Sonication Enhanced Geopolymerisation

Geopolymers present a promising alternative to traditional cement-based materials, offering environmental, mechanical, and durability advantages. Ultrasonic dispersing is a highly efficient technique to produce geopolymers with excellent material characteristics. Sonication represents a highly efficient mixing method enabling the economical production of high-performance geopolymers in large quantities.

Enhanced Geopolymerization by Power Ultrasound

Geopolymerization necessitates meticulous and vigorous mixing to ensure optimal contact among its components, facilitating complete polymerization. The application of power ultrasound induces intense shear forces, thereby fostering the necessary mixing and homogenization, while concurrently supplying energy conducive to prompt and thorough geopolymerization. Power ultrasound has enhances geopolymerization kinetics by promoting better dispersion of reactants and facilitating the breakdown of agglomerates, leading to improved reaction rates and product quality.

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Ultrasonic disperser MultiSonoReactor with 16,000 watts dispersing capacity for mixing reagents and speed-up catalytic extraction processes

MultiSonoReactor with 16kW ultrasound power for inline geopolymerization on production scale

Ultrasonic mixing and dispersing can promote geopolymerization through several mechanisms:

  • Enhanced Reactivity: Ultrasonic energy increases the reactivity of the geopolymer precursors by promoting the dissolution of silicates and aluminates, which are key components in geopolymerization reactions. The acoustic cavitation effect generated by ultrasonic waves creates localized hotspots, increasing the kinetics of dissolution and enhancing the overall reaction rate. Sonication accelerates the dissolution of aluminosilicate precursors and the polymerization of silicate species, leading to shorter processing times and faster curing of geopolymer materials.
  • Homogeneous Mixing: Ultrasonic mixing ensures uniform dispersion of precursors within the geopolymer matrix. This homogeneous distribution of reactants facilitates the formation of a more uniform and well-defined geopolymer structure, leading to improved mechanical properties and overall performance.
  • Particle Size Reduction: Power ultrasound also breaks down larger particles into smaller sizes, thereby increasing the surface area available for reaction. This finer particle size promotes the contact between reactants and accelerates the geopolymerization process.
  • Elimination of Agglomerates: Ultrasonic mixing helps to break up agglomerates or clusters of particles, ensuring better interfacial contact between individual particles and promoting more efficient geopolymerization.
  • These ultrasonically induced mechanisms collectively contribute to the enhancement of geopolymerization kinetics and the development of geopolymer materials with improved properties.

    Power-Ultrasound for Improved Manufacturing of Construction Materials

    Power ultrasound has emerged as a reliable technology for the manufacturing of building and construction materials, including cement, concrete, geopolymers, and other constriction matrials. Ultrasonic processing involves the application of low-frequency ultrasound waves to a liquid or slurry medium, leading to a range of beneficial effects on the material properties and processing characteristics. Researchers and industry professionals have increasingly recognized the potential of ultrasound to improve the performance, efficiency, and sustainability of construction materials. This introduction provides an overview of the applications and advantages of power ultrasound in the manufacturing of building and construction materials.

    Ultrasonicator UP200St (200W) dispersing carbon black in water using 1%wt Tween80 as surfactant.

    Ultrasonic Dispersion of Carbon Black using the ultrasonicator UP200St

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    • Cement: Ultrasonic treatment can enhance the hydration kinetics of cementitious materials by promoting the dissolution of clinker phases and accelerating the formation of hydration products. This results in shorter curing times, improved early strength development, and enhanced durability of concrete structures. Additionally, ultrasound can facilitate the dispersion of additives and supplementary cementitious materials, such as fly ash and slag, leading to more sustainable and environmentally friendly cement compositions.
      Read more about ultrasonically accelerated setting and early strength development of concrete!
    • Concrete: Ultrasonic mixing and curing techniques can improve the workability, strength, and durability of concrete mixtures. Sonication promotes the dispersion of aggregates and reinforcement fibers, reduces the presence of air voids and defects, and enhances the bonding between cementitious matrix and aggregates. This results in concrete with higher compressive strength, enhanced resistance to cracking and degradation, and improved long-term performance in various environmental conditions.
      Learn more about the beneficial effects of sonication on the hydration in cement!
    • Geopolymers: Ultrasonic processing plays a crucial role in the synthesis and curing of geopolymers, which are eco-friendly alternatives to traditional cement-based materials. Sonication promotes the dissolution of aluminosilicate precursors, accelerates the polymerization of silicate species, and enhances the homogenization of reactants, leading to faster curing and superior mechanical properties of geopolymer products. Additionally, ultrasound can improve the rheological properties and workability of geopolymer slurries, enabling the fabrication of complex shapes and structures.
    • Other Construction Materials: Power ultrasound has diverse applications in the manufacturing of various construction materials, including mortar, grouts, plaster, and insulation products. Sonication can improve the dispersion of additives, fillers, and reinforcing agents, optimize the microstructure and porosity of materials, and enhance their thermal and mechanical properties. Especially when it comes to the uniform incorporation of nanomaterials, ultrasonic dispersing and geagglomeration contribute to the quality and performance of construction materials in architectural and infrastructure applications.
      Read more about the superior dispersion of nanomaterials using sonication!


