School of Engineering
Universiti Sains Malaysia / Research University Grant Scheme
Researchers have investigated the feasibility of using ultrafine palm oil fuel ash (u-POFA) as a cement replacement material because of its potential to reduce the environmental impact of concrete production. u-POFA, a by-product of palm oil fuel combustion, is a suitable replacement for Portland cement in concrete mixes because of its sustainability and cost-effectiveness. This study investigated the microstructural and compressive strengths of alkali-activated mortars (AAMs) based on fly ash (FA) and granulated blast-furnace slag (GBFS) being added with varying percentages of u-POFA. The mixture samples were prepared in eighteen mortars using sodium metasilicate (Na2SiO3) as the source material and sodium hydroxide (NaOH) as the alkaline activator. This study used field-emission scanning electron microscopy coupled with energy-dispersive X-ray spectrometry, X-ray diffraction, X-ray fluorescence, and Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy to characterize the binary-blended mortars after 28 days of curing and determined the strength of the FA+GBFS (87.80 MPa), u-POFA+GBFS (88.87 MPa), and u-POFA+FA mortars (54.82 MPa). The mortars’ compressive strength was influenced by the CaO/SiO2 and SiO2/Al2O3 ratios in the mixture, which was directly due to the formation rate of geopolymer products of the calcium–alumina–silicate–hydrate (C–(A)–S–H), aluminosilicate (N–A–S–H), and calcium–silicate–hydrate (C–S–H) phases. Based on the contents of FA and GBFS, u-POFA significantly enhanced concrete strength; therefore, u-POFA used in a suitable proportion could enhance binary-blended AAMs’ microstructure. © 2023 by the authors.
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