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Microstructural, Mechanical, and Durability Related Similarities in Concretes Based on OPC and Alkali-Activated Slag Binders

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Alkali-activated slag concretes are being extensively researched because of its potential sustainability-related benefits. For such concretes to be implemented in large scale concrete applications such as infrastructural and building elements,

Alkali-activated slag concretes are being extensively researched because of its potential sustainability-related benefits. For such concretes to be implemented in large scale concrete applications such as infrastructural and building elements, it is essential to understand its early and long-term performance characteristics vis-à-vis conventional ordinary portland cement (OPC) based concretes. This paper presents a comprehensive study of the property and performance features including early-age isothermal calorimetric response, compressive strength development with time, microstructural features such as the pore volume and representative pore size, and accelerated chloride transport resistance of OPC and alkali-activated binder systems. Slag mixtures activated using sodium silicate solution (SiO[subscript 2]-to-Na[subscript 2]O ratio or M[subscript s] of 1–2) to provide a total alkalinity of 0.05 (Na[subscript 2]O-to-binder ratio) are compared with OPC mixtures with and without partial cement replacement with Class F fly ash (20 % by mass) or silica fume (6 % by mass). Major similarities are noted between these binder systems for: (1) calorimetric response with respect to the presence of features even though the locations and peaks vary based on M[subscript s], (2) compressive strength and its development, (3) total porosity and pore size, and (4) rapid chloride permeability and non-steady state migration coefficients. Moreover, electrical impedance based circuit models are used to bring out the microstructural features (resistance of the connected pores, and capacitances of the solid phase and pore-solid interface) that are similar in conventional OPC and alkali-activated slag concretes. This study thus demonstrates that performance-equivalent alkali-activated slag systems that are more sustainable from energy and environmental standpoints can be proportioned.

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  • 2014-12-01

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Mechanical and chloride transport performance of particle size classified limestone blends

Description

The demand for portland cement concrete is expected to increase over time. There is a need to develop a more sustainable cementitious systems in order to reduce the negative environmental

The demand for portland cement concrete is expected to increase over time. There is a need to develop a more sustainable cementitious systems in order to reduce the negative environmental impacts associated with ordinary portland cement (OPC) production. An attempt is made to investigate sustainable binder solutions through the use of alternative cementitious materials at high levels of volume replacement. Limestone, an abundant material is used as a filler in low water-to-powder concretes where a substantial fraction of the portland cement remains unhydrated. At high volume OPC replacement, 20% and 35%, the combination of limestone and an alumina source has been shown to improve mechanical and durability performance. At 20% OPC replacement levels the migration coefficient which is an indication of chloride penetration in concrete is lower than the OPC control mixture at 28 and 56 days of hydration. The use of limestone with a similar particle size distribution to that of the OPC is used in each of these blended systems. A 20% binary limestone blend provide similar strength to an OPC mortar at all ages and comparable transport properties to that of the OPC concrete. Fly ash and metakaolin are the two alumina sources for the ternary blended mixes with concrete. The metakaolin shows the highest increase in the amount of hydration products formed out of all the mixes, including calcium-silicate-hydrate and carboaluminate phases in combination with limestone powder. At both levels of replacement the metakaolin blends show a substantially lower migration coefficient which is contributed to the smaller pore sizes found in the metakaolin blends. The fracture response of these systems show that at all replacement levels the ductility of the systems increase indicated by the large critical crack tip opening displacement. The fracture toughness is the highest for the blend containing metakaolin indicative of the smaller pore sizes allowing more dissipation of energy. An attempt is made to relate all mechanical and durability parameters to the reaction products and pore-structure developing at later ages.

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  • 2014