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Geo-polymer Concrete with recycled wastes: Concrete for Green Future
Environmental Features Environmental Science Md. Toriqule Islam

Geo-polymer Concrete with recycled wastes: Concrete for Green Future

Geo-polymer Concrete with recycled wastes: Concrete for Green Future

Concrete is the inevitable material in construction and without concrete, none can think of a modern world and recent breakthroughs of neoteric civilization. Close upon, next to the water, concrete is the most used material in the world. Consequently, to meet the high demand for concrete, tons of Ordinary Portland Cement (OPC) producing in a day.

But this OPC is directly a threat to the green environment and demolition of energy greatly since production of 1 ton of OPC needs 4700 MJ and 1 ton of CO2 emission on average [1]. Though OPC is the main ingredient that binds aggregates, OPC manufacturing is energy-intensive and responsible for almost 5% of total global CO2 emission causing global warming [2], [3].

Therefore, construction industries are rethinking OPC usage. In recent years, Geopolymer Concrete is being popular and replacing OPC due to its eco-friendly manufacturing process and low energy consumption and resources.

Since Geo-Polymer is not relying on calcium carbonate, CaCo3 like OPC, it reduces 40% to 80% CO2 emission and 1200 to 1900 MJ/ton. Due to the rapid growth of urbanization,  the demand for housing,  and industries is increasing, increasing the demand for cement which eventually releases a high amount of CO2 in the environment [4]. Capros et al. [5] reported that the high demand for OPC will soon increase anthropogenic CO2 emissions by a total of 10%.

These emissions of CO2 produce a greenhouse effect and are responsible for 65% of global warming [6]. However, the CO2 emission can be reduced by half by improving the current cement manufacturing technology [7]. New low CO2 binders are needed to meet the goal of reduction in emission of CO2, and maybe Geo-Polymers are a high potential solution [8].

Geo-Polymer concrete and cement are more suitable than OPC, and it is a mixture of AluminosilicateAl2SiO5)-based materials such as fly ash, blast furnace slag, including either Sodium silicate or Sodium hydroxide (NaOH)  [9], [10].

Geo-Polymer concrete has shown properties on par and superior to OPC, including good resistance against sulfate attack and acid, high compressive strength, and resistance to fire and external heat [11]–[13]. Some recent studies revealed that good compressive strength had been achieved in ambient conditions with low required energy during manufacturing and a huge decrease in CO2 emission.

As a result, using waste materials such as fly ash and geo-polymer concrete is considered a more sustainable alternative to OPC [14], [15]. However, there are some contradictions about the CO2 emission. Some researchers claimed that there was slightly less carbon emission in the case of geo-polymer.

In contrast, some others argued that carbon emission was higher than geopolymer concrete [8], [16]. Still, many researchers investigated durability, strength, setting time, hardening, cost, and fuel energy. They found better strength and durability than OPC.

Hanjitsuwan et al. [17] and Onutai et al. [18] reported improved slump, conductivity, tensile strength, and setting time when the proportion of Sodium hydroxide (NaOH)  increased.

In contrast, some researchers suggest embedding a small amount of OPC to sodium hydroxide to get a good initial setting time and Compressive strength [15].

Again, a high population growth rate, rapid urbanization, and industrialization, and a humongous amount of raw materials and natural resources harm environmental and socio-economic status. Rapid Climate change is the most crucial phenomenon closely related to continuous use of natural resources, mismanagement of waste disposal, contamination, and land use, which are the main threat to human existence in this world as they’re jeopardizing the ecology  [19].

Tons of solid wastes are producing from households, industry, construction demolition, etc. For instance, It reported that about 1000 million tires end their useful life every year, and as per estimation, the number of discarded tires will be 5000 million by the year 2030 [20]–[25].

Tires contain various toxic substances, cause mosquito breeding, serious fire hazards and pollute the environment. Das et al. [26] reported that rice husk is an agro-waste that produces more than 20 million per annum globally, jeopardizing the environment, public health, and disposal problems.

It was reported by Siddique et al. [27] that the world’s annual consumption of plastics has increased from 5 million tons in the 1950s to approximately 100 million tons in 2001. Larsen et al. [28] and Brunner et al. [29] reported that glass wastes are non-biodegradable, and 82% of industrially manufactured glasses contain various toxic chemical compositions.

Abdullah et al. [30] and Chindaprasirt et al. [31] reported that its amount is near about 3 million globally. They produced o.1 million palm oil fuel ash (POFA) in Malaysia and Thailand in 2007.

This huge amount of waste will threaten the environment if not properly disposed of, recycled, and re-use for another purpose. The major amount of solid wastes produced in India is shown below in Figure-1 [32].

