeability, water sorptivity and chloride conductivity test methods, titled as
durability indices, have been developed in South Africa by Alexander et al. (1999) to
characterize the transport properties of concrete and its durability and results are presented in
Table 5.7 for both, GP and NC concretes.
5-18
Table 5.7: Durability indices
GP (curing room)
10.06
Water
sorptivity,
mm/h1/2
12.6
GP (water)
10.21
12.6
1.32
11.1
NC (water)
10.56
8.1
1.14
9.1
OPI
Chloride
conductivity,
mS/cm
1.44
Porosity,%
13.0
Although the durability index approach is not widely used outside of South Africa, a
comparison with internationally accepted methods for concrete durability characterization was
performed by Beushausen and Alexander (2008). The results shows that oxygen permeability
and chloride conductivity test methods can be successfully used in characterising concrete
durability and have similar merit in establishing material properties as other internationally
accepted methods. In general, the higher the OPI index, the more resistant the concrete to gas
penetration (Alexander et al, 2008). The OPI indices of GP concrete are similar to those of
NC concrete. The limits of durability index values for classification of concrete in terms of
durability were reported elsewhere (Alexander and Magee, 1999; Olorunsogo and
Padayachee, 2002) and shown in Table 5.8. According to these values the oxygen
permeability index of both GP and NC concretes is excellent.
Table 5.8: Ranges of durability indices
Excellent
>10
Sorptivity,
mm/h1/2
<6
Good
9.5-10
6-10
0.75-1.5
Poor
9.0-9.5
10-15
1.50-2.50
Very poor
<9.0
>15
>2.5
Durability class
OPI, log scale
Conductivity,
mS/cm
<0.75
Significantly better water sorptivity was found for NC concrete compare to GP concretes.
Water sorptivity of GP concretes falls in the „poor‟ category, while the sorptivity of NC is
good. These results correlate well with the porosity test, showing that the porosity of GP
concretes is higher compared to that of NC concrete. It seems that post-curing conditions do
not affect the unidirectional absorption of samples.
The chloride conductivity test monitors the diffusion of chloride ions through the concrete
sample saturated with a NaCl solution by means of using a voltage potential difference and
measuring the electrical current. In general the lower the chloride conductivity value, the
more resistant the concrete is. Both GP and NC concretes have similar values of chloride
conductivity with slightly lower value for NC concrete. It means that both concretes have
similar resistance to chloride ion penetration. The performance of both concretes is good,
according to recommended values for durability classification (Olorunsogo and Padayachee,
5-19
2002). There is again a correlation between porosity and chloride conductivity value. Higher
porosity makes it easier for chloride ions to penetrate the concrete matrix. Overall, durability
indices values of AAFA concrete is similar to those for fly ash-OPC, suggesting that service
life of structures made from the alkali-activated fly ash concrete should meet modern
requirements.
5.4
QUANTIFICATION OF CO2 EMISSION
Carbon dioxide emissions generated by typical normal strength concrete mixes using Portland
cement as the only binder were found to be between 0.29 and 0.32 t CO2-e per cubic meter of
concrete (Flower and Sanjayan, 2007). Previous research showed that the production of
geopolymer and alkali-activated concretes could reduce carbon dioxide emission by as much
as 44-64 % (McLellan et al., 2011) to only 9 % (Turner and Collins, 2013) compare to
Portland cement concrete.
Figure 5.14 presents a concrete CO2 emissions system diagram in order to show which
materials and processes during concrete manufacture contribute to overall carbon dioxide
emission.
Figure 5.14: Concrete CO2 emissions system diagram (Flower and Sanjayan, 2007)
5-20
In this section basic analysis of CO2 emissions of alkali-activated fly ash concrete will be
discussed. It was stated in previous chapters that alkali-activated fly ash concrete required
heat curing in order to get adequate compressive strength in early age. Therefore a
comparison of alkali-activated fly ash concrete and OPC concrete for precast technology is
reasonable. Steam curing of OPC concrete at 60 °C and atmospheric pressure is usually
exploited for precast concrete unit production, which is comparable with curing alkaliactivated fly ash concrete at 60 °C. Thus, carbon dioxide emission related to curing of both
concretes can be assumed equal and will be excluded from further calculations.
Heath et al. (2014) reported that global warming potential and CO2-e of geopolymer binders
are highly dependent on the mix design. Thus, CO2-e emissions of raw materials for concrete
manufacture will be discussed in details.
