The carbon footprint associated with Ordinary Portland Cement (OPC) has increased the demand for new low CO2 alternative binders. Geopolymers are currently emerging alternative binders that could be utilized in the place of OPC. The geopolymers are based on a chemical reaction between an alkali metal source (solid or dissolved) and a solid (alumino-) silicate powder. Geopolymers are very versatile and can be developed using locally available materials, which is a significant advantage for countries abounding in such materials. Since geopolymers are being considered as potential alternative binding materials for concrete, and as they are used to construct large-scale structural elements, it is significant to understand their relevant durability performance under various deteriorating mechanisms.
UiT PhD student, Ashfaque Ahmed Jhatial, participated in a 14-day Geopolymers summer school, conducted by Cracow University of Technology, Poland. The objective of the Geopolymers summer school was to provide awareness of OPC alternatives, benefits of geopolymer concrete, provide a hands-on laboratory experience of geopolymer concrete and create a platform for researchers for potential collaboration.
Online lectures were given in the first week, which covered various topics ranging from geopolymers and geopolymer cements, properties of geopolymers, to testing of fire resistance, so that the participants have a better understanding of geopolymer concrete. The lectures were given by renowned researchers and professors who had vast experience in the application of geopolymers. The participants from across the world, gathered in Cracow University of Technology, Poland during the 2nd week of the geopolymer summer school. Additional lectures were given on the application of geopolymers as an innovative building materials and assessment of properties and diagnostics of damage to mineral materials. A tour of the different laboratories in the Faculty of Civil Engineering was provided and the ongoing researches were briefly explained.
Ashfaque Ahmed and other participants underwent intensive laboratory exercise during the geopolymer summer school, this included the preparing the raw materials, method of fabrication of geopolymer concrete, testing the mechanical properties (compressive and flexural strengths) of geopolymer samples with and without subjected to elevated temperature . He also took part in physical properties and operating the scanning electron microscopy, particle size analyzer and optical microscope to determine the micro-structural analysis of the samples .