Alkali Activation of Fly Ash in the Presence of Sodium Nitrate

Ela Ofer-Rozovsky, Gabriela Bar-Nes, Amnon Katz, Michal Arbel Haddad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The use of fly ash as a precursor for geopolymer has been investigated during the last decades for various applications. The aim of this research was to study the effect of nitrate on the formation and evolution of fly ash-based geopolymers, in order to assess their applicability as waste immobilization matrices. These may be of interest in order to treat waste streams from agricultural runoff and various industries including the nuclear industry. Fly ash was alkali-activated using NaOH solutions of various alkalinities, to which nitrates were added as NaNO3. The samples were cured at 40֯C for different periods and characterized by X-ray diffractometry, Fourier transform mid-Infrared spectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), and compressive strength measurements. The content of neo-formed crystalline phases in fly ash-based geopolymers was found to be lower than in metakaolin-based systems studied previously. The nature of the minerals formed in nitrate-free samples differed from those obtained in corresponding metakaolin-based geopolymers. Nevertheless, the dominant phase formed in the presence of nitrate at sufficiently high alkalinity was nitrate-cancrinite, as reported for metakaolin-based geopolymers, regardless of the type of fly-ash used. Although the presence of nitrates was found to have a promoting effect on the geopolymerization process of metakaolin-based geopolymers, it was found to inhibit the processes in fly-ash-based geopolymers. The formation of crystalline phases in FA-based geopolymers suggests that these materials may be used for immobilizing various hazardous species, while FA-based geopolymers containing the nitrate-cancrinite can be considered as a promising candidate for immobilizing radionuclides from radioactive wastes. Graphic Abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.].

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2425-2446
Number of pages22
JournalWaste and Biomass Valorization
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2022


  • Fly ash
  • Geopolymers
  • Nitrate
  • Nitrate-cancrinite
  • Zeolites


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