Civil Engineering Professors Receive NSF Grant for Exploratory Research

A research team that includes two professors from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering has received a $50,000 EAGER grant from the National Science Foundation to evaluate the potential use of a sustainable alternative to traditional concrete in the construction of precast emergency residential shelters.

Assistant Professor Aleksandra Radlinska, PhD, and Associate Professor Joseph Robert Yost, PhD, PE, together with graduate student Nicholas Martignetti CE ’09, will be conducting an experimental investigation of full-scale, precast structural members fabricated with a novel class of construction material called alkali-activated fly ash concrete (AAFAC). Traditional concrete is made from portland cement, the production of which contributes 5% of the world’s greenhouse gases. The main component of AAFAC is fly ash, a byproduct of coal-burning power plants that normally ends up in landfills.

The collaboration involves partners from academia and industry who are responsible for different stages of the project. Researchers at Philadelphia University will develop of an AAFAC mix design with the necessary material characteristics for use in structural concrete. Oldcastle Precast, a leading manufacturer of precast concrete, polymer concrete, and plastic products in the U.S., will fabricate precast AAFAC material- and structural-level test samples. Finally, working in the University’s state-of-the-art Structural Engineering Teaching and Research Laboratory, Dr. Yost, Dr. Radlinska, and Martignetti will conduct material- and structural-level experimental testing.

The findings of this research will contribute to the development of an AAFAC precasting technology for use in the manufacture of precast structural elements for infrastructure and other applications. Because facilities that produce portland cement could manufacture AAFAC without having to make any alterations, the material is both environmentally and economically sustainable.

EAGER (EArly-concept Grants for Exploratory Research) funding supports exploratory work in its early stages on untested, but potentially transformative, research ideas or approaches.

Assistant Professor Aleksandra Radlinska, PhD
Assistant Professor Aleksandra Radlinska, PhD
Associate Professor  Joseph Robert Yost, PhD, PE
Associate Professor Joseph Robert Yost, PhD, PE