Using silica fume based activator in sustainable geopolymer binder for building application

Ndigui Billong, Jonathan Oti, John Kinuthia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The effectiveness of using silica fume based sodium silicate in the production of metakaolin (MK) and ground granulated blast furnace slag (GGBS) based geopolymer was investigated. Un-densified silica fume was appropriately dissolved in a 10 M sodium hydroxide solution to obtain a sodium silicate alternative (SSA) solution having the SiO2/Na2O molar ratio of 2. The SSA solution was used together with the 10 M sodium hydroxide solution in 1:1 vol ratio as alkaline activator to elaborate MK and GGBS based geopolymer pastes with 1.5 and 0.7 alkaline activator/precursor material ratios respectively at ambient temperature of 23 ± 2 oC. Setting time, density, compressive strength, tensile strength and water absorption were the physical and mechanical tests performed on fresh and hardened pastes at 3, 7 or 28 days of curing. Powder of hardened pastes at 28 days underwent thermogravimetric (TG/DTG) analysis at up to 1000 oC. For comparison, geopolymer pastes prepared with a standard commercial sodium silicate (SSC) having the same SiO2/Na2O molar ratio were submitted to similar tests. The SSA was found to be effective in geopolymer production as evidenced by the similar or slightly better performance in physical, mechanical and thermo-gravimetric properties when it was used compared to SSC. Un-densified silica fume could constitute suitable raw material for sodium silicate production with additional sustainability potential in the reduction of embodied energy in the production process, since the by-product is not tumbled, heated or grinded and the dilution process with the sodium hydroxide solution happens at ambient

Original languageEnglish
Article number122177
Number of pages8
JournalConstruction and Building Materials
Issue number00
Early online date11 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2021


  • Silica fume, Sodium silicate, Alkaline activator, Geopolymer, Sustainability


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