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Construction and Building Materials 36 (2012) 838–844

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Properties of concrete incorporating nano-silica
A.M. Said a,⇑, M.S. Zeidan a, M.T. Bassuoni b, Y. Tian a
a b

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, USA Department of Civil Engineering, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada

h i g h l i g h t s
" Colloidal nano-silica was studied in concrete with and without fly ash. " Two dosage levels of nano-silica in concrete mixtures were evaluated. " Adding nano-silica enhanced the mechanical and micro-structural properties of concrete. " Nano-SiO2 enhanced properties through pozzolanic reaction and filler effect.

a r t i c l e

i n f o

a b s t r a c t
This study investigated the effect of colloidal nano-silica on concrete incorporating single (ordinary cement) and binary (ordinary cement + Class F fly ash) binders. In addition to the mechanical properties, the experimental program included tests for adiabatic temperature, rapid chloride ion permeability, mercury intrusion porosimetry, thermogravimetry and backscattered scanning electron microscopy in order to link macro- and micro-scale trends. Significant improvement was observed in mixtures incorporating nano-silica in terms of reactivity, strength development, refinement of pore structure and densification of interfacial transition zone. This improvement can be mainly attributed to the large surface area of nanosilica particles, which has pozzolanic and filler effects on the cementitious matrix. Micro-structural and thermal analyses indicated that the contribution of pozzolanic and filler effects to the pore structure refinement depended on the dosage of nano-silica. Ó 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Article history: Received 21 July 2011 Received in revised form 13 May 2012 Accepted 4 June 2012 Available online 15 July 2012 Keywords: Nano-silica Fly ash Durability Pozzolanic effect Filler effect Reactivity

1. Introduction Nanotechnology has been defined by Drexler et al. [1] as ‘‘the control of the structure of matter based on molecule-by-molecule control of products and by-products’’. Nanotechnology can be considered as the most modern aspect in the fields of science and technology. Because nanotechnology has great market potential and economical impact, the need for research and exploration in this field and of its applications has been growing significantly during the last few decades. The aim of this research is to gain better understanding of the behavior of materials on the nano-scale level as well as determine how to improve the microstructure of cementitious materials. Concrete, which is known to be the most used manmade material, is primarily based on the cement industry; in the last few years, the total annual worldwide production of concrete exceeded
⇑ Corresponding author. Address: Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, 4505 S. Maryland Pkwy, Las Vegas, NV 89154-4014, USA. Tel.: +1 702 895 2722; fax: +1 702 895 3936. E-mail address: (A.M. Said).
0950-0618/$ - see front matter Ó 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

2600 million tons [2]. The cement industry is considered to be one of the most energy consuming industries, with a high rate of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Every year, it is responsible for approximately 5% of the global manmade CO2 emissions [3]; 50% of these emissions are caused by chemical manufacturing processes and 40% are due to burning fuel. Extensive research efforts have been directed to reducing the effect of the cement industry on greenhouse gases either by improving the efficiency of the cement manufacturing process [4,5] or by using supplementary cementitious materials (SCMs), which partially replace ordinary cement [6]. Various SCMs have been investigated, including fly ash, ground granulated blast furnace slag, natural pozzolans, and silica fume. Recent studies [7] have indicated that the use of new technologies may lead to industrial breakthroughs for the manufacture of SCMs. It is believed that nanotechnology is one of the most promising research fields that may significantly improve the mixture design, as well as the performance and production of cement-based materials. Fly ash, a by-product of coal consumption, is considered to be one of the most used SCMs alternatives to partially replace cement in concrete because it is cost efficient and widely available.

