Date of Award

8-2017

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Civil Engineering

Committee Member

Dr. Prasad Rangaraju, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Dr. Amir Poursaee

Committee Member

Dr. Brad Putman

Committee Member

Dr. Brandon Ross

Abstract

A large amount of glass fiber is commercially produced for use in various applications. However, this process generates millions of tons of waste glass fiber annually around the world. This material has an amorphous structure that is rich in silica, alumina and calcium oxides, and if milled into a fine powder, it could potentially be used a supplementary cementitious material (SCM) in portland cement mixtures; or as a source material for production of geopolymer. So, the first objective of this research work, is to evaluate the utilization of ground glass fiber (GGF) as a SCM in portland cement mixtures, and the second objective is to study the mechanical and durability properties of GGF-based geopolymers. To fulfill the first objective, concrete and mortar mixtures containing different dosage of GGF (i.e. 10, 20 and 30% by mass) were prepared. Fresh and hardened properties of these mixtures were tested and compared with two control mixtures, including: (i) a mixture made from 100% portland cement, and (ii) a mixture having 75% portland cement and 25% class F fly ash (by mass). It was observed that utilization of GGF up to 30% (as a cement replacement) did not influence the mechanical properties of the concrete and mortar mixtures significantly compared to control mixtures; however, the use of GGF as SCM resulted in a remarkable improvement in the durability of the mixtures. It was also seen that the utilization of GGF at the 30% replacement level, successfully mitigated the ASR-related expansion of mortar and concrete mixtures containing the crushed glass aggregate. For the second objective, the possibility of producing geopolymer from GGF was investigated. To activate GGF, different dosage and combinations of sodium hydroxide solution (NaOH) and sodium silicate solution were used, and specimens were cured at 60oC for 24 h. Fresh and hardened properties of geopolymer mixtures made from GGF as the precursor, were studied and compared to glass-powder (GLP) and fly ash-based geopolymer mixtures. The effect of change in the Na2O-to-binder ratio (alkali content of the activator solution) and the SiO2/Na2O (silica content of the solution) ratio on the workability of and compressive strength of the mortar mixtures was monitored and compared to the GLP and fly ash-based geopolymers. It was seen that the strength gain in GGF-based geopolymers does not depend on the presence of sodium silicate in the activator solution; and a high compressive strength (as high as 80 MPa) can be achieved in three days, only by using sodium hydroxide solution alone. Furthermore, to better understand parameters affecting the activation of GGF-based geopolymers, effect of temperature (from ambient to 110oC) and duration of heat-curing on the compressive strength and micro-structure of GGF-based geopolymers was studied. The temperature of heat curing was seen to affect the early-age (i.e. 3 to 7 days) compressive strength of the GGF-based samples but had no significant effect on the later-age (i.e. 28 to 56 days) strength. Finally, it was concluded that GGF has a good potential to be used as a precursor to produce high strength geopolymers even at ambient temperature (23oC). Based on the results obtained from the compressive strength experiments, mixtures with the highest compressive strength were selected from each precursor to be used for the durability experiments. Durability aspects of GGF-based geopolymer such as resistance against sodium sulfate solution and magnesium sulfate solution, alkali silica reaction, drying shrinkage and corrosion of steel rebar were investigated and were compared to fly ash and GLP-based geopolymer, and an ordinary portland cement mixture (OPC). Based on this investigation it was found that GGF and fly ash-based geopolymers showed superior performance against ASR-related deterioration in comparison to GLP-based geopolymer and the OPC mixture. It was also observed that despite the fluctuation in properties at early ages, immersion in the sodium sulfate (Na2SO4) solution and magnesium sulfate (MgSO4) solution did not lead to a significant mass or strength loss of GGF-based geopolymer at the later ages. In conclusion, it can be stated that a high compressive strength GGF-based geopolymers could be produced by using an activator solution that is comprised of only NaOH. Durability experiments conducted on GGF-based geopolymer mixtures showed good performance in resisting ASR and sulfate solution exposure. Based on preliminary results it was observed that drying shrinkage of GGF and fly ash-based geopolymer was similar to the OPC mixture while the drying shrinkage of GLP-based geopolymer was significantly higher. Findings from basic experiments conducted in this study showed that factors such as: (i) the low amount of CH in the structure, (ii) low porosity, and (iii) the durable structure of the geopolymer gel in the GGF-based geopolymers, which remains stable under the aggressive conditions such as, exposure to sulfate solutions, are responsible for the superior durability performance of GGF-based geopolymer.

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