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Examination of alkali-activated material nanostructure during thermal treatment

Walkley, Brant, Kashani, Alireza, Sani, Marc-Antoine, Ngo, TuanD., Mendis, Priyan
Journal of materials science 2018 v.53 no.13 pp. 9486-9503
aluminum, calcium silicate, construction materials, crosslinking, crystallization, durability, fire resistance, fly ash, gels, heat treatment, nanomaterials, slags, temperature, water content
The key nanostructural changes occurring in a series of alkali-activated materials (AAM) based on blends of slag and fly ash precursors during exposure to temperatures up to 1000 °C are investigated. The main reaction product in each AAM is a crosslinked sodium- and aluminium-substituted calcium silicate hydrate (C-(N)-A-S-H)-type gel. Increased alkali content promotes the formation of an additional sodium aluminosilicate hydrate (N-A-S-(H)) gel reaction product due to the structural limitations on Al substitution within the C-(N)-A-S-H gel. Heating each AAM to 1000 °C results in the crystallisation of the disordered gels and formation of sodalite, nepheline and wollastonite. Increased formation of N-A-S-(H) reduces binder structural water content after thermal treatment and correlates closely with previous observations of improved strength retention and reduced microcracking in these AAM after heating to 1000 °C. This provides new insight into thermally induced changes to gel atomic structure and thermal durability of C-(N)-A-S-H/N-A-S-H gel blends which are fundamental for the development of new fire-resistant construction materials.