Alkali-activated materials (AAM) are now seriously considered by the cement industry as an economical alternative to Portland cement, especially for its low CO2 footprint. However, their durability still remain to be assessed in more details. The aim of this study is to focus on the sample preconditioning conditions required for testing, especially the drying stage involved in most of the current tests. Four alkali-activated binders were studied: a geopolymer (Na-silicate activated metakaolin), a Na-carbonate activated slag (GGBS), a Na-silicate activated slag and a Na-silicate activated mixture of 50% metakaolin with 50% GGBS. After an endogenous cure of 28 days at 20°C, mortar specimens were dried at different temperatures (from 20°C to 125°C) until mass stabilization. Drying kinetics and released water contents were evaluated, as well as physical, mechanical and mineralogical analyses at the end of drying. Optimal drying temperature for each alkali-activated binder was determined by coupling mechanical strength measurements and mercury intrusion porosimetry. This study revealed that an inappropriate drying temperature could modify the porosity of some classes of AAM, and reduced the compressive strength by up to 30 to 40%. Antagonistic behaviors were observed in the four alkali-activated materials studied, therefore one should be careful about selecting preconditioning protocols for assessing the properties and the durability of these binders.
Are you one of the authors of this document?