Copper Mine Tailing Geopolymer Bricks

Technology #ua12-019

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Jinhong Zhang
Associate Professor, Mining & Geological Engineering
Saeed Ahmari
Graduate Assistant, Teaching, Civil Engineering & Engineering Mechanic
Lianyang Zhang
Associate Professor, Civil Engineering & Engineering Mechanics
Managed By
Robert Sleeper
Licensing Manager (520) 626-4604


Bricks are a widely used construction and building material. For example, in the United States, about 9 billion bricks are used a year. Conventional production of bricks usually utilizes clay and shale as the source material and requires high temperature (900 - 1,000 °C) kiln firing. Quarrying operations for producing the clay and shale are energy intensive, adversely affect the landscape, and can release high level of waste materials. The high temperature kiln firing not only consumes significant amount of energy, but also releases substantial quantity of greenhouse gases. It is also noted that there is a shortage of clay and shale in many parts of the world.



This invention produces bricks from copper mine tailings through geopolymerization. Geopolymers not only provides performance comparable to OPC in many applications, but shows a number of additional advantages. Considering the fact that a large amount of copper mine tailings are generated each year and that copper mine tailings are rich in silica and alumina and can be used as a potential source material for production of geopolymers, this invention utilizes copper mine tailings to produce geopolymer bricks which both provide a disposal source for mining waste as well as providing a new source of building materials.



The product could one day be used to create eco-friendly and more environmentally beneficial bricks from the large amount of copper tailings which are currently the unused byproduct of mining.



This invention has been demonstrated to be superior to the state-of-the-art in (a) theory, (b) simulations, and © using real data. Our simulation results show orders of magnitude in improvement, as compared to traditional methods. Real results from data closely replicate the performance of our simulations.

•       Does not require costly and resource intense clay or shale to be formed;

•       Does not require high temperature firing nor high pressure molding;

•       method can be used to turn existing leftover tailings into bricks without significant modification;

•       method releases less greenhouse gas and is more environmentally friendly than conventional bricks.

Lead Inventor: Dr. Lianyang Zhang


UA ID:  UA12-019


Licensing Manager:

Robert Sleeper, J.D.

Licensing Manager, College of Engineering

Ofc: 520-626-4604