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Cement Free Low-Embodied-Energy Concrete
Mentor: Dr. Sulapha Peethamparan
Department: Civil and Environmental Engineering

Ordinary Portland cement concrete is the one of the most commonly used man made materials in the world. The cement manufacturing process accounts for 4-5% of global CO2 emission and touches on a wide range of sustainability issues including climate change, pollution, solid waste land filling and resources depletion. As sustainability moves to the forefront as a major initiative for the construction industries and the society as a whole, emphasis on producing concrete mixtures with increased volume fractions of supplementary cementitious materials (industrial by-products), such as ground granulated blast furnace slag (GGBFS or slag) and fly ash (FA), has grown rapidly . From sustainability perspective, consuming high volumes of slag or FA (typically 50% or more replacement of cement) has an added advantage of beneficial utilization of these waste materials that otherwise need to be land filled. However, the low reactivity of these materials is a major hindrance to the development of such binders consisting of large volume of slag and FA. A method to overcome this low reactivity of slag and FA that has demonstrated great promise and has received wide attention of late is the activation of slag and FA using alkali containing external agents. This kind of concrete is known as “cement free concrete “. Although the laboratory studies show promising results for these binder systems, an economically and practically viable method for implementing these technologies in the field and methodologies for controlling the properties of these binders have still not been realized. Better understandings of the behavior of cement free concrete and different quality control tests are necessary for the proper implementation. The REU student will have an opportunity to work closely with graduate and undergraduate students to obtain research experience in advanced material characterization techniques and conducting experimental and analytical evaluation of the performance of cement free concrete.