Mix-design Parameters and Real-life Considerations in the Pursuit of Lower Environmental Impact Inorganic Polymers


The environmental impact of inorganic polymer mortars from non-ferrous slag was assessed and compared to ordinary Portland cement (OPC) mortar based on a load bearing capacity of 10 MN of bricks of 0.1 m high. Two strategies to minimize the environmental impact of inorganic polymers were pursued. Activating solutions with a lower alkali content (H2O/Na2O = 16, 24, 32, 40, 48; constant SiO2/Na2O = 1.6) were investigated while keeping the water/slag mass ratio of the inorganic polymer mortar mix constant. Another synthesis route considered the complete replacement of the activating solution by maize ashes. These were blended with the slag in different ash/slag mass ratios (0.2, 0.4, 0.6) before adding water, producing a so-called “one-part” inorganic polymer. A sensitivity analysis showed that the effect of compressive strength and transport distance is extensive. Because of this considerable transport distance dependence, several cities in Flanders were selected to perform a detailed LCA study. The optimal scores of the environmental impact were observed for Mol, the location of the sand supplier, and accounted for 23% with respect to OPC for the samples with the activating solution with a ratio of H2O/Na2O = 24 and 17% for an ash/slag ratio of 0.2.

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A. P. is grateful to the Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO) for the PhD grant.

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Correspondence to A. Peys.

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Peys, A., Arnout, L., Blanpain, B. et al. Mix-design Parameters and Real-life Considerations in the Pursuit of Lower Environmental Impact Inorganic Polymers. Waste Biomass Valor 9, 879–889 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12649-017-9877-1

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  • Inorganic polymer
  • Geopolymer
  • Slag valorization
  • Biomass ash
  • Life Cycle Assessment