Role of curing conditions and precursor on the microstructure and phase chemistry of alkali-activated fly ash and slag pastes

Marija Nedeljković, Bahman Ghiassi, Guang Ye

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Abstract

Understanding the role of curing conditions on the microstructure and phase chemistry of alkali-activated materials (AAMs) is essential for the evaluation of the long-term performance as well as the optimization of the processing methods for achieving more durable AAMs-based concretes. However, this information cannot be obtained with the common material characterization techniques as they often deliver limited information on the chemical domains and proportions of reaction products. This paper presents the use of PhAse Recognition and Characterization (PARC) software to overcome this obstacle for the first time. A single precursor (ground granulated blast-furnace slag (GBFS)) and a binary precursor (50% GBFS–50% fly ash) alkali-activated paste are investigated. The pastes are prepared and then cured in sealed and unsealed conditions for up to one year. The development of the microstructure and phase chemistry are investigated with PARC, and the obtained results are compared with independent bulk analytical techniques X-ray Powder Fluorescence and X-ray Powder Diffraction. PARC allowed the determination of the type of reaction products and GBFS and FA’s spatial distribution and degree of reaction at different curing ages and conditions. The results showed that the pastes react at different rates with the dominant reaction products of Mg-rich gel around GBFS particles, i.e., Ca-Mg-Na-Al-Si, and with Ca-Na-Al-Si gel, in the bulk paste. The microstructure evolution was significantly affected in the unsealed curing conditions due to the Na+ loss. The effect of the curing conditions was more pronounced in the binary system.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1918
JournalMaterials
Volume14
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 12 Apr 2021

Keywords

  • alkali-activated materials
  • reaction products
  • chemical composition
  • curing conditions
  • PARC

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