Electrical Properties of Carbon Nanotubes Cement Composites for Monitoring Stress Conditions in Concrete Structures


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Cement pastes reinforced with Multi-Walled carbon NanoTubes (MWNTs) are smart materials with piezoresistivity properties. Adding carbon nanotubes to the cement matrix, in fact, the electrical resistivity of cementitious composites changes with the stress conditions under static and dynamic loads. This particular behaviour can be used to evaluate the stress level in reinforced concrete structures, to monitor the traffic flow, to weigh vehicles. In this paper data on pressure-sensitive behaviour under compressive stress of cement pastes and mortars containing different percentages (from 0.0% to 1.0% vs. cement mass) of MWNTs are presented.In order to form a conductive network and enhancethe piezoresistive properties of cementitious mixtures, Carbon NanoTubes (CNTs) need to be efficiently dispersed in the cement matrix. Two different methods to disperse CNTsin the cement matrix were used. The first one uses a surfactant (Sodium Linear Alkyl Benzene Sulphonate - LAS): MWNTs were dispersed in a LAS aqueous solution,and thenmixed with cement and a defoamer (tributyl phosphate) to decrease the air bubble in MWNT filled cement-based composites. The second method consists in mixing CNTs with about 50% of the mixing water in a becker by means of a glass wand. Then, the solution is sonicated by an ultrasonic generator for 10 minutes. Finally, the sonicatedCNT-aqueous solution ismixed with cement (and sand for the mortars). The piezoresistivity properties of the cementitious mixtures manufactured with the two above mentioned CNTs dispersing methods will be compared.Experimental results show that the electrical resistance changes synchronously with the compressive stress levelsfor the specimens manufactured with both methods. Therefore, CNTs improve the pressure-sensitivity of cementitious composites. Moreover, the piezoresistive response is better for cementitious composites manufactured by using the surfactant agent to disperse CNTs. Data indicate that – thanks to the better dispersion of nanotubes promoted by the surfactant - the pressure-sensitivity properties of cement pastes can be achieved even by using a very low percentage of CNTS (0.1% vs. cement mass). These findings seem to indicate that self-sensing CNTs/cement composite can be produced. These smart materials have great potential and they could be used in the next future in concrete field for practical applications to monitor the stress level of reinforced concrete elements subjected to static, dynamic and impact loads. In particular, informations on actual stress existing under dynamic and impact loads could be improve design procedures in protective structures.



Edited by:

Ezio Cadoni and Marco di Prisco






L. Coppola et al., "Electrical Properties of Carbon Nanotubes Cement Composites for Monitoring Stress Conditions in Concrete Structures", Applied Mechanics and Materials, Vol. 82, pp. 118-123, 2011

Online since:

July 2011




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