Flinders University-led study builds case for using natural materials in sustainable concrete

October 24, 2022 |

In Australia, an international research group is building a case for more sustainable concrete by replacing synthetic reinforcement materials with natural fibres and materials from difference waste streams.  

The latest Flinders University-led study, with experts from the US and Turkey, demonstrates how geopolymers reinforced with renewable natural fibres and made with industrial by-products and waste-based sands from lead smelting or glass-making can match the strength, durability and drying shrinkage qualities of those containing natural sand, which in turn consumes more raw resources and generates extra emissions in its processing. 

Researchers say the promising findings have significant potential for the use of natural fibres in the development of structural-grade construction materials, in which binder and aggregate are replaced by industrial by-products and waste-based materials. 

Test results showed that geopolymers using waste glass sand exhibit superior strength and lower water absorption than those containing natural river sand – while lead smelter slag (LSS)-based geopolymers have  lower drying shrinkage compared to geopolymers prepared with natural river sand.  

As well, natural fibres such as ramie, sisal, hemp, coir, jute and bamboo were incorporated in testing experiments. 

The geopolymers containing 1% ramie, hemp and bamboo fibre – and 2% ramie fibre  – exhibit higher compressive and tensile strength and a lower drying shrinkage than unreinforced geopolymers, while those containing 1% ramie fibre have the highest strength and lowest drying shrinkage.  

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Category: Research

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