Zehao Lei

Zehao Lei

Ph.D. Student

Design and evaluation of sustainable, alkali-activated construction materials made with waste

With an unprecedented increase in demand, Portland cement (PC) has been blamed for its high energy requirements and greenhouse gas emissions. In order to address the existing environmental problems, the construction industry needs to adapt. Alkali activated materials (AAMs) and geopolymers (GPs) are more sustainable alternatives to PC. They are produced at a lower cost, with lower CO2 emissions and lower raw material consumption, with energy savings up to 60% during production.

Any silicate or aluminate material has the potential to be used as a raw material, and this includes the bulk wastes produced in industry. Recycling and reusing these wastes relieves the burden of waste disposal on companies and also reduces the cost of developing AAMs and GPs. The aim of this study is to characterise and evaluate the feasibility of recycling industrial wastes for use in construction materials.

In this research, wastes from the water purification industry, petroleum industry, metallurgical industry, silicone synthesis industry and biomass power plants have been collected. A range of advanced physical and chemical experimental techniques will be used to identify and characterise these wastes. Potential wastes will then be further assessed for their reactivity and the materials will be prepared in the laboratory to test their strength and durability. In the future the environmental benefits and commercialisation prospects of these waste-based AAMs and GPs will be evaluated.

This research is funded by China Scholarship Council (CSC).

Project Supervisor(s): Prof. Sara Pavia