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  2. Abstract

    Carbonaceous (e.g., limestone) and aluminosilicate (e.g., calcined clay) mineral additives are routinely used to partially replace ordinary portland cement in concrete to alleviate its energy impact and carbon footprint. These mineral additives—depending on their physicochemical characteristics—alter the hydration behavior of cement; which, in turn, affects the evolution of microstructure of concrete, as well as the development of its properties (e.g., compressive strength). Numerical, reaction-kinetics models—e.g., phase boundary nucleation-and-growth models; which are based partly on theoretically-derived kinetic mechanisms, and partly on assumptions—are unable to produce a priori prediction of hydration kinetics of cement; especially in multicomponent systems, wherein chemical interactions among cement, water, and mineral additives occur concurrently. This paper introduces a machine learning-based methodology to enable prompt and high-fidelity prediction of time-dependent hydration kinetics of cement, both in plain and multicomponent (e.g., binary; and ternary) systems, using the system’s physicochemical characteristics as inputs. Based on a database comprising hydration kinetics profiles of 235 unique systems—encompassing 7 synthetic cements and three mineral additives with disparate physicochemical attributes—a random forests (RF) model was rigorously trained to establish the underlying composition-reactivity correlations. This training was subsequently leveraged by the RF model: to predict time-dependent hydration kinetics of cement in new, multicomponent systems; and to formulate optimal mixture designs that satisfy user-imposed kinetics criteria.

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  3. Abstract

    The focus of this study is to elucidate the role of particle size distribution (PSD) of metakaolin (MK) on hydration kinetics of tricalcium silicate (C3S–T1) pastes. Investigations were carried out utilizing both physical experiments and phase boundary nucleation and growth (pBNG) simulations. [C3S + MK] pastes, prepared using 8%massor 30%massMK, were investigated. Three different PSDs of MK were used: fine MK, with particulate sizes <20 µm; intermediate MK, with particulate sizes between 20 and 32 µm; and coarse MK, with particulate sizes >32 µm. Results show that the correlation between specific surface area (SSA) of MK's particulates and the consequent alteration in hydration behavior of C3S in first 72 hours is nonlinear and nonmonotonic. At low replacement of C3S (ie, at 8%mass), fine MK, and, to some extent, coarse MK act as fillers, and facilitate additional nucleation and growth of calcium silicate hydrate (C–S–H). When C3S replacement increases to 30%mass, the filler effects of both fine and coarse MK are reversed, leading to suppression of C–S–H nucleation and growth. Such reversal of filler effect is also observed in the case of intermediate MK; but unlike the other PSDs, the intermediate MK shows reversal at both low and high replacement levels. This is due to the ability of intermediate MK to dissolve rapidly—with faster kinetics compared to both coarse and fine MK—which results in faster release of aluminate [Al(OH)4] ions in the solution. The aluminate ions adsorb onto C3S and MK particulates and suppress C3S hydration by blocking C3S dissolution sites and C–S–H nucleation sites on the substrates’ surfaces and suppressing the post‐nucleation growth of C–S–H. Overall, the results suggest that grinding‐based enhancement in SSA of MK particulates does not necessarily enhance early‐age hydration of C3S.

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  4. Abstract

    The hydration of tricalcium silicate (C3S)—the major phase in cement—is effectively arrested when the activity of water (aH) decreases below the critical value of 0.70. While it is implicitly understood that the reduction inaHsuppresses the hydration of tricalcium aluminate (C3A: the most reactive phase in cement), the dependence of kinetics of C3A hydration onaHand the criticalaHat which hydration of C3A is arrested are not known. This study employs isothermal microcalorimetry and complementary material characterization techniques to elucidate the influence ofaHon the hydration of C3A in [C3A + calcium sulfate (C$) + water] pastes. Reductions in water activity are achieved by partially replacing the water in the pastes with isopropanol. The results show that with decreasingaH, the kinetics of all reactions associated with C3A (eg, with C$, resulting in ettringite formation; and with ettringite, resulting in monosulfoaluminate formation) are proportionately suppressed. WhenaH ≤0.45, the hydration of C3A and the precipitation of all resultant hydrates are arrested; even in liquid saturated systems. In addition to—and separate from—the experiments, a thermodynamic analysis also indicates that the hydration of C3A does not commence or advance whenaH ≤0.45. On the basis of this criticalaH, the solubility product of C3A (KC3A) was estimated as 10−20.65. The outcomes of this work articulate the dependency of C3A hydration and its kinetics on water activity, and establish—for the first time—significant thermodynamic parameters (ie, criticalaHandKC3A) that are prerequisites for numerical modeling of C3A hydration.

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