Figure-1 Status of Solid Waste Generation in India (Million/Ton) [32].
Figure-1 Status of Solid Waste Generation in India (Million/Ton) [32].

One of the best solutions to environmentally friendly waste is to use them in construction incorporating with concrete by recycling.

These types of users are more sustainable Recycled material used in construction has a benefit in two ways. One is to provide a barrier in the ongoing use of natural resources, and will reduce another is waste generation rate, and 3Rs – Reduce, Reuse & Recycle are adopted worldwide [33], [34].

The past studies observed that researchers researched recycled waste materials in concrete to manage waste eco-friendliness. For example, Azmi et al. [35], investigated fly-ash-based geopolymer concrete’s compressive strength, replacing fine aggregate with crumb rubber concrete, and they suggested using rubberized geopolymer concrete in non-structural applications.

Nuaklong et al. [36] investigated fly ash-based geopolymer’s mechanical property and fire resistance using rice husk ash (RHA). What is more, Islam et al. [37] investigated the engineering properties and carbon footprint of palm oil fuel ash-based geo-polymer concrete and obtained promising results.

Writer’s Opinions and Solicitations:

In fine, from my above writing and research, I have tried to make the people and researchers understand that this present era demands the replacement of ordinary cement and proper utilization and management of wastes.

Geo-polymer incorporating various waste usage in construction can be a better solution, but this method cannot fully diminish the problem. My humble recommendation to researchers and government is to consider it a global issue and find new methods to properly utilize our resources to save our future generation and our green environment.


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[3]      FUA Shaikh, SWM Supit, “Mechanical and durability properties of fly ash geopolymer concrete containing recycled coarse aggregates,” Int. J. Sustain. Built Environ., vol. 5, no. 2, pp. 277–287, 2016.

[4]      FN Değirmenci, “Freeze-Thaw and fire resistance of geopolymer mortar based on natural and waste pozzolans,” Ceram. – Silikaty, vol. 62, no. 1, pp. 41–49, 2018.

[5]      European Commission, “Economic Evaluation of Sectoral Emission Reduction Objectives for Climate Change – Comparison of ’ Top-down ’ and ’ Bottom-up ’ Analysis of Emission Reduction Opportunities for CO 2 in the European Union,” Genesis, 2001.


[7]      M. A. J. Huijbregts, L.Breedveld, G Huppes, A De Koning, L Van OersS Suh  “Normalisation figures for environmental life-cycle assessment: The Netherlands (1997/1998), Western Europe (1995) and the world (1990 and 1995),” J. Clean. Prod., vol. 11, no. 7, pp. 737–748, 2003.

[8]      G Habert, JBDE De Lacaillerie, N Roussel “An environmental evaluation of geopolymer based concrete production: Reviewing current research trends,” J. Clean. Prod., vol. 19, no. 11, pp. 1229–1238, 2011.

[9]      X.Lin, Z. Wang, and Z. Jiao, “Influence of curing on the strength development of calcium-containing geopolymer mortar,” Materials (Basel)., vol. 6, no. 11, pp. 5069–5076

[10]    B Salami, A Afshar, A Mazaheri, “The effect of sodium silicate concentration on microstructure and corrosion properties of MAO-coated magnesium alloy AZ31 in simulated body fluid,” J. Magnes. Alloy., vol. 2, no. 1, pp. 72–77, 2014.

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[12]    FN Okoye, S Prakash, NB Singh “Durability of fly ash-based geopolymer concrete in the presence of silica fume,” J. Clean. Prod., vol. 149, pp. 1062–1067, 2017.

[13]    XY Zhuang, L ChenS Komarneni, CH Zhou, “Fly ash-based geopolymer: Clean production, properties, and applications,” J. Clean. Prod., vol. 125, pp. 253–267, 2016.

[14]    BC McLellanRP Williams, J Lay, A Van Riessen “Costs and carbon emissions for geopolymer pastes in comparison to ordinary portland cement,” J. Clean. Prod., vol. 19, no. 9–10, pp. 1080–1090, 2011.

[15]    P NathPK Sarker  “Use of OPC to improve the setting and early strength properties of low calcium fly ash geopolymer concrete cured at room temperature,” Cem. Concr. Compos., 2014.

[16]    LK Turner, FG Collins, “Carbon dioxide equivalent ( CO 2 -e ) emissions : A comparison between geopolymer and OPC cement concrete,” Constr. Build. Mater., vol. 43, pp. 125–130, 2013.

