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Concrete In Australia : December 2013
4 Concrete in Australia Vol 39 No 4 NEWS Geopolymer concrete for construction An innovative use of geopolymer concrete in construction is now on show at the recently completed $32 million Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland in Brisbane. The building contains 33 precast floor panels made from modern structural geopolymer concrete utilising industrial waste, supplied by Queensland firm Wagners. Wagners’ earth friendly concrete (EFC) is a form of geopolymer concrete which uses an alternative binder to Portland cement with a much lower environmental footprint. Two industrial wastes are used to create the binding agent – blast furnace slag from iron production and fly ash from coal fired power generation. The design team included Bligh Tanner as consulting engineers and project architects Hassell, with the support of the University of Queensland, which all worked closely with Wagners to complete the testing and certification phase of EFC to enable its use in the construction of the Global Change Institute. According to Bligh Tanner, geopolymer concrete had only been used before this project in trials for ground bearing pavements, masonry blocks and low level structural applications. Bligh Tanner director Rod Bligh, who led the structural and façade engineering on the project, said: “With up to 8% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions being generated in the manufacture of cement, the use of geopolymer concrete for suspended construction has a potentially important role to play in a reduced carbon footprint in the construction industry worldwide. “This represents a very important and large step in taking an idea being investigated at universities into the practical realm. Prior to the Global Change Institute project, industr y experts considered that practical application of structural geopolymer concrete in such a significant way would be many years away from happening. We’re pleased our application expedited this for everyone’s benefit.” The adoption of geopolymer concrete to reduce the environmental footprint of the 6-Star Green Star registered project necessitated the use of precast floor panels to ensure quality control of the concrete placement. Using the precast panels provided opportunities for shaping a vaulted soffit, which improved the efficiency of the cooling systems incorporated in the panels as well as enhancing the space architecturally. Suspended ceiling panels below the geopolymer concrete floor panels contain lighting, communications technology and sprinklers. Various forms of the panels were explored, which allowed for air distribution Geopolymer concrete has gone beyond being simply an emerging technology and has become a viable structural concrete. Geopolymer precast panels being positioned onto the supporting concrete frame. PHOTO: WAGNERS 4-16 News.indd 4 4-16 News.indd 4 25/11/13 2:37 PM 25/11/13 2:37 PM