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ARCS Oregon Makes Scholar Feel Like A Rock Star

Posted on Friday, February 7, 2020

Debb Glosser, ARCS Scholar at OSU, works mainly with cementitious materials. For her dissertation, she worked on improving ways to model the reaction pathways and products in cements containing fly ash. Fly ash is a waste product from coal combustion/electricity generation that we can remove from the waste stream and use as a partial replacement for ordinary cement. The reason we'd want to do this is three-fold:

  • First, cement clinkering accounts for about 7-8% of global CO2 emissions since we use so much of it 
  • Second, fly ash would otherwise just be a waste material we put in a landfill 
  • Third, fly ash can have beneficial properties in cement if used properly 

There are economic and environmental benefits for using it in cement, but since fly ash is so variable, it can be challenging to use effectively, and we arbitrarily exclude which ashes we can use. Debb's work closed some of these knowledge gaps by determining how the petrophysics of the fly ash influences the chemical reaction kinetics. With this information, she was able to use thermodynamic modeling to get from the chemical composition of the materials to a method to actually model and simulate the intermediate and final reaction products. This capability enables her lab to have information they need to extend the pool of useable fly ash, and also design cement and concrete mixtures more effectively from an economic, design, and environmental standpoint.

Debb has received recognition for her research:

  • The ASTM scholarship was a cash/scholarship award for contributions in cement and concrete research. ASTM is one of the major industry standards groups in the engineering world.
  •  Debb won a cash award from PacTrans in 2019 for contributions to cement and concrete research.

In her spare time Debb does a lot of alpinism and general climbing. The ARCS award has helped her to do this during grad school. She just celebrated her defense by traveling to Bozeman, MT to do some ice climbing where she is leading Switchback Falls in Hyalite Canyon. I've also been able to travel to the Chugach range in Alaska, Canmore/Banff and Jasper in Alberta CA, Squamish and Lillooet in BC, and all over the PNW for mountaineering and climbing.

Debb's donors are Liz and Greg Christiansen.