Alkali-activated and OPC concretes contain coarse and fine aggregates. CO2-e emission of
aggregates, associated with quarrying and crushing, was estimated in previous studies and are
shown in Table 5.9.
Table 5.9: CO2-e emission from different raw materials, kg/per kg produced material
OPC
Fly ash
Aggregates
NaOH
0.82 (Turner and Collins,
2013)
0.027 (Turner and
Collins, 2013)
0.0408 coarse agg.;
0.0139 fine agg. (Turner and
Collins, 2013)
1.915 (Turner and
Collins, 2013)
0.892 (PPC integrated
annual report, 2011)
0.027 (Flower and
Sanjayan, 2007)
0.0357 coarse agg. (granite);
0.0459 coarse agg. (basalt);
0.0139 fine agg. (Flower and
Sanjayan, 2007)
1.232 (Yang et al.,
2013)
0.818 (Wright, 2011)
0.002 (Wright, 2011)
0.0012 (Wright, 2011)
0.730 (Hasanbeigi et al.,
2012)
no CO2 emissions are to
be attributed to the ash
fraction, since it is
recovered from another
industrial process (Papa
et al., 2014)
The major difference between both concretes is the binder. The process of cement
manufacture consists of quarrying of limestone and clay, crushing and mixing those
components, clinkering at 1400-1500 °C in a kiln, clinker grinding, batching of cement.
During decomposition of limestone in a kiln 0.5 tonne of CO2 is released for every tonne of
CaO. High-energy consumption of the kiln contributes to overall emission of cement
production resulting in emissions of greenhouse gases. There is no CO2 emission attributed to
the fly ash, as it is by-product of electricity production. However, classification, batching and
transporting of fly ash require some energy efforts and thus insignificantly contribute to the
5-21
CO2-e emission of concrete. The major contributor of carbon dioxide in alkali activation
technology is the alkali itself. The process of making NaOH includes, transporting of brine to
the plant, electrolysis and drying. There are three methods used for producing caustic soda,
namely diaphragm cell, mercury cathode and membrane cells. Irrespective of the method used
during electrolysis from salt water, chlorine and sodium hydroxide co-products are produced
in near equivalent amounts (1.1 tonne of sodium hydroxide for every tonne of chlorine
produced). Turner and Collins (2013) reported 1.915 tonne of CO2-e for every tonne of
produced NaOH, which is significantly greater than that for Portland cement. Using high
alkali dosages in concrete can considerably affect the total CO2-e emission of alkali-activated
fly ash concrete.
Basic calculation of CO2-e emissions associated with raw materials used for production of one
cubic meter of alkali-activated fly ash concrete with mix proportions reported in Chapter 5
earlier, is conducted. An estimation of CO2-e emissions of the fly ash-OPC blended concrete
was not performed due to its different grade in comparison to the AAFA concrete.
Compressive strength of the AAFA concrete at 28 days was 45.5 MPa, which corresponds to
grade 30 MPa concrete, while the fly ash-OPC blended concrete was 45 MPa grade. New mix
proportions of fly ash-OPC blended cement concrete were calculated (see Table 5.9) to
produce concrete with grade similar to the AAFA concrete. The same type of aggregates, ratio
between coarse and fine aggregate and the same workability as for AAFA concrete were used
in the calculations. The new mix proportion of fly ash-OPC blended concrete was used for
estimation of CO2-e emissions associated with production of one cubic meter of concrete.
Table 5.10: Material consumption and an estimation of CO2-e emission associated with
raw materials for concrete production
Fly ash
Mix
proportion of
AAFA
concrete,
kg/m3
Mix
proportion of
fly ash-OPC
concrete,
kg/m3
500
130
CO2-e
emission
(from Table
5.9), kg/per kg
produced
material
0.0270
CO2-e emission
of raw materials
for 1m3 of
AAFA concrete,
kg
CO2-e emission
of raw materials
for 1m3 of fly
ash-OPC
concrete, kg
13.5
3.5
NaOH
58.1
-
1.9150
111.3
-
Coarse aggregate
1078.3
1135
0.0459
49.5
52.1
Fine aggregate
584.3
615
0.0139
8.1
8.5
310
0.8920
-
276.5
182.4
340.4
Cement
Total CO2-e, kg/m3
Total CO2-e emission from raw materials of NaOH-activated fly ash concrete with 9 % Na2O
of fly ash mass is 182.4 kg per m3 of concrete. Wright (2011) reported CO2-e per cubic meter
of 30 MPa fly ash blended cement concrete is about 270 kg. It can be seen that NaOH
contributes more than 60 % of the overall CO2-e emissions of alkali-activated fly ash
5-22
concrete. None the less AAFA concrete with sodium hydroxide activator (9 % Na2O eq.) has
a potential to reduce CO2-e emissions by 30-40 % in comparison to fly ash-OPC blended
concrete of the same grade in precast industry. At the same time it is also necessary to
consider the positive effect of utilization high volumes of fly ashes.
5.5
CONCLUSIONS
From the results presented in this chapter the following conclusions can be drawn:

