Machine learning application to eco-friendly concrete design for decarbonisation

Abigail Lavercombe, Xu Huang, Sakdirat Kaewunruen

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Cement replacement materials can not only benefit the workability of the concrete but can also improve its compressive strength. Reducing the cement content of concrete can also lower CO2 emissions to mitigate the impact of the construction industry on the environment and improve energy consumption. This paper aims to predict the compressive strength (CS) and embodied carbon (EC) of cement replacement concrete using machine learning (ML) algorithms, i.e., deep neural network (DNN), support vector regression (SVR), gradient boosting regression (GBR), random forest (RF), k-nearest neighbors (kNN), and decision tree regression (DTR). Not only is producing an optimal ML model helpful for predicting accurate results, but it also saves time, energy, and costs, compared to conducting experiments. Firstly, 367 pieces of experimental datasets from the open literature were collected, in which cement was replaced with any of the cementitious materials. Secondly, the datasets were imported into the ML models, whose parameters were tuned by the grid search algorithm (GSA). Then, the prediction performance, the coefficient of determination (R2), the prediction accuracy, and the root mean square error (RMSE) were employed to indicate the prediction ability of the ML models. The results demonstrate that the GBR models perform the best prediction of the CS and EC. The R2 of the GBR models for predicting the CS and EC are 0.946 and 0.999, respectively. Thus, it can be concluded that the GBR models have promising abilities for design assistance in cement replacement concrete. Finally, a sensitivity analysis (SA) was conducted in this paper to analyse the effects of the inputs on the CS and EC of the cement replacement concrete. Pulverised fuel ash (PFA), blast-furnace slag (GGBS), Expanded perlite (EP), and Silica fume (SF) were noticed to affect the CS and EC of cement replacement concrete significantly.
Original languageEnglish
Article number13663
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Publication statusPublished - 10 Dec 2021


  • machine-learning-assisted design
  • eco-friendly concrete
  • cement replacement materials
  • embodied carbon
  • K-fold cross validation


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