Strong and Multifunctional Geopolymer Composites: A Multi-Scale Study

Geo polymers are amorphous inorganic polymers that result from the reaction between an aluminosilicate source and an alkali metal hydroxide or silicate solution. They present various appealing attributes such as rapid hardening, early strength, low shrinkage, freeze-thaw resistance and excellent acid resistance.  The research objective is to build novel multi-scale computational approaches that can connect the effective response to the micro- and nano- constituents.  The project will promote the use of geopolymer composites as low-carbon Portland cement alternative, low-level nuclear waste containment, heavy metal waste encapsulation, and biomaterials for bone regeneration.

Funding source: National Science Foundation.


Ange-Therese Akono, Seid Koric, Waltraud M. Kriven, Influence of Pore Structure on the Strength Behavior of Geopolymer Composites, Cement and Concrete Composites, In Press.

Geochemical Reactions in Reservoir Sandstone Within the Context of CO2 Geological Sequestration

Geologic carbon sequestration in deep saline aquifers is an emerging approach for mitigating climate change by trapping CO2 in suitable geological formations. The research objective is to explore the influence of rock-fluid interactions on  the microstructure, composition, and mechanical characteristics. Furthermore, a full knowledge of geochemical reactions in reservoir conditions and their implications on mechanical integrity will inform exploratory field studies of CO2 geological capture and storage.

Funding Source: U. S. Department of Energy, Center for Geological Storage of CO2.


Ange-Therese Akono, Jennifer L. Druhan, Gabriela Dávila, Theodore Tsotsis, Kristian Jessen, Samantha Fuchs, Dustin Crandall, Zhuofan Shi, Laura Dalton, Mary K. Tkach, Angela L. Goodman, Scott Frailey, Charles J. Werth, A Review of Geo-Chemical-Mechanical Impacts in Geological Carbon Storage Reservoirs, Greenhouse Gases: Science and Technology, DOI: 1002/ghg.1870, (2019).

Fuchs, S.J., Espinoza, D.N., Lopano, C., Akono, A.-T., and Werth, C.J, Geochemical and geomechanical alteration of Mount Simon reservoir rock by CO2-saturated brine following carbon sequestration, International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control, In Press, (2019).

Ange-Therese Akono, Pooyan Kabir, Zhuofan Shi, Samantha Fuchs, Theodore Tsotsis, Kristian Jessen, Charles J Werth, Modeling CO2-Induced Alterations in Mt. Simon Sandstone via Nanomechanics, Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering, DOI:, (2018).

Ange-Therese Akono, Theodore T. Tsotsis, Charles J. Werth, Alteration of the Fracture Behavior in Host Rock During CO2 Geological Sequestration, 10th International Conference on Fracture Mechanics of Concrete and Concrete Structures, FraMCos-X, Bayonne, France, June 2019. DOI: 10.21012/FC10.235480.

Kabir Pooyan, Ange-Therese Akono, Fluid-Rock Reactions in Mt. Simon Sandstone at Microscopic Length-Scale, ARMA 18–219, American Rock Mechanics Association, 52nd meeting, Seattle, June 2018

Multi-scale and Multi-Physics Modeling of Na-PS Geopolymer Cement Composites

Inorganic polysialates are novel lightweight ceramic-like materials that are twice stronger than cement with a carbon footprint five times smaller. Our research goal is to accelerate the discovery of enhanced-performance polysialate composites by simulating various alumino-silicate systems at extreme scales using a deterministic approach. The end goal is an optimized design parameters in a vast and complicated state space along with a first-principle understanding of inorganic polysialate composites.

Funding Source: National Center for Supercomputing Applications, Blue Waters.

Dynamic Scratch Resistance of Nano-engineered Concrete for Sustainable Applications in Railway and Civil Construction

Crumbed rubber concrete represents an alternative to recycle tire rubber waste, thereby alleviating pressure to landfill sites. In this project crumbed-rubber concrete is considered to extend the lifetime of railway ties via reduced wear. Our goal is to understand the tribological behavior at the microscopic scale as a function of intrinsic and extrinsic parameters. The knowledge gained will boost the design of high-performance railroads.

Funding Source: Birmingham-Illinois BRIDGE.


Ange-Therese Akono, Jiaxin Chen, S. Kaewunruen, Friction and Fracture Characteristics of Engineered Crumb-Rubber Concrete at Microscopic Lengthscale, Journal of Construction and Building Materials, Vol. 30, pp. 735-745, (2018).