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Geopolymer concrete is seen as a potential alternative to standard concrete, and an opportunity to convert a variety of waste streams into useful by-products. One key driver in geopolymer development is the desire to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the production of concrete products. This paper presents an examination of the lifecycle cost and carbon impacts of Ordinary Portland Cement (OPC) and geopolymers in an Australian context, with an identification of some key challenges for geopolymer development. The results of the examination show that there is wide variation in the calculated financial and environmental “cost” of geopolymers, which can be beneficial or detrimental depending on the source location, the energy source and the mode of transport. Some case study geopolymer concrete mixes based on typical Australian feedstocks indicate potential for a 44–64% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions while the financial costs are 7% lower to 39% higher compared with OPC.

This paper was originally published in Journal of Cleaner Production 19 (2011) Pages 1080 - 1090

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