Understanding the influence of cation and activator type/chemistry on the reaction kinetics and mechanical strength of liquid and powder silicate activated slag
The increased emphasis on the detrimental effects of the production of construction materials such as ordinary portland cement (OPC) have driven studies of the alkali activation of aluminosilicate materials as binder systems derived from industrial byproducts. They have been extensively studied due to the advantages they offer in terms of enhanced material properties, while increasing sustainability by the reuse of industrial waste and reducing the adverse impacts of OPC production. Ground granulated blast furnace slag is one of the commonly used materials for their content of calcium and silica species. Alkaline activators such as silicates, aluminates etc. are generally used. These materials undergo dissolution, polymerization with the alkali, condensation on particle surfaces and solidification under the influence of alkaline activators. Exhaustive studies exploring the effects of sodium silicate as an activator however there is a significant lack of work on exploring the effect of the cation and the effect of liquid and powder activators. The focus of this thesis is hence segmented into two topics: (i) influence of liquid Na and K silicate activators to explore the effect of silicate and hydroxide addition and (ii) influence of powder Na and K Silicate activators to explore the effect of cation, concentration and silicates. Isothermal calorimetric studies have been performed to evaluate the early hydration process, and to understand the reaction kinetics of the liquid and powder alkali activated systems. The reaction kinetics had an impact on the early age behavior of these binders which can be explained by the compressive strength results. It was noticed that the concentration and silica modulus of the activator had a greater influence than the cation over the compressive strength. Quantification of the hydration products resultant from these systems was performed via thermo gravimetric analysis (TGA). The difference in the reaction products formed with varying cation and silicate addition in these alkali activated systems is brought out. Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy was used to investigate the degree of polymerization achieved in these systems. This is indicative of silica and alumina bonds in the system. Differences in the behavior of the cation are attributable to size of the hydration sphere and polarizing effect of the cation which are summarized at the end of the study.