After 28 days. The influence of the nano-silica dosage on the mechanical and durability properties of concrete was evaluated in the light of micro-structural and thermal analyses.1. compared to dry grained nano-silica.A. 90. The mean particle size of the nano-silica was 35 nm. absorption. For the TG tests. The average depth of the white precipitation was determined by measuring the depth at five different positions along the diameter of each half specimen.2. Then. Alasali and Malhotra [10] showed that binary binders (ordinary cement and fly ash) significantly reduce the expansion in mortar/concrete due to alkali silica reactivity (ASR).5 4.64 3. colloidal nano-silica. In this study. and were kept in room temperature (23 ± 2 °C). respectively [21. 100 Â 200 mm concrete cylinders were prepared and thermocouples were inserted at mid-height of the cylinders in order to measure the temperature of the mixtures during hardening according to ASTM C 1064 (Standard Test Method for Temperature of Freshly Mixed Portland Cement Concrete). which forms a white precipitate of silver chloride in approximately 15 min. and fineness modulus of 2. For each mixture. Numerous studies have been conducted to explore different solutions for this issue.40 0. Group B). such as repairs and rapid construction. The effect of nano-silica on the hydration and pozzolanic reactions was assessed by determining the quantity of portlandite (calcium hydroxide) in the matrix after 28 days. Six mixtures were prepared and Class F fly ash. several transportation agencies include in its specification for concrete mixtures a minimum amount of fly ash to prevent/ mitigate the effect of ASR [11]. and 365 days) and the splitting tensile strength at 28 days were evaluated for the six mixtures using 100 Â 200 mm cylinders according to ASTM C 39 (Standard Test Method for Compressive Strength of Cylindrical Concrete Specimens) and ASTM C 496 (Standard Test Method for Splitting Tensile Strength of Cylindrical Concrete Specimens). has been its slow rate of strength development compared to normal concrete [12.40) were kept constant for all the mixtures. 7. different amounts of HRWRA were used for different ratios of nano-silica in order to maintain a slump between 50 and 100 mm. In this study. US Green Building Council (USGBC) considers using fly ash in concrete as a contributing factor to earn points in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program. The fine aggregate was natural sand with a specific gravity. and 6% by total mass of cementitious materials) in each of the two groups of mixtures (A and B). The mercury intrusion porosimetry (MIP) technique was used to assess pore size distribution and the total porosity of the mixtures. which meets ASTM C 150 (Standard Specification for Portland Cement).5. 2.60 4. the chunks were ground to powder. the contact angle and the surface tension of mercury were taken as 130° and 485 dynes/cm.15 376 Class F fly ash 58.52 2. whose composition and properties are also shown in Table 1. is a ready-to-use form of nano-silica. After 24 h of mixing. while the other three mixtures had 30% of the cement replaced by Class F fly ash (binary binder. which speeds up the rate of cement hydration and pozzolanic reactions [16]. concrete comprising Class F fly ash is not suitable for many applications where early strength is required. The content of portlandite was calculated by determining the drop in the percentage mass of TG curves at a temperature range of 420–450 °C (chemically bound water in portlandite) and multiplying it by 4. was used in three mixtures.20 3. Also. Table 2 shows the different proportions for the six mixtures. Well-graded natural gravel was used as coarse aggregate.70 2.46 1. three mixtures included only Type II/V cement as a binder Table 1 Properties of cement and fly ash. passing a #200 sieve (75 lm). For example. The amount of mixing water was adjusted for each mixture to account for the water content of the nano-silica solution.40 3. Recently. absorption. particularly that containing Class F fly ash. This method of drying – using a lower temperature for a longer period – was adopted to avoid the formation of micro-cracks. cement blended with fly ash improves durability properties of concrete [9].36 and 9. In order to measure the physical penetration depth of chloride ions. / Construction and Building Materials 36 (2012) 838–844 839 Furthermore. Type II/VI Portland Cement SiO2 (%) Al2O3 (%) Fe2O3 (%) CaO (%) MgO (%) SO3 (%) Na2O (%) Loss on ignition Specific gravity Fineness (m2/kg) 20. the rapid chloride ion permeability test (RCPT) was conducted for all the mixtures to evaluate the resistance of the mixtures to the