Utilization of sweet sorghum fiber to reinforce fly ash-based geopolymer

Rui Chen, Saeed Ahmari, Lianyang Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


Geopolymer has been of great research interest as a material for sustainable development. As ordinary Portland cement, however, geopolymer exhibits brittle behavior with low tensile strength, ductility, and fracture toughness. This paper investigates the reinforcement of fly ash-based geopolymer with alkali-pretreated sweet sorghum fiber. The sweet sorghum fiber comes from the bagasse (residue), a waste after the juice is extracted from sweet sorghum stalks for ethanol production. Specifically, the unit weight of fly ash-based geopolymer specimens containing different contents of sweet sorghum fibers was measured. Unconfined compression, splitting tensile, and flexural tests were conducted to investigate the effect of incorporated sweet sorghum fiber on the mechanical properties of fly ash-based geopolymer. Scanning electron microscopy imaging was also performed to study the microstructure of the sweet sorghum fiber-geopolymer composite. The results indicate that the unit weight of the sweet sorghum fiber-geopolymer composite decreases with higher fiber content. Although the inclusion of sweet sorghum fiber slightly decreases the unconfined compressive strength, the splitting tensile, and flexural strengths as well as the post-peak toughness increase with the fiber content up to 2 % and then start to decrease. The splitting tensile tests also clearly show the transition from the brittle failure of the plain geopolymer specimen to the "ductile" failure of the geopolymer specimen containing sweet sorghum fiber.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2548-2558
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Materials Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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