The trends obtained for AAFA paste are relevant for AAFA concretes;

With increase in sodium oxide content, the compressive strength of AAFA heat cured
concrete increases;

12 % sodium oxide in AAFA heat cured concrete lead to higher standard deviation of
compressive strength compared to the concrete with 9 % sodium oxide;

Increasing water to binder solids ratio increases the consistency of AAFA concrete
but decreases the compressive strength;

Sodium oxide content of 9 % of fly ash mass provides sufficient repeatability of
compressive strength of heat cured AAFA concrete at all ages;

AAFA heat cured concrete is stable in water. However, its compressive strength is
lower compared to samples cured in dry conditions. 28-day compressive strength of
heat cured concrete with 9 % sodium oxide cured in water is 44.8 MPa;

The compressive strength of heat cured AAFA concrete is affected by age and
development of strength continue up to 91 days;

Flexural strength AAFA heat cured concrete is about 4-5 MPa depending on postcuring environment, which is comparable to flexural strength of similar grade OPC
concrete;

Measured values of elasticity modulus of AAFA heat cured concrete are between 30
and 32 GPa which is lower than that of OPC concretes;

The Poisson‟s ratio of AAFA heat cured concrete at 28 days is 0.11 – 0.12, which is
similar to OPC and OPC blended cement concretes;
5-23

Shrinkage of AAFA concrete during heat curing in the first 24 hours is about 1500
microstrains, which is significantly lower than the shrinkage of fly ash-OPC blended
cement concrete of 2800 microstrains for the same period of time;

Heat cured AAFA concrete undergo low drying shrinkage of about 350 microstrain
after one year, which is significantly lower than that of fly ash-OPC blended cement
concrete of 500 microstrains;

Heat cured AAFA concrete has a low specific creep of 15 microstrain/MPa after one
year, which is less than half that of fly-ash-OPC blended cement concrete;

Exposure of AAFA concrete to sulphuric acid solution results in peeling of sample
surfaces, but there was no significant degradation in compressive strength after one
year. After one year of exposure in sulphuric acid, it was observed that fly ash-OPC
blended cement concrete lost about 15 % of its strength compared to strength of
samples cured in water. While AAFA concrete by the same time lost only 1.5 % of
the strength compared to strength of samples cured in water. This observation
suggests that the resistance of AAFA concrete to acid environments is better than that
of fly ash-OPC blended cement concrete;

Measured oxygen permeability and chloride conductivity suggest that AAFA concrete
has excellent resistance to gas diffusion and chloride penetration. However, water
sorptivity of AAFA is relatively high due to higher porosity;

AAFA concrete can be recommended for producing precast concrete units;

A basic estimation of CO2-e emissions associated with raw materials used for
concrete production show that AAFA with sodium hydroxide activator (9 % Na 2O
eq.) has a potential to reduce CO2-e emissions of precast concrete units by 30-40 % in
comparison fly ash-OPC blended concrete of the same grade.
6-1
6
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
6.1
INTRODUCTION
Production of electricity in South Africa relies on coal and huge amounts of by-product, such
as fly ash, bottom ash, etc. is produced annually during coal combustion. Currently at thermal
plants ash is collected and disposed in stockpiles and ash dumps causing environmental
concern due to releasing toxic elements into soil and ground water as well as dust pollution.
Fly ash is the residue of coal combustion captured by electrostatic precipitators from flue
gases. Fly ash consists of fine particles and can be used as a cement extender, filler in a
plastics, soil stabilizer, etc. However only about 5 % of all South African fly ash is
beneficially used. This thesis provides the basis for developing an alternative application of
fly ash, showing that fly ash is not only a waste, but rather underestimated resource.
Utilization of fly ash in alkali-activated cements and concretes will help to reduce
environmental problems related to ash disposal and conserve natural resources. The study was
focused on utilization of fly ash as a raw source for the production of a value added
sustainable construction material.
Particle size distribution, chemical and mineralogical composition of fly ashes was evaluated.
The experimental study consists of two parts: a study of AAFA pastes and a study of AAFA
concrete. In Chapter 4, different factors affecting the mechanical strength of AAFA pastes
were investigated and linked to the microstructure and composition of those pastes as
characterized by different techniques. The present study and previous research showed that
high alkali content negatively affects the material performance and possible reasons for this
phenomenon were investigated. Based on pastes experimental results AAFA concrete was
cast. Short and long-term concrete performance was evaluated in Chapter 5 and compared,
where it was possible to those of fly ash-OPC blended cement concrete and previously
published results on AAFA concretes.
6.2
CONCLUSIONS
Different AAFA cement pastes were developed and investigated. The following relationships
between investigated parameters and mechanical performance of AAFA pastes were
established:

An increase in Na2O content results in an increase in compressive strength of alkaliactivated fly ash cement. An excessive amount of Na2O however leads to a decrease
6-2
in compressive strength, high standard deviation and efflorescence formation. The
optimum alkali content in this research was 9 % Na2O of fly ash mass.

Curing of AAFA pastes at ambient temperature was found impractical due to delayed
setting, slow strength development, relatively low strength, high strength deviation
and efflorescence formation. Elevated temperature curing of AAFA pastes is
recommended.

Elevated temperature curing has a substantial effect on the early strength of AAFA
pastes, but an increase in temperature over 60 °C did not noticeably affect 28- and 91days compressive strength.

The duration of elevated temperature curing has a more prominent effect on the early
strength; however there is no significant increase in early age compressive strength
when duration of the curing exceeds 16 hours.

The compressive strength decreases significantly with an increase in water to binder
solids ratio.

Mineralogical composition of fly ash has a substantial effect on the compressive
strength of AAFA pastes. The more amorphous phase in fly ash, the higher the
compressive strength is.

The use of potassium hydroxide as an activator results in the lowest compressive
strength, while the presence of soluble silicates favors alkali activation and
compressive strength development.

