The durability of glass fibre reinforced cements made with new cementitious matrices

  • Philip Purnell

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Widespread use of glass fibre reinforced cement (GRC) has been impeded by
concerns over its durability. Three degradation mechanisms are proposed - fibre
corrosion, Ca(OHh precipitation and matrix densification - although their relative
importance is debated. Matrices with reduced alkalinities and Ca(OH)2 contents are being developed; the aim of this study was to investigate their hydration and interaction with alkali-resistant fibres to determine the factors controlling their long-term durability, and assess the relevancy of accelerated ageing. The matrices studied were:
OPC/calcium-sulphoaluminate cement plus metakaolin (C);
OPC plus metakaolin (M);
blast-furnace slag cement plus a micro-silica based additive (D); and
OPC (O).
Accelerated ageing included hot water and cyclic regimes prior to tensile testing. Investigations included pore solution expression, XRD, DTA/TG, SEM and optical petrography. Bond strength was determined from crack spacings using microstructural parameters obtained from a unique image analysis technique. It was found that, for the new matrices -
pore solution alkalinities were lower;
Ca(OH)2 was absent or quickly consumed;
different hydrates were formed at higher immersion temperatures;
degradation under 65°C immersion was an order of magnitude slower, and
no interfilamental Ca(OH)2 was observed
.It was concluded that: fibre weakening caused by flaw growth was the primary degradation mechanism and was successfully modelled on stress corrosion/static fatigue principles. OPC inferiority was attributed partly to its higher alkalinity but chiefly to the growth of Ca(OH)2 aggravating the degradation; and hot water ageing although useful in model formulation and contrasting the matrices, changed the intrinsic nature of the composites rather than simply accelerating the degradation mechanisms.

Date of AwardApr 1998
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorNeil R Short (Supervisor)


  • degradation
  • model
  • accelerated ageing
  • bond strength
  • image analysis

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