Lana Hizon Banzon
Hometown: Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines
Graduation date: Spring 2024
FURI | Spring 2023
An Investigation on the Effect of Alkali Source on the Properties of Akali-Activated Mine Tailing Blends
The study aims to characterize alkali-activated mine tailing blend properties such as reactivity, flowability, and compressive strength for potential grout applications. The obtained mine-tailing waste is found to be rich in silicates, which can be stabilized using alkali-activation technology. The pool of samples utilizing sodium hydroxide solution and sodium silicate as additives was narrowed down to specific blends that produced positive results in terms of property testing. Powdered forms of these additives are now being evaluated to develop a ”just-add-water” product, allowing for ease of use. It is recommended that future work study the effects of other alkali-silicates and alkali-hydroxides.
Mentor: Narayanan Neithalath
Featured project | Spring 2023
Lana Banzon, a civil engineering junior, is exploring how to turn mine tailings — the byproducts or waste from the mining process — into valuable silicon salts in a FURI project with faculty mentor Narayanan Neithalath, a professor of civil and environmental engineering. Practices for mining uranium and other resources are often highly toxic, however, a process called alkali activation can help silicates in mine tailings be used as an eco-friendly binder for concrete or grout and can play a significant role in creating a circular economy.
What made you want to get involved in FURI and the project you’re working on?
I wanted to get involved with FURI as a way to learn more about research at a higher level. Getting involved allowed me to broaden my perspective on my field. I chose the project I’m working on because it aligns with my interest in sustainable engineering practices.
How will your engineering research project impact the world?
As waste byproducts of mining practices, mine tailings pose a huge risk to the environment due to their toxic heavy metals and milling chemicals. With alkali-activation technology, these mine tailings can be converted to a concrete blend that can be used for grout applications. Repurposing this waste can maintain the health, safety and welfare of the public.
Have there been any surprises in your research?
There definitely have been surprises in my research such as noticing how a lot of my academic knowledge truly applies to the field. It made me happy to know that my knowledge is becoming useful in the research lab. I was also surprised by all the precautions taken with not only the safety of the researchers but the integrity of the study as well.
What has been your most memorable experience as a student researcher?
My most memorable experience by far was in post-processing the data and seeing the results of the experiments, noticing the trends and patterns.
How do you see this experience helping with your career goals?
This experience broadened my perspective on career paths in civil engineering. Before this, I was not really aware that research was something that could be on my plate. It exposed me to the world of research at the professional level, which I find useful in weighing my options for the future.
What is the best advice you’ve gotten from your faculty mentor?
The best advice I’ve gotten from my faculty mentor is to choose something I’m passionate about. Research is a field where the amount of work you put in affects the results, and who wants to put work into something they don’t enjoy? I’ve definitely seen how this can affect the quality of work produced.
Why should other students get involved in FURI?
I would suggest that other students involve themselves in this program so they can gain a more learned sense of what the research field is like. I feel like it is a good way for them to be introduced to the practices in research and help them figure out if this is an option for them in the future.