Mechanical and Microstructural Investigation of Geopolymer Concrete Incorporating Recycled Waste Plastic Aggregate

Blessing O. Adeleke*, John M. Kinuthia, Jonathan Oti, Duncan Pirrie, Mathew Power

*Corresponding author for this work

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The effective use of waste materials is one of the key drivers in ensuring sustainability within the construction industry. This paper investigates the viability and efficacy of sustainably incorporating a polylactic acid-type plastic (WP) as a 10 mm natural coarse aggregate (NA) replacement in geopolymer concrete. Two types of concrete (ordinary Portland cement—OPC and geopolymer) were produced for completeness using a concrete formulation ratio of 1:2:3. The ordinary concrete binder control was prepared using 100% OPC at a water/binder ratio of 0.55, while the geopolymer concrete control used an optimum alkaline activator/precursor—A/P ratio (0.5) and sodium silicate to sodium hydroxide—SS/SH volume ratio (1.2/0.8). Using the same binder quantity as the control, four concrete batches were developed by replacing 10 mm NA with WP at 30 and 70 wt% for ordinary and geopolymer concrete. The mechanical performance of the developed concrete was assessed according to their appropriate standards, while a microstructural investigation was employed after 28 days of curing to identify any morphological changes and hydrated phases. The results illustrate the viability of incorporating WP in geopolymer concrete production at up to 70 wt% replacement despite some negative impacts on concrete performance. From a mechanical perspective, geopolymer concrete indicated a 46.7–58.3% strength development superiority over ordinary concrete with or without WP. The sample composition and texture quantified using automated scanning electron microscopy indicated that adding WP reduced the presence of pores within the microstructure of both concrete types. However, this was detrimental to the ordinary concrete due to the low interfacial zone (ITZ) between calcium silicate hydrate (CSH) gel and WP, resulting in the formation of cracks.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1340
Number of pages18
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 14 Mar 2024


  • alkali–alkaline activator
  • GGBS
  • silica fume
  • consistency
  • compressive strength
  • scanning electron microscopy
  • waste plastic
  • aluminosilicate
  • geopolymer


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