Geopolymer concrete, or green concrete, is part of a movement to create construction materials that have a reduced impact on the environment. It is made from a combination of an inorganic polymer and between 25% and 100% industrial waste.
1. Lasts Longer
Green concrete gains strength faster and has a lower rate of shrinkage than concrete made only from Portland Cement. Structures built using green concrete have a better chance of surviving a fire, as it can withstand temperatures of up to 2,400 degrees Fahrenheit. It also has a greater resistance to corrosion, which is important with the effect pollution has had on the environment. Acid rain greatly reduces the longevity of traditional building materials.
All of those factors add up to a building that will last much longer than one made with ordinary concrete. Similar concrete mixtures have been found in ancient Roman structures. This material was also used in Ukraine in the 1950s and 1960s. Over 40 years later, those Ukrainian buildings are still standing. If buildings aren't constantly having to be rebuilt, fewer construction materials are needed. The impact on the environment is reduced.
2. Uses Industrial Waste
Instead of a 100% Portland cement mixture, green concrete uses between 25% and 100% fly ash. Fly ash is a byproduct of coal combustion. It is gathered from the chimneys of industrial plants that use coal as a power source. There are copious amounts of this industrial waste product. Hundreds of thousands of acres of land are used to dispose of fly ash. Green concrete provides a way to use fly ash and save many acres of land.
3. Reduces Energy Consumption
If you use less Portland cement and more fly ash when mixing concrete, then you will use less energy. The materials that are used in Portland cement require huge amounts of coal or natural gas to heat. Fly ash already exists as a byproduct of another industrial process, so you are not expending much more energy to use it to create green concrete. Another way that green concrete reduces energy consumption is that a building constructed from it is more resistant to temperature changes, thus saving heating and cooling costs.
4. Reduces Carbon Dioxide Emissions
Among the main ingredients in ordinary cement are pulverized limestone, clay, and sand which are heated to a high temperature. This process is responsible for between 5% and 8% of all carbon dioxide emissions worldwide. The manufacturing of green concrete releases up to 80% fewer Carbon Dioxide emissions. As a part of a global effort to reduce emissions, switching completely to green concrete for construction will help considerably.