NU SEDS Students Win Prestigious Sustainability Living Lab Creativity Program

A team of students from the School of Engineering and Digital Sciences at Nazarbayev University has emerged victorious in the Sustainability Living Lab Creativity program. This competition, organized by Green Campus and sponsored by Chevron, awarded the 'Smart Geopolymer' team a grant of 2,000,000 tenge for their innovative project proposal.

Consisting of fourth-year undergraduates from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering—Anel Galymzhankyzy, Islambek Manap, Zhaniya Omarova, Doszhan Temirbekov, and Dulat Ualiyev—the team worked under the expert guidance of Professor Chang-Seon Shon to develop their project titled 'Utilization of waste glass & industrial waste for production of 'smart' eco-friendly concrete.'

Their initiative aimed to address pressing environmental concerns in Kazakhstan while simultaneously creating value from discarded materials. By harnessing waste glass materials and byproducts from the steel-making industry, their goal was to craft 'smart' geopolymer concrete, thereby tackling the challenges of waste management and conservation of natural resources in the country.

Zhaniya Omarova, a member of the group, expressed, 'Our research delved into CO2 capture technologies and geopolymerization processes, aiming to repurpose waste materials for concrete production. We were challenged to manage the expansion behavior of these materials, especially basic oxygen furnace slag (BOFS) and crushed waste glass material (WGM). The invaluable support from the 'Sustainability Living Lab' and 'Chevron' enabled us to conduct extensive research, procure necessary materials, and equipment for our experiments.'

The project's focus spanned studying CO2 capture mechanisms of BOFS through forced carbonation and exploring the geopolymerization reaction to transform glass into usable aggregate. Their ultimate aim was to utilize the developed smart geopolymer concrete to create functional items such as benches, flower pots, trash bins, and bricks, thus enhancing the university campus with sustainable, high-quality construction materials.