    The video shows the ultrasonic mixing and dispersing of Graphite in 250mL of Epoxy Resin (Toolcraft L), using an ultrasonic homogenizer (UP400St, Hielscher Ultrasonics). Hielscher Ultrasonics makes equipment to disperse graphite, graphene, carbon-nanotubes, nanowires or fillers in the lab or in high volume production processes. Typical applications are the dispersing nano materials and micro materials during the functionalization process or for dispersing into resins or polymers.

    Mix Epoxy Resin with Graphite Filler using Ultrasonic Homogenizer UP400St (400 Watts)

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    High-Performance Sonicators for Geoppolymer Production

    Ultrasound-Dispersers for Geopolymer Synthesis: Ultrasonic homogenizer UIP1000hdT for bench-top trials formulating high-performance geopolymersHielscher sonicators are capable of producing intense acoustic cavitation, which leads to the formation and collapse of microscopic bubbles in the liquid medium. This process results in highly efficient mixing and homogenization of the geopolymer precursor materials, ensuring uniform distribution of reactants and improving the quality of the final product. Hielscher Ultrasonics industrial ultrasonic processors can deliver very high amplitudes. Amplitudes of up to 200µm can be easily continuously run in 24/7 operation. The continuous processing using an ultrasonic flow cell allows to sonicate large volumes under precisely controlled conditions guaranteeing continuously high quality geopolymerization.
    Ultrasound-Dispersers for Geopolymer Synthesis at Any Scale: Hielscher offers a range of ultrasonic equipment with varying power capacities and processing volumes, allowing for scalability and customization according to the specific requirements of geopolymer manufacturing processes. Whether it is laboratory-scale experimentation in batches or industrial-scale inline production, Hielscher sonicators can be adapted to meet the needs of different applications.
    Strengths of ultrasonic processing – including enhanced homogenization, accelerated reaction kinetics, particle size reduction, improved mechanical properties, and scalability – make Hielscher a powerful technique for optimizing geopolymer synthesis and advancing the development of sustainable construction materials. Offering strong advantages for geopolymer manufacturing, Hielscher sonicators bring you to the forefront of geopolymer production.

    High-perfromance sonicator UIP16000 for high-volume processes such as homogenizing, dispersing, emulsification, milling or geopolymerization.

    Sonicator UIP16000 for dispersing construction materials such as geopolymers or cementitious materials.

    Why Hielscher Ultrasonics?

    • high efficiency
    • state-of-the-art technology
    • reliability & robustness
    • adjustable, precise process control
    • batch & inline
    • for any volume
    • intelligent software
    • smart features (e.g., programmable, data protocolling, remote control)
    • easy and safe to operate
    • low maintenance
    • CIP (clean-in-place)

    Design, Manufacturing and Consulting – Quality Made in Germany

    Hielscher ultrasonicators are well-known for their highest quality and design standards. Robustness and easy operation allow the smooth integration of our ultrasonicators into industrial facilities. Rough conditions and demanding environments are easily handled by Hielscher ultrasonicators.

    Hielscher Ultrasonics is an ISO certified company and put special emphasis on high-performance ultrasonicators featuring state-of-the-art technology and user-friendliness. Of course, Hielscher ultrasonicators are CE compliant and meet the requirements of UL, CSA and RoHs.

    The table below gives you an indication of the approximate processing capacity of our ultrasonicators:

    Batch Volume Flow Rate Recommended Devices
    10 to 2000mL 20 to 400mL/min UP200Ht, UP400St
    0.1 to 20L 0.2 to 4L/min UIP2000hdT
    10 to 100L 2 to 10L/min UIP4000hdT
    15 to 150L 3 to 15L/min UIP6000hdT
    n.a. 10 to 100L/min UIP16000
    n.a. larger cluster of UIP16000

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    Please use the form below to request additional information about ultrasonic processors, applications and price. We will be glad to discuss your process with you and to offer you an ultrasonic system fulfilling your requirements!

