Effects of Water Content and Alumino-Silicate Sources on the Structure and Properties of Geopolymers
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Geopolymers (GPs) are a special class of inorganic polymers with unique properties. Their 3-D amorphous structure and properties are often attributed to SiO2/Al2O3 molar ratios. However; contradictory results reported in literature on the structure and properties, do not conclusively support these reported findings. Furthermore, alternative processing methods are necessary for synthesizing pure geopolymers without impurities often found in precursor material. A rigorous study on chemical composition and processing parameters as well as alternative processing methods are necessary for advancing GPS in various engineering applications. The effects of H2O/(SiO2 + Al2O3) and SiO2/Al2O3 molar ratios , as well as precursor material on the density, open porosity, microstructure and the thermal and mechanical properties in K and Na activated geopolymers is investigated. X-ray diffraction, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance as well as alcohol immersion to determine density and open porosity is utilized for structural characterization. Thermogravimetric analysis and Thermomechanical analysis are used to investigate thermal behavior. Thermal conductivities and mechanical properties were measured using Thermal Constant analysis and compression testing respectively. Conclusive results demonstrate that the amount of water used to process GPs is the governing factor affecting their structure while SiO2/Al2O3 molar ratio plays no significant role. The K- and Na-activated samples have similar amounts of residual water after aging for 21 days at ambient conditions. In addition, the effects of the initial water content, SiO2/Al2O3 ratio, and alkaline activator (Na or K) on the thermal and mechanical properties of GPs, indicate that the dominant factor controlling thermal conductivity is H2O/(SiO2 + Al2O3) ratio used in processing, and to a lesser degree, the type of activation ion (Na or K). The SiO2/Al2O3 ratio did not have an effect on thermal conductivity. However, GPs compressive strengths are strongly affected by H2O/(SiO2 + Al2O3) ratio, especially at higher water ratio. At high and intermediate H2O/(SiO2 + Al2O3) ratios, liquid/solid ratio is the most important factor controlling the strength of GPs. At low H2O/(SiO2 + Al2O3) ratios, SiO2/Al2O3 ratio also plays an important role. Finally, partial geopolymer synthesis was possible using pure SiO2 and Al(OH)3 precursors, providing a possible low temperature alternative to other aluminosilicate precursors.
alkaline activated inorganic polymers
Na and K activators:
Lizcano, Maricela (2011). Effects of Water Content and Alumino-Silicate Sources on the Structure and Properties of Geopolymers. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from