Increasing amounts of soluble silicate in an activator solution at constant Na 2O leads
to an increase in compressive strength only to a certain point, afterwards a strength
decrease is observed. The optimal soluble silica oxide content for AAFA paste with
respect to 6 and 9 % Na2O is 3 % of fly ash mass.
XRD analysis of AAFA pastes indicated the major crystalline phases were quartz and mullite
identified in initial fly ash. Apart from these phases, thermonatrite (sodium carbonate) and
hydroxysodalite, not revealed in initial fly ash, were detected by XRD. The presence of
carbonate species suggested that all the alkali was not consumed during the alkali activation
process and the excess of alkali led to carbonization and, as a result, formation of
efflorescence. The presence of hydroxysodalite was found to be a function of sodium oxide
6-3
content. There was no correlation between the presence of hydroxysodalite and the loss in the
mechanical performance of AAFA pastes.
ATR-FTIR analysis showed a shift of the main peak in AAFA pastes compare to initial fly
ash, assigned to transformation of amorphous phase. ATR-FTIR also confirmed the presence
of sodium carbonate found during the XRD analysis.
The morphology of AAFA pastes, investigated by SEM, was found to be affected by
concentration of alkaline activator. The microstructure of the pastes with low alkali content
appeared friable with the presence of unreacted fly ash particles. AAFA pastes with high
alkali content had a more solid and less porous microstructure. Microcracks were also
observed in the pastes with high alkali content and solid microstructure. It was assumed that
these microcracks might be the reason for the loss in mechanical performance of AAFA
pastes as microstructure is known to be closely related to mechanical strength of material. The
possible reasons of microcrack formation were investigated.
It was found that the temperature of the paste core increase significantly during elevated
temperature curing when the paste to oven volume ratio was 0.0504 and different size moulds,
made out of metal and plastic, were used together. Core temperature depended on different
parameters and increased with increase in mould size and alkali content. Plastic moulds gave
higher core temperature in comparison to metal moulds of the same size. Heat released during
alkali activation of the pastes affected the temperature in the oven, increasing it significantly.
A slight increase in pastes core temperatures was observed when paste to oven volume ratio
was 0.0228 and only single sized moulds made out of plastic were used. However, the oven
temperature was not influenced. The high core temperatures cause internal stresses in the
pastes due to thermal gradient but also make free water boil. The boiling water produces
vapor which build-up pressure inside the material structure inducing additional internal
stresses, which could be the reason for the microcracks formation.
It was found that AAFA pastes experience relatively high shrinkage strains during elevated
temperature curing and the shrinkage magnitude depends on alkali content. A high early
shrinkage value of 4700 microstrains was recorded for 15 % Na2O paste when a compressive
strength was only 1.5 MPa. Tensile stresses due to the shrinkage were higher than the
developed strength and microcracks were formed.
High sodium oxide content in AAFA pastes promote internal stresses caused by thermal
gradient, internal vapor pressure due to boiling water and high early age shrinkage, which
could be the reasons for the microcrack formation and strength decrease as a result.
6-4
Trends obtained for AAFA pastes are relevant for AAFA concretes: an increase in Na2O leads
not only to increase in the compressive strength but also to higher strength deviation. An
increase of water to binder solids ratio leads to a decrease of compressive strength of AAFA
concrete. Repeatable compressive strength of AAFA concrete can be achieved with 9 % Na2O
of fly ash mass.
Short- and long-term engineering properties of AAFA concrete were evaluated and compared
to fly ash-OPC concrete (see Table 6.1).
Table 6.1: Comparison of properties of alkali-activated fly ash concrete (GP) and fly
ash-Ordinary Portland cement blended concrete (NC)
