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DOI:10.1016/j.conbuildmat.2012.11.072
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Construction and Building Materials
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/lo cate/conbuildmat
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 cementbased 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 cementbased materials in particular, was recognized long ago [1–3] . 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 strengthmodulus of elasticity relationship [7] . The practical importance of durability of cementbased 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. Email address: cxdong1985@hotmail.com (X. Chen).
09500618/$  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 [2,11–14]. But experi mentally measurement of a relevant porosity parameter has proved to be extremely difﬁcult in cementbased 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 cementbased 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 [18–20] 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 cementbased 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 cementbased 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 1881117 [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 cementbased 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 ^{} ^{k}^{p}
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 cementbased 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 surfacedry (SSD) [26] condition, thus enabling the bulk volume to be calculated. It was assumed that any volume change during drying or resaturation 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 watersaturated and ovendry 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 _{s}_{s}_{d} W _{d} Þ
_{ð} _{W} ssd _{} _{W} w _{Þ} 100 %
ð1 Þ
where p is the porosity (100%), W _{s}_{s}_{d} 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 cementbased mate rials successfully [15,28–30] .
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
Fig. 2. Experimental data on ﬂexural strength–porosity dependence. Graphs of the best ﬁt obtained for existing models tested are shown.
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 poreinitiatedfailure model for glass at low values of strength at higher porosity was of fered by Hasslman [37] in the explanation of the ‘‘loadbearing 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 zeroporosity 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 cementbased 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 _{I}_{c}
ð
ð
8Þ
9Þ
where K _{I}_{c} 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 _{I}_{c}_{o} is the fracture toughness of porefree 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 _{I}_{c}_{o}
"
p _{c} p
p
c
^{} 1þm
ð 1 p ^{2}^{=}^{3} Þ
^{#}
1=2
ð11Þ
Assuming that r _{0} = a K _{I}_{c}_{o} is the strength of porefree 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 cementbased 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).
Fig. 4. Comparison of predicted and observed compressive strength.
Fig. 5. Comparison of predicted and observed ﬂexural strength.
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
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} ^{:} ^{2}^{3}^{6}
7: 45 p ^{} ^{0} ^{:} ^{2}^{2}^{1}
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 compressiveindirect 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 strengthindi rect tensile strength ratio, whereas stronger cement mortar (lower porosity) has higher compressiveindirect 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
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 cementbased materials. (3) The experimental data also show that the ratio between compressive strength and indirect tensile (splittensile 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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