Commenced in January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Edition: International
Paper Count: 3

Cement Hydration Related Abstracts

3 Developing a High Performance Cement Based Material: The Influence of Silica Fume and Organosilane

Authors: Andrea Cretu, Calin Cadar, Maria Miclaus, Lucian Barbu-Tudoran, Siegfried Stapf, Ioan Ardelean


Additives and mineral admixtures have become an integral part of cement-based materials. It is common practice to add silica fume to cement based mixes in order to produce high-performance concrete. There is still a lack of scientific understanding regarding the effects that silica fume has on the microstructure of hydrated cement paste. The aim of the current study is to develop high-performance materials with low permeability and high resistance to flexural stress using silica fume and an organosilane. Organosilane bonds with cement grains and silica fume, influencing both the workability and the final properties of the mix, especially the pore size distributions and pore connectivity. Silica fume is a known pozzolanic agent which reacts with the calcium hydroxide in hydrated cement paste, producing more C-S-H and improving the mechanical properties of the mix. It is believed that particles of silica fume act as capillary pore fillers and nucleation centers for C-S-H and other hydration products. In order to be able to design cement-based materials with added silica fume and organosilane, it is necessary first to understand the formation of the porous network during hydration and to observe the distribution of pores and their connectivity. Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) methods in low-fields are non-destructive and allow the study of cement-based materials from the standpoint of their porous structure. Other methods, such as XRD and SEM-EDS, help create a comprehensive picture of the samples, along with the classic mechanical tests (compressive and flexural strength measurements). The transverse relaxation time (T₂) was measured during the hydration of 16 samples prepared with two water/cement ratios (0.3 and 0.4) and different concentrations or organosilane (APTES, up to 2% by mass of cement) and silica fume (up to 6%). After their hydration, the pore size distribution was assessed using the same NMR approach on the samples filled with cyclohexane. The SEM-EDS and XRD measurements were applied on pieces and powders prepared from the samples that were used in mechanical testing, which were kept under water for 28 days. Adding silica fume does not influence the hydration dynamics of cement paste, while the addition of organosilane extends the dormancy stage up to 10 hours. The size distribution of the capillary pores is not influenced by the addition of silica fume or organosilane, while the connectivity of capillary pores is decreased only when there is organosilane in the mix. No filling effect is observed even at the highest concentration of silica fume. There is an apparent increase in flexural strength of samples prepared only with silica fume and a decrease for those prepared with organosilane, with a few exceptions. XRD reveals that the pozzolanic reactivity of silica fume can only be observed when there is no organosilane present and the SEM-EDS method reveals the pore distribution, as well as hydration products and the presence or absence of calcium hydroxide. The current work was funded by the Romanian National Authority for Scientific Research, CNCS – UEFISCDI, through project PN-III-P2-2.1-PED-2016-0719.

Keywords: NMR, Concrete Admixtures, Cement Hydration, silica fume, porosity, organosilane

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2 Study of Nucleation and Growth Processes of Ettringite in Supersaturated Diluted Solutions

