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DuRSAAM: where concrete technology meets green innovation

The fib supports DuRSAAM 2023, which will take place on 8-10 February 2023 in Ghent, Belgium.

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It is recognized that eco-friendly and circular concrete solutions are of growing importance for the construction industry. The EU Marie Curie PhD training network DuRSAAM is about to bring a new generation of 13 highly trained experts, skilled in alkali-activated material (AAM) concrete. The project involves fib members Profs. Stijn Matthys (Ghent University, coordinator of DuRSAAM), Frank Dehn (Karlsruhe Institute for Technology), Geert De Schutter (Ghent University), Thanasis Triantafillou (University of Patras).

Concrete structures are used extensively for buildings, transport, infrastructure and maritime applications. By using concrete extraordinary structures can be realized, and these are often designed for long service lives to gain optimal value from the material, environmental, intellectual and financial input into the making of the structure. In Europe, around 4 tonnes of concrete per capita are consumed annually. The downside of using concrete is associated with durability issues and huge environmental costs, as the cement industry accounts for 8% of global anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions; and around 28% of primary resources are used in construction, making it one of the least sustainable industries. There is a clear demand for a new, sustainable generation of construction materials, since Portland clinker based concrete solely cannot meet all the challenges of modern society concerning durability and sustainability. The design, durability and sustainability of concrete structures play a crucial role in fostering societal and economic growth, and today eco-transition (green concrete, circular concrete) is emerging more widely in the concrete construction sector. One of these transitions, extensively explored in DuRSAAM, is alkali-activated concrete made of local available industrial by-products.

Funded by the EU commission in the framework of the Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, in 2018 DuRSAAM has started a proactive dialogue between 7 academic (Ghent University, University of Sheffield, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, TU Delft, University of Zagreb, University of Patras and ETH Zürich) and 17 non-academic partners to train 13 early stage researchers in eco-efficient concrete technologies by the use of alkali-activated materials (AAM), also known as geopolymers. AAMs are a new generation of materials, ideally conceived to respond to the needs for more efficient, more durable and more sustainable concrete construction, based on locally available industrial by-products. By partially or fully replacing Portland cement as the binder in concrete, using instead high performance AAM binder, a new generation of modern durable, eco-friendly and reliable type of concrete is achieved, with low carbon footprint (CO2 emission reduced up to 80%), lower energy consumption and reduced use of primary resources (> 1.5 tonnes of raw materials are quarried per tonne Portland cement clinker, this will be reduced by > 60%).

As a multi-disciplinary (binder technology, micro-versus macro-structural modelling, transport mechanism and durability, combined environmental actions, fire behaviour, long-term deformations, sustainability assessment) and cross-sectoral (building materials, new concrete construction, structural renovation, durability assessment, eco- efficiency and circularity in industry) network, DuRSAAM delivers breakthrough outputs on AAM technology and promote the dissemination and exploitation of key results to the construction sector.

DuRSAAM will hold its final symposium from the 8th till the 10th of February 2023 in Ghent (Belgium). If you are to learn about DuRSAAM and its final symposium.

 Prof Stijn Matthys

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 813596 DuRSAAM. The opinions expressed in this article reflect only the author’s view and reflect in no way the European Commission’s opinions. The European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

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