Restrained shrinkage cracking of cementitious composites containing soft PCM inclusions: A paste (matrix) controlled response

Zhenhua Wei, Gabriel Falzone, Sumanta Das, Naman Saklani, Yann Le Pape, Laurent Pilon, Narayanan Neithalath, Gaurav Sant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


The addition of phase change materials (PCMs) has been proposed as a means to mitigate thermal cracking in cementitious materials. However, the addition of PCMs, i.e., soft inclusions, degrades the compressive strength of cementitious composites. From a strength-of-materials viewpoint, such reductions in strength are suspected to increase the tendency of cementitious materials containing PCMs to crack under load (e.g., volume instability-induced stresses resulting from thermal and/or hygral deformations). Based on detailed assessments of free and restrained shrinkage, elastic modulus, and tensile strength, this study shows that the addition of PCMs does not alter the cracking sensitivity of the material. In fact, the addition of PCMs (or other soft inclusions) enhances the cracking resistance as compared to a plain cement paste or composites containing equivalent dosages of (stiff) quartz inclusions. This is because composites containing soft inclusions demonstrate benefits resulting from crack blunting and deflection, and improved stress relaxation. As a result, although the tensile stress at failure remains similar, the time to failure (i.e., macroscopic cracking) of PCM-containing composites is considerably extended. More generally, the outcomes indicate that dosages of soft(er) inclusions, and the resulting decrease in compressive strength does not amplify the cracking risk of cementitious composites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)367-374
Number of pages8
JournalMaterials and Design
StatePublished - Oct 15 2017


  • Composites
  • Cracking
  • Elastic modulus
  • Inclusions
  • Strength

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Restrained shrinkage cracking of cementitious composites containing soft PCM inclusions: A paste (matrix) controlled response'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this