Advances in alkali-activation of clay minerals

Ahmed Z. Khalifa, Özlem Cizer, Yiannis Pontikes, Andrew Heath, Pascaline Patureau, Susan A. Bernal, Alastair T.M. Marsh

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

159 Citations (SciVal)


To future-proof alkali-activation technology, there is a need to look beyond well-established precursors such as fly ash and blast furnace slag, due to resource competition, geographical distribution and technical limitations. Clay minerals are abundant and diverse aluminosilicate resources available around the world. However, due to the mineralogical complexity amongst the most common 1:1 (kaolinite, halloysite) and 2:1 (montmorillonite, illite) clay minerals, and practical issues such as workability, their use has been more limited. Recent advances have improved understanding both of pre-activation treatments (thermal, mechanical, chemical), and of the factors influencing clay reactivity, phase assemblages and properties of final products. This opens new opportunities for the exploitation of these resources to produce sustainable cements. A one-size-fits-all approach for processing and activating clay minerals is not viable. Instead, activation routes need to be tailored according to the clay mineralogy to achieve the binder properties required for key applications.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106050
JournalCement and Concrete Research
Early online date12 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2020


  • Alkali activated cement (D)
  • Clay mineral
  • N-A-S-H gel
  • Thermal treatment (A)
  • Zeolite

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Building and Construction
  • Materials Science(all)


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