Louisiana Tech student recognized nationally for work in “green” concrete

Jun 30, 2010 | Engineering and Science, Research and Development

Ivan Diaz-Loya, a senior PhD candidate with the Trenchless Technology Center (TTC) at Louisiana Tech University, has been awarded the prestigious Katharine and Bryant Mather Scholarship by ASTM International for his work in the area of geopolymer concrete, an environmentally friendly alternative to ordinary Portland cement-based concrete.
The scholarship is presented annually to full-time undergraduate students completing their second/sophomore year of college, or later, or graduate students who are pursuing degrees specializing in cement or concrete materials technology, or concrete construction.
“After over three years of research at Louisiana Tech, it is a great feeling to be recognized for a project that I have believed in since day one,” said Diaz-Loya.  “It’s not just me and Dr. Allouche that believes my work in geopolymer concrete technology is important, but ASTM International, the authority in standards and specifications in the US and many other countries, believes this work is important as well.”
Past recipients of the Katharine and Bryant Mather Scholarship come from Clarkson University, Cornell University and the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.  These universities are considered “powerhouse” institutions in cementitious binders and concrete materials.
In addition to this scholarship, Diaz-Loya also recently earned one of only five national scholarships awarded by the North American Society for Trenchless Technology (NASTT).
“Ivan is ranked among the top graduate students in his field regionally, if not nationally,” said Dr. Erez Allouche, associate professor of civil engineering and technical director for the Trenchless Technology Center at Louisiana Tech.
Allouche says that geopolymer concrete is an emerging ‘green concrete’ that is attracting significant interest from a broad range of entities including architects, pre-cast manufacturers, construction companies, furniture manufacturers and more.
“Ivan’s work tackles one of the fundamental aspects of allowing geopolymer concrete technology to be used on a large scale in commercial applications, converting it into an engineered material with predictable mechanical properties.”
Diaz-Loya earned his bachelor’s degree in materials engineering in 2003 from Chihuahua Institute of Technology in Mexico and immediately began his concrete research while working for GCC Cement, Mexico’s second largest cement manufacturer.
In 2006, Diaz-Loya joined Louisiana Tech University, focusing on the standardization of fly ash based-geopolymer concrete and advancing his work on the strength of Tech’s interdisciplinary approach to research.
Diaz-Loya’s work has been published in some of the industry’s top peer reviewed journals and has co-authored several conference papers in the area of geopolymer concrete.  His work has also drawn the interest of national associations such as the National Read-Mix Concrete Association (NRMCA) and the Electrical Power Research Institute (EPRI).
According to Diaz-Loya, the success of his research at Louisiana Tech is the result of a multidisciplinary team.
“Dr. Erez Allouche, my advisor has provided me with the guidance, funds and the equipment this project required. Dr. Sven Eklund and Dr. Dexter Cahoy, which are part of my advisory committee, have provided extremely important guidance and advice in the fields of Chemistry and Statistics, respectively.”
“The College of Engineering and Science has also provided me with important support such as the acquisition of a new compression testing machine with a capacity of 400,000 pounds.  This equipment has helped my research tremendously by making testing more accurate and automated.”
The Trenchless Technology Center (TTC) at Louisiana Tech University is a university/industry cooperative research center established to advance trenchless technology by serving as an independent source of knowledge, research and education.
The TTC supports a state-of-the-art cementitious materials laboratory, which allows graduate students to perform standard and specialized tests in room and elevated temperature environments.