Project Flow

FLOW - Lightweight alkali activated composite foams based on secondary raw materials

Background and motivations

The construction and building industry has a huge potential to improve its material efficiency and sustainability by utilizing wastes or by-products as secondary raw materials. Currently, many waste materials remain without effective utilization within the EU since they have not found major industrial applications. New possibilities for the recycling of inorganic wastes or industrial residues are investigated to avoid the disposal of waste materials in landfills. Especially, aluminate- and silicate-containing materials can be utilized in alkali activation technology; when treated with an alkaline activator solution these precursors form a solid material at room temperature which could be used to replace concrete, ceramic and some other industrial materials. Additionally, significant environmental advantages are achievable by replacing the production of these energy-intensive materials by more sustainable processes.



The main objective of the proposed project is to develop new lightweight alkali activated foams based on secondary raw materials. The developed materials could have applications in wide range of thermal (and acoustic) insulating products.

To obtain highly porous structures, properly selected foaming agents and foam stabilizing agents need to be included in the basic compositions.

To deal with the main disadvantage of such lightweight materials i.e., their high fragility, addition of fibers will be used to overcome this drawback and help to produce materials with more elastic nature. By incorporating organic fibers from a bio-based renewable source, and simultaneously using inorganic secondary resources as raw materials for alkali activated foams, a high performance in terms of energy efficiency and environmental impact will be reached.

The developed materials will have applications in wide range of thermal and acoustic insulating products.


Project duration

1 April 2018 – 31 March 2021


Funded by

  • Business Finland and industrial partners, SSAB Europe Oy, Saint-Gobain Finland Oy, and Kiertokaari Oy
  • ERA-MIN 2 Innovation program (EU Horizon 2020 program)



[1]E. Adesanya, M. Karhu, A. Ismailov, K. Ohenoja, P. Kinnunen, M. Illikainen, Thermal behavior of ladle slag mortars containing ferrochrome slag aggregates, Advances in Cement Research. (2020).

[2]H. Nguyen, A. Kaas, P. Kinnunen, V. Carvelli, C. Monticelli, J. Yliniemi, M. Illikainen, Fiber reinforced alkali-activated stone wool composites fabricated by hot-pressing technique, Materials & Design. 186 (2020) 108315.

[3]M. Mastali, K.M. Shaad, Z. Abdollahnejad, M. Falah, P. Kinnunen, M. Illikainen, Towards sustainable bricks made with fiber-reinforced alkali-activated desulfurization slag mortars incorporating carbonated basic oxygen furnace aggregates, Construction and Building Materials. 232 (2020) 117258.

[4]M. Mastali, A. Alzaza, K. Mohammad Shaad, P. Kinnunen, Z. Abdollahnejad, B. Woof, M. Illikainen, Using Carbonated BOF Slag Aggregates in Alkali-Activated Concretes, Materials. 12 (2019) 1288.

[5]A. Alzaza, M. Mastali, P. Kinnunen, L. Korat, Z. Abdollahnejad, V. Ducman, M. Illikainen, Production of Lightweight Alkali Activated Mortars Using Mineral Wools, Materials. 12 (2019) 1695.

[6]H. Nguyen, P. Kinnunen, K. Gijbels, V. Carvelli, H. Sreenivasan, A.M. Kantola, V.-V. Telkki, W. Schroeyers, M. Illikainen, Ettringite-based binder from ladle slag and gypsum – The effect of citric acid on fresh and hardened state properties, Cement and Concrete Research. 123 (2019) 105800.

[7]H. Nguyen, P. Kinnunen, V. Carvelli, M. Illikainen, Durability of ettringite-based composite reinforced with polypropylene fibers under combined chemical and physical attack, Cement and Concrete Composites. 102 (2019) 157–168.



Introduction about the FLOW project



  • University of Oulu: Hoang Nguyen, Elijah Adesanya, Päivö Kinnunen, Mirja Illikainen
  • Slovenian National Building and Civil Engineering Institute: Katja Traven, Mark Češnovar, Vilma Ducman
  • University of Modena and Reggio Emilia: Isabella Lancellotti, Caterina Sgarlata, Cristina Leonelli



Last updated: 22.4.2020