penetrability of aggressive ions. the cylinders were unmolded and placed in a standard curing room (maintained at a temperature of 23 ± 2 °C and with a relative humidity of more than 95%) until they were ready for testing. The test procedures were conducted according to ASTM C 1202 (Standard Test Method for Electrical Indication of Concrete’s Ability to Resist Chloride Ion Penetration). On the other hand. such as tricalcium silicate (C3S) [17].78%. a high-range water reducing admixture (HRWRA). In this study. and dry rodded unit weight were 2. The main composition and properties of the cement used are presented in Table 1.M. but until this stage. The nano-silica used was in a colloidal form of an aqueous solution with 50% SiO2 content. it has been reported that the small particle size of nano-silica provides a larger surface area. which is manufactured as a suspension stabilized by a dispersive agent. small peasized chunks taken from at least two concrete cylinders were used as test samples for MIP [20]. Previous work [18] indicated that better behavior was achieved when colloidal nano-silica was added to mortar mixtures. The samples were oven dried for 72 h at a temperature of 60 ± 2 °C. Experimental results [14.23 – 0. so that it can be well distributed in the concrete mixture.84 – 1.22]. which may occur at high temperatures. the inner face of each half specimen was sprayed with a silver nitrate solution. The molds were covered and sealed to prevent moisture loss during the test. This average depth is considered to be an indication of the physical ingress of the chloride ions [19]. or other liquid admixtures.60% and 1634 kg/m3. however. which were prepared by cutting 25 Â 50 mm specimens from the concrete . These chunks were around 3–10 mm in size. then.0%.35 290 (single binder. two cylinders were used to measure the change in temperature and their average temperature was recorded.13]. they were kept in a desiccator containing silica gel. such as titanium oxide (TiO2). based on polycarboxylic acid and complying with ASTM C 494 (Standard Specification for Chemical Admixtures for Concrete) Type F. Said et al. 2. At first. respectively. 28.63 10.11 (ratio of the molecular mass of portlandite to that of water). To complement the findings of the MIP and TG tests. The main concern about fly ash concrete. Materials The cement used was Type II/VI Portland cement. Experimental program 2. in contrast to the dry form. respectively. respectively. Hence. fly ash is much more environmentally friendly than cement [8]. the specimens were axially split immediately after testing. 0. 3%.40 63. In addition to its economical and environmental benefits. Nano-silica is available in two main forms: compacted dry grains and colloidal suspension. it was believed that the improvement in concrete performance due to the addition of nano-silica is attributed to its filler effect and its pozzolanic reaction.79%. accelerate the hydration reaction of the main clinker phases.15] indicated that the performance of concrete is generally improved by adding nano-silica. The adiabatic temperature of concrete was recorded every 2 min using a data logger for 30 h after mixing. This was attributed to the better dispersion of colloidal nano-silica with highly reduced agglomeration. Variable dosages of nano-silica were used (0%. respectively. Thermogravimetry (TG) at a heating rate of 10 °C/min was used for this purpose. and were carefully selected so that large aggregates were not included. The compressive strength at different curing ages (3. backscattered scanning electron microscopy (BSEM) was used on polished thin sections.80% and 3. Dry nano-silica requires a special preparation procedure before mixing in order to insure the thorough dispersion of the nano-particles in the mixing water. was used at different dosages for all mixtures. Procedures Constituent materials were mixed in a mechanical mixer according to ASTM C 192 (Standard Practice for Making and Curing Concrete Test Specimens in the Laboratory). Therefore. At 28 days. After 28 days.3. In order to achieve a constant workability level. and the specific gravity and pH were 1. 2. The cementitious materials content (390 kg/m3) and the water-to-cementitious material ratio (0. until the time of testing. Group A). The specific gravity. 0. Testing methods Immediately after mixing. Higher amounts of HRWRA were needed with the larger dosages of nano-silica. This may be supported by the fact that other nano-materials. the effect of incorporating colloidal nano-silica in concrete prepared with single (OPC) and binary (OPC + Class F fly ash) binders is investigated.25 16. chunks were obtained from crushed concrete cylinders.

