Sustainable construction materials
Arizona is a leader in the United States in the mining and processing of copper. This takes the form of ten major open pit copper mines, which produce 65% of the country's copper. Handling mining waste for copper contributes to the cost of land and resources needed to run these mines. This is primarily since several hundred tons of ore and overburden must be processed to produce one ton of copper metal.
The goal of this research project will be to determine the feasibility of using stockpiled copper mining waste as alternative cementitious materials and aggregates in concrete. This would be determined by investigating their chemical compositions, mechanical and durability properties, and potential health risks of concrete made with this aggregate. To do this analysis, mechanical testing and spectroscopy will be used.
Chemical characterization and the hydration progress of the concrete will be monitored using a Raman spectroscope. This form of spectroscopy measures the frequency shift of light emitted at the sample target due to Raman scattering. Raman scattering is when light undergoes an inelastic collision with a sample causing a shift in the molecular vibrational mode leading to the emitted light having a different frequency than the incident light. This form of spectroscopy allows for a topographical image of the chemical structure of a sample to be created. Mechanical properties will be determined with compression and flexural testing. Both these tests will be performed according to the current ASTM standards to find the performance of this material.