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Materials 2016, 9(7), 580; doi:10.3390/ma9070580

Optimizing and Characterizing Geopolymers from Ternary Blend of Philippine Coal Fly Ash, Coal Bottom Ash and Rice Hull Ash

1
Mechanical Engineering Department, De La Salle University, Manila 1004, Philippines
2
International Development Engineering, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Tokyo 152-8550, Japan
3
Chemical Engineering Department, De La Salle University, Manila 1004, Philippines
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Claudio Ferone
Received: 14 May 2016 / Revised: 8 July 2016 / Accepted: 12 July 2016 / Published: 15 July 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Geopolymers and Alkali-Activated Materials)

Abstract

Geopolymers are inorganic polymers formed from the alkaline activation of amorphous alumino-silicate materials resulting in a three-dimensional polymeric network. As a class of materials, it is seen to have the potential of replacing ordinary Portland cement (OPC), which for more than a hundred years has been the binder of choice for structural and building applications. Geopolymers have emerged as a sustainable option vis-à-vis OPC for three reasons: (1) their technical properties are comparable if not better; (2) they can be produced from industrial wastes; and (3) within reasonable constraints, their production requires less energy and emits significantly less CO2. In the Philippines, the use of coal ash, as the alumina- and silica- rich geopolymer precursor, is being considered as one of the options for sustainable management of coal ash generation from coal-fired power plants. However, most geopolymer mixes (and the prevalent blended OPC) use only coal fly ash. The coal bottom ash, having very few applications, remains relegated to dumpsites. Rice hull ash, from biomass-fired plants, is another silica-rich geopolymer precursor material from another significantly produced waste in the country with only minimal utilization. In this study, geopolymer samples were formed from the mixture of coal ash, using both coal fly ash (CFA) and coal bottom ash (CBA), and rice hull ash (RHA). The raw materials used for the geopolymerization process were characterized using X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy (XRF) for elemental and X-ray diffraction (XRD) for mineralogical composition. The raw materials’ thermal stability and loss on ignition (LOI) were determined using thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) and reactivity via dissolution tests and inductively-coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP) analysis. The mechanical, thermal and microstructural properties of the geopolymers formed were analyzed using compression tests, Fourier transform infra-red spectroscopy (FTIR), scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and thermogravimetric analysis (TGA). Using a Scheffé-based mixture design, targeting applications with low thermal conductivity, light weight and moderate strength and allowing for a maximum of five percent by mass of rice hull ash in consideration of the waste utilization of all three components, it has been determined that an 85-10-5 by weight ratio of CFA-CBA-RHA activated with 80-20 by mass ratio of 12 M NaOH and sodium silicate (55% H2O, modulus = 3) produced geopolymers with a compressive strength of 18.5 MPa, a volumetric weight of 1660 kg/m3 and a thermal conductivity of 0.457 W/m-°C at 28-day curing when pre-cured at 80 °C for 24 h. For this study, the estimates of embodied energy and CO2 were all below 1.7 MJ/kg and 0.12 kg CO2/kg, respectively. View Full-Text
Keywords: alkali activation; bottom ash; fly ash; geopolymer; rice hull ash; sustainability; waste utilization alkali activation; bottom ash; fly ash; geopolymer; rice hull ash; sustainability; waste utilization
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Kalaw, M.E.; Culaba, A.; Hinode, H.; Kurniawan, W.; Gallardo, S.; Promentilla, M.A. Optimizing and Characterizing Geopolymers from Ternary Blend of Philippine Coal Fly Ash, Coal Bottom Ash and Rice Hull Ash. Materials 2016, 9, 580.

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