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DOI:10.1016/j.conbuildmat.2012.11.072

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Construction and Building Materials 40 (2013) 869–874 Contents lists available at SciVerse ScienceDirect

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Construction and Building Materials

journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/lo cate/conbuildmat Influence of porosity on compressive and tensile strength

Influence of porosity on compressive and tensile strength of cement mortar

Xudong Chen , Shengxing Wu, Jikai Zhou

College of Civil and Transportation Engineering, Hohai University, Nanjing, China

highlights

" Strength and porosity of cement mortar has been measured.

" Strength decreases with increasing porosity.

" Suitability of existing expressions relating strength and porosity is assessed.

" Extended Zheng model is good representation of experimental data.

" Compressive/tensile strength ratio decreases with increase porosity.

article info

Article history:

Received 5 July 2012 Received in revised form 26 September

2012

Accepted 21 November 2012

Keywords:

Strength

Porosity

Cement mortar

abstract

The compressive, flexural and splitting tensile strength of cement mortar has been measured and inter- preted in terms of its porosity. The authors first reviewed the existing porosity–strength relationships (Ryshkewithch, Schiller, Balshin and Hasselman model) and assessed the suitability of existing relation- ships. The Zheng model for porous materials has been used to evaluate the porosity–strength relationship of cement mortar. Over the porosity ranges examined, the extended Zheng model is good representation of the experimental data on the strength of cement mortar. Based on the generality of the assumptions used in the derivation of the extended Zheng model, this model for cement mortar can be applied for other cement-based materials. The experimental data also show that the ratio between compressive strength and indirect tensile (splitting tensile and flexural) strength of cement mortar is not constant, but is porosity dependent. The ratio decreases with increase porosity values of cement mortar. 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction

The fact that a reduction of porosity in a solid material increases its strength in general, and the strength of cement-based materials in particular, was recognized long ago [13] . It has also been dis- covered that porosity has an important role in the frost resistance of concrete [4–6] . Furthermore, porosity has a role in the relation- ship between mechanical properties of concrete, such as the compressive strength-modulus of elasticity relationship [7] . The practical importance of durability of cement-based materials created such an upsurge in research activities that our knowledge concerning the relationship between pore structure and frost resistance of concrete is much more complete than the strength– porosity relationship. This does not mean that no efforts have been made for the development of quantitative relationships between strength and porosity but rather that these efforts have been spo- radic [8–10] and the results have less than satisfactory.

Corresponding author. Tel.: +86 25 83786551; fax: +86 26 83786986. E-mail address: cxdong1985@hotmail.com (X. Chen).

0950-0618/$ - see front matter 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

In the field of more basic research, the pore structure of cement- based materials has been a dominant topic [2,1114]. But experi- mentally measurement of a relevant porosity parameter has proved to be extremely difficult in cement-based materials, because of the special character of the hydration products formed [15] . Hence the results obtained will depend not only on the mea- suring principle but also on the drying method used prior to the porosity measurements [16] . But even with these problems solved, a connection between the porosity and strength has to be estab- lished. The influence of porosity on the strength of cement-based material has already been investigated. Taking an empirical ap- proach, Powers [11] was able to deduce an equation which relates the compressive strength of mortar cubes to a function of the gel- space ratio. Schiller [17] using a theoretical approach deduced an equation relation the strength of material to the porosity. He ap- plied this equation to experimental data on gypsum plasters and obtained a good fit for compressive and tensile strengths. Some excellent reviews [1820] of the effect of porosity on the strength of concrete presented some of the more important empirical and theoretical equation for relating strength to porosity. The profusion of the possible equation is enormous and whilst one equation is

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X. Chen et al. / Construction and Building Materials 40 (2013) 869–874

most suitable for one material a quite different equation is most suitable for a second material. Clearly some simplification is desirable. Despite the relatively large number of experimental investigations that have been conducted to characterize the link between strength and porosity, few systematic evaluations have been extended beyond simple expressions for tensile or compres- sive strength of a specific material. None of these encompasses both compressive and tensile strength for cement-based materials. The compressive and tensile strength of concrete are important design parameters in civil engineering. The splitting tensile and flexural test has been reported as two indirect measure of the ten- sile strength of cement-based materials [21,22]. It has been used widely in practice due to its testing ease, simplicity of specimen preparation, and possible field applications. The objective of this paper is to determine the compressive strength, splitting tensile, and flexural strength of cement mortar, and to study how porosity influences the magnitude of and the relationship between these mechanical properties. In addition, the existing strength–porosity relationship have been reviewed and compared with experimental results.