Mechanical properties The average compressive strength of the specimens at different curing ages and the average splitting tensile strength at 28 days are cylinders after 28 days.S. 29 B-0 (0% N. indicates acceleration in the rate of hydration due the presence of nano-silica.) Temperature (°C) 26 25 24 23 22 21 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 * Note N. the peak temperatures were about 20% higher and were reached in a shorter time period (4 h earlier). they were impregnated by a low-viscosity epoxy resin under pressure and polished by using diamond surface-grinding equipment. 8 3. For example.) 26 25 24 23 22 21 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 Time (hrs) Fig.S. 2). Adiabatic temperature test results for Group B mixtures. as the pozzolanic reaction usually takes place later after adequate formation of portlandite [23]. Fig. Said et al.840 Table 2 Proportions of mixtures per cubic meter of concrete. it may be attributed to the very high surface area of nano-silica particles (average particle size of 35 nm and a specific surface of 80 m2/g). 29 A-0 (0% N. Mixture A-0 A-1 A-2 B-0 B-1 B-2 * A.8 – 23.M. This increase in the peak temperature. which act as nucleation sites for the hydration reactions. comparing mixtures B-1 and B-2 to mixture B-0 (Fig.) A-2 (6% N. but it also speeds up the kinetics of hydration due to its ultrafine nature.) 100 80 60 A-0 (0% N.S.) B-2 (6% N. For all mixtures.S.1.8 Water* (kg) 156 144. 3.) B-1 (3% N. 2.S.6 156 144.) 27 Temperature (°C) B-2 (6% N. either for Group A (without fly ash) or for Group B (with 30% fly ash) with the exception of mixture A-2.4 46. within 15 h after mixing.3 132.) 28 B-1 (3% N. the peak temperature was higher for mixtures containing nano-silica Tensile Strength (MPa) 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0 A-0 A-1 A-2 B-0 B-1 B-2 Mixture Fig.: Nano Silica 40 20 0 A-1 (3% N.4 46. These results indicate that the role of nano-silica is not limited to pozzolanic or filler effects.S.) A-2 (6% N.S. This increase cannot be ascribed to the pozzolanic effect of nano-silica.S. Adiabatic temperature The temperature recorded over 30 h was plotted against time. The increase in temperature was followed by a decrease during the deceleration period until a relatively constant temperature was recorded.S. 1. Splitting tensile strength of all the mixtures at 28 days. Results and discussion 3. Hence.) 0 50 100 150 200 250 300 350 Time (hrs) Age (Days) Fig. as shown in Figs. 1 and 2. / Construction and Building Materials 36 (2012) 838–844 Cement (kg) 390 390 390 273 273 273 Fly ash (kg) – – – 117 117 117 Colloidal nano-SiO2 (kg) – 23. .2. Subsequently.6 HRWRA (mL/100 kg of binder) 326 457 914 261 326 653 Coarse aggregate (kg) 1184 1175 1162 1163 1154 1143 Fine aggregate (kg) 789 783 774 775 769 762 The content of mixing water was adjusted by the amount of water in the nano-silica solution.S.) 140 120 28 27 Compressive Strength (MPa) A-1 (3% N. Adiabatic temperature test results for Group A mixtures. 4. Generally.S.3 132.S.S. 3. the temperature increased just after mixing within the acceleration period and the setting period until a peak was reached. Compressive strength versus curing time.) B-0 (0% N.

