Realistic atomic structure of fly ash-based geopolymer gels: Insights from molecular dynamics simulations

GA Lyngdoh and R Kumar and NMA Krishnan and S Das, JOURNAL OF CHEMICAL PHYSICS, 151, 064307 (2019).

DOI: 10.1063/1.5121519

Geopolymers, synthesized through alkaline activation of aluminosilicates, have emerged as a sustainable alternative for traditional ordinary Portland cement. In spite of the satisfactory mechanical performance and sustainability-related benefits, the large scale acceptance of geopolymers in the construction industry is still limited due to poor understanding of the composition-property relationships. Molecular simulation is a powerful tool to develop such relationships, provided that the adopted molecular structure represents the experimental data effectively. Toward this end, this paper presents a new molecular structure of sodium aluminosilicate hydrate geopolymer gels, inspired from the traditional calcium silicate hydrates gel. In contrast to the existing model-where water is uniformly distributed in the structure-we present a layered-but-disordered structure. This new structure incorporates water in the interlayer space of the aluminosilicate network. The structural features of the new proposed molecular structure are evaluated in terms of both short- and medium- range order features such as pair distribution functions, bond angle distributions, and structure factor. The structural features of the newly proposed molecular structure with interlayer water show better correlation with the experimental observations as compared to the existing traditional structure signifying an increased plausibility of the proposed structure. The proposed structure can be adopted as a starting point toward the realistic multiscale simulation-based design and development of geopolymers. Published under license by AIP Publishing.

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