News from the Urban Infra Revolution project!
Piloting products of new circulative geopolymer material are starting to be ready. The biggest piloting product noise barrier is in installing phase in Pontus, Lappeenranta.
Despite of pandemia, project objectives have been reached. Completing overall eight objectives reflecting to result indicators show that UIR project has been successful. Below are listed short description of our results.
- Creation of closed loop geopolymer composite material, reminding concrete, to construction industry. Material, which includes at least 95 % of circulative materials and which is 100 % recyclable. Recipe 4 appeared to be jewel consisting 99,6 % circulative materials and is itself 100 % recyclable and printable.
- Portion of virgin natural materials less than 5 % and circulative materials more than 95 %. Created best closed loop geopolymer composite material, brilliant jewel, consists 0,4 % of virgin natural materials and 99,6 % circulative materials. On top of that recipe 3 reached also target figures.
- Technically improved new materials for arctic conditions of the north compared to physical and chemical standards (e.g. strength, flexibility, water and frost resistance, absorption of water, extractability). All created materials were tested with standard tests of the construction industry. On top of that materials were tested with special ways if materials are exposed to different kind of industrial or weather conditions. The tests showed that performance of geopolymer composites in terms of flexural strength and consumption durability equal at its best durability of similar materials of construction industry. On the other hand, quick drying time of geopolymer composite is remarkable advantage, and interesting characteristics to be used in various applications.
- Revolutionary, aesthetic and safe multifunctional structures solve real challenges of urban building, for example better shape that attenuates noise compared with other analogous products. Feedback, collected from the people, was mainly positive and encouraging (more than 75 %, which was also the objective) and new kind of shapes increase well-being and attractiveness of the city. Functional ability of the noise barrier to reduce noise was not possible to examine during the project. The reason for this was that for examination quite big amount of the modules would have been needed, but they were not ready within project’s timeframe.
- In the beginning of the project ambitious goal was, that product acceptance procedures and criteria needed for CE marking were approved by the authorities. Internationally harmonized standardization for the material itself doesn’t exist yet, but this don’t prevent to use geopolymers in urban construction. For example, noise barriers and skateboard structures don’t set any restrictions the material. This complicates entering to the market and making business, but not inhibit it directly. Product acceptance is long process and as project proceeded, we decided that we’ll check criteria and protocol, but we won’t start process of applying product acceptance for the piloting products.
- Advanced business models of closed loop circular economy would create 50-200 new jobs directly or indirectly to local industrial organizations. Five different business models were modelled in the project. Creation of the jobs around the business models is objective for several years. Now it is still too early to know how we succeeded. The material developed in the project connected to 3D printing is new solution, which making known and commercialization take time. According to estimations of the experts even 5-8 years.
- International market potential is extremely important especially when local market is relatively small. In the project 3D printing of the noise barrier against railway noise was piloted. International market potential was not studied, but according to the estimation about 25 % of the delivery quantity of noise barriers of Finnish railway transportation is possible to build with 3-4 printers. Originally the aim was to create total solutions with low carbon footprint, where low emission raw materials and manufacturing technologies were utilized in different stages of the production chain. Especially target was to reduce emission caused by use of cement to be in the geopolymer composite 90 % smaller compared to concrete. We succeeded in this better than was our objective and we can say that new, potential construction is born in South Karelia.
- The industrial side streams were local except coal ash, which was used in couple of the recipes and which was obtained from the commercial production factory in Hausjärvi, 200 km away from Lappeenranta. The objective of transporting distance of local industrial side stream raw materials used in the project was 100 km. As availability, quantity and quality of side streams varied depending on their localization, their reproducibility is not easily scalable. This requires always fine adjustment of recipes. It is clear, that business models of closed loop are here to stay. Business processes included in the models are meant to circle for ever, thus use of virgin materials and carbon footprint can be as low as possible. New materials are taken into use by companies only if they are competitive compared to already used materials. This should be especially focused in possible new project, which is in brainstorming phase at the moment.
The project time has flied and it’s hard to believe that soon it’s finished. It’s been pleasure to be part of inspiring and challenging journey with ups and downs with committed partners and great support from the UIA officer Nelida and expert Kinga. Thank you and goodbye! Probably we’ll meet again!