Secondary ettringite formation in concrete subjected to different curing conditions
The large amount of ettringite detected in concrete affected by different failure mechanisms (alkali - silica reaction [ASR], freezing and thawing [FT], and wetting and drying [WD]) in sulfate - free environments has been a matter of concern for many researchers over the past years. Two major lines to approach this issue have been defined. One of them considers ettringite as the main cause of damage and the other assumes that it appears after concrete distress. In order to contribute to the clarification of this phenomenon, research was conducted to cover the above issues. This paper reports on the conclusions arrived at up to date, from studies conducted on concrete affected by different damaging mechanisms: FT, WD, and precracking induced by loading and ASR. Changes in length and mechanical strength of test concrete are reported, as well as the evaluations made by optical microscopy (OM), scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and energy dispersive X- ray analysis (EDAX). Secondary ettringite formation (SEF) is closely linked to pore fluid transport in the mass of concrete. Although it was not possible to define clearly its participation in the damaging processes related to ASR or to FT, secondary ettringite crystallization in concretes subjected to WD cycles seems to be one of the most likely mechanisms to account for the volumetric instability observed in these concretes.