Fly ash-based geopolymer: Clean production, properties and applications

Xiao Yu Zhuang, Liang Chen, Sridhar Komarneni, Chun Hui Zhou, Dong Shen Tong, Hui Min Yang, Wei Hua Yu, Hao Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

545 Scopus citations


Fly ash is the fine solid particulate residue driven out of the boiler with the flue gases in coal-fired power plants. Now it can be used for making geopolymer which acts as a cement-like product. The geopolymer technology provides an alternative good solution to the utilization of fly ash with little negative impact on environment. This review summarizes and examines the scientific advances in the preparation, properties and applications of fly ash-based geopolymer. The production of fly ash-based geopolymer is mainly based on alkali activated geopolymerization which can occur under mild conditions and is considered as a cleaner process due to much lower CO2 emission than that from the production of cement. The geopolymerization can trap and fix the trace toxic metal elements from fly ash or external sources. The Si/Al ratios, the type and the amount of the alkali solution, the temperature, the curing conditions, and the additives are critical factors in a geopolymerization process. The mechanical performances of the fly ash-based geopolymer, including compressive strength, flexural and splitting tensile strength, and durability such as the resistance to chloride, sulfate, acid, thermal, freeze-thaw and efflorescence, are the primary concerns. These properties of fly ash-based geopolymer are inherently dependent upon the chemical composition and chemical bonding and the porosity. The mechanical properties and durability can be improved by fine tuning Si/Al ratios, alkali solutions, curing conditions, and adding slag, fiber, rice husk-bark ash and red mud. Fly ash-based geopolymer is expected to be used as a kind of novel green cement. Fly ash-based geopolymer can be used as a class of materials to adsorb and immobilize toxic or radioactive metals. The factors affecting the performances of fly ash-based geopolymer concrete, in particular aggregate, are discussed. For future studies on fly ash-based geopolymer, further enhancing mechanical performance, scaling up production and exploring new applications are suggested.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)253-267
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Strategy and Management
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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