Durability of lightweight oil-well geopolymer system in sulfate environment

Stephen Adjei, Ahmed Abdelaal, Salaheldin Elkatatny*, Ahmed Mohsen Abdelfattah

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Sulfates when present in the formation water would attack and deteriorate the cementitious system. In the quest to investigate the possibility of using geopolymer systems in oil-well cementing, the durability of geopolymer in various corrosive environments has been simulated. Lightweight geopolymer systems exhibit different microstructural and macroscopic properties compared to the conventional geopolymer systems whose durability under sulfate attack has been widely investigated. It is therefore important to study the resistance of lightweight geopolymer to sulfate attack. A ternary geopolymer was formulated at 13 ppg (1.56 g/cm3) by admixing metakaolin, ground granulated blast furnace slag (GGBFS), and silica fume in an alkaline solution composed of sodium silicate and 10 M sodium hydroxide solution in a mass ratio 1:3. The geopolymer specimen was cured in a water bath at 163 °F for 72 h and subsequently submerged in a 50 g/L sodium sulfate solution for up to 2 days. The effect of the sulfate solution on the strength and the mechanism of the sulfate attack was analyzed using analytical techniques, pH, and ion exchange measurements. The compressive strength of the specimen at 72 h, having a value of 802 psi decreased by 19.8% and 26.2% after day 1 and day 2 in the sodium sulfate solution, respectively. Investigation of the mechanism indicated that the loss in strength was not a result of the formation of deleterious phases but rather the leaching of Na ions from the geopolymer indicated by the rise in the pH and amount of Na ions in the sodium sulfate solution after the geopolymer was submerged in a sulfate solution. Lightweight geopolymer has a relatively loose microstructure that reduces its tendency to inhibit the transport of alkalis during sulfate attack, making the effect of the sulfate environment more pronounced.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)439-448
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Petroleum Exploration and Production Technology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).


  • Geopolymer
  • Ground granulated blast furnace slag
  • Metakaolin
  • Silica fume
  • Sulfate attack

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Energy (all)


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