Ionic and molecular diffusion in cementitious materials

  • Shu W. Yu

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The work described in this thesis is an attempt to provide improved understanding of the effects of several factors affecting diffusion in hydrated cement pastes and to aid the prediction of ionic diffusion processes in cement-based materials. Effect of pore structure on diffusion was examined by means of comparative diffusion studies of quaternary ammonium ions with different ionic radii. Diffusivities of these ions in hydrated pastes of ordinary portland cement with or without addition of fly ash were determined by a quasi-steady state technique. The restriction of the pore geometry on diffusion was evaluated from the change of diffusivity in response to the change of ionic radius. The pastes were prepared at three water-cement ratios, 0.35, 0.50 and 0.65. Attempts were made to study the effect of surface charge or the electrochemical double layer at the pore/solution interface on ionic diffusion. An approach was to evaluate the zeta potentials of hydrated cement pastes through streaming potential measurements. Another approach was the comparative studies of the diffusion kinetics of chloride and dissolved oxygen in hydrated pastes of ordinary portland cement with addition of 0 and 20% fly ash. An electrochemical technique for the determination of oxygen diffusivity was also developed. Non-steady state diffusion of sodium potassium, chloride and hydroxyl ions in hydrated ordinary portland cement paste of water-cement ratio 0.5 was studied with the aid of computer-modelling. The kinetics of both diffusion and ionic binding were considered for the characterization of the concentration profiles by Fick's first and second laws. The effect of the electrostatic interactions between ions on the overall diffusion rates was also considered. A general model concerning the prediction of ionic diffusion processes in cement-based materials has been proposed.
Date of Award1990
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorC.L. Page (Supervisor)


  • Ionic diffusion
  • molecular diffusion
  • cementitious materials

Cite this