University of Oulu

Elijah Adesanya, Priyadharshini Perumal, Tero Luukkonen, Juho Yliniemi, Katja Ohenoja, Paivo Kinnunen, Mirja Illikainen, Opportunities to improve sustainability of alkali-activated materials: A review of side-stream based activators, Journal of Cleaner Production, Volume 286, 2021, 125558, ISSN 0959-6526,

Opportunities to improve sustainability of alkali-activated materials : a review of side-stream based activators

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Author: Adesanya, Elijah1; Perumal, Priyadharshini1; Luukkonen, Tero1;
Organizations: 1Faculty of Technology, Fiber, and Particle Engineering Research Unit, PO Box 4300, 90014, University of Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.1 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Elsevier, 2020
Publish Date: 2021-01-20


Alkali-activated materials (AAMs) are alternative binders that can be used instead of Portland cement in construction. One of the main drivers in their utilization is that AAMs can be designed to have lower CO2 emissions using industrial residues. The main component of AAMs is aluminosilicate precursor, which is frequently waste based. However, the sustainable profile and cost-efficiency of AAMs are greatly affected by the selection of the alkali activator. Commonly used activators include bulk chemicals, such as sodium hydroxide or silicates, which have a relatively high carbon footprint and cost that can inhibit AAM applicability for large-scale construction applications. Consequently, several locally available, but underutilized, agricultural and industrial by-products or wastes have been investigated as alternative alkali activators. Globally, millions of tons of these residues are produced annually, and currently, they are mostly landfilled. Utilization of these residues as alternative alkali activators not only solves the residues-management issue, but also has noteworthy economic and environmental benefits. Utilization and properties of these waste-based activators in AAMs are comprehensively reviewed in this manuscript. Various studies showed the formation of alkali silicates from amorphous silica residues, alkali hydroxides, carbonates, and aluminates sourced from biomass and industrial residues. The resulting binder exhibited similar reactivity to commercial activators and considerable binder strength. However, the durability, shrinkage, and workability properties were not investigated in most of the reviewed studies.

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Series: Journal of cleaner production
ISSN: 0959-6526
ISSN-E: 1879-1786
ISSN-L: 0959-6526
Volume: 286
Article number: 125558
DOI: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2020.125558
Type of Publication: A2 Review article in a scientific journal
Field of Science: 212 Civil and construction engineering
218 Environmental engineering
Funding: Elijah Adesanya acknowledges the Finnish Cultural Foundation for the postdoctoral research grant (grant #00201230). TL, PP, JY, PK, and MI wish to acknowledge financial support from the Academy of Finland (grants #319676, #322786, and #326291) and The Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Individual Fellowship (EU MSCA-IF), European Union (grant # 839848).
EU Grant Number: (839848) W2W - Waste to Wealth (W2W): A total solution for municipal solid waste incinerated ash in geopolymer concrete
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 319676
Detailed Information: 319676 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
322786 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © 2020 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (