ERTC - Environmentally Responsible Transportation Center for Communities of Concern Environmentally Responsible
Transportation Center for
Communities of Concern

Research Project:
Nanotechnology-enabled sustainable and cement-free pervious concrete pavement

University: Washington State University

Principal Investigator(s): Xianming Shi

Project Partners: Washington State Department of Commerce

Project Description:

The project will take the advantage of two WSU-patented technologies (US Patent 10647612 on geopolymer binder and a provisional patent on nano-engineered penetrating sealer) to develop a sustainable pervious concrete technology. Different from conventional pervious concrete, this technology will feature: 1) 100% replacement of cement by a cement-free and biochar-amended geopolymer binder with less than 0.05 wt.% graphene oxide (a novel nano-material); 2) greatly improved durability of the pervious concrete pavement by customized design of initial water infiltration rate and treatment of hardened concrete by a nano-engineered waterproofing sealer. It is expected that the use of fly ash and biochar in place of Portland cement and the extended service life of pervious concrete will both contribute to great reduction in the life-cycle footprint of the pavement.

This proposed work fits well under the ERTC3 thrust area of “Sustainable construction materials and practices”. This research consists of three main tasks. Task 1 will focus on optimizing the type and dosage of nanomaterials used for the siliconate-based penetrating sealer, the mix design of biochar/fly ash geopolymer pervious concrete customized to feature infiltration rates consistent with the local rainfall rates, and the timing and procedure to apply the sealer onto the pervious concrete pavement. The objective is to achieve a reasonable balance between mechanical properties, infiltration performance, and water absorptivity. Task 2 will focus on the evaluation and potential improvement of the performance of sealer-treated geopolymer pervious concrete, in terms of: freeze/thaw resistance, salt scaling resistance, abrasion resistance, and sulfate resistance. The objective is to achieve an acceptable level of durability in aggressive environments of concern. Advanced microscopic investigations will be conducted to shed light on the roles played by selected nanomaterials in both the sealer and the geopolymer pervious concrete. Task 3 will evaluate the environmental benefits of the sealer-treated geopolymer pervious concrete pavement, starting with its ability to treat typical pollutants-laden stormwater from roadways. Portland cement pervious concrete will be used as control to compare with this “greener” pervious concrete. The simulated stormwater will include pollutants such as copper, zinc, sulfate, ammonia, nitrate, total phosphate, petroleum hydrocarbons and sodium chloride.

US DOT Priorities:

This project will align with multiple US DOT priorities like climate change prevention and environmental preservation. Leveraging patented technologies, the goal is to replace cement with a cement-free geopolymer binder and utilize a nano-engineered sealer, significantly enhancing the durability and service life of pervious concrete pavement while reducing its environmental footprint. Replacement of cement with geopolymers aligns well with climate change prevention by reducing CO2 release due to cement production and its capacity to treat stormwater pollutants will align with environmental preservation.

Outputs:

In this project, we will develop an optimal combination of nanomaterials used for the siliconate-based penetrating sealer, an optimal mix design of biochar/fly ash geopolymer pervious concrete customized to feature infiltration rates consistent with the local rainfall rates, and guidelines related to the timing and procedure to apply the sealer onto the pervious concrete pavement. The sealer-treated geopolymer pervious concrete will feature desirable durability performance, in terms of freeze/thaw resistance, salt scaling resistance, abrasion resistance, and sulfate resistance. This work will also preliminarily assess the environmental benefits of the sealer-treated geopolymer pervious concrete pavement, in terms of its ability to treat typical pollutants-laden stormwater from roadways. The research findings from this project will be widely disseminated. This project will produce at least one paper for presentation at the TRB annual meeting and at least one publication in peer-reviewed journal. The PI will deliver a presentation at the ERTC3 annual meeting and deliver one webinar on behalf of ERTC3 to the broader audience.

Outcomes/Impacts:

The proposed research will produce an effective mix design of cost-effective and environmentally sustainable pervious concrete pavement. The resulting technology immediately addresses the emissions reduction need of the pavement industry, concerns over the durability of conventional pervious concrete, and, value-added application of fly ash and biochar. We anticipate the development of new intellectual property (IP) that may result in the filing of another patent and subsequent technology transfer activities out of this UTC project. Upon completion of this project, the team will continue to work closely with municipalities and other stakeholders to identify opportunities to deploy the nano-engineered “greener” pervious concrete developed in this project.

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