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Investigation of fracture porosity as the basis for developing a concrete recycling process using microwave heating

Lippiatt, Nicholas. Investigation of fracture porosity as the basis for developing a concrete recycling process using microwave heating. PhD, Institut National Polytechnique de Toulouse, 2014

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Official URL: http://ethesis.inp-toulouse.fr/archive/00002677/

Abstract

This thesis is concerned with the development of efficient concrete recycling technology. Concrete is the most used manufactured material on the planet and as a consequence uses more natural resources than any other industry and is responsible for 7% of the world’s carbon dioxide production, 50% of that originating from the decarbonisation of limestone. Given the magnitude of materials used and the waste produced the recycling of concrete would be a major environmental boon and should be made a priority. The main obstacle to the development and implementation of a concrete recycling process is the necessity of separating concrete components, aggregate and cement paste before recycling. Microwave heating stands as an ideal candidate due to its capacity to selectively heat different phases in a multiphase material, thus producing phase boundary fracture and increasing the liberation of the component phases. The effects of microwave heating on concrete samples were investigated with the intent of concluding on the possibility of deriving a microwave-based recycling process for concrete. The effects were measured using standard macroscopic techniques and found a strong correlation between heating, increased porosity and decreased mechanical strength for concrete. In order to better understand the changes measured at the macroscopic scale, a dedicated image analysis technique was developed using electron microscopy to investigate local microscopic changes in concrete texture. Local investigation of the changes of heat treated concrete identified the presence of fracture porosity, which has significant explanatory power for observed changes in concrete properties most relevant to recycling. Textural analysis of concrete subjected to microwave heating showed the growth of two different networks of fractures throughout the cement paste matrix, whose development is associated with the microwave settings. These textural fracture properties correspond directly to the observed changes in mechanical properties as well as the observed liberation of aggregate particles. Textural analysis shows that phase boundary fracture growth occurs rapidly in the early stages of microwave treatment and that the absolute value of textural liberation is significantly higher than that of physical liberation. This highlights the importance of choosing an appropriate comminution method to make efficient use of phase boundary fracture. Moreover, the work established causal relationships between variations in fracture porosity and changes in properties of concrete most relevant to recycling, revealing the possibility of designing a concrete waste beneficiation process through manipulating concrete texture. Since microwave heating was found to be able to manipulate the form taken by the fracture porosity, this work concludes that microwave heating of concrete is a promising technology for designing a concrete recycling scheme. Moreover, through demonstration of causal links between textural properties and processing performance criteria, this work opens the possibility of an alternative approach for analysing and designing comminution process for minerals.

Item Type:PhD Thesis
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Institution:Université de Toulouse > Institut National Polytechnique de Toulouse - INPT (FRANCE)
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Research Director:
Bourgeois, Florent
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Deposited On:26 May 2014 21:58

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