For example. This suggests that the low rate of strength development for concrete incorporating Class F fly ash can be controlled by the addition of nano-silica. ANOVA for the compressive strength results at 7 and 28 days showed that the increase in the dosage of nanosilica from 0% to 6% had F values of 32. the passing charge and the physical penetration depth decreased. for the results of passing charges and penetration depths showed that the variation of the nano-silica dosage from 0% to 6% had F values of 189.01 0. 3). at a significance level a = 0.1 1 10 100 1000 Pore Size (µm) Fig. For specimens from Groups A and B. Mixture A-0 A-1 A-2 B-0 B-1 B-2 Passing charge (Coulombs) 1837 939 294 958 491 357 Penetrability class (ASTM C 1202) Low Very Very Very Very Very low low low low low Average penetration depth (mm) 10.05.S. Table 4 Rapid chloride ion permeability test (RCPT) results.38 and 18. This indicates that adding small dosages of nano-silica had . In this figure.3 are listed in Table 4. the average early age (3 and 7 days) strength increased by about 18% and 14%.3. compared to the specimen without nano-silica (B-0). as shown by the thermal and micro-structural analyses. at a significance level a = 0.89. ANOVA. In most cases.M. Rapid chloride permeability test (RCPT) In the rapid chloride ion permeability test (ASTM C 1202).02 0.01 0. the results generally indicate that the compressive and tensile strengths markedly increased with the addition of nano-silica. 5 shows an example of the physical penetration of chloride ions in two specimens from Group B.1 3. the penetrability class changed from ‘low’ to ‘very low’ with the addition of nano-silica (Table 4). Pore size distribution for Group A mixtures.S.04 0. exceeding the critical value of an F-distribution density function reflects that the tested variable significantly affects the mean of the results. 0. For concrete with or without fly ash. 6. In general.035 0. Comparatively. For Group A mixtures. the increase in strength was further improved up to 36%. According to Montgomery [24]. as the dosage of nano-silica increased. Mixture Compressive strength (MPa) 3-days A-0 A-1 A-2 B-0 B-1 B-2 33 36 39 27 28 31 7-days 49 51 58 39 40 44 841 shown in Figs. Said et al. marked reduction of the penetration depth can be visually observed for the specimen with 6% nano-silica (B-2). At 28 days. which are discussed later in the text.1 4. respectively with nano-silica additions (Table 3).) A-2 (6% N.50 and 108.03 0.015 0. This was statistically supported by analysis of variance (ANOVA). respectively) led to compressive strength that matched or exceeded the strength of the control mixture without fly ash (A-0) at or before 28 days (Fig. respectively.2 3.54.6 8. Fig.05 0.23. / Construction and Building Materials 36 (2012) 838–844 Table 3 Early age compressive strength of concrete mixtures. 3 and 4. which are more than the critical F value of 3. charges passing through concrete disc specimens within 6 h were recorded. the mixtures containing nano-silica continued to gain strength with a relatively high rate after 28 days.A. respectively which are larger than the corresponding critical F value of 3.89. The average passing charges and penetration depths for two replicate specimens Fig. Physical penetration (white line) of chloride ions for Specimens B-0 and B-2.001 0.05. with the penetration depth indicated by the white line. as specified by ASTM C 1202.025 0. 3.S.045 Cumulative Intrusion (ml/g) A-0 (0% N. which also shows qualitative evaluation for the penetrability of the chloride ions.005 0 0. the improvement in the mechanical properties for the mixtures incorporating nano-silica can be ascribed to the pozzolanic and filler effects of nano-silica. This means that the tested variable significantly affects the mean of the results. Considerable improvement was noted with the addition of nano-silica.) 0. 5. and the depth of chloride penetration was physically measured after testing by the colorimetric method [19]. For long-term strength.1 4.) A-1 (3% N. the mixture containing fly ash without nano-silica (B-0) matched the compressive strength of the control mixture (A-0) at approximately 90 days. It was also observed that the addition of 3% and 6% nano-silica to mixtures containing 30% fly ash (Mixtures B-1 and B-2. respectively (three replicates were used for each test).

