Evaluating the effects of nanosilica on the material properties of lightweight and ultra-lightweight concrete using image-based approaches

Pawel Sikora, Teresa Rucinska, Dietmar Stephan, Sang Yeop Chung, Mohamed Abd Elrahman

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41 Citations (Scopus)


This work is aimed at characterizing the effects of nanosilica (NS) on the properties of lightweight aggregate concretes with different densities. Lightweight aggregate concrete (LWAC) and ultra-lightweight aggregate concrete (ULWAC) with targeted oven-dry densities of 850 kg/m3 and 450 kg/m3, respectively, were produced. The mixtures were modified by replacing cement with nanosilica, in concentrations of 1, 2, 5 and 10 wt-%. For comparison purposes, control specimens containing either cement alone or cement with silica fume (SF) were also produced. Their mechanical properties, including flexural and compressive strengths and transport characteristics, were evaluated by measuring the water accessible porosity and water absorption coefficients of the concretes. In addition, the thermal conductivity and drying shrinkage, being important parameters of lightweight concrete, were characterized. The pore structure characteristics of the concretes were assessed using 2D and 3D image analysis techniques; namely, using an automated air void analyser and micro-computed tomography (micro-CT), respectively. The experimental results show that NS has a significant effect on improving the mechanical and transport properties of lightweight concretes and that the efficiency of NS is much higher than that of SF. Moreover, depending on dosage, NS was found to have a negligible or decreasing influence on the drying shrinkage of concrete, after 28 days of curing. Microstructural studies confirmed that NS significantly affects the pore characteristics of concretes, thus resulting in concretes with denser and stronger microstructures.

Original languageEnglish
Article number120241
JournalConstruction and Building Materials
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Dec 20

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This project received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program, under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 841592.

Funding Information:
P. S. is Supported by the Polish Foundation for Science. The authors would like to thank the German Academy of Exchange Services ( DAAD ), as well as the Egyptian Science and Technology Development Fund ( STDF ) through the GE-Seed funding program. This work was supported by the Korea Agency for Infrastructure Technology Advancement (KAIA) grant, funded by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (Grant 20NANO-B156177-01 ). In addition, the authors would like to thank Paul H. Kamm (Helmholtz Centre Berlin) for his assistance in X-ray CT imaging.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Authors

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Materials Science(all)


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