Preparation, characterization, and physicomechanical properties of glass-ceramic foams based on alkali-activation and sintering of zeolite-poor rock and eggshell

Abstract: This study reports the fabrication of novel glass-ceramic foams for thermal insulation to minimize the energy consumption in the buildings. Different combinations of zeolite-poor rock/eggshell powders (with eggshell content varying from 0 to 20 wt%) have been used to produce the foams through alkali-activation and reactive sintering techniques. The produced glass-ceramic foams were characterized based on their structural, thermal, and mechanical characteristics. The heat treatment process and the foaming patterns are examined by a heating microscope, and the findings reveal an excellent foamability of the utilized alkali-activated mixture in the range of 800–950 °C. The microstructure and the pore size of the acquired foams are investigated using a scanning electron microscope (SEM) and computed tomography (CT) analysis. The crystallinity and phase composition of the prepared samples were investigated via X-ray diffraction (XRD). The experiment findings reveal that raising the eggshell content is favorable to gas production, but it affects the liquid phase creation resulting in inconsistent pore size distribution. The appropriate eggshell content is 4%, and the optimal heat treatment temperature is 900 °C. The produced ceramic foams possess a density ranging from 0.54 to 1 g/cm3, thermal conductivity around 0.07–0.4 W/mK, and compressive strength values between 1.2 and 6.7 MPa. The results indicate that the ceramic foams created could be a feasible choice for applications in constriction as thermal insulation materials.

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