Effect of sulfate additions on hydration and performance of ternary slag-limestone composite cements

S. Adu-Amankwah, L. Black, J. Skocek, M. Ben Haha, M. Zajac

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The global cement industry is striving to reduce its carbon footprint. Common approaches have included reduced clinker factors by blending cement clinker with supplementary cementitious materials (SCM). However supplies of SCMs are not sufficient to achieve replacement above about 30%. Limestone ternary cements offer the opportunity to reduce the clinker factor of cements while maximizing the efficiency of SCMs. In these cements, calcite from limestone reacts with dissolved aluminates to form carboaluminate and in the process influence hydration of other constituents. However, sulfates which are conventionally added to regulate the early reactions in cement also compete for aluminates. Here we have used complementary techniques to investigate the effects of calcium sulfate additions on hydration, microstructure and performance of composite Portland clinker-slag-limestone cements.

The results show that the presence of sulfate influenced the early-age reaction kinetics of the clinker phases and supplementary cementitious materials. However, even after sulfate depletion, the course of hydration and microstructures formed were significantly influenced. Increasing the sulfate level resulted in a gradual increase of the fraction of ettringite over AFm phases, coarser porosity and lower water content of the C-S-H. These microstructural changes impact the total porosity and hence cement strength in opposing ways, namely porosity is reduced with increasing ettringite fraction while the space filling capacity of the C-S-H is also reduced due to the lower water content of the C-S-H. These findings have important implications for optimizing the mechanical properties and durability of ternary blends.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)451-462
JournalConstruction and Building Materials
Publication statusPublished - 10 Mar 2018


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