Many degradation processes in cement based materials include the diffusion of one or more chemical species into concrete and consequent chemical reactions which alter the chemical and physical nature of the microstructure. External sulfate attack is mostly described by a coupled diffusion-reaction mechanism which leads to the decomposition of hardened cement constituents and cracking of the paste. This paper discusses the significance of diffusion properties and chemical changes in external sulfate attack in blended cement based composites. A method based on Particle Induced X-ray Emission (PIXE) was developed to measure the diffusion properties in a non-destructive test method. Quantitative Energy Dispersive Spectrometry (EDS) and micro-hardness technique were also used to study the chemical and mechanical changes from sulfate attack. Diffusion coefficients and rates of reaction were determined for paste and mortar mixtures, showing higher diffusion rates and lower hardness values in mortar compared to paste for control mixtures. Partial replacement of cement with fly ash improved the transport properties and reduced the level of damage in exposure to sulfate attack.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)76-85
Number of pages10
JournalCement and Concrete Composites
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012


  • Blended cements
  • Diffusion
  • EDS
  • Micro-hardness
  • PIXE
  • Reaction
  • Sulfate attack

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Building and Construction
  • Materials Science(all)


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