Characterization of high-calcium fly ash for evaluating the sulfate resistance of concrete
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Concrete structures are often exposed to sulfates, which are typically found in groundwater and soils, in agricultural run-off, in industrial facilities, and in other source points. These sulfates may attack concrete and significantly shorten the service life of concrete due to reactions between sulfate ions and concrete constituents. These reactions form expansive and deleterious compounds that lead to cracking and spalling of the concrete. This reaction is a function of the sulfate solution but also the physical, chemical, and mineralogical properties of the cement and supplemental cementitious materials (SCMs). It is widely understood that the addition of some fly ashes, by-products of coal combustion power plants, improve the sulfate resistance of the concrete but some fly ash additions actually reduce the sulfate resistance. This project aims to understand this relationship between fly ash and sulