Date of Award

Spring 2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Materials and Infrastructure Systems

First Advisor

Erez N. Allouche


This thesis reports a comprehensive study related to the experimental evaluation of carbonation in reinforced geopolymer concrete, the evaluation of geopolymer concretes at elevated temperature, and the resistance of geopolymer concrete to microbial induced corrosion (MIC).

Carbonation: Reinforced concretes, made of geopolymer, prepared from two class F fly ashes and one class C fly ash, were subjected to accelerated carbonation treatment for a period of 450 days. Electrochemical, microstructure and pore structure examinations were performed to evaluate the effect of corrosion caused due to carbonation. GPC specimens prepared from class F fly ash exhibited lower corrosion rates by a factor of 21, and higher pH values (pH>12) when compared with concrete specimens prepared from class C Fly ash (GPCMN). Microstructure and pore characterization of GPC prepared using class F fly ash revealed lower porosity by a factor of 2.5 as compared with thier counterparts made using GPC-MN. The superior performace of GPC prepared with the class F fly ash could be attributed to the dense pore structure and formation of the protective layer of calcium and sodium alumino silicate hydrates (C/N-A-S-H) geopolymeric gels around the steel reinforcement.

Elevated Temperature: Geopolymers are an emerging class of cementitious binders which possess a potential for high temperature resistance that could possibly be utilized in applications such as nozzles, aspirators and refractory linings. This study reports on the results of an investigation into the performance of a fly ash based geopolymer binder in high temperature environments. Geopolymer concrete (GPC) was prepared using eleven types of fly ashes obtained from four countries. High content alumina and silica sand was used in the mix for preparing GPC. GPC was subjected to thermal shock tests following ASTM C 1100-88. The GPC samples prepared with tabular alumina were kept at 1093° C and immediately quenched in water. GPC specimens prepared with certain fly ashes exhibited signs of expansion along with cracking and spalling, while GPC prepared with specific class F fly ash showed superior resistance to thermal shock. Microstructural analysis revealed that the resistance of GPC at elevated temperatures was dependent on the type of fly ash used, its particle size distribution, formation of zeolitic phases such as sodalite, analcime and nepheline, and the overall pore structure of the geopolymer concrete. The work indicates that the chemical composition and particle size distribution of the fly ash, type of fly ash (Class C & F) and the geopolymerization process that took place a vital role in the performance of geopolymer concretes in high temperature applications.

Microbial Induced Corrosion: Corrosion is a major form of deterioration in concrete structures. According to a report published by the U.S. FHWA 2002, the cost of corrosion in water and wastewater conveyance, and storage and treatment facilities in the U.S. is about $138 billions.

A main form of corrosion in wastewater collection systems is Microbial Induced Corrosion (MIC). However, the conditions present in industrial or municipal wastewater pipes, or storage facility are induced by the production of sulfuric acid by biological processes, which cannot be fully mimicked by simple acid corrosion.

The present study intends to provide similar conditions inside pipe specimens that mimic a true sewer atmosphere. The experimental setup consisted of three 12" diameter and 30" long concrete pipe specimens, 2 specimens were coated with different formulations of GPC while the third was a control. Both ends of each pipe specimen were sealed to prevent hydrogen sulfide gas from escaping. One pipe was coated with GPC that had a biocide agent entrained. Another pipe specimen was coated with OPC and the 3rd pipe was used as a control and was not coated.

Parameters measured can be divided into three groups: general environmental parameters like pH and temperature: pH is measured at regular intervals. Substrates and products that include Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) and sulfide concentrations: COD is measured using the Hach Method (APHA, 5220D).Temperature (65 - 70° F) and humidity (50 - 60%) were maintained throughout the experiment. Sulfide concentration was measured by the methylene blue method (APHA, 4500-S-2D). Bacterial count was measured by Spectrophotometer (APHA, 9215B).

In addition, the thickness of the slime layer was measured and the end of the 16-week test. Test data revealed that the use of the antibacteria agent has initial input on the rate of pH reduction, but that effect were out after 6 weeks, The slime lyer band on the wall of the geopolymer coated pipes was to be 1/4 of that found on the non-coated pipe, suggesting the geopolymer matrices provide a less suitable substrate for sulfate reducing bacteria (Desulfovibrio desulfuricans) compound with a standard OPC substate.