Development of recycled concrete mixtures in Luxembourg

by University of Luxembourg

As one of the partner universities, the University of Luxembourg is actively working on the SeRaMCo project in different aspects: (i) technical features on the design of new concrete mixtures and elements, and (ii) a continuous overview of the market situation in Luxembourg through several stakeholders. More specifically, in the technical aspect of the project (containing three different work packages), the University of Luxembourg’s role is mainly in work package 2 (developing new cement and concrete mixes for use of recycled materials) and in work package 3 (generating and implementing innovative cement and concrete products based on recycled aggregates).

Within WP2, the University of Luxembourg’s role is to design new concrete mixes made of a total substitution of recycled aggregates coming from concrete of known origins. This will be done in close collaboration with Contern S.A., one of the industrial partners of the project and one of the largest prefabricating companies in Luxembourg. The importance of this sub-objective is to identity an efficient concrete mix that would allow the use of construction demolition waste as a resource in concrete prefabricating plants. This is a key factor in reducing the waste volume as well as preserving the raw materials. In addition, the concrete waste generally comes from test specimen or production surplus, i.e its quality is known and verified by the company. Practical tests for this work package have already started in the Laboratory of Solid Structures at the University of Luxembourg (see Figure 1), where a first mixture has been designed. The recycled material, supplied by Contern, comes from the crushing of their drainage pipes (a high-quality concrete), making this material ideal for recycling. After preparing the aggregates and performing sieving tests to assess their gradation and obtain aggregates of different granulometry, several mixes are being produced to reach an optimized concrete formulation in terms of workability, water content and porosity. The material properties of the concrete made of recycled aggregates will be evaluated in July and August 2018. In addition, the University of Luxembourg proposed a new numerical model to predict the mechanical behavior of concrete materials based on the analysis of its early-age behavior (cement hydration, age effects, shrinkage…). The proposed methodologies allow us to evaluate the durability of designed materials, including the effects of shrinkage, creep and risk of cracking, which are the most critical points for recycled materials. An approach based on the combination of numerical simulation and experiment will be proposed within the context of this work package. The delivered method is expected to design the best mixes for recycled concrete.

Figure 1 Practical tests of new concrete mixes

The University of Luxembourg is also the leader of WP3, in close collaboration with TU Delft. The objective of WP3 is to design several concepts for applications with recycled concrete, for both structural and non-structural elements. The design will result from vigorous technical discussions among all project partners as well as industrial stakeholders, to guarantee feasible, innovative and industrially attractive products. Once the final concepts are selected, the concrete mixtures will be elaborated depending on the requirements of every specific product. The corresponding tests will be then decided and implemented to certify all the technical quality aspects of the products.

Another important aspect of SeRaMCo is the market analysis and the evaluation of the current situation in every country. The University of Luxembourg has already contacted some of the main stakeholders in the country as well as public administration entities to have an overview on the state of the art of concrete recycling and also on the data regarding generation of construction demolition waste. From the stakeholders, there is a general awareness of the issue of CDW treatment and reuse, they are conscient of the scarcity of raw materials and finite deposits of aggregates and sands in the country and are very interested in exploring different options. However, considering the scale of the volumes generated in the country, the use of waste as aggregate substitute is still not considered a profitable alternative. Regulation represents an important issue as well. The University of Luxembourg is actively working on defining the new norm for concrete aggregates, in the light of the revision of the national version of EN206, planned for publishing in 2018, where several sections will be also reserved for recycled aggregates.

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