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Quarry Waste as Precursors in Geopolymers for Civil Engineering Applications: A Decade in Review

Abbas Solouki 1,2,*, Giovanni Viscomi 2, Riccardo Lamperti 3 and Piergiorgio Tataranni 1

1 Department of Civil, Chemical, Environmental and Materials Engineering, University of Bologna, 40136 Bologna, Italy
2 SAPABA, 40037 Pontecchio Marconi BO, Italy
3 Steer Group, 40126 Bologna, Italy


Carbon footprint reduction of paving materials could be explored through recycling mining by-products into different applications, which will preserve natural resources and decrease environmental issues. One possible approach is to reuse quarry dust and mining ore waste as precursors in geopolymer applications. geopolymers are mineral polymers rich in aluminosilicates with an amorphous to a semi-crystalline three-dimensional structure. The current review aims to summarize the studies conducted during the past decade on geopolymers containing quarry dust and mine tailings. The first section discusses various precursors used for geopolymer cement production such as metakaolin, ground granulated blast furnace slag (GGBFS), fly ash, and quarry/mining ore wastes including silt, tungsten, vanadium, copper, gold, zinc, marble, iron, basalt, and lithium. Different calcination treatments and curing conditions have been summarized. In some cases, the precursors are required to be calcined to increase their reactivity. Both ambient temperature and elevated temperature curing conditions have been summarized. Less attention has been paid to room temperature curing, which is necessary for field and industrial implementations. Engineering properties such as compressive strength, density, durability and acid resistance, water absorption and abrasion of geopolymers containing mining waste were reviewed. One of the main barriers preventing the widespread use of waste powders, in addition to economic aspects, in geopolymers could be due to their unstable chemical structure. This was shown through extensive leachate of Na+ or K+ cations in geopolymer structures. The review of over 100 articles indicated the need for further research on different aspects of quarry waste geopolymer productions before its full industrial implementation.

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