2. Experimental details

2.1. Materials and mix compositions

An adequate number of series of cement mortar compositions were prepared to study the strength–porosity relationship. Cement mortar samples were prepared from ordinary Portland cement 42.5. The fine aggregate used for mortar specimens was river quartzite sand. The sand was passed through a No. 4 sieve before use. Four water–cement ratio ( w/c ), 03, 0.5, 0.6 and 0.7, were used for cement mortar. The corresponding sand–cement ratio ( s/c ) for all cement mortars is 1.2. Mixing was done in a small mixer. Casting was completed in two layers which were compacted on a vibrating table. The cast specimens were covered with polyurethane sheet and damped cloth in a 20 ± 2 C chamber and were demoulded at the age of 1 day. For strength and porosity tests, the specimens were cured in saturated limewater at 20 ± 2 C until the test age 7 and 28 days.

2.2. Strength measurements

Compressive tests were run on specimens according to ASTM C 349 [23] . The specimens (40 40 160 mm) were prepared according to ASTM C 348 [24] . Three specimens were tested for each mix proportions. Flexural tests for flexural strength of the mix proportions were carried out on the long surface of prism specimens using a bend tester (ASTM C 348 [24] ). Similar to the compressive tests, flexural tests were carried out on triplicate specimens and average flexural strength values were obtained. Splitting tensile tests were run on cubical specimens (70.7 70.7 70.7 mm) according to BS 1881-117 [25] .

3. Test results and discussion

Quite a few relationships involving strength and porosity of engineering materials have been reported in the literature [20]. Historically, several general types of model have been developed for cement-based materials. Balshin [31] , from his study of the tensile strength of metal ceramics, suggested the relation (Eq. (2)):

r ¼ r 0 ð 1 p Þ b

ð 2Þ

where r is the strength, r 0 is the strength at zero porosity, b is the empirical constant. Ryshkewitch [32] , from a study of the compressive strength of Al 2 O 3 and ZrO 2 , obtained the relation (Eq. (3)):

r ¼ r 0 e kp

ð 3Þ

where k is the empirical constant. Schiller [17] , on the basis of the study of set sulfate plasters, proposed the relation (Eq. (4)):

r ¼ n ln

p

0

p

ð 4Þ

where n is the empirical constant, p 0 is the porosity at zero strength. Hasselman [33] suggested the equation of a linear relationship between strength and porosity for different refractory materials (Eq. (5)):

r ¼ r 0 cP

where c is the empirical constant. Results of fitting previously mentioned models of strength– porosity relations are given in Figs. 1–3 . Values of parameters r 0 in models of Hasselman, Balshin, and Ryshkewithch correspond to the strength of nonporous material or equivalently to the extrapolated strength of specimens to the zero porosity. It should also be mentioned that the estimated value of the parameter r 0 (strength at zero porosity) may not always provide a reliable esti- mate of the material nonporous response. Other microscopic flaws remaining in the material under these conditions can control its strength, and this aspect is not explicitly taken into account in the above models. Hence, one should be careful with how this fit- ting parameter is used in practical applications. For cement-based materials, the constant r 0 contains microstructure factors in- volved, like density of cement particle and C–S–H, particle size dis- tribution and size, and density of flaws [34–36]. The model of