[17]    S. Hanjitsuwan, S HunpratubP ThongbaiS MaensiriV Sata, “Cement & Concrete Composites Effects of NaOH concentrations on physical and electrical properties of high calcium fly ash geopolymer paste,” Cem. Concr. Compos., vol. 45, pp. 9–14, 2014.

[18]    S. Onutai, S. Jiemsirilers, and T. Kobayashi, “Author ’ s Accepted Manuscript concentration,” Ceram. Int., 2016.

[19]    A Mohajerani, L Burnett, JV Smith, S Markovski, “Recycling waste materials in geopolymer concrete,” Clean Technol. Environ. Policy, vol. 21, no. 3, pp. 493–515, 2019.

[20]    E Ganjian, M Khorami, AA Maghsoudi, “Scrap-tyre-rubber replacement for aggregate and filler in concrete,” Constr. Build. Mater., vol. 23, no. 5, pp. 1828–1836, 2009.

[21]    A. Benazzouk, O. Douzane, T. Langlet, K. Mezreb, J. M. Roucoult, and M. Que, “Physico-mechanical properties and water absorption of cement composite containing shredded rubber wastes,” vol. 29, pp. 732–740, 2007.

[22]    BS Thomas, RC Gupta, P Mehra, “Performance of high strength rubberized concrete in an aggressive environment,” Constr. Build. Mater., vol. 83, pp. 320–326, 2015.

[23]    T GuptaS ChaudharyRK Sharma, “Assessment of mechanical and durability properties of concrete containing waste rubber tire as fine aggregate,” Constr. Build. Mater., vol. 73, no. April 2018, pp. 562–574, 2014.

[24]    A Sofi  “Effect of waste tire rubber on mechanical and durability properties of concrete – A review,” Ain Shams Eng. J., vol. 9, no. 4, pp. 2691–2700, 2018.

[25]      B. S. Mohammed, K. M. Anwar, J. Ting, E. Swee, G. Wong, and M. Abdullahi, “Properties of crumb rubber hollow concrete block,” J. Clean. Prod., vol. 23, no. 1, pp. 57–67, 2012.

[26]      S. K. Das et al., “Characterization and utilization of rice husk ash (RHA) in fly ash – Blast furnace slag based geopolymer concrete for sustainable future,” Mater. Today Proc., no. XXXX, 2020.

[27]      R. Siddique, “Author ’ s personal copy Use of recycled plastic in concrete : A review.”

[28]      A. W. Larsen, H. Merrild, A. W. Larsen, H. Merrild, and T. H. Christensen, “Waste Management & Research and global warming contributions,” no. August 2009.

[29]    W. R. Ernst, “Waste Management &,” no. May 2014, 1986.

[30]    N Abdullah, F Sulaiman “The Oil Palm Wastes in Malaysia,” 2013.

[31]      P. Chindaprasirt, S. Homwuttiwong, and C. Jaturapitakkul, “Strength and water permeability of concrete containing palm oil fuel ash and rice husk – bark ash,” vol. 21, pp. 1492–1499, 2007.

[32]    M. V Madurwar, RV Ralegaonkar, SAMandavgane, “Application of agro-waste for sustainable construction materials : A Review Application of agro-waste for sustainable construction materials : A review,” Constr. Build. Mater., vol. 38, no. January 2019, pp. 872–878, 2012.

[33]      J. Sol, C. Leiva, A. Mart, and M. Marrero, “Recycling of Wastes into Construction Materials,” 2015.

[34]    M Osmani, J GlassADF Price  “Architects ’ perspectives on construction waste reduction by design,” vol. 28, pp. 1147–1158, 2008.

[35]    A. Azrem Azmi, M. Mustafa Al Bakri Abdullah, C. Mohd Ruzaidi  CMR GhazaliR AhmadL Musa, and L. Sheau Rou, “The Effect of Different Crumb Rubber Loading on the Properties of Fly Ash-Based Geopolymer Concrete,” IOP Conf. Ser. Mater. Sci. Eng., vol. 551, no. 1, 2019.

[36]    P Nuaklong, PJongvivatsakulT PothisiriV Sata and P. Chindaprasirt, “Influence of rice husk ash on mechanical properties and fire resistance of recycled aggregate high-calcium fly ash geopolymer concrete,” J. Clean. Prod., vol. 252, 2020.

[37]      A IslamUJ Alengaram, MZ Jumaat, II Bashar and S. M. A. Kabir, “Engineering properties and carbon footprint of ground granulated blast-furnace slag-palm oil fuel ash-based structural geopolymer concrete,” Constr. Build. Mater., vol. 101, pp. 503–521, 2015.

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