Reference: Materials and Structures, 34, 557-565, 2001.
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D.P. Bentza, K.K. Hansenb, H.D. Madsenb, F. Valleec, and E.J. Grieseld

aBuilding and Fire Research Laboratory
100 Bureau Drive Stop 8621
National Institute of Standards and Technology
Gaithersburg, MD 20899-8621 USA
bTechnical University of Denmark
cCentre Scientifique et Technique du Batiment
Marne-la Vallee, FRANCE
d University of Cape Town


As concrete cures in the field, there is a constant competition for the mixing water between evaporation and hydration processes. Understanding the mechanisms of water movement in the drying/hydrating cement paste is critical for designing curing systems and specialized rendering materials, as well as for selecting repair materials and methodologies. In this work, X-ray absorption measurements indicate that fresh cement paste dries uniformly throughout its thickness, as opposed to exhibiting the sharp drying front observed for most porous materials. Furthermore, in layered composite cement paste specimens, water always flows from the coarser-pore layer to the finer one, both when coarser pores are produced by using an increased water-to-cement ratio (w/c) and when they are present due to using a cement with a coarser particle size distribution at a constant w/c. Conversely, no clear differential water movement is observed between layers of cement paste and mortar of the same nominal w/c. Based on the results of these experiments, drying has been introduced into the NIST CEMHYD3D cement hydration and microstructure development model, by emptying the largest water-filled pores present at any depth in the model specimen at a user-specified (drying) rate. With this addition, the CEMHYD3D model produces results in good agreement with experimental observations of both the drying profiles and the hydration kinetics of thin cement paste specimens.


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