44 12.56 9.055 0.34 6% 5% 4% Mass (%) 3% 2% 1% 0% A-0 A-1 A-2 B-0 B-1 B-2 Fig. respectively. the decrease in the threshold pore diameters for Mixtures B-1 (3% nano-silica) and B-2 (6% nano-silica) was 36% and 48%. which discounted the physical penetration of chloride ions into the cementitious matrix.1 lm) (%) 69. this trend is ascribed to the pozzolanic and filler effects of nano-silica. It should be noted that the MIP tests were done on at least four small chunks extracted from two replicate cylinders for each mixture. Mixture A-0 A-1 A-2 B-0 B-1 B-2 Apparent total porosity (%) 10.10 0. the results shown in Figs. 6 and 7 and Table 5). the apparent total porosities. / Construction and Building Materials 36 (2012) 838–844 B-0 (0% N. Correspondingly. 8.092 0.005 0 0.30 8.05 0.06 A. the addition of nano-silica in Mixtures A-1. However. respectively. threshold pore diameters and proportion of micro pores (less than 0. Said et al. Mixture Fig. Image from back scattered electron microscopy (BSEM) for: (a) Specimen A-0 and (b) Specimen A-2. which were put in the same test compartment (porosimeter).91 6. respectively (Table 5). 3. For example.035 0.075 0. 9. it can be noted that the total porosity markedly decreased with the addition of nano-silica (Table 5).001 0.21 Threshold pore diameter (lm) 0.015 0. Again.S. Table 5 Mercury intrusion porosimetry (MIP) test results.41 79.060 0.02 0. Mixtures B-1 (3% nano-silica) and B-2 (6% nano-silica) had comparable CH contents of 2.39 72.) Cumulative Intrusion (ml/g) 0.092 and 0. Also. the increase in the percentage of micro pores for those mixtures was 8. Compared to the control mixtures without nano-silica.01 0. The thermogravimetry (TG) results are shown in Fig.025 0. respectively relative to that of Mixture B-0 (0% nano-silica). B-1 and B-2 led to considerable consumption of portlandite (CH) in the cementitious matrix. Furthermore. Thermogravimetry (TG) results for portlandite (CH) peaks at about 450 °C.4.) B-1 (3% N. Micro-structural and thermal analyses The trends from the mercury intrusion porosimetry (MIP) for Group A and B mixtures are shown in Figs.01 0. respectively relative to that of Mixture B-0.03 0. For example. This can be attributed to the effect of the pozzolanic reaction. Pore size distribution for Group B mixtures.66%. 7.16 73. A-2. a pronounced effect on decreasing the conductivity of concrete and refining the pore structure. This may suggest that the general improvement in the mechanical and durability proper- .69% and 2.S. These mixtures had threshold diameters of 0.69 77.842 0. the contribution of each effect to refining the pore structure could not be readily differentiated by the MIP results. the threshold pore diameters of mixtures containing nano-silica were less than those of the control mixtures without nano-silica (A-0 and B-0). 8).) B-2 (6% N.065 0.1 1 10 100 1000 Pore Size (µm) Fig.075 lm. 6 and 7.S.04 0.075 Percentage of small pores (<0. increasing the nano-silica dosage from 3% to 6% did not seem to have a pronounced effect on the depletion of CH (Fig.13 6.4%. however.5% and 5. In compliance to the mechanical and durability properties.31 75.144 0. More pore structure refinement was achieved by increasing the dosage of nano-silica (Figs. 6 and 7 and Table 5 can be reasonably considered the averages from representative populations. Thus. which partially led to the pore structure refinement observed in the MIP results (Table 5). 8.1 lm) for the mixtures are shown in Table 5.045 0.M.