GP
NC
Compressive strength at 28 days, MPa
45.5
61.3
Flexural strength at 28 days, MPa
5.8
7.1
Split tensile strength at 28 days, MPa
3.7
4.1
E-value at 28 days, GPa
32.9
43.5
Poisson‟s ratio
0.11
0.12
Shrinkage at first 24 hours, microstrain
1400
2800
Drying shrinkage after one year, microstrain
360
500
Creep after one year, microstrain
180
600
12.6
8.1
Oxygen permeability index
10.1
10.6
Chloride conductivity, mS/cm
1.44
1.14
Porosity, %
14.9
9.4
Water sorptivity, mm/h
1/2
The comparison of concrete properties show that AAFA concrete with good mechanical and
durability performance comparable to conventional concrete can be produced using fly ash
and sodium hydroxide as a binder. Service life of structures made from the alkali-activated fly
ash concrete should meet modern requirements.
A basic estimation of CO2-e emissions associated with raw materials used for concrete
production show that AAFA concrete with sodium hydroxide activator (9 % Na2O eq.) has a
potential to reduce CO2-e emissions of precast concrete units by 30-40 % in comparison to fly
ash-OPC blended concrete of the same grade.
6.3
RECOMMENDATIONS
More South African fly ashes need to be tested for use in the production of alkali-activated
materials. A comparison of fly ashes from different sources is very important for wide
application of alkali-activated materials.
6-5
The results of this research show that more attention should be paid to the conditions and
process during elevated temperature curing of alkali-activated materials. Heat released during
alkali activation increases core temperature of samples causing internal stresses and it might
affect oven temperature.
Possible reasons of the flash setting of fly ash mixtures activated with the specific
combinations of sodium hydroxide and sodium silicate (i.e. sodium silicates with the specific
silica moduli) should be investigated.
More research is needed on the shrinkage behavior of AAFA materials with different
activators during elevated temperature curing as extensive shrinkage can lead to early age
cracking and result in loss of material performance. The mechanism of early shrinkage should
be studied.
An accurate estimation of CO2-e emissions of local materials used to produce of alkaliactivated fly ash and OPC concretes is needed to evaluate ecological compatibility.
7-1
7
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A-1
APPENDIX A: EXAMPLE OF MIX DESIGN OF ALKALI-ACTIVATED FLY
ASH CEMENT PASTE
Assume that amount of fly ash is 1000.0 g. Sodium hydroxide was used as an activator
solution and sodium oxide content (in percentage of fly ash mass) is a variable parameter. To
make a paste with a 9 % of sodium oxide it is necessary to take 1000.0×9/100=90.0 g of
sodium oxide which is 90×80.0/62.0=116.1 g in terms of sodium hydroxide, where 80.0 is the
molecular weight of two molecules of sodium hydroxide, and 62.0 molecular weight of
sodium oxide.
62.0
80.0
90.0
x
The amount of water was controlled by water to binder solids parameter. The amount of water
was calculated as total mass of water used for making the sodium hydroxide solution and the
amount of water from sodium hydroxide flakes. Mass of binder solids is the sum of the mass
of fly ash and mass of Na2O from NaOH flakes. Thus 116.1 g of NaOH contains 90.0 g of
Na2O and 26.1 g of H2O (116.1×18/80, where 18 is the molecular weight of H2O). Water to
binder solids ratio was kept constant of 0.2, thus amount of water (y) was calculated as
(y+26.1)/(1000.0+90.0)=0.2, y=0.2×1090.0-26.1=191.9 g. Consumption of material for
mixture with 9 % of sodium oxide of fly ash mass and water to binder solids ration of 0.2 is:
fly ash 1000 g, NaOH 116.1g, water 191.9 g.
Activator solution was prepared by mixing 116.1g of NaOH with 191.9 g of water. The
solution concentration is 116.1/(116.1+191.9)×100=37.7 %. By interpolation the density of
the NaOH solution can be calculated as indicated in Table C 3 Appendix C. The density is
1.4071 g/cm3.
Find the volume of ready paste:
Consumption of materials per 1 liter of paste: fly ash 1499 g, NaOH 174 g, water 288 g.
At mix design of paste with a sodium silicate as activator mass of binder solids is the sum of
fly ash, mass of solids in sodium silicate solution (i.e. the mass of Na2O and SiO2). Mass of
