The overall objective of the project is to pave the way for alkali activated materials to break through as a viable alternative to traditional OPC-blended concrete binders. We believes that fundamental research in several fields of materials science on several length scales, spanning from nano- up to macroscopic levels, as well as for several material ages, spanning from very early material ages up to mature states, is needed to assess, understand and predict the behaviour of AAMs.
While for ordinary cementitious materials the intensive research during the last decades provided valuable insights, and helped to overcome many of their shortcomings, similar success for AAMs is still lacking. Fundamental questions in AAMs remain unanswered up to now:
- How can the water demand of AAMs be controlled in order to optimize the interstitial fluid amount, properties (surface tension, viscosity) and composition?
- Why is the shrinkage of AAMs more pronounced than in OPC materials?
- How is the macroscopic mechanical behaviour affected by the nano-scale changes?
This project aims at bridging these knowledge gaps for AAMs by applying experimental and theoretical methods to AAMs. Instead of approaching each aspect independently, the Interact project aims at strongly interlinking the complementary expertise of the involved partners. Only this way, the limits of current research capabilities will be pushed forward and the challenging AAM behaviour will become comprehensible. This way, new methods for developing “microstructurally designed concrete” might arise. The insights obtained in this project will not be beneficial for AAMs only, they might provide a scientific basis for designing environmentally friendly binders with properties as favourable or even superior to the ones of classical cement paste.