Use of residual diatomaceous earth as a silica source in geopolymer production
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The use of binders as an alternative to Portland cement has gained importance in recent years. Among them, geopolymeric binders, developed by the reaction between an aluminosilicate precursor and a high alkalinity solution, have become one of the most promising alternatives. The activating solution generally comprises waterglass and sodium hydroxide. Since waterglass is the most expensive material and has a high environmental impact, using alternative silica sources will lead to more sustainable binders. Previous studies have successfully used rice husk ash (RHA) as a silica source. This research aims to assess the possibility of using diatomaceous earth (or diatomite) as an alternative silica source, like the previous studies with RHA. Diatomite is a sedimentary rock with a high amorphous silica content formed by fossilized diatom remains. In this work, the geopolymer was obtained using a fluid cracking catalyst residue as the precursor and six different activating solution types prepared with commercial products, residual diatomite (from beer and wine industries) and RHA. The results open a new possible route for the reuse and recovery of diatomaceous earth residue, although the compressive strength results of the mortars were slightly lower than those for mortars prepared with RHA or commercial reagents. (C) 2018 Published by Elsevier B.V.