Interactions between organic polymers and cement hydration products

  • Iain M. Shaw

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Organic substances, particularly polymers, are finding increasing use in modifying the properties of cements and concrete. Although a significant amount of research has been conducted into the modification of the mechanical properties of cements by polymers, little is known about the nature of the interface and interactions taking place between the two phases. This thesis addresses the problem of elucidating such interactions. Relevant literature is reviewed, covering the general use of polymers with cements, the chemistry of cements and polymers, adhesion and known interactions between polymers and both cements and related minerals. Although several polymer systems were studied, two in particular were selected, as being well characterized. These were: - 1) polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), the polymer derived from methyl methacrylate (MMA), and 2) an amine-cured epoxy resin system. By this approach, a methodology was developed for the examination of other polymer/cement interactions. Experiments were conducted in five main areas:- 1) polymer-cement adhesion and the feasibility of revealing interfacial regions mechanically, 2) chemical reactions between polymers and cements, 3) characterization of cement adhesion surfaces, 4) interactions affecting overall polymerisation rates, and 5) studies of polymer impregnated cements. The following conclusions were reached:- 1) The PMMA/cement interface contains calcium methacrylate as an interfacial reaction product, water being a reactant. Calcium methacrylate is detrimental to the properties of PMMA/cement composites, being highly water-soluble. 2) The pore surface of cement accelerates the polymerisation of MMA, leading to an increased molecular weight compared to polymerisation of pure MMA, minerals in hydrated cement powders having the opposite effect. 3) The investigation of reaction products presents a number of experimental problems, selection of appropriate techniques depending upon the system studied. For the two systems examined in detail, ion chromatography proved particularly useful; DTA, IRS and XPS indicated reactions, though the data was hard to interpret; XRD proving inconclusive. 4) It is impractical to reveal interfacial regions mechanically, but may be accomplished by chemical means.
Date of Award1989
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorNeil R Short (Supervisor)


  • Interactions
  • organic polymers
  • cement hydration products

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