Different types of sustainable concrete mixtures | Converge.io

May 19, 2023

Sustainable construction has become a focal point in the building industry, with the development of sustainable concrete mixtures playing a significant role. This text will discuss various types of sustainable concrete mixes as well as their advantages and disadvantages.

Read more: We explain what green concrete is. 

The primary goal of a sustainable concrete mix is to reduce the carbon footprint and minimise the environmental impact of concrete production. One way to achieve this is by using low carbon concrete mixes, which utilise alternative materials to replace traditional cement. Below are some popular sustainable concrete mixtures:

Fly Ash Concrete Mix

A fly ash concrete mix utilises fly ash, a by-product of coal combustion, as a supplementary cementitious material (SCM). The goal of using a supplementary material is to minimise the use of cement. Below is some information regarding the fly ash concrete mixture:

  1. Reduces the cement content in concrete, lowering CO2 emissions
  2. Improves concrete strength and durability
  3. Can experience slower setting times and reduced early strength, necessitating careful mix design

Slag Cement Concrete Mix

A slag cement concrete mix uses ground granulated blast furnace slag (GGBFS), a by-product of steel production, as an SCM. These are a few important details regarding the slag cement concrete mix:

  1. Enhances durability and reduces permeability
  2. Reduces CO2 emissions associated with cement production
  3. Requires longer curing times and may impact the colour of the final product

Silica Fume Concrete Mix

The silica fume concrete mix incorporates silica fume, a by-product of silicon and ferrosilicon alloy production, as an SCM. The main advantages and disadvantages with this particular sustainable concrete mix are: 

  1. Enhances concrete strength, durability, and resistance to chemical attacks
  2. Reduces CO2 emissions by lowering cement content
  3. Can be challenging to work with due to its fine particle size and increased water demand

Low Carbon Concrete Mix

This concrete mix can include a combination of SCMs, recycled aggregates, and carbon capture methods. The main advantages and disadvantages of a low carbon concrete mix are:

  1. It focuses on reducing CO2 emissions by using innovative materials and technologies
  2. Encourages reduced cement content and sustainable practices
  3. The choice of materials and technologies can impact the final properties and cost of the mix

Read more: How to make concrete more sustainable and read our summary of the PAS 2080

Advantages and disadvantages of a sustainable concrete mix

Each of these sustainable concrete mixtures offers unique advantages and disadvantages, making it crucial to select the most appropriate mix based on project requirements and local availability of materials. The following advantages and disadvantages are inherent in most sustainable concrete mixes:

Advantages

  1. Lower environmental impact: Sustainable concrete mixes contribute to reduced CO2 emissions and resource consumption, promoting eco-friendly construction.
  2. Enhanced durability: Many alternative materials, such as fly ash and slag, can improve the durability and longevity of concrete structures.
  3. Waste reduction: Using industrial by-products in concrete mixes helps to divert waste from landfills and promote recycling.

Disadvantages

  1. Availability: Some alternative materials may not be readily available in certain regions, which can limit the adoption of sustainable concrete mixes.
  2. Cost: Although the long-term benefits of using sustainable concrete mixes can offset initial costs, some projects may experience higher upfront expenses.
  3. Learning curve: The use of new materials and techniques may require additional training and expertise to ensure optimal performance.

Things to keep in mind

In conclusion, the development and adoption of sustainable concrete mixtures are vital for the construction industry's future, as they help mitigate the environmental impact of concrete production. While challenges may arise in terms of material availability, cost, and the learning curve associated with new technologies, the long-term benefits of using low carbon concrete mixtures and other sustainable alternatives and methods are undeniable.

Read more: We explain the process of recycling concrete and how to use recycled concrete safely. 

Frequently asked questions

Are sustainable concrete mixes more expensive than traditional mixes?

While initial costs of sustainable concrete mixes may be higher, long-term benefits such as enhanced durability can offset these expenses. Costs can vary based on material availability and chosen technologies.

Do sustainable concrete mixes have the same strength and durability as traditional concrete?

Sustainable concrete mixes often exhibit comparable or even superior strength and durability, depending on the chosen materials. However, careful mix design and expertise are crucial to ensure optimal performance.

Are all sustainable concrete mix materials suitable for every project?

Not all sustainable concrete mix materials are suitable for every project. Project requirements, material availability, and local conditions should be considered when selecting the most appropriate mix.

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