Materiales de Construcción, Vol 54, No 275 (2004)

Carbonation kinetics in roman-like lime mortar

S. Sánchez-Moral
Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales (CSIC), Madrid, Spain

J. García-Guinea
Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales (CSIC), Madrid, Spain

L. Luque Luque
Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales (CSIC), Madrid, Spain

R. González-Martín
Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales (CSIC), Madrid, Spain

P. López-Arce
Centro Tecnológico de Materiales (AITEMIN), Toledo, Spain


The kinetic parameterisation of lime mortar carbonation is a useful technique for understanding ancient building methods and the long-lived physical-chemical stability of roman monuments. Portlandite (Ca(OH)2) binders harden in the air on contact with atmospheric CO2, producing CaCO3. Water evaporation and the presence of silicate aggregates have a three-fold effect: prompting the development of a pore system that permits CO2, self-diffusion, reducing shrinkage and cracking during drying and (possibly) giving rise to subsequent pozzolanic reactions. The present survey involved air-hardening a series of roman-like lime mortars which differed in terms of: (i) type of aggregate, volcanic tephra and arkose; (ii) aggregate/binder ratio, 1:2 as used in the catacombs and 1:4 as found in standard roman construction and (iii) temperature, the 17 ºC prevailing in underground environments and the 30 ºC typical of warm Mediterranean areas. The analyses that provided the most useful information were performed in a classic X-ray diffractometer adapted to accommodate an author-designed chamber in which temperature control was achieved by an internal refrigerant and a PID-governed electrical heater Additional data were obtained with DTA and environmental scanning electron microscopy (ESEM). The tests conducted on the Roman-like lime mortars manufactured for the experiment showed that the hardening temperature is a critical factor in the initial phases of carbonation. Calcite precipitation rates and total mineral precipitation increased with temperature, but fell very quickly as calcite precipitated. In theoretical calculations assuming an open reactor with continuous CO2, input, total calcitisation time was found to be 156 m in. at 30 ºC and 175 min. at 17 ºC, whilst in the mortars actually hardened in the experimental part of the study, calcitisation gradually blocked the flow or CO2, gas into the system. Roman-like mortars air-hardened at 30 ºC displayed higher initial calcitisation rates, early system closure and low final carbonation levels. The calcitisation rates of mortars made with pozzolana aggregates were higher than the arkose mortar rates due to the higher intra-particle porosity (nearly 40%) of the volcanic rock fragments.


kinetics; roman mortar; lime mortar; pozzolana; carbonation; in-situ XRD; DTA-TG; ESEM

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