Authors: E. Poupelloz, S. Gauffinet


Ettringite Ca₆Al₂(SO₄)₃(OH)₁₂26H₂O is one of the major hydrates formed during cement hydration. Ettringite forms in Portland cement from the reaction between tricalcium aluminate Ca₃Al₂O₆ and calcium sulfate. Ettringite is also present in calcium sulfoaluminate cement in which it is the major hydrate, formed by the reaction between yeelimite Ca₄(AlO₂)₆SO₄ and calcium sulfate. About the formation of ettringite, numerous results are available in the literature even if some issues are still under discussion. However, almost all published work about ettringite was done on cementitious systems. Yet in cement, hydration reactions are very complex, the result of dissolution-precipitation processes and are submitted to various interactions. Understanding the formation process of a phase alone, here ettringite, is the first step to later understand the much more complex reactions happening in cement. This study is crucial for the comprehension of early cement hydration and physical behavior. Indeed formation of hydrates, in particular, ettringite, will have an influence on the rheological properties of the cement paste and on the need for admixtures. To make progress toward the understanding of existing phenomena, a specific study of nucleation and growth processes of ettringite was conducted. First ettringite nucleation was studied in ionic aqueous solutions, with controlled but different experimental conditions, as different supersaturation degrees (β), different pH or presence of exogenous ions. Through induction time measurements, interfacial ettringite crystals solution energies (γ) were determined. Growth of ettringite in supersaturated solutions was also studied through chain crystallization reactions. Specific BET surface area measurements and Scanning Electron Microscopy observations seemed to prove that growth process is favored over the nucleation process when ettringite crystals are initially present in a solution with a low supersaturation degree. The influence of stirring on ettringite formation was also investigated. Observation was made that intensity and nature of stirring have a high influence on the size of ettringite needles formed. Needle sizes vary from less than 10µm long depending on the stirring to almost 100µm long without any stirring. During all previously mentioned experiments, initially present ions are consumed to form ettringite in such a way that the supersaturation degree with regard to ettringite is decreasing over time. To avoid this phenomenon a device compensating the drop of ion concentrations by adding some more solutions, and therefore always have constant ionic concentrations, was used. This constant β recreates the conditions of the beginning of cement paste hydration, when the dissolution of solid reagents compensates the consumption of ions to form hydrates. This device allowed the determination of the ettringite precipitation rate as a function of the supersaturation degree β. Taking samples at different time during ettringite precipitation and doing BET measurements allowed the determination of the interfacial growth rate of ettringite in m²/s. This work will lead to a better understanding and control of ettringite formation alone and thus during cements hydration. This study will also ultimately define the impact of ettringite formation process on the rheology of cement pastes at early age, which is a crucial parameter from a practical point of view.

Keywords: Cement Hydration, ettringite, morphology of crystals, nucleation-growth process

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1 Physical and Numerical Modelling of Load Transfer Mechanisms in a Wind Turbine Foundation

Authors: Janet Modu, Jean-Francois Georgin, Laurent Briancon, Eric Antoinet


The current practice during the repowering phase of wind turbines is deconstruction of existing foundations and construction of new foundations to accept larger wind loads or once the foundations have reached the end of their service lives. The ongoing research project FUI25 FEDRE (Fondations d’Eoliennes Durables et REpowering) therefore serves to propose scalable wind turbine foundation designs to allow reuse of the existing foundations. To undertake this research, numerical models and laboratory-scale models are currently being utilized and implemented in the GEOMAS laboratory at INSA Lyon following instrumentation of a reference wind turbine situated in the Northern part of France. Sensors placed within both the foundation and the underlying soil monitor the evolution of stresses from the foundation’s early age to stresses during service. The results from the instrumentation form the basis of validation for both the laboratory and numerical works conducted throughout the project duration. The study currently focuses on the effect of coupled mechanisms (Thermal-Hydro-Mechanical-Chemical) that induce stress during the early age of the reinforced concrete foundation, and scale factor considerations in the replication of the reference wind turbine foundation at laboratory-scale. Using THMC 3D models on COMSOL Multi-physics software, the numerical analysis performed on both the laboratory-scale and the full-scale foundations simulate the thermal deformation, hydration, shrinkage (desiccation and autogenous) and creep so as to predict the initial damage caused by internal processes during concrete setting and hardening. Results show a prominent effect of early age properties on the damage potential in full-scale wind turbine foundations. However, a prediction of the damage potential at laboratory scale shows significant differences in early age stresses in comparison to the full-scale model depending on the spatial position in the foundation. In addition to the well-known size effect phenomenon, these differences may contribute to inaccuracies encountered when predicting ultimate deformations of the on-site foundation using laboratory scale models.

Keywords: Wind turbines, Reinforced Concrete, Cement Hydration, shrinkage, early age behavior, THMC 3D models

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