This paper investigates the synergistic interaction between carbonation and microcracks in hardened cement pastes. Ordinary Portland cement pastes with three different water/cement ratios of 0.4, 0.5 and 0.6, hydrated for 28 days with crack apertures ranging from 10 to 150 m were subjected to accelerated carbonation in a climate chamber that controls the targeted relative humidity (65 and 75%), CO2 concentration (0.3 vol.% and 1 vol.%) and temperature (20 °C). Mercury intrusion porosimetry, N2-adsorption and thermogravimetry analysis were used to quantify the carbonation-induced changes in pore size distribution, porosity and phase assemblages. Additionally, the changes in crack apertures were followed during carbonation. The results indicated that cracks within the investigated range facilitate the carbonation along the crack surface due to a faster gas diffusion process. The cracks with apertures below 50 m increase the carbonation depth at least by a factor of two for all studied w/c and environmental conditions. We observed a constant increase in crack openings during carbonation and its linear relationship with the amount of precipitated calcium carbonate. Due to depletion of CH and decalcification of C-S-H close to the sample surface, the crack aperture increase becomes limited. Therefore, the crack apertures do not increase further after the material around the crack is carbonated. It was also found that the densification of the carbonated cement matrix coexists with large capillary pores (>50 nm) or cracks, especially for the low w/c samples. The shift in pore size distribution from about 100 nm towards smaller pores (4.5–50 nm) and a decrease in gel pore fractions after 28 days of carbonation also indicate a simultaneous calcium carbonate precipitation in meso/capillary pores and decalcification of C-S-H at the nanoscale.
|Number of pages||26|
|State||Published - 13 Jul 2022|