Materiales de Construcción, Vol 43, No 232 (1993)

On some microstructural aspects of concrete deterioration

E. A. Draper
R. J. Lee Group, Inc., Monroeville, Pennsylvania, United States

K. E. Wagner
R. J. Lee Group, Inc., Monroeville, Pennsylvania, United States

J. Skalny
Construction Materials Consultant, Timonium, Maryland, United States


There are numerous mechanisms that can lead to deterioration of portland-cement concrete in service. The best known are corrosion of reinforcement, freezing-thawing expansion, alkali-silica reaction, acid attack, and sulfate-related problems, including delayed ettringite formation. Additionally, concrete can deteriorate as a consequence of improper processing, including curing. Often, several of the above mechanisms of deterioration are jointly responsible for the observed damage.
This paper briefly reviews the light-optical and electronoptical microscopic methods available to study some of the causes of concrete deterioration, and briefly describes selected case studies. Specifically, microstructural features resulting from physical (e.g., freezing-thawing) and chemical (e.g., alkali-silica reaction, delayed ettringite formation) deterioration of concrete are highlighted. Corrosion of reinforcement is not discussed.


concrete durability; microstructure; electron microscopy; alkali-aggregate reaction; delayed ettringite formation; hiqh-temperature curinq; freezinq and thawinq

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Copyright (c) 1993 Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC)

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