The Analysis of Taupo Pumice as an Effective Partial Cement Replacement in Concrete
Thesis DisciplineEngineering Geology
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Science
Concrete is an integral material in modern infrastructural requirements worldwide. The production of Portland cement is however expensive, energy intensive, and results in globally significant greenhouse gas emissions. Natural pozzolans such as pumice can be used as a partial replacement for Portland cement in concrete, which can reduce production costs and greenhouse gas emissions, and improve concrete performance.
A fluvial pumice deposit which may be suited for use as a natural pozzolan has been identified on the floodplains of the Waikato River. A sample was milled in Germany, and returned to New Zealand in two subsamples. These were tested in concrete, with tests divided into four rounds. The first two rounds established baseline concrete strengths at water/binder (w/b) ratios of 0.6 and 0.5, with pumice replacing cement at 5, 10, 15 and 30%. Round Three assessed the use of high pH mix water (pH=12.9), and Round Four assessed the use of a polycarboxylate superplasticiser, both with 10% pumice.
Pumice is known to retard early concrete strength, however through optimisation of mix design, improvements in concrete strength and durability can be made. Indeed, all 28 day concrete strengths in this research were below Ultracem, however half of these achieved or exceeded Ultracem strengths at 91 days. The use of superplasticiser achieved the best 28 day concrete strengths, and dosage optimisation is expected to yield further improvements.
Concrete durability was tested at w/b=0.5, with 10% and 30% pumice. After prolonged curing (231 days), composite concrete showed substantial improvements in electrical resistivity and resistance to chloride attack, most notably with 30% pumice. Concrete porosity was essentially unaffected.
This pumice has shown significant promise as a partial cement replacement. Further mix optimisation is likely to yield greater improvements in concrete strength and durability, and will provide a more economically and environmentally sustainable product for the New Zealand concrete market.