Crystallization in pores

George W. Scherer

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

947 Scopus citations


This review discusses the thermodynamics of crystallization within porous materials and the factors that influence stress development and cracking. The maximum driving force for crystallization is related to the supersaturation for crystals growing in solution, and to the undercooling for crystals growing from a melt. However, the stresses generated on the pore walls depend on other factors, including the pore size, the energy (γcs) of the interface between the pore wall and the crystal, and (for acicular crystals) the yield stress or buckling strength of the crystal. The fact that growing crystals push particles over large distances indicates that γcs is often large. If γcs were small, crystals would tend to nucleate on pore walls rather than pushing them away, and the crystals would propagate through the pore network without resistance. Even when the crystallization pressure is large, the stress existing in a single pore cannot cause failure because it acts on too small a volume. For fracture to occur, the crystals must propagate through a region of the network large enough that the stress field can interact with the large flaws that control the strength. In concrete, growth on this scale requires that the driving force be sufficient to permit the crystals to pass through pores as small as the breakthrough radius (which is the size of the entry into the percolating network of larger pores that controls the permeability of the body).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1347-1358
Number of pages12
JournalCement and Concrete Research
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1999
EventProceedings of the 1998 Engineering Foundation International Conference on Advances in Cement and Concrete - Banff, Alta., Can
Duration: Jul 5 1998Jul 10 1998

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Building and Construction
  • General Materials Science


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