Developing an innovative solution to use what is widely considered a waste material in the pre-cast concrete industry
Quarrying aggregate is a crucial in the supply of aggregate demand worldwide. The quarrying process, however, results in huge quantities of fines, materials less than 63 microns. For instance, annually, the UK quarrying industry produces over 50 million tonnes of quarry. Consequently, the generation, treatment and/or disposal of these fines and waste present a heavy burden on the producers, leading to social, economic and environmental impacts. There are many ways by which the operation of a quarry can be made more efficient, more productive and less intrusive on the local environment. One possible way is to use them as filler materials in self-compacting concrete (SCC). Therefore, this project aims at developing innovative solution to use quarry fines and waste in the precast concrete applications.
The project involves the investigation of the chemical and physical properties of the quarry fines and optimisation of mixes incorporating quarry fines using statistical experimental methods. The testing program includes testing the fresh and hardened properties of grouts and SCC. Statistical models are developed to describe the effect of the dolomitic quarry fines on the fresh and hardened properties of the grout. These models aid in predicting and optimising the use of this filler. Similarly, a comparison between the dolomitic quarry fines and two commercially available fillers are carried out. Moreover, experimental program on SCC mixes is conducted to optimise the mix designs of using both the commercial filler and the quarry fines. Further, durability testing of SCC mixes incorporating the dolomitic quarry fines is a major field of investigation in the project. This experimental program will prove the applicability and viability of using the local dolomitic quarry fines in SCC products.
The work is carried mainly by the KTP associate (Tracey Concrete) and supervised by two academics and one company supervisor. The KTP associate has an assistant from the company to carry out tests on concrete. The KTP also collaborates with other staff and technicians from the company and university in various aspect of the project.
Impact of Research
The project has great potential to make a major impact on all stakeholders involved in sustainable construction materials for civil engineering applications. The project will help academics understanding the role of magnesium filler in SCC which will be published in relevant conferences and journals. The academics will also have a case study to demonstrate to students (MSc, MEng, and final projects) the use of waste by-products such as quarry dust (magnesium limestone) in practice.
For the company, being able to use the magnesium limestone from Belcoo Quarry will mean that Tracey Concrete would become self sufficient for not only sand and aggregates but also filler and would greatly reduce Tracey Concrete costs for SCC products.
The project positively impacts the environment as the use of the quarry fines will first reduce the amount of waste going to landfill and second will promote the replacement of Portland cement (PC) in SCC mixes. The latter will contribute to the decarbonisation vision of the concrete industry by reducing the use of PC and saving carbon emissions. From economic perspective, the project reduces the disposal costs, valorises these fines and will enhance the competitiveness of the company, leading to the creation of new jobs.
Moreover, the project will have a major impact on society in terms of the greater sustainability and higher resilience of concrete products which will improve the quality of life.
1- Abdalqader, A., Sonebi, M., "Dolomitic Filler in Self-Compacting Concrete: A review", RILEM Technical Letters, RILEM Technical Letters, 50 (2020): 75-83.
2- Accepted paper: Abdalqader, A., Sonebi, M., Thornton, N., Taylor, S., “Assessment of the Influence of the Type of Filler Materials on the Properties of Cement Grouts” ICBBM 2021 4th International Conference on Bio-Based Building Materials, 16-18 June 2021, Barcelona.
3- Abdalqader, A., Wilson, K., Thornton, N., McHugh, K., Sonebi, M., Taylor, S., "Preliminary investigation on the use of dolomitic quarry by-product powders in grout for self-compacting concrete applications" In the proceedings of Civil Engineering Research Ireland (CERI) 2020, August 27-28, 2020, Cork, Ireland.
4- Abdalqader, A., “Properties of grout using dolomite powder as a replacement of cement for self-compacting concrete applications” in the 74th RILEM Annual Week & 40th Cement and Concrete Science Conference, August 31- September 4, 2020, Sheffield, UK.
Dr Mohamed Sonebi (Principal Investigator, Queen's University Belfast)
Prof Su Taylor (Co-Investigator, Queen's University Belfast)
Dr Ahmed Abdalqader, Queen's University Belfast /Tracey Concrete (KTP associate)
Kieran McHugh, Tracey Concrete (Chairman)
Kieran McHugh, Tracey Concrete (Company Supervisor)
Dr Stephen McComb, KTP Adviser
Sustainable Development Goals
Goal 9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
Goal 11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
Goal 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impact (reduce carbon foot print).
- Low energy/low carbon concrete
- Reduced energy by elimination of vibration and noise through the use of self-compacting concrete
- Improvement in working environment for staff
- Use of quarry dust
Find out more
Contact Details / Social Media
- Dr Rory Doherty
Further relevant info
- The KTP associate won the Associate photo competition organised by KTP office at QUB