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Introduction

The exposure to chemicals is one of the main causes of degradation of concrete structures,
and many of these chemicals can be found in nature, generally dissolved in water. If in contact
with waters containing chlorides, the exposition of the cement mass to the acid pH leads to a
progressive neutralization of the alkaline nature of the cement paste, removing alkalies and
dissolving portlandite and CSH gel. Also, it increases the porosity of the concrete, leading to
losses of stiffness and strength.
The rate of degradation of the concrete depends mainly on 3 factors: the concentration of
chemicals in water, exposure time, and the chemical resistance of the concrete. This work
studies the behaviour of the concrete, in terms of mass, when in contact with chloridric acid in
different concentrations.
Procedure
Two concrete specimens are prepared in order to analyse acid attacks through time. The first
specimen is put into a recipient with a solution of water and HCl at 0.1 mole, while the second
is put into a recipient with a solution of water and HCl at 0.01 mole. Each day from the starting
day, a measure is taken for mass of the specimen, and pH of the solution. The data collected is
then organised into a table in order to compare the concrete behaviour in each situation.

Results

Day
0
1
2
5
6
7
8
16
19
20

HCl (0.1 m)
Mass (g)
pH
41,82
1,38
41,46
1,70
40,61
1,62
39,53
1,63
38,89
1,68
38,63
1,69
38,33
1,70
36,86
1,70
36,60
1,85
36,66
1,83

HCl (0.01 m)
Mass (g)
pH
42,24
2,13
43,63
2,30
43,49
2,42
43,49
2,79
43,45
2,95
43,60
3,46
43,48
5,60
43,22
11,20
43,30
11,29
43,24
11,28

HCl (0.1 m)
43.00
42.00
41.00

Mass (g)

40.00
39.00
38.00
37.00
36.00
0

10

15

20

25

Day

HCl (0.1 m)
2.00
1.80
1.60
1.40
1.20

pH

1.00
0.80
0.60
0.40
0.20
0.00
0

10

15

Day

20

25

HCl (0.01 m)

Mass

43.80
43.60
43.40
43.20
43.00
42.80
42.60
42.40
42.20
42.00
0

10

15

20

25

20

25

Day

HCl (0.01 m)
14.00
12.00
10.00
8.00

pH

6.00
4.00
2.00
0.00
0

10

15

Day

Analysis
HCl 0.1
This solution has a higher concentration, therefore being much more aggressive. By putting
the specimen in the solution, it lost about 12% of its mass during the experiment of 20 days.
This happens because the reactions with the acid pH remove the alkalies and both portlandite
and CSH gel are dissolved, increasing the porosity of the concrete. The corrosion happened
fast due to the high concentration of HCl.

In this solution, the pH did not have much change, remaining acid and increasing from 1.40 to
1.80. The alkalinity of the concrete was not enough to make a bigger increase in the pH of the
solution, as it is extremely acid.

HCl 0.01
The acid attacks on the concrete were much less aggressive in this solution, due to the lower
concentration. The specimen lost only about 1% of its mass.
The pH of the solution have suffered big changes. On the first seven days, it increased slowly
due to the alkalinity of the concrete, and, from the day 7 onwards, it showed a huge increase.
It went from a very acid solution, to very alkaline, going from pH 3.46 to pH 11.28 at the end of
the experiment. This sudden increase can be explained by the deprotonation, where the HCl
"donates" an ion H+ to the water. The reaction can be seen below:
HCl (aq) + H2O (l) H3O+ (aq) + Cl- (aq)

Conclusion

The experiment showed that the continuous exposure of the concrete to the HCl can lead to
serious damages on structures, specially the loss of strength. By keeping in contact with the
acid, the concrete specimens suffered a significant corrosion, while it increased the porosity of
the concrete, leading to loss of mass, and thus to loss of strength and stiffness. These attacks
were even more aggressive with the HCl in higher concentrations.
Some structures may enter in contact with the HCl in nature, and, in order to avoid aggressive
corrosions, it is necessary to make the concrete resistant against these acid attacks. One
solution may be the use of water repeller admixtures on the concrete, so the acid in the
nature, usually dissolved in water, will not penetrate and corrode the concrete mass so easily.