Comprehensive Analysis of Geopolymer Materials: Properties, Environmental Impacts, and Applications

Sami Sbahieh, Gordon McKay, Sami G. Al-Ghamdi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

The advancement of eco-friendly technology in the construction sector has been improving rapidly in the last few years. As a result, multiple building materials were developed, enhanced, and proposed as replacements for some traditional materials. One notable example presents geopolymer as a substitute for ordinary Portland concrete (OPC). The manufacturing process of (OPC) generates CO2 emissions and a high energy demand, both of which contribute to ozone depletion and global warming. The implementation of geopolymer concrete (GPC) technology in the construction sector provides a path to more sustainable growth and a cleaner environment. This is due to geopolymer concrete’s ability to reduce environmental pollutants and reduce the construction industry’s carbon footprint. This is achieved through its unique composition, which typically involves industrial byproducts like fly ash or slag. These materials, rich in silicon and aluminum, react with alkaline solutions to form a binding gel, bypassing the need for the high-energy clinker production required in OPC. The use of such byproducts not only reduces CO2 emissions but also contributes to waste minimization. Additionally, geopolymer offers extra advantages compared to OPC, including improved mechanical strength, enhanced durability, and good stability in acidic and alkaline settings. Such properties make GPC particularly suitable for a range of construction environments, from industrial applications to infrastructure projects exposed to harsh conditions. This paper comprehensively reviews the different characteristics of geopolymers, which include their composition, compressive strength, durability, and curing methods. Furthermore, the environmental impacts related to the manufacturing of geopolymer materials were evaluated through the life-cycle assessment method. The result demonstrated that geopolymer concrete maintains positive environmental impacts due to the fact that it produces fewer carbon dioxide CO2 emissions compared to OPC concrete during its manufacturing; however, geopolymer concrete had some minor negative environmental impacts, including abiotic depletion, human toxicity, freshwater ecotoxicity, terrestrial ecotoxicity, and acidification. These are important considerations for ongoing research aimed at further improving the sustainability of geopolymer concrete. Moreover, it was determined that silicate content, curing temperature, and the proportion of alkaline solution to binder are the major factors significantly influencing the compressive strength of geopolymer concrete. The advancement of geopolymer technology represents not just a stride toward more sustainable construction practices but also paves the way for innovative approaches in the field of building materials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7363
JournalMATERIALS
Volume16
Issue number23
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 by the authors.

Keywords

  • applications of geopolymers
  • compressive strength
  • curing time
  • durability
  • environmental impacts of geopolymers
  • geopolymer concrete
  • life-cycle assessment (LCA)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics

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