Water flow and transport of chloride in unsaturated concrete
Concrete structures deteriorate in their operating environment under the combined action of harsh environmental conditions and external loading. Although the applied load can lead to a certain degradation of the structure, the main long-term deterioration mechanism involves moisture movement and the transport of chlorides within concrete. In order to build durable and reliable structures, it is necessary to be able to accurately predict the movement of moisture and chlorides within concrete. In the case of unsaturated concrete, the transport of chloride ions is integrally associated with prediction of moisture fluxes in concrete. Even the diffusion of chloride ions depends on the degree of saturation of the concrete since concrete must have a continuous liquid phase for diffusion to occur. Therefore, simple diffusion theory, used in the current literature, is not sufficient to predict the diffusion of chloride ions in the case of unsaturated concrete. Most diffusion models described in the current published literature are applicable to concrete structures that are permanently wet and invariably underestimate the amount of chlorides penetrating the concrete of structures subjected to wetting and drying cycles. The research presented in this thesis reviews current knowledge, mathematical models and test methods pertinent to the movement of moisture and transport of chloride ions in unsaturated concrete. A laboratory testing program was established to characterize the material properties of concrete mixes with water-cement ratios 0.4, 0.5 and 0.6. Concrete was characterized by its saturated hydraulic conductivity, moisture retention function and dependence of diffusion coefficient on degree of saturation. A geotechnical centrifuge was used to determine the saturated hydraulic conductivity of the concrete samples. Values of the saturated hydraulic conductivity of the samples were in the range of 10-11-10-12 m/s. The moisture retention function of concrete samples was determined using a vapour equilibrium technique. The experimental moisture retention data was used to determine van Genuchten parameters for each of the concrete mixtures and subsequently used to determine the capillary pressure-degree of saturation relationship and relative permeability-degree of saturation relationship as a ``closed- form`` analytical expression. An electrical resistivity technique was used to determine the dependence of the chloride diffusion coefficient on the degree of saturation of the concrete. The result was compared with the Millington and Quirk model. Most of the experimental results should be useful to researchers in the field, as well as the engineering community at large, considering that they are rarely found in the concrete literature. Simulations were made to determine the influence of various parameters measured during experiment on movement of moisture and transport of chloride ions in unsaturated concrete using TOUGH2, a multiphase, multicomponent, model that simulates coupled heat, moisture and salt transport in saturated and unsaturated rocks.
DegreeMaster of Science (M.Sc.)
DepartmentCivil and Geological Engineering
ProgramCivil and Geological Engineering
CommitteeSharma, Jitendra; Sparling, Bruce; Barbour, Lee
Copyright DateJuly 2010