Portland cement concrete is the most commonly used material in the construction industry. The demand for PCC is predicted to rise sharply until 2050. In that time, there is room for technology to improve and new ingredients for batch recipes to be developed.

Because Portland cement-based concretes can be susceptible to deterioration, which requires costly investments into infrastructure and upkeep to correct, establishing alternative binders is necessary for overcoming issues with the formulation and utilization of Portland cement binders.

As more alternative binders are developed, research shows geopolymer (e.g. alkali-activated fly ash) binders have the potential to overtake Portland cement binders. The fly ash reacts with alkaline and sodium silicate to create a substance not unlike a gel, which binds the aggregates in place of cement.

In the study “Chloride-induced corrosion of reinforcement in low-calcium fly ash-based geopolymer concrete,” published by Cement and Concrete Research (2016), researchers concluded, “low calcium fly ash-based geopolymer concrete samples exhibit polarization resistance values comparable to Portland cement-based corroding systems.” The researchers tested geopolymer concrete against the commonly accepted values for PCC. The procedures took place in a temperature-controlled room with measures to prevent external corrosion.

In other words, the two binders exhibit equivalent degradation resistance. However, GPC does need higher temperature curing, and the material is sensitive to environmental variables. So application really matters when deciding to use geopolymer concrete mix designs. The material is also proving to be more economical than PCC.

The jury is still out on which is a better material … for now.

As an engineering material, geopolymer concrete needs more long-term studies and more time in use on its resume. The current research suggests GPC is imbued with the potential to perform better and longer, but that does not mean our concerns regarding its durability should be put aside.

Regardless of what the future holds, concrete stands the test of time. Because of its performance, durability and mold flexibility, it continues to be an appealing construction material.

No matter the binding agent you are using for concrete in your plant, Standley Batch has the equipment and supplies to keep it running. From storage to plant design, we have you covered. For more information on custom plants, visit http://www.StandleyBatch.com or email sales@standleybatch.com.

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