Carbon emissions due to the manufacture of Portland cement are second only to burning fossil fuels. Production of Portland cement in Australia is responsible for 7.2 million tonnes of carbon emissions, according to the cement industry. This does not include the carbon emissions caused by the imported cements, which tend to have a larger rate of carbon emissions than Australian cements. A commonly quoted figure for this larger rate is typically 1 tonne of CO2 per tonne of cement.
Wider penetration of Geopolymer concrete within the construction industry affords a promising pathway to increase use of Low Embodied-Carbon construction materials, such as coal combustion products and iron and steel slags. Indeed, in Geopolymer concrete technology, all of the Portland cement is replaced by fly ash, slag and activators, hence has a low carbon footprint (approximately 80% carbon reduction).
An important enabler in this journey for partners in the Cooperative Research Centre for Low Carbon Living (CRCLCL) is to publish a Geopolymer Concrete Handbook (HB). Published through Standards Australia, the HB is designed to assist engineers and users in specifying and using Geopolymer concrete with greater confidence and less risk. The HB will also build on the Recommended Practice prepared by the Concrete Institute of Australia.
The proposed title of the HB is “Guide to Specification and Use of Geopolymer Concrete” and contents of the HB will include the following chapters:
2. Properties and applications
3. Performance-based specification
4. Recommended performance test methods
5. Case histories and long-term durability
6. Relevant standards
The production of the HB by the end of the project should substantially remove a major barrier to the use of low carbon Geopolymer concretes and profoundly increase their use in the construction industry. Based on the industry survey performed in the CRCLCL scoping study and feedback during a Concrete Institute of Australia conference, production of a standard specification is the highest priority to enable the industry to move forward in near-term adoption of Geopolymer concrete.