Characterizing Saturated Mass Transport In Fractured Cementitious Materials

Open Access
Akhavan, Alireza
Graduate Program:
Civil Engineering
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
June 14, 2012
Committee Members:
  • Farshad Rajabipour, Dissertation Advisor
  • Farshad Rajabipour, Committee Chair
  • John Earl Watson, Committee Member
  • Maria Lopez De Murphy, Committee Member
  • Tong Qiu, Committee Member
  • Concrete
  • Durability
  • Crack
  • Water Permeability
  • Ion Diffusion
  • Image Analysis
  • Electrical Conductivity
Concrete, when designed and constructed properly, is a durable material. However in aggressive environments concrete is prone to gradual deterioration which is due to penetration of water and aggressive agents (e.g., chloride ions) into concrete. As such, the rate of mass transport is the primary factor, controlling the durability of cementitious materials. Some level of cracking is inevitable in concrete due to brittle nature of the material. While mass transport can occur through concrete’s porous matrix, cracks can significantly accelerate the rate of mass transport and effectively influence the service life of concrete structures. To allow concrete service life prediction models to correctly account for the effect of cracks on concrete durability, mass transport thru cracks must be characterized. In this study, transport properties of cracks are measured to quantify the saturated hydraulic permeability and diffusion coefficient of cracks as a function of crack geometry (i.e.; crack width, crack tortuosity and crack wall roughness). Saturated permeability and diffusion coefficient of cracks are measured by constant head permeability test, electrical migration test, and electrical impedance spectroscopy. Plain and fiber reinforced cement paste and mortar as well as simulated crack samples are tested. The results of permeability test showed that the permeability of a crack is a function of crack width squared and can be predicted using Louis formula when crack tortuosity and surface roughness of the crack walls are accounted for. The results of the migration and impedance tests showed that the diffusion coefficient of the crack is not dependent on the crack width, but is primarily a function of volume fraction of cracks. The only parameter that is changing with the crack width is the crack connectivity. Crack connectivity was found to be linearly dependent on crack width for small crack and constant for large cracks (i.e.; approximately larger than 80 μm). The results of this study can be used to predict diffusion and permeability coefficients of fractured concrete.