Topic 1 - Innovative materials for the design of performing, ecologically responsible and durable concrete

Theme 1.1 - New binders and supplementary cementing materials

The aim of this theme is to develop approaches/methodologies for adding value to residual industrial materials for the production of alternative cementitious binders with a low carbon footprint (P3). Of interest are geopolymerization processes and chemical or thermal reprocessing to develop new binders from alumino-(calcio)-silicate residue resulting from industrial processes or from Québec mine tailings (P6), as well as the characterization of the fundamental properties of these binders (hydration/pozzolanicity, chemical balances, interactions with admixtures, rheology, strength, microstructure, leaching, volume stability, etc.). The development of these recovery opportunities is of great interest from an economic, environmental and societal standpoint. The applications targeted for concrete or cementitious composites made using such binders are urban and road infrastructure, and those related to mining operations (P1).

Theme 1.2 - Optimal use of granular resources for concrete

To ensure the optimal use and sustainability of granular resources faced with world demand reaching as much as 51.7 billion tons in 2019, this theme seeks to better understand the interactions between granular particles (different compositions, origins, sizes and shapes) in order to model their impact on the compactness of the granular skeleton, on rheology and on the mechanical properties of concrete. It also aims to understand the influence of composition and physico-mechanical characteristics of marginal aggregate or those resulting from demolition debris (residual mortar and fine particle content, absorption, frost resistance, fragmentation and abrasion resistance, and conditions of recycled aggregate) on fresh and hardened concrete properties (P3). The aim of this research is to upgrade recycled or underused materials (marginal) by varying the quality requirements based on the application while ensuring adequate performance depending on load severity.

Theme 1.3 - New concretes and other innovative cementitious composites

Innovative concrete will be developed to build or repair infrastructure essential for Québec’s urban and industrial development (P1, P2 and P3). The research aims to achieve marked changes in currently available concrete in terms of deformation and cracking control, durability and the minimization of environmental impacts. It also aims to continue to develop materials and new highly innovative technologies, such as self-healing concrete, fibre-reinforced and ultra-high performance fibre-reinforced concrete (FRC and UHPFC) (P2) and the biorepair of cracks, concrete for CO2 capture (P4 and P5), concrete for 3D printing, and phase-changing, insulating or high sound absorbing concrete for buildings (P1). The innovation envisons a reduced carbon footprint, rapid implementation, value-added local supplementary cementing materials (e.g., Theme 1.1) and recycled/marginal aggregates (Theme 1.2).

Theme 1.4 - Engineering of innovative structures in the mining sector

This theme focuses on the design and implementation of mining structures that incorporate cement, cementitious composites or alternative binders (Theme 1.1) for improved properties. The objectives are to optimize the mix design, refine the physico-chemical, rheological and mechanical characterizations, as well as improve the short- and long-term performance of structures built using cement and its derivatives (P3 and P6). Research activities will involve the reuse of coarse and fine mine tailings, cement and derivatives (non-reactive waste rock, light or recycled aggregates, mortars, etc.) in the production of structural concrete, shotcrete for mining support and cemented mining backfills (P3). Aspects such as geopolymerization and the use of cement additives to control acid mine drainage will also be considered (P6).

Theme 1.5 - Durability and lifespan extension

The objective of this theme is to better understand the chemical, physical and mechanical deterioration processes of concrete (corrosion of steel reinforcement, internal sulfate reactions, alkali-silica reaction, aggregates rich in iron sulphides or frost-susceptible) in order to model their physico-chemico-mechanical behaviours and develop performance criteria adapted to the design of structures based on useful life requirements. The lab work will seek to develop testing protocols that best reproduce the severe exposure conditions to which structures are subjected to generate the reliable temporal data needed for a quantitative assessment of lifespan. The results will help optimize design parameters (material-structure) (P4) and adapt maintenance strategies (P5) to maximize the life cycle of infrastructure (100 years) and minimize socio-economic costs.