Thermodynamics of water confined in porous calcium-silicate-hydrates

P. A. Bonnaud, Q. Ji, B. Coasne, R. J.M. Pellenq, K. J. Van Vliet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

125 Citations (Scopus)


Water within pores of cementitious materials plays a crucial role in the damage processes of cement pastes, particularly in the binding material comprising calcium-silicate-hydrates (C-S-H). Here, we employed Grand Canonical Monte Carlo simulations to investigate the properties of water confined at ambient temperature within and between C-S-H nanoparticles or "grains" as a function of the relative humidity (%RH). We address the effect of water on the cohesion of cement pastes by computing fluid internal pressures within and between grains as a function of %RH and intergranular separation distance, from 1 to 10 Å. We found that, within a C-S-H grain and between C-S-H grains, pores are completely filled with water for %RH larger than 20%. While the cohesion of the cement paste is mainly driven by the calcium ions in the C-S-H, water facilitates a disjoining behavior inside a C-S-H grain. Between C-S-H grains, confined water diminishes or enhances the cohesion of the material depending on the intergranular distance. At very low %RH, the loss of water increases the cohesion within a C-S-H grain and reduces the cohesion between C-S-H grains. These findings provide insights into the behavior of C-S-H in dry or high-temperature environments, with a loss of cohesion between C-S-H grains due to the loss of water content. Such quantification provides the necessary baseline to understand cement paste damaging upon extreme thermal, mechanical, and salt-rich environments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11422-11432
Number of pages11
Issue number31
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Aug 7

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Spectroscopy
  • Electrochemistry


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