ð 5Þ

2.3. Determination of porosity

After the flexural tests, three pieces from each specimen were weighed under water and in the saturated surface-dry (SSD) [26] condition, thus enabling the bulk volume to be calculated. It was assumed that any volume change during drying or re-saturation was negligible; this volume was used to calculate the bulk density of each sample after drying (in the worst case, the bulk volume change due to drying would be approximately 1.5% [26,27] ). Each specimen was then dried in a carbon- dioxide free oven at 105 C until it reached constant weight. The difference in weight between in the water-saturated and oven-dry conditions was used to calcu- late the porosity expressed as a percentage of the bulk specimen volume. The data which are presented are the average of three replicates. The porosity was calculated using the following equation:

p

¼ ðW ssd W d Þ

ð W ssd W w Þ 100 %

ð1 Þ

where p is the porosity (100%), W ssd is the specimen weight in the saturated surface- dry (SSD) condition (g), W d is the specimen dry weight after 24 h in oven (g), and W w is the weight of saturated specimen (g). This method has been used to measure the porosity of the cement-based mate- rials successfully [15,28–30] .

the cement-based mate- rials successfully [15,28–30] . Fig. 1. Experimental data on compressive

Fig. 1. Experimental data on compressive strength–porosity dependence. Graphs of the best fit obtained for existing models tested are shown.

X. Chen et al. / Construction and Building Materials 40 (2013) 869–874

871

Construction and Building Materials 40 (2013) 869–874 871 Fig. 2. Experimental data on flexural strength–porosity

Fig. 2. Experimental data on flexural strength–porosity dependence. Graphs of the best fit obtained for existing models tested are shown.

the best fit obtained for existing models tested are shown. Fig. 3. Experimental data on splitting

Fig. 3. Experimental data on splitting tensile strength–porosity dependence. Graphs of the best fit obtained for existing models tested are shown.

Schiller has a vertical asymptote at zero porosity, and the value of parameter k depends on the base of the logarithm so its value is merely a way of obtaining the best fit. The values of those param- eters are approximately the same all mixes studied. Simple linear relationship of Hasselman model shows artificial intercept with the abscissa at porosity less than the initial porosity and predicts negative strength at higher porosities. A pore-initiated-failure model for glass at low values of strength at higher porosity was of- fered by Hasslman [37] in the explanation of the ‘‘load-bearing areas’’. In treating failure initiation from this complex, Hasselman and Fulrath [38] used the cylindrical model solved by Bowie [39] and assumed that crack extension parallel to the surface of the specimen triggered catastrophic failure. As shown in Figs. 1–3 , the model of Hasselman overestimates the observed strength drop with increasing porosity. Thus, although Hasselman’s model ap- pears to embody a rational concept, it is quantitatively subject to question. Recently, Hyun et al. [40] suggested that the empirical constant b in Balshin’s model is related with the stress concentra- tion around pores in the porous materials. The stress concentration factor of the pores depends on the pore geometry and orientation with the direction of applied stress. Although the equation of Bal- shin’s model is different from Hasselman’s model, the basic con- cept in these two models is similar, since load bearing area and

stress concentration around the pores are closely related to each other. For example, the loading bearing area is reduced with increasing the porosity, which causes stress concentration around the pores [41,42] . Ryshkewitch’s model is based on the assumption that the relative strength of porous material is equal to the ratio of the minimum solid area to the cell area normal to the reference stress [43] . Rice [44] suggested that the Hasselman model have shown to less accurate than the minimum solid area approach. However, it is generally found that the minimum solid area can be related to the porosity of relatively low volume fraction of porosity [45,46] ( p 6 0.4 p c , where p c is the critical porosity that corresponds to the percolation limit of the solid phase). Also, the assumption of the Ryshkewith’s model, namely, that (a) the appli- cation of a hydrostatic pressure to the composite sphere assem- blage can adequately represent the stress and strain response to other stresses and that the pressure is uniformly experienced by all of the various hollow spheres comprising the model body, and (b) Poisson’s ratio can either increase and decrease with increasing porosity, with it converging to a fixed value, are open to question [41] . For the model of Balshin, the value of b is merely a way of obtaining the best fit and have no physical significance, thus leav- ing us with no respective to predict this value. Although the initial porosity of the material enters in the model of Schiller, the pre- dicted strength increase with the decrease in porosity is too high and better fit is obtained if both p 0 and n are fitted freely. It is also shown in Figs. 1–3 that Ryshkewithch’s exponential and Schiller’s logarithmic formulae for the strength of cement mortar are numer- ically indistinguishable except in the neighborhood of the ex- tremes of 0% and 100% porosity. In general the overestimated zero-porosity strength is a consequence of fitting strength data using the models of Ryshkewithch and Schiller. It is necessary to point out that the models summarized above, which were based on specific structures. The microstructural evo- lution of a material with increasing porosity is a 3D connectivity problem. According to the percolation theory, there exist two crit- ical porosity levels [46,47]. When the porosity reaches the critical porosity value ð p c 1 Þ , a microstructural transition occurs from fully isolated and closed pores with nearly spherical or ellipsoidal shapes to open and interconnected with complex shapes. Finally, the effective strength or elastic modulus vanishes when the poros- ity reaches the second critical value ( p c ). Griffith’s model of fracture [48] is usually taken as a classic the- ory to explain how the mechanical performance is related to poros- ity. Griffith found that the critical stress incurs crack propagation within a brittle material and can be expressed by:

r ¼

r

ffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffi

2Ec

pa

ð

6Þ

where E is the modulus of elasticity, c is the fracture surface energy and a is the half length of an internal crack. Ficker [49] suggested that the average value of pore size in por- ous materials can be written as,

r ¼

p c p

p

c

m

ð

7Þ

where r is the average value of pore size; m is the ratio of calculated average distance to the nearest pore, m reflects the randomness of pore distribution, the degree of randomness can be sued to classify the distribution of porosity in each location, if m is close to 1, the pores are considered randomly distributed, for m less than 1, the pore distribution is classified as clustered, for cement-based mate- rials, m = 0.85 [50]; p c is the percolation porosity at failure threshold.

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X. Chen et al. / Construction and Building Materials 40 (2013) 869–874

Therefore, according to the brittle fracture theory proposed by Griffith [48] early in 1920, Zheng et al. [50] suggested that the strength of porous materials with porosity p can be written as:

r ¼ a

p c p

p

c

K Ic ¼

p

ffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffi

2cE

m=2

K Ic

ð

ð

8Þ

9Þ

where K Ic is the fracture toughness of porous material; a is a coef- ficient concerning stress state.Wagh et al. [51] given the porosity dependence of the fracture toughness as:

K Ic ¼ K Ico

p c p

p

c

ð 1 p 2=3 Þ

1=2

ð

10Þ

where K Ico is the fracture toughness of pore-free material. An important feature that differentiates Eq. (10) from other expressions [44,52] relating the fracture toughness to porosity is that it takes into account the effect of stress concentration induced by the presence of pore. It has been demonstrated experimentally [53] and theoretically [18,39,54] that the stress concentration due to the presence of pores and the annular crack pore stress field interaction effects are so large that they cannot be neglected. Substituting Eq. (10) into (8), one obtains:

r

¼ a K Ico

"

p c p

p

c

1þm

ð 1 p 2=3 Þ

#

1=2

ð11Þ

Assuming that r 0 = a K Ico is the strength of pore-free materials, then the following equation can be easily obtained:

r ¼ r 0

"

p c p

p

c

1: 85

ð1 p 2=3 Þ

#

1=2

ð12Þ

The theoretical curves for strength against porosity are shown in Figs. 4–6 . The experimental results are generally in good agree- ment with the theoretical curves. The application of the theoretical equation to the experimental data leads to the constants given in Table 1 . The extended Zheng’s model is a rigorous mathematical formula that of a simple symmetry. It postulates no assumptions on either physical properties or processes or microstructures. Thus, it is believe that the extended Zheng’s model reflects the random nature of microstructure in cement-based materials. This model requires two parameters to define the strength characteristics of cement mortar and the parameter r 0 and p c can account the changes in loading regime (splitting tension, flexure or compression).

loading regime (splitting tension, flexure or compression). Fig. 4. Comparison of predicted and observed compressive

Fig. 4. Comparison of predicted and observed compressive strength.

Comparison of predicted and observed compressive strength. Fig. 5. Comparison of predicted and observed flexural

Fig. 5. Comparison of predicted and observed flexural strength.

5. Comparison of predicted and observed flexural strength. Fig. 6. Comparison of predicted and observed splitting

Fig. 6. Comparison of predicted and observed splitting tensile strength.

