Design optimization and characterization of a green product by combined geopolymerization of sewage sludge ash with metakaolin

Zhen Chen, Chi Sun Poon, Jiang Shan Li, Qiang Xue

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


This study aimed at developing sewage sludge ash (SSA) as a green binding material through geopolymerization for saving natural resources and reducing problems with the waste disposal. Geopolymer pastes based on a precursor comprising 25 wt% of metakaolin (MK) and 75 wt% of SSA were synthesized using the dry-mixed method. Compressive strength tests of the specimens revealed that geopolymers produced from mixes with a Na2O/SiO2 molar ratio of 0.30 and a SiO2/Al2O3 molar ratio in the range of 3.00 to 3.60 achieved the highest compressive strength after 28 days of curing, regardless of temperature. The microstructural analyses showed the formation of N-A-S-H gels in the specimens. The initial curing temperature had a significant influence on the compressive strength of the geopolymers. Specimens initially cured at 40 °C for 7 days and then stored at room temperature showed progressive gain in compressive strength with time. However, raising the initial curing temperature from 40 °C to 60 °C resulted in the formation of cracks in the matrix and new mineral of zeolite P (Na) which caused a notable loss of late-age strength. Leaching toxicity tests showed that the concentrations of heavy metal(loid)s in leachates did not exceed the specified limits.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106271
JournalApplied Clay Science
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2021


  • Geopolymer paste
  • Initial curing temperature
  • Metakaolin
  • Molar ratio
  • Sewage sludge ash

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Geochemistry and Petrology

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