water from sodium silicate solution was also added to mass of total water in numerator.
B-1
APPENDIX B: SUITABILITY OF USING ‘WATER TO BINDER SOLIDS’
RATIO AS A VARIABLE PARAMETER INSTEAD OF SOLUTION TO FLY
ASH MASS RATIO, WATER TO FLY ASH MASS RATIO AND ETC.
The suitability of „water / binder solids mass ratio‟ as a variable parameter was evaluated in
this appendix. The amount of sodium oxide to fly ash was kept constant of 9 % for all mixes,
while the water was varied for each mix, affecting the final volume of AAFA paste. The final
volume of AAFA paste increased with increasing water content. Different independent
variables reflecting the amount of water were recalculated from the same mixtures and plotted
against compressive strength. Linear trend line was found to be the best fit for all variables
with an insignificant difference in R-squared value above at least 0.93. Such a high R-squared
value for all variables suggests a high goodness of fit and shows that all variables mentioned
Compressive strength, MPa
in Figure B.1 – B.6 can be used to design AAFA pastes.
80
1 day
28 days
91 days
60
y = -305,2x + 124,33
R² = 0,931
40
y = -242,59x + 101,54
R² = 0,9677
20
y = -259,68x + 93,946
R² = 0,9773
0
0,16
Compressive strength, MPa
0,18
0,20
0,22
0,24
0,26
0,28
0,30
Water / binder solids (water +water from NaOH flakes) / (fly ash +
Na2O from NaOH flakes) mass ratio
Figure B.1: Relationship between water / binder solids mass ratio and compressive
strength of AAFA paste with 9 % sodium oxide
80
1 day
28 days
91 days
60
y = -7,2983x + 124,17
R² = 0,9302
40
y = -5,8018x + 101,41
R² = 0,9671
20
y = -6,2112x + 93,82
R² = 0,9769
0
7
9
11
13
H2O / Na2O molar ratio
Figure B.2: Relationship between H2O/ Na2O molar ratio and compressive strength of
AAFA paste with 9 % sodium oxide
Compressive strength, MPa
B-2
80
1 day
28 days
91 days
60
40
y = -279,57x + 116,92
R² = 0,9304
20
y = -222,25x + 95,646
R² = 0,9673
y = -237,91x + 87,644
R² = 0,9769
0
0,16
0,21
0,26
0,31
Compressive strength, MPa
Water / fly ash mass ratio
Figure B.3: Relationship between water / fly ash mass ratio and compressive strength of
AAFA paste with 9 % sodium oxide
80
1 day
28 days
91 days
60
y = -279,57x + 149,38
R² = 0,9304
40
y = -222,25x + 121,46
R² = 0,9673
20
y = -237,91x + 115,27
R² = 0,9769
0
0,27
Compressive strength, MPa
0,32
0,37
0,42
Solution (water + NaOH flakes) / fly ash mass ratio
Figure B.4: Relationship between solution / fly ash mass ratio and compressive strength
of AAFA paste with 9 % sodium oxide
80
1 day
28 days
91 days
60
40
20
0
0,19
y = -306,31x + 130,19
R² = 0,9307
y = -243,25x + 106,13
R² = 0,9656
y = -260,36x + 98,862
R² = 0,975
0,23
0,27
0,31
Solution (water + NaOH flakes) volume / fly ash mass ratio
Figure B.5: Relationship between solution volume / fly ash mass ratio and compressive
strength of AAFA paste with 9 % sodium oxide
Compressive strength, MPa
B-3
80
1 day
28 days
91 days
60
40
20
0
0,15
y = -312,04x + 116,92
R² = 0,9304
y = -248,06x + 95,647
R² = 0,9673
y = -265,54x + 87,644
R² = 0,9769
0,19
0,23
Water / (fly ash + NaOH flakes) mass ratio
0,27
Figure B.6: Relationship between water / (fly ash + NaOH flakes) mass ratio and
compressive strength of AAFA paste with 9 % sodium oxide
C-1
APPENDIX
C:
TABLE
OF
DENSITIES
OF
AQUEOUS
HYDROXIDE SOLUTIONS
Table C.1: Density of sodium hydroxide solutions (Lazarev, 1976)
Density at 20 °C
NaOH
%
g/l
mol/l
1.0095
1
10.10
0.2525
1.0207
2
20.41
1.0318
3
30.95
1.0428
4
1.0538
5
1.0648
1.0758
Density at 20 °C
NaOH
%
g/l
mol/l
1.2848
26
334.0
8.351
0.5103
1.2956
27
349.8
8.746
0.7738
1.3064
28
365.8
9.146
41.71
1.043
1.3172
29
382.0
9.551
52.69
1.317
1.3279
30
398.4
9.960
6
63.89
1.597
1.3385
31
414.9
10.37
7
75.31
1.883
1.3490
32
431.7
10.79
1.0869
8
86.95
2.174
1.3593
33
448.6
11.22
1.0979
9
98.81
2.470
1.3696
34
465.7
11.64
1.1089
10
110.9
2.773
1.3798
35
482.9
12.07
1.1199
11
123.2
3.080
1.3900
36
500.4
12.51
1.1309
12
135.7
3.393
1.4001
37
518.0
12.95
1.1420
13
148.5
3.713
1.4101
38
535.8
13.40
1.1530
14
161.4
4.035
1.4201
39
553.8
13.85
1.1641
15
174.6
4.365
1.4300
40
572.0
14.30
1.1751
16
188.0
4.701
1.4397
41
590.3
14.76
1.1862
17
201.7
5.040
1.4494
42
608.7
15.22
1.1972
18
215.5
5.388
1.4590
43
627.4