Table 1 Estimated values for r 0 and p c .

Loading regime

p c

r 0

Corr. coeff. (R)

Compression

0.562

69.4

0.989

Splitting tension

0.768

9.74

0.996

Flexure

0.783

5.56

0.993

4. Relation between compressive and indirect tensile strength of cement mortar

The flexural and splitting tensile tests are much cheaper, sim- pler and quicker to carry out because the samples are smaller, and the set up time for the tests is much less. All quantitative data reported so far referred exclusively to compressive strength [7] . In this section, we explore the role of porosity and how it influences the correlation between indirect tensile and compressive strength. From a number of other investigators [7,21,55–57] , a simple power law model has become one of the most widely used analytical models for describing the relationship between the indirect tensile (splitting tensile/flexural) strength and compressive strength of concrete. From the experimental results, we can write a new expression for the ratio between indirect tensile strength and com- pressive strength, as a function of porosity:

X. Chen et al. / Construction and Building Materials

40 (2013) 869–874

873

Construction and Building Materials 40 (2013) 869–874 873 Fig. 7. Effect of porosity on the ratio

Fig. 7. Effect of porosity on the ratio between compressive strength and splitting tensile strength of cement mortar.

r

C

r

r

F

C

r

S

¼

¼

4: 12 p 0 : 236

7: 45 p 0 : 221

ð13Þ

ð14Þ

where r C is the compressive strength of cement mortar (MPa); r S is the splitting tensile strength of cement mortar (MPa); and r F is the flexural strength of cement mortar (MPa). The empirical relationship suggested in Eqs. (13) and (14) are plotted in Figs. 7 and 8 . It can be seen that the predicted results from Eqs. (13) and (14) showed a relative good relationship be- tween porosity and compressive-indirect tensile strength ratio of cement mortar. The correlation coefficient (R), which indicates how much of the total variation in the dependent variable can be accounted for by the regression equation, was obtained as 0.959 and 0.973 for Eqs. (13) and (14) in this study, respectively. Further- more, it may be inferred from Figs. 7 and 8 that weaker (higher porosity) cement mortar has a lower compressive strength-indi- rect tensile strength ratio, whereas stronger cement mortar (lower porosity) has higher compressive-indirect tensile strength ratio. Odler and Ro b ler [58] also suggested that the ratio of compressive strength and split tensile strength is porosity dependent for hydrated cement paste. They found a linear relation between compressive/splitting tensile strength ratio and porosity. The ratio decrease linearly with increase porosity values. That the trends

linearly with increase porosity values. That the trends Fig. 8. Effect of porosity on the ratio

Fig. 8. Effect of porosity on the ratio between compressive strength and flexural strength of cement mortar.

indicated by Eqs. (13) and (14) are in conformity with the findings of Odler and Ro b ler [58] .

5. Conclusions

The dependence of compressive, splitting tensile and flexural strength on porosity for cement mortar was analysed empirically and theoretically in this paper. The following conclusions can be drawn:

(1) Ryshkewithch’s exponential and Schiller’s logarithmic for- mulae for the porosity–strength relationship of cement mor- tar are numerically indistinguishable except in the neighborhood of the extremes of 0% and 100% porosity. Sim- ple linear relationship of Hasselman model shows artificial intercept with the abscissa at porosity less than the initial porosity and predicts negative strength at higher porosities. Although the initial porosity of the material enters in the model of Schiller, the predicted strength increase with the decrease in porosity is too high. (2) Over the porosity ranges examined, the extend Zheng’s model are good representations of the experimental data on the strength of cement mortar. This model requires two parameters to define the strength characteristics of cement mortar and the parameters can account the changes in load- ing regime (splitting tension, flexure or compression). Based on the generality of the assumptions used in the derivation of the extended Zheng’s model, this model for cement mor- tar can be applied for other cement-based materials. (3) The experimental data also show that the ratio between compressive strength and indirect tensile (split-tensile and flexural) strength of cement mortar is not constant, but is porosity dependent. The ratio decreases with increase poros- ity values of cement mortar.

Acknowledgement

The authors are grateful to the National Natural Science Foun- dation (Nos. 50979032 and 51178162) for the financial support.

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