Theses Doctoral

Characterization of structural rebuilding and shear migration in cementitious materials in consideration of thixotropy

Qian, Ye

From initial contact with water until hardening, and deterioration, cement and concrete materials are subjected to various chemical and physical transformations and environmental impacts. This thesis focuses on the properties during the fresh state, shortly after mixing until the induction period. During this period flow history, including shearing and resting, and hydration both play big roles in determining the rheological properties. The rheological properties of cement and concrete not only affect the casting and pumping process, but also very critical for harden properties and durability properties.
Compared with conventional concrete, self-consolidating concrete (SCC) can introduce many advantages in construction application. These include readiness to apply, decreasing labor necessary for casting, and enhancing hardened properties. However, challenges still remain, such as issues relating to formwork pressure [1-7] and multi-layer casting [8]. Each of these issues is closely related to the property of thixotropy. From the microstructural point of view, thixotropy is described as structural buildup (flocculation) under rest and breakdown (deflocculation) under flow. For SCC, as well as other concrete systems, it is about balancing sufficient flowability during casting and rate of structural buildup after placement for the application at hand. For instance, relating to the issue of SCC formwork, it is ideal for the material to be highly flowable to achieve rapid casting, but then exhibit high rate of structural buildup to reduce formwork pressure. This can reduce the cost of formwork and reduce the risk of formwork failure. It is apparent that accurately quantifying the two aspects of thixotropy, i.e. structuration and destructuration, is key to tackling these challenges in field application. Thus, the overall objective of my doctoral study is to improve quantification of key parameters tied to thixotropy that we have identified to be important: static yield stress, cohesion and degree of shear-induced particle migration. The two main contributions are as follows:
Firstly, I quantified structuration of fresh paste and mortar systems by measuring static yield stress. After an extensive review of various rheological methods to probe viscoelastic properties of yield stress fluids, I selected, developed, and implemented a creep recovery protocol. Creep results were supplemented by low-amplitude oscillatory shear results, and supported that the measured static yield stress corresponds to the solid-liquid transition. This improved quantification of static yield stress can help better understand the effect of mix composition on SCC formwork pressure development, as well as static segregation and stability [9]. Since the static yield stress is measured before the structure is broken down, the effects of sand migration are eliminated. This study also analyzed effects of other supplementary cementitous materials such as nanoclay and fly ash. Results showed that nanoclay effectively increases static yield stress and structuration rate, while fly ash decreases static yield stress. To complement this investigation, I studied cohesion using the probe tack test, as cohesion is widely cited to be closely related to formwork pressure. I verified that probe tack test is a quick and useful method to measure static cohesion. Results showed that nanoclay increased cohesion dramatically while fly ash did not have an apparent effect on cohesion.
Secondly, I developed an empirical model to fit the stress decay process under constant shear rate, For mortar systems, the stress decay can be attributed to two mechanisms: colloidal destructuration and sand migration. Such a model could be used to characterize particle migration and dynamic segregation [10], a critical issue for casting applications. In addition, shear induced particle migration is a widely recognized challenge in characterizing mortars and concretes through shear rheological methods [11-13]. Therefore this model can help determine the range of shear rates within which migration can be minimized to guide the design of protocols for dynamic rheological characterization and to ultimately develop design strategies to minimize mitigation. Compared with currently existing methods, this model provides a faster approach to quantify the sand migration process, including kinetics.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics
Thesis Advisors
Kawashima, Shiho
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
January 4, 2017