Synthesis and characterization of 3D-printable geopolymeric foams for thermally efficient building envelope materials

Hussam Alghamdi, Narayanan Neithalath

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations


Synthesis and characterization of 3D-printable foamed fly ash-based geopolymer matrices for thermal insulation is the focus of this paper. A surfactant-based foaming process, multi-step mixing that ensures foam jamming transition and thus a dry foam, and microstructural packing to ensure adequate skeletal density are implemented to develop foamed suspensions amenable to 3D-printing. The foamed suspensions show lower yield stress with increasing surfactant contents, especially above the foam jamming transition. The mixtures demonstrate adequate extrudability, shape retention, and buildability. The geopolymeric foams show porosities ranging from 55 to 75% and bulk densities from 0.6 to 1.0 g/cm3, and these properties are similar irrespective of whether the mixtures are extruded or conventionally cast. The thermal conductivities of the foamed matrices range from 0.15 to 0.25 W/m-K. It is shown that designed architectures that minimize heat transfer can be printed using foamed matrices to obtain sandwich wall panels with thermal insulation properties comparable to or better than those of currently available insulated concrete wall panels. This positions 3D-printing as a strategy to develop composite systems with previously unattainable thermal performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103377
JournalCement and Concrete Composites
StatePublished - Nov 1 2019


  • 3D-printing
  • Buildability
  • Fly ash
  • Geopolymeric foam
  • Porosity
  • Rheology
  • Surfactant
  • Yield stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Building and Construction
  • Materials Science(all)

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