Effect of an Early-Age Exposure on the Degradation Mechanisms of Cement Paste under External Sulfate Attack

Materials (Basel). 2023 Sep 1;16(17):6013. doi: 10.3390/ma16176013.


Among the most significant causes of concrete degradation is ESA (external sulfate attack). The majority of studies are currently conducted on samples that have been saturated and matured. Concrete structures, however, are exposed to the environment once the formwork has been removed. The purpose of this study is to determine what effects early exposure to external sulfates may have on degradation mechanisms. Microstructure, physical, and chemical behavior are monitored using a variety of experimental techniques, including NMR (27Al and 29Si), ICP, XRD, MIP, and SEM. Based on expansion measurements, mature Portland cement paste, unlike the early-age case, degraded rapidly due to the presence of compressed ettringite and gypsum, highlighted by SEM analysis. During ESA, sulfate ions diffuse through the cement matrix and are bound by chemical agents. Chemical analyses indicate that the chemical mechanism varies with the duration of curing. At an early age, external sulfates and aluminates are the most important reagents. For matured cases, these reagents include external sulfates, calcium derived from CH dissolution, and aluminates derived from the total dissolution of AFm.

Keywords: early-age effect; external sulfate attack; physicochemical behavior; sulfate ingress.

Grants and funding

This research was funded by Bouygues Construction (BYTP) grant number 2012/1460 And the APC was funded by the Bouygues Construction (BYTP).