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R.A. Olson, B.J. Christensen, R.T. Coverdale, S.J. Ford, G.M. Moss, H.M. Jennings, and T.O.
Center for Advanced Cement-Based Materials
Northwestern University, Evanston, IL 60208
E. J. Garboczi
National Institute of Standards and Technology, 226/B350
Division, Gaithersburg, MD 20899
The D.C. conductivity σ and low frequency relative dielectric constant k of portland cement paste were monitored, using impedance spectroscopy, during cooling from room temperature down to −50ºC. Dramatic decreases in the values of σ and k, as great as two orders of magnitude, occurred at the initial freezing point of the aqueous phase in the macropores and larger capillary pores. This result provides strong experimental support for the dielectric amplification mechanism, proposed in Part II of this series, to explain the high measured low- frequency relative dielectric constant of hydrating portland cement paste. Only gradual changes in the electrical properties were observed below this sudden drop, as the temperature continued to decrease. The values of σ and k of frozen cement paste, at a constant temperature of −40ºC, were dominated by properties of calcium-silicate-hydrate (C-S-H) and so increased with the degree of hydration of the paste, indicating a C-S-H gel percolation threshold at a volume fraction of approximately 15-20%, in good agreement with previous predictions. Good agreement was found between experimental results and digital-image-based model computations of σ at −40ºC. Freeze-thaw cycling caused a drop in the dielectric constant of paste in the unfrozen state, indicating that measurements of k could be useful for monitoring microstructural changes during freeze-thaw cycling and other processes that gradually damage parts of the cement paste microstructure.