Since recycled technologies usage is mandatory for environmental safety, and in this regard, it is important to examine new materials that can be used in construction and are primarily produced from fly ash. In addition to characteristics such as hardness and compressive strength, the given materials must also be radiologically and environmentally safe. The main concept of engineered geopolymer gel composites based on fly ash residues is focused on developing binder materials via gel formation processes that can replace ordinary cement materials. This study is unique in researching the potential use of fly ash from the Nikola Tesla thermal power plant in Serbia, where the hybrid geopolymeric materials synthesized from fly ash are experimentally examined with the addition 1 wt% and 2 wt% of polyvinyl alcohol (PVA). This paper aims to investigate the structural, morphological, mechanical, and radiological properties of hybrid materials with the addition of PVA and without additive in the period of ageing for 28 days at room temperature. The phase composition was investigated using X-ray powder diffraction (XRPD) analysis, while morphological characteristics of these materials were examined using scanning electron microscopy and energy dispersive X-ray analysis (SEM-EDS). Vibrational spectra of obtained samples are investigated using diffuse reflectance infrared Fourier transform (DRIFT) and Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) techniques. The hardness and compressive strength are also examined, indicating that the 1 wt% addition in geopolymeric matrix results in the best mechanical properties. Radiological measurements of investigated all geopolymer samples show decreasing activity concentrations of radionuclides for 50% compared to fly ash.
Keywords: fly ash; geopolymer gel; hybrid materials; inorganic binders; radiological properties; strength.