Journal article

Low-temperature curing strength enhancement in cement-based materials containing limestone powder

With the ongoing sustainability movement, the incorporation of limestone powder in cementitious binders for concrete in the U.S. has become a subject of renewed interest. In addition to accelerating the early age hydration reactions of cementitious systems by providing additional surfaces for nucleation and growth of products, limestone powder is also intriguing based on its influence on low-temperature curing. For example, previous results have indicated that the utilization of limestone powder to replace one quarter of the fly ash in a high volume fly ash mixture (40-60% cement replacement) produces a reduction in the apparent activation energy for setting for temperatures below 25 degrees C. In the present study, the relationship between heat release and compressive strength of mortars at batching/curing temperatures of 10 and 23 degrees C is investigated. For Portland-limestone cements (PLC) with limestone additions on the order of 10%, a higher strength per unit heat release is obtained after only 7 d of curing in lime water. Surprisingly, in some cases, the absolute strength of these mortar cubes measured at 7 d is higher when cured at 10 degrees C than at 23 degrees C. Solubilities vs. temperature, reaction stoichiometries and enthalpies, and projected phase distributions based on thermodynamic modeling for the cementitious phases are examined to provide some theoretical insight into this strength enhancement. For a subset of the investigated cements, thermogravimetric analysis, quantitative X-ray diffraction, and scanning electron microscopy are conducted on 7-d paste specimens produced at the two temperatures to examine differences in their reaction rates and the phases produced. The strength enhancement observed in the PLC cements is related to the cement hydration products formed in the presence of carbonates as a function of temperature.


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