A Case History: Effect of Moisture on the Setting Behaviour of a Portland Cement Reacting with an Alkali-free Accelerator

Flash setting accelerators are a class of admixtures commonly used for sprayed concrete during tunnel excavation. They allow an immediate set of concrete which can bind to the substrate without dangerous collapses. Such a coating layer prevents section convergence with a tendency to squeeze. The early strength development (until 1 hr) of the sprayed concrete can be connected to the final set time of cement pastes admixed with the accelerator. The lower is the final set time, the higher should be the early strength. Two main methods are used to project concrete: wet and dry. Today, for safety reasons and to obtain more homogeneous concrete layers, the wet method is becoming more diffused. This technique requires use of liquid flash setting accelerators which are pumped to a nozzle and immediately projected onto the rock wall. In the European market, 2 kinds of setting accelerators are mainly available: alkali-rich and alkali-free. Recently, for several reasons, the demand of alkali-free accelerators is growing very rapidly. They are water solutions of aluminium sulphate with a total alkali metal content (expressed as equivalent of Na2O) lower than 1%. In order to develop new and better performing accelerators, several studies are in progress to elucidate their action mechanism and the factors affecting the setting of accelerated concretes. During an experimental study on the setting behavior of several cement pastes reacting with an alkali-free accelerator, the authors found a cement showing, as time proceeded, a persistent setting time reduction. It was discovered that the effect was connected to the cement exposure to the moisture. A mineralogical investigation performed on this particular cement revealed the presence of hemihydrate as setting regulator. In order to study the interaction between the alkali-free accelerator and this moist aged cement, morphological (ESEM-FEG), crystal-chemical (XRD), physical–chemical (hydration temperature profile) and chemical (ICP) analyses on cement paste samples were carried out. This study showed a significant setting time reduction of cement paste samples admixed with an alkali-free accelerator when they are composed of a Portland cement containing β-hemihydrate previously exposed to moisture. Such an effect seems to be related to the reduction of the β-hemihydrate dissolution rate.

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  • Supplemental Notes:
    • Abstract reprinted with permission from Elsevier
  • Authors:
    • Maltese, C
    • Pistolesi, C
    • Bravo, A
    • Cella, F
    • Cerulli, T
    • Salvioni, D
  • Publication Date: 2007-6

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  • English

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  • Accession Number: 01054124
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jul 23 2007 7:56PM