Quarry waste for the production of sustainable and innovative constructional materials

Schenker, Filippo and Antonietti, Samuel and Blazquez, Victor and Voney, Vera and Odaglia, Pietro and Zerbi, Stefano and Coppola, Luigi and Bernardi, Chiara and Corboud, Federico and Ferrari, Domenico and Ambrosi, Christian and Pozzoni, Maurizio (2020) Quarry waste for the production of sustainable and innovative constructional materials. In: Anstract proceedings EGU General Assembly 2020, https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-egu2020-18787 EGU General Assembly 2020, Vienna.

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In Canton Ticino, Switzerland, the exploitation of natural stone, mostly gneisses, is an important activity of valley’s economies but the local quarries face severe economic difficulties. The costs of the planning and regulation (storage and transportation to landfill) of the quarry waste, which in some cases reaches 40% of the extracted volume, affects in a significant way the income of these menaced historical industries. Therefore, the sustainable development of the quarry sector needs new and effective strategies for the next decades. Here, we propose an example of an environmentally friendly circular economy based on crushed aggregates of gneiss quarries for the building of high added value architectural elements. In this applied study, we characterized the waste materials and evaluated the crushed aggregates for their use in traditional concretes and in innovative geopolymers applied to 3D printing. The traditional concretes showed good mechanical properties and moderate durability when 100% of waste-aggregate was used and resulted excellent in all aspects when the waste aggregate was mixed with allochthonous fluvial sand. Hence, this environmentally friendly material is suitable for many applications in the concrete industry. The aggregates were also tested for powder bed 3D printing that uses geopolymers as a binder. The properties of this innovative material are promising and printed elements may be used in non-structural parts in architecture, however, further investigation is needed. We also mapped the production line from the quarry to the final product to recognize the principal local stakeholders and their gain in acting in such a circular economy, with the final economic goal of exploring new business models to support the technological transition of 3D printing.

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