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A life-cycle approach to environmental, mechanical, and durability properties of “green” concrete mixes with rice husk ash

Gursel, Aysegul Petek, Maryman, Helena, Ostertag, Claudia
Journal of cleaner production 2016 v.112 pp. 823-836
air pollutants, air pollution, cement, coal, concrete, durability, environmental impact, financial economics, fly ash, global warming potential, husk ash, life cycle assessment, mechanical properties, nonrenewable resources, uncertainty, wastes, United States
Among the possible solutions to a sustainable future is to limit the consumption of non-renewable resources and to minimize waste and its associated releases. Using supplementary cementitious materials (SCMs) in concrete constitutes environmental, societal and economic benefits towards the sustainability goal. Similar to the commonly used fly ash, rice husk ash (RHA) is a highly-reactive pozzolanic material, and can replace up to 30% of portland cement in concrete mix designs. In the United States, concrete with RHA is still a niche product. In recent years, fly ash supply has declined due to decreasing coal use, general economic stagnation, and regulatory uncertainties despite the increase in its utilization in concrete products. However, RHA has the potential to meet the demand from decreasing fly ash supplies. The focus of this study is to analyze the performance of ternary- and quaternary-RHA blend concrete mixes in terms of their durability, mechanical properties, and global warming potential (GWP) and criteria air pollutants. A life-cycle assessment (LCA) approach has been conducted for the quantification of environmental impacts. Results have shown that ternary and quaternary concrete mixes with RHA and fly ash resulted in lower GWP while improving the durability of mixes without compromising design strength.