Efflorescence on concrete products
Efflorescence is the presence of insoluble salts upon the surface of concrete or masonry products. The aims of this project were to understand efflorescence and to evaluate metakaolin as an additive for efflorescence prevention. Computer modelling was used in order to simulate the effect of alkali upon relevant phases. Alkali was shown to depress the solubility of calcium hydroxide via the common ion effect, increase, in general, the solubility of calcium carbonate via the foreign ion effect and dramatically increase the solubility and rate of uptake of carbon dioxide into solution. The raindrop model is an attempt to simulate the processes leading to efflorescence. A raindrop falling onto a roof tile is assumed firstly to leach ions from the tile, secondly, to absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide and thirdly to precipitate calcium carbonate. The raindrop model calculates that the formation of efflorescence is primarily dependant upon leaching rather than drying effects. Sensitivity studies show that even when significant sulphate is leached, calcium carbonate remains the prevalent efflorescent phase. Metakaolin, a type of burnt clay pozzolan, had previously been cited as preventing efflorescence. However, this study showed that the performance of metakaolin is affected by the presence of micaceous and other impurity phases which are activated upon heating to metakaolinization temperatures, and readily release alkalis. This study found that the main products of metakaolin hydration in alkaline solutions are gehlenite hydrate and amorphous C-A-S-H gels. The latter was shown to absorb alkalis, particularly potassium, from solution. Results are presented of wet-dry and renewal of leachant leaching tests on two metakaolin blends and a neat OPC paste control. Wet-dry leaching, judged to be the most realistic leach test, produces leaching trends not noted in other leaching tests.