Murdoch University and the Colliecrete Interagency Working Group today launched a new, environmentally friendly concrete.
Researchers from Murdoch's Harry Butler Institute (HBI) have been developing the sustainable concrete that could form the basis of a new building and construction industry in the town of Collie.
Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan attended today’s announcement, with the University acknowledging significant State Government support of $600,000 through the Collie Industry Development and Attraction Fund to support development of the product.
Colliecrete, a novel Geopolymer Concrete (GPC), is an environmentally superior concrete using up to 90% industrial by-product waste materials while producing up to 80% lower CO2 emissions. It is also cheaper than the commonly used Portland cement concrete.
Dr Martin Anda, Academic Chair of Environmental Engineering and a research leader within Murdoch’s Harry Butler Institute, believes Colliecrete is a game-changer for the construction industry and the environment.
“It goes a whole step further than 'eco-concrete' because it doesn't just add waste materials to ordinary concrete, it's actually made from them,” Dr Anda said.
“This product will make a significant contribution in the WA property and development industry as we all transition to reduce our carbon footprint.”
Murdoch University Vice Chancellor Professor Andrew Deeks thanked the WA Government for its support and congratulated the Harry Butler Institute research team.
“Colliecrete exemplifies the translational research done at Murdoch over many years to support sustainable development – balancing environmental protections with the needs of business, industry and jobs,” he said.
“Colliecrete has been created to enable new industry development and job creation in Collie, a town which is transitioning away from coal-fired power production.”
Colliecrete is made up of three key ingredients - fly ash, priming chemicals and aggregates. The product has been established in Collie due to the large stockpiles of fly ash – a residue from coal combustion. Large containment dams can provide the raw material for Colliecrete well into the future.
Colliecrete has many important advantages over ordinary concrete including:
- The strength, workability and versatility of Ordinary Portland Cement concrete (OPC).
- Up to 80% genuine greenhouse gas reductions (without application of any carbon offsets).
- The potential to incorporate up to 90% recycled materials.
- Equivalent cost or cheaper, depending on scale and product application.
- Local WA supply chains for all materials.
- Superior fire and chloride resistance.
Over the course of 18 months and involving more than 100 batches and 8,000 litres of experimental mix designs, the Colliecrete team has demonstrated a range of products suitable for commercial application and a variety of pre-cast geopolymer concrete products including blocks, paving bricks, beams, seats, fire-rings, wheel-stops, and modules for sub-sea artificial reefs.
“This collaborative project between the Collie community and our Murdoch University Colliecrete research team has been enormously exciting,” Dr Anda said.
“With concrete being the second highest volume manufactured product in the world (after treated water) and with an estimated market value of $0.7 billion per annum in WA, Colliecrete has the potential to compete commercially while focusing on reducing our carbon footprint.”
Discussions are underway with private investors to establish the industry in Collie. Meanwhile, HBI is working with new project partners in the Kimberley and Pilbara regions of Western Australia, where concrete is more than three times the price of that in Perth. They hope to establish a geopolymer plant that can make use of the dry premixed Colliecrete fly ash from Collie.
The Institute is also working with BRIN, the Indonesian equivalent to Australia’s CSIRO, to develop novel geopolymer mix designs with fly ash from the many coal fired power stations in Indonesia and a new range of concrete products, also with local and Australian business partners. A feasibility study will be undertaken with partners in Sumbawa, then local trials will commence in Java and Bali towards the end of 2022.
The properties of geopolymer concrete have been tested both in the laboratory and real-world conditions through such applications as chemical analysis, compressive strength, workability and have met Australian Standards and Specifications.