Reduction of Concrete Deterioration by Ettringite Using Crystal Growth Inhibition Techniques, TR-431, 2001

(2001) Reduction of Concrete Deterioration by Ettringite Using Crystal Growth Inhibition Techniques, TR-431, 2001. Transportation, Department of


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Many researchers have concluded that secondary or delayed ettringite is responsible for serious premature deterioration of concrete highways. In some poorly performing Iowa concretes, ettringite is the most common secondary mineral but its role in premature deterioration is uncertain since some researchers still maintain that secondary ettringite does not itself cause deterioration. The current research project was designed to determine experimentally if it is possible to reduce secondary ettringite formation in concrete by treating the concrete with commercial crystallization inhibitor chemicals. The hypothesis is such that if the amount of ettringite is reduced, there will also be a concomitant reduction of concrete expansion and cracking. If both ettringite formation and deterioration are simultaneously reduced, then the case for ettringite induced expansion/cracking is strengthened. The experiment used four commercial inhibitors - two phosphonates, a polyacrylic acid, and a phosphate ester. Concrete blocks were subjected to continuous immersion, wet/dry and freeze/thaw cycling in sodium sulfate solutions and in sulfate solutions containing an inhibitor. The two phosphonate inhibitors, Dequest 2060 and Dequest 2010, manufactured by Monsanto Co., were effective in reducing ettringite nucleation and growth in concrete. Two other inhibitors, Good-rite K752 and Wayhib S were somewhat effective, but less so than the two phosphonates. Rapid experiments with solution growth inhibition of ettringite without the presence of concrete phases were used to explore the mechanisms of inhibition of this mineral. Reduction of new ettringite formation in concrete blocks also reduced expansion and cracking of the blocks. This relationship clearly links concrete expansion with this mineral - a conclusion that some research workers have disputed despite theoretical arguments for such a relationship and despite numerous observations of ettringite mineralization in prematurely deteriorated concrete highways. Secondary ettringite nucleation and growth must cause concrete expansion because the only known effect of the inhibitor chemicals is to reduce crystal nucleation and growth, and the inhibitors cannot in any other way be responsible for the reduction in expansion. The mechanism of operation of the inhibitors on ettringite reduction is not entirely clear but the solution growth experiments show that they prevent crystallization of a soluble ettringite precursor gel. The present study shows that ettringite growth alone is not responsible for expansion cracking because the experiments showed that most expansion occurs under wet/dry cycling, less under freeze/thaw cycling, and least under continuous soaking conditions. It was concluded from the different amounts of damage that water absorption by newly-formed, minute ettringite crystals is responsible for part of the observed expansion under wet/dry conditions, and that reduction of freeze resistance by ettringite filling of air-entrainment voids is also important in freeze/thaw environments.

Item Type: Departmental Report
Keywords: Concrete, Cracking, Crystallization, Deterioration, Ettringite, Expansion, Freeze thaw tests, Inhibitors (Chemistry), Laboratory tests, Wetting and drying tests, Phosphate ester, Phosphonates, Polyacrylic acid
Subjects: Transportation
Transportation > Roads and highways
Transportation > Research
Transportation > Research > Concrete
ID Code: 16086
Deposited By: Iowa DOT Library
Deposited On: 17 Feb 2014 15:37
Last Modified: 22 Sep 2014 11:44