Influence of Grain Size on the Setting of Portland Cement: A Stray-Field Magnetic Resonance Imaging Study


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A number of failures of large concrete structures during construction have been reported in the last decades [1]. The overestimation of concrete strength at early ages was one of the reasons for the failures. Consequently, reliable information about early age properties of the material is essential to guarantee life-time performance of structures. Portland cement is a complex heterogeneous particulate material and a full knowledge of kinetics of the hydration reactions, for example, is still missing. Gel constitutes the major phase in the hardening cement paste and the corresponding structure and dynamics represent an important contribution to determine the concrete performance. X-ray diffraction, which is widely used for the study of crystalline cement components, does not give information about the gel, amorphous, phase. Conversely, 1H stray-field magnetic resonance imaging (STRAFI-MRI) technique has proved to be a powerful tool to follow the early hydration and hardening periods of Portland cement (type I) [2-4]. The setting of cement pastes depends on parameters like the initial water/cement ratio, R, or particle size of the powder (G) and the compressive strength can be used to characterize the behaviour of hardening concrete. Water availability at the particle surfaces, which is controlled by R and G, limits cement hydration. At low R, G effects are less important. In general, it is accepted that for R<0.42, unreacted solid remain, as all the free volume is filled with hydration products [5]. For example, hydration of Portland cement pastes as a function of R (0.24-0.48) was studied using by STRAFI-MRI and hydrogen maps, from different types of water (capillary, gel or chemically bound water), enabled a spatially-resolved kinetics to be obtained [4]. Using STRAFI-MRI was now evaluated the influence of G (<70 μm to < 90 μm) on the early stages of hydration and hardening of Portland cement. Portland cement uses extend well beyond construction. For example, a mineral trioxide aggregate is now being applied as a root-end filling material, which was shown to have a similar chemical constitution to that of Portland cement except for the addition of bismuth compounds, seemingly to make the materials radiopaque for dental use [6].



Materials Science Forum (Volumes 514-516)

Edited by:

Paula Maria Vilarinho




T. G. Nunes, "Influence of Grain Size on the Setting of Portland Cement: A Stray-Field Magnetic Resonance Imaging Study", Materials Science Forum, Vols. 514-516, pp. 1633-1637, 2006

Online since:

May 2006





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