and micro-scale properties of concrete.  For mixtures incorporating nano-silica. Figs. which had the highest total porosity and threshold pore diameter at this age (Table 5). However. More refinement of the pore structure was achieved with increasing the nano-silica dosage up to 6%. For example. microstructure development and durability improvement of concrete comprising Class F fly ash can be mitigated by the addition of small dosages of nano-silica. the BSEM analysis can still be considered as a reasonable indication for the microstructure in the light of the trends observed from the other tests. In particular. showed higher degree of hydration.  MIP results showed that the total porosity and the threshold pore diameter were significantly lower for mixtures containing nano-silica. Conversely. BSEM Image for: (a) Specimen B-0 and (b) Specimen B-2. durability.A. with or without fly ash. It should be mentioned that some of the observed cracks in the micrographs are artifacts due to the sample preparation procedures. Back-scattered electron microscopy (BSEM) was conducted on thin sections to complement the trends observed in the MIP and TG tests. which links to the lower strength results shown in Fig. For Group A mixtures (without fly ash). It can be observed that the ITZ for Specimen A-0 (Fig. 10a–b shows the BSEM images for Specimen B-0 and B-2. which indicates that the inherently slower rate of strength development of concrete containing Class F fly ash can be controlled by the addition of small dosages of nano-silica. the increase in the peak temperature recorded within 15 h after mixing indicated that the ultrafine nature of nano-silica was responsible for speeding up the kinetics of hydration reactions. For Specimen B-0. MIP. shown in Fig. MIP. 9a) is full of voids and micro-cracks due to the wall effect between aggregates and the cementitious matrix. For Group B specimens containing 30% Class F fly ash.  At all curing ages. This conforms to the results from the strength. 9b) appears to be densified and refined. In general. increasing the dosage of nano-silica from 3% to 6% did not increase the consumption of CH. mixture designs. it appears that the addition of a small dosage of well-dispersed colloidal nano-silica efficiently catalyzed the kinetics of Class F fly ash reaction in the cementitious matrix. Considering the materials. the compressive strength was considerably improved for mixtures incorporating 30% Class F fly ash and nano-silica. BSEM observations conformed to the results for strength. the following conclusions can be drawn:  The overall performance of concrete. Conclusions With the advent of nano-size materials to the concrete industry. for Specimen B-2. 4. This suggests that the delay in strength gain. / Construction and Building Materials 36 (2012) 838–844 843 effects induced by nano-silica particles. This statement may be substantiated by further testing in future research by combining nano-silica with other types of inert nanoparticles. 9a-b show the ITZ as indicated by the arrows for Specimens A-0 (0% nano-silica) and A-2 (6% nano-silica). 10a shows a coarse microstructure of the cementitious matrix incorporating 30% fly ash. was significantly improved with the addition of variable dosages of nano-silica.M. rigorous research data should be provided to gain better understanding on the effects of such materials on the macro. owing to the chemical (pozzolanic reaction) and physical (filler action) . Fig. the ITZ in the section prepared from Mixture A-2 (Fig. Said et al. durability. However. 10. Also. the strength generally increased with the addition of nano-silica up to 6%. ties and also in pore structure refinement associated with the increase in the nano-silica addition from 3% to 6% may be mainly attributed to the physical filler effect of incorporating a larger volume of ultrafine particles in the cementitious matrix. significant densification was observed in the matrix at the interfacial transition zone (ITZ) for specimens containing nano-silica. Hence. This suggested that the incorporation of small dosages of nano-silica has a pronounced effect on reducing the conductivity and refining the pore structure of the cementitious matrix.  The RCPT results showed that the passing charges and physical penetration depths significantly decreased with the addition of nano-silica. this observation conforms to the MIP pore size distribution curve of this mixture (Fig. the micrograph in Fig. Figs. at 28 days. For instance. without nano-silica. which suggests that the general improvement in performance associated with the increase of the nano-silica addition from 3% to 6% may be mainly attributed to the physical filler effect in the cementitious matrix. 3 and Table 3. and testing methods implemented in the present study. the microstructure reflects an insufficient degree of hydration of the matrix at this age (28 days). the BSEM micrographs. 10b. and TG tests. which incorporated 6% nano-silica with 30% fly ash. respectively. On the other hand. and TG tests. 7).  TG results indicated that the addition of nano-silica led to significant consumption of portlandite (CH) in the pozzolanic reaction. a more porous structure was observed in the control Specimen (B-0) at 28 days. respectively. as depicted by the refined and denser microstructure and ITZ. Considering that Class F fly ash was used.

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