This research proposes to investigate the potential carbon sequestering capacity of a synthetic lightweight aggregate in concrete. Concrete is a material used in the construction industry and is one of the major contributors to global greenhouse gases (GHGs). Concrete also has properties that allow it to capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and researchers have recently started looking critically at concrete-based structures as one of the major avenues to capture GHGs. This research replaces traditional aggregates, being crushed rocks, with a synthetic lightweight aggregate (SLA). The SLA is a material made using two solid waste materials, coal fly ash and plastic waste. Processed and granulated, these produce a hard granular material that can serve as a substitute for crushed rocks in concrete. Because of the chemical composition of coal ash, this material has a higher amount of Ca(OH)2 which is a contributing factor in carbon sequestration.
Ifeanyi is a PhD candidate at the Graduate School of Engineering in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department. He expects to complete his studies in May 2023. Ifeanyi earned his MS in Civil Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) and a BS in Civil Engineering from the University of Lagos, Nigeria. Prior to coming to Tufts, he contributed to the development of the GeoExplorer Project - A Mixed Reality Game that teaches civil engineering undergraduates how to carry out Cone Penetration field tests. At Tufts, Ifeanyi was selected for the Tufts Graduate Engineering Teaching Training (GETT) program. It is a program that trains a select group of grad students who intend to go into academia to teach.
Current Studies and Future Goals
When asked what he found most meaningful about his field of study, Ifeanyi responded with the following: “My doctoral research is based on the reuse of recycled plastic waste and coal ash in concrete - and the mechanical and physicochemical functions that control this combination. What is most meaningful to me is that I'm working on a project that can have a direct positive impact by reducing the carbon footprint of the construction industry safely and permanently removing coal ash and plastic waste from the environment incentivizing a swifter transition into more sustainable practices in the field of civil engineering materials.”
When asked what interested him in becoming a TIE Fellow, Ifeanyi responded with the following: “The opportunity to conduct interdisciplinary research with scientists and engineers outside my primary field (Civil Engineering), as well as the prospects of exploring one of my secondary hypotheses regarding my doctoral research.”
After Tufts, Ifeanyi plans to become a professor. His long-term aspiration is to do interdisciplinary research in the sustainable material space, develop technologies that are economically viable, ethically sound, and environmentally sustainable, as well as teach and inspire the next generation of engineers.
When he’s not doing school work, Ifeanyi enjoys cooking, traveling, hiking, and writing poetry.
Favorite food/drink: Fried plantains/Mango juice
Favorite movie/TV show: Lord of the Rings; Arrival (2016)
Favorite song/artist: Pilgrim by Enya & Ride by 21 pilots
Favorite place you've visited: DC
Favorite thing you've seen: A wavy (vertical) rainbow
Favorite course taken at Tufts: CEE 244 – Soil Properties & Measurements
Dream job: Civil Engineering Professor (at a tier 1/2 research university); UN/World Bank Consultant on Sustainability