15.69
1.2082
19
229.6
5.740
1.4685
44
646.1
16.15
1.2191
20
243.8
6.095
1.4779
45
665.1
16.63
1.2301
21
258.3
6.458
1.4873
46
684.2
17.11
1.2411
22
273.0
6.825
1.4969
47
703.5
17.59
1.2520
23
288.0
7.201
1.5065
48
723.1
18.08
1.2629
24
303.1
7.578
1.5159
49
742.8
18.57
1.2739
25
318.5
7.963
1.5253
50
762.7
19.07
SODIUM
D-1
APPENDIX D: RECOMMENDED FACTORS FOR
AND
SUITABLE
FOR ESTIMATING E FOR DESIGN PURPOSES FOR DOLOMITE
Table D.1: Factors for
and
Aggregate sourse and type
Olifantsfontain dolomite
for design purposes (www.afrisam.co.za/, 2014)
Design value, 3 to 28
days
24
0.45
Design value, 6
month or older
41
0.25
E-1
APPENDIX E: SHRINKAGE CONE METHOD. CORRELATION BETWEEN
HEIGHT AND VOLUME CHANGES
Cone formed specimen container is using to ensure that the measured distance correlates with
the relative length change of the material. So the height changes always correlates with the
volume change (http://www.schleibinger.com)
So, why the cone shape works?
And cylinder doesn’t
F-1
APPENDIX F: TABLES FORM CHAPTER 4
Table F.1: Compressive strength and standard deviation of alkali-activated unclassified
Lethabo fly ash pastes with different levels of sodium oxide
Mixture
Na2O, %
fly ash
weight
Average compressive strength and standard deviation (in brackets) at different
testing ages, MPa
after heat curing
7 days
28 days
56 days
Na3
3
12.2(0.8)
18.3(1.2)
22.4(1.8)
23.2(1.3)
Na6
6
23.9(1.4)
25.9(1.6)
30.6(1.8)
35.5(2.1)
Na9
9
40.4(1.7)
43.1(1.3)
57.0(1.8)
57.4(1.0)
Na12
12
42.3(1.1)
49.9(2.1)
56.3(3.1)
59.5(2.8)
Na15
15
44.9(2.1)
50.4(2.3)
52.6(3.5)
55.4(3.1)
Table F.2: Flexural strength and standard deviation of alkali-activated classified
Lethabo fly ash pastes with different levels of sodium oxide
Mixture
Na2O,
%
fly ash
mass
Average flexural strength and standard deviation (in brackets) at different testing
ages, MPa
after heat
curing
7 days
28 days
91 days
182 days
364 days
Na3
3
2.3 (0.5)
3.3 (0.4)
3.9 (0.5)
4.3 (0.4)
3.4 (0.7)
3.5 (0.9)
Na6
6
5.5 (0.3)
6.0 (0.4)
5.2 (1.5)
7.7 (0.6)
7.7 (1.4)
8.1 (0.5)
Na9
9
4.7 (0.6)
6.2 (0.7)
5.8 (2.1)
9.0 (1.4)
8.7 (0.6)
7.8 (1.4)
Na12
12
4.8 (0.8)
6.2 (1.1)
7.0 (0.7)
10.0 (0.7)
11.3 (0.9)
12.7 (0.4)
Na15
15
4.5 (0.6)
7.0 (1.2)
6.3 (0.8)
8.2 (1.2)
8.6 (0.3)
8.8 (1.1)
Table F.3: Compressive strength and standard deviation of alkali-activated classified
Lethabo fly ash pastes with different levels of sodium oxide
Mixture
Na2O,
%
fly ash
mass
Average compressive strength and standard deviation (in brackets) at different
testing ages, MPa
after heat
curing
7 days
28 days
91 days
182 days
364 days
Na3
3
17.7 (1.2)
19.8 (0.9)
26.1 (1.0)
25.4 (1.5)
23.7 (1.4)
25.7 (2.1)
Na6
6
36.0 (1.2)
36.6 (1.4)
43.7 (2.0)
49.1 (2.4)
44.4 (1.9)
51.7 (2.9)
Na9
9
43.1 (1.2)
41.6 (2.8)
50.8 (2.0)
60.0 (2.9)
63.6 (1.5)
67.9 (5.2)
Na12
12
36.1 (1.1)
39.8 (2.0)
48.6 (1.8)
62.8 (4.0)
68.9 (3.9)
64.9 (1.4)
Na15
15
36.6 (2.8)
38.8 (3.9)
49.8 (2.4)
55.4 (6.1)*
60.8 (8.7)*
62.7 (4.5)
* These values include more than one statistical outlier which was varied by more than ± 10 % from the mean and
would normally be excluded as in SANS 50196-1:2006
F-2
Table F.4: Compressive strength and standard deviation of pastes cured at different
temperatures and periods of time
Mixtures ID (T for
temperature in °C; D for
duration in hours)
Average compressive strength and standard
deviation (in brackets) at different testing ages, MPa
after heat
curing
28 days
91 days
T65D4
3.1 (0.2)
44.7 (2.4)
61.0 (3.9)
T70D4
15.5 (0.9)
44.8 (1.6)
59.3 (3.6)
T75D4
31.4 (1.6)
46.6 (2.8)
54.2 (8.9)*
T25D24
-
10.9 (0.7)
34.7 (10.0)*
T40D24
1.6 (0.1)
25.5 (1.6)
49.4 (3.1)
T60D4
2.1 (0.1)
40.5 (1.8)
55.8 (3.3)
T60D8
15.2 (1.4)
47.9 (1.9)
62.0 (2.7)
T60D12
28.5 (0.9)
48.9 (1.8)
56.1 (4.6)
T60D16
43.3 (1.5)
59.0 (3.8)
61.5 (5.5)
T60D20
49.8 (2.5)
59.9 (1.2)
68.4 (4.2)
T60D24
49.4 (1.5)
59.1 (2.6)
66.3 (1.3)
T80D4
36.0 (1.2)
50.8 (2.2)
56.1 (3.2)
T80D8
40.2 (2.6)
52.1 (1.8)
58.3 (3.6)
T80D12
42.9 (2.0)
53.5 (3.7)
58.9 (2.6)
T80D16
51.0 (3.3)
64.3 (3.3)
63.6 (2.2)
T80D20
50.9 (3.7)
61.2 (2.6)
58.1 (2.1)
T80D24
53.0 (3.7)
63.5 (1.8)
58.1 (2.8)
* These values include more than one statistical outlier which varied by more than ± 10 % from the mean and
would normally be excluded as in SANS 50196-1:2006