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    Ultrasonic high-shear homogenizers are used in lab, bench-top, pilot and industrial processing.

    Hielscher Ultrasonics manufactures high-performance ultrasonic homogenizers for mixing applications, dispersion, emulsification and extraction on lab, pilot and industrial scale.

    Literature / References

    Facts Worth Knowing

    What are Geopolymers and what are they used for?

    Geopolymers are inorganic polymers or aluminosilicate materials that are typically synthesized by the alkaline activation of aluminosilicate precursors such as fly ash, slag, metakaolin, or natural materials like volcanic ash. They are formed through a polymeric network of aluminum and silicon oxides, with the alkaline activator playing a crucial role in initiating the geopolymerization reaction.
    These materials have gained attention as a sustainable alternative to traditional Portland cement-based concrete due to their environmentally friendly properties and excellent engineering performance.

    Geopolymers are used in various applications, including:

  • Construction Materials: Geopolymer concrete, mortar, and grouts are used for structural and non-structural applications in buildings, bridges, roads, and infrastructure projects.
  • Refractory Materials: Geopolymers can withstand high temperatures and are used in the production of refractory materials for furnaces, kilns, and industrial applications.
  • Coatings and Surface Treatments: Geopolymer-based coatings are used for corrosion protection, fire resistance, and waterproofing in infrastructure, marine, and industrial environments.
  • Waste Immobilization: Geopolymers are used for the immobilization and stabilization of hazardous and radioactive waste materials, providing a safe and environmentally friendly disposal solution.
  • Geopolymers – A Green Alternative to Concrete

    Geopolymers offer a green alternative to traditional concrete due to several environmentally friendly characteristics. The major advantages of geopolymer as building material in construction include reduced carbon emissions, the utilization of industrial by-products, conservation of energy and water, and its recyclability and durability. As awareness of environmental issues continues to grow worldwide, geopolymers are increasingly recognized as a viable solution for reducing the environmental footprint of construction materials. Sonication is a highly effective mixing technique that allows to produce high-performence geolpolymers economically at large volumes.

    • Reduced Carbon Footprint: Geopolymers typically have a lower carbon footprint compared to traditional Portland cement-based concrete. The production of Portland cement involves high-temperature kiln processes, which emit significant amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2). In contrast, geopolymers can be synthesized at much lower temperatures, sometimes at room temperature, resulting in reduced energy consumption and CO2 emissions during manufacturing.
    • Utilization of Industrial By-Products: Geopolymers often utilize industrial by-products such as fly ash, slag, and metakaolin as precursors. These materials are often considered waste products from other industries and would otherwise require disposal, contributing to environmental burdens. By incorporating these by-products into geopolymers, not only are they diverted from landfills, but they also reduce the demand for virgin raw materials, further reducing environmental impact.
    • Lower Energy Consumption: The production of geopolymers typically requires lower energy input compared to Portland cement. Geopolymerization processes can occur at lower temperatures and may not require the extensive calcination process involved in cement production. This results in reduced energy consumption and associated greenhouse gas emissions.
    • Durability and Longevity: Geopolymers can exhibit excellent durability properties, including high compressive strength, low permeability, and resistance to chemical corrosion. As a result, structures made from geopolymers may require less maintenance and repair over their lifespan compared to traditional concrete. This longevity reduces the need for frequent reconstruction or replacement, thereby conserving resources and reducing overall environmental impact.
    • Reduced Water Usage: Geopolymer production typically requires less water compared to traditional concrete. The mixing process for geopolymers often involves minimal water content, leading to lower water consumption and less strain on water resources.
    • Recyclability and Reusability: Geopolymer materials can often be recycled or reused at the end of their service life. Unlike traditional concrete, which may require significant energy-intensive processing for recycling or disposal, geopolymers can be broken down and repurposed with lower environmental impact.

    High performance ultrasonics! The Hielscher product range covers the full spectrum from the compact lab ultrasonicator over bench-top units to full-industrial ultrasonic systems.

    Hielscher Ultrasonics manufactures high-performance ultrasonic homogenizers from lab to industrial size.

    We will be glad to discuss your process.

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