Arguably the most ubiquitous construction material in modern civilization, concrete is enabling the development of megacities around the globe together with increasing living standards in developing nations. However, the exact formation mechanisms of the strength-giving calcium-rich gels remain a topic of debate. Using density functional modeling, we simulate the fundamental solution-based building blocks of cement hydrates (calcium ions and silicate and aluminate monomers) and their propensity to form pair-wise complexes with bonding environments characteristic of those found in calcium-silicate-hydrate, calcium-alumino-silicate-hydrate and sodium-containing calcium-alumino-silicate-hydrate gels, as assessed from Gibbs free energies of chemical reactions. By accurately simulating the high pH pore solution chemistry in Portland cements and related systems, along with discrete solvation of the species, we hypothesize potential early age formation routes of the gels and discuss limitations and future work associated with this approach.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Building and Construction
- Materials Science(all)
- Calcium-silicate-hydrate (C-S-H)
- Density functional theory
- Solution chemistry