Table F.5: Compressive strength and flexural strength of pastes with different water to
binder solid ratios
Mixtures ID (WS
for water to
binder solids
ratio)
Average compressive strength (standard deviation) - flexural strength (standard
deviation) at different testing ages, MPa
after heat curing
28 days
91 days
WS0.18
49.3 (2.1) - 6.6 (0.4)
60.6 (5.7) - 7.6 (1.7)
68.3 (4.3) - 9.3 (3.1)
WS0.20
43.1 (1.2) - 4.7 (0.6)
50.8 (2.0) - 5.8 (2.2)
60.0 (2.9) - 9.0 (3.1)
WS0.22
36.6 (2.5) - 4.0 (0.8)
47.5 (2.2) - 7.7 (1.0)
53.5 (3.6) - 6.6 (1.1)
WS0.24
31.1 (1.9) - 3.8 (0.2)
44.7 (2.4) - 7.0 (0.5)
56.2 (3.2) - 6.3 (1.4)
WS0.26
24.1 (0.8) - 3.4 (0.3)
37.9 (1.9) - 5.6 (1.4)
43.4 (6.6)* - 4.9 (1.8)
WS0.29
21.3 (1.3) - 4.2 (0.4)
32.4 (2.0) - 6.4 (0.5)
34.0 (2.5) - 5.6 (2.8)
* These values include more than one statistical outlier which varied by more than ± 10 % from the mean and
would normally be excluded as in SANS 50196-1:2006
Table F.6: Compressive strength, standard deviation of alkali-activated classified Matla
and Lethabo fly ash pastes
Mixture
Average compressive strength and standard deviation (in
brackets) at different testing ages, MPa
after heat curing
28 days
91 days
Matla
32.4 (2.7)
45.0 (4.2)
44.9 (6.1)*
Lethabo
31.1 (1.9)
44.7 (2.4)
56.2 (3.8)
* These values include more than one statistical outlier which varied by more than ± 10 % from the mean and
would normally be excluded as in SANS 50196-1:2006
F-3
Table F.7: Compressive strength and standard deviation of fly ash cement pastes
activated by different alkaline solutions
Average compressive strength and standard deviation (in brackets) at different testing ages, MPa
Mixture ID
after heat
curing
7 days
28 days
91 days
182 days
364 days
K3
1.0(0.2)*
2.0 (0.3)*
3.9 (0.2)
4.1 (0.6)
4.6 (0.6)*
4.3 (0.6)*
K6
6.4 (0.0)*
8.1 (0.5)
14.8 (0.7)
17.1 (0.6)
17.0 (2.5)*
16.9 (1.3)
K8
3.8 (0.4)
7.7 (0.6)
17.3 (0.7)
25.4 (1.3)
24.5 (1.7)
28.0 (1.6)
K11
2.3 (0.3)*
3.8 (0.2)
8.5 (0.4)
26.2 (1.0)
33.8 (3.6)*
27.4 (3.4)*
Na3
17.7 (1.2)
19.8 (0.9)
26.1 (1.0)
25.4 (1.5)
23.7 (1.4)
25.7 (2.1)
Na6
36.0 (1.2)
36.6 (1.4)
43.7 (2.0)
49.1 (2.4)
44.4 (1.9)
51.7 (2.9)
Na9
43.1 (1.2)
41.6 (2.8)
50.8 (2.0)
60.0 (2.9)
63.6 (1.5)
67.9 (5.2)
Na5.7Si6.5
76.7 (3.9)
81.6 (4.1)
79.2 (12.3) *
88.4 (14.6) *
93.3 (5.1)
93.2 (4.0)
* These values include more than one statistical outlier which varied by more than ± 10 % from the mean and
would normally be excluded as in SANS 50196-1:2006
Table F.8: Compressive strength and standard deviation of Na-Si series of AAFA
cement pastes
Na3Si0
Average compressive strength and standard deviation (in brackets) at different testing
ages, MPa
after heat
7 days
28 days
91 days
182 days
364 days
curing
17.7 (1.2)
19.8 (0.9)
26.1 (1.0)
25.4 (1.5)
23.7 (1.4)
25.7 (2.1)
Na3Si3
17.5 (0.5)
19.4 (1.0)
22.1 (1.7)
23.4 (1.0)
26.9 (1.4)
24.0 (1.3)
Na3Si6
15.8 (0.7)
19.5 (0.7)
30.8 (1.9)
36.4 (2.3)
41.6 (2.5)
39.9 (3.7)
Na6Si0
36.0 (1.2)
36.6 (1.4)
43.7 (2.0)
49.1 (2.4)
44.4 (1.5)
51.7 (2.9)
Na6Si3
50.2 (2.8)
53.8 (3.6)
60.4 (4.1)
61.1 (4.9)
62.7 (7.6)*
75.2 (4.1)
Mixture ID
Na6Si6
Flash setting
Na6Si9
64.3 (3.8)
67.4 (10.0)*
73.8 (7.8)*
71.2 (18.4)*
64.1 (10.0)*
88.8 (3.9)
Na6Si12
22.4 (1.3)
32.1 (1.1)
52.8 (0.9)
37.2 (5.9)*
57.3 (17.6)*
38.9 (11.9)*
Na9Si0
43.1 (1.2)
41.6 (2.8)
50.8 (2.0)
60.0 (2.9)
63.6 (1.5)
67.9 (5.2)
Na9Si3
60.6 (4.6)
65.0 (3.1)
65.6 (3.8)
77.9 (4.8)
86.1 (4.8)
86.2 (6.2)
74.9 (5.6)
72.9 (12.0)*
86.4 (10.7)*
86.0 (5.0)
71.6 (4.9)
Na9Si6
Na9Si9
Flash setting
94.0 (10.1)*
Na9Si12
72.4 (4.9)
80.2 (4.0)
80.6 (4.4)
86.1 (5.6)
72.0 (6.6)
48.3 (15.4)*
* These values include more than one statistical outlier which varied by more than ± 10 % from the mean and
would normally be excluded as in SANS 50196-1:2006
G-1
APPENDIX G: DESIGN OF CONCRETE MIXTURES FROM CHAPTER 5
Table G.1: Mixture compositions of AAFA concretes
Na2O,
% of fly
ash mass
W/S
Fly ash,
kg/m3
Dolomite
stone 9,5
mm, kg/m3
Dolomite
sand,
kg/m3
NaOH,
kg/m3
Water,
kg/m3
6
0.3
400
1261,6
683,6
31.0
120,2
9
0.3
400
1253,7
679,3
46,5
120,3
12
0.3
400
1243,9
673,9
61,9
120,5
9
0.3
500
1113,2
603,1
58,1
150,4
9
0.35
400
1216,1
659,0
46,5
142,1
9
0.35
500
1066,2
577,6
58,1
177,7
9
0.25
500
1159,3
628,1
58,1
123,2
12
0.3
500
1100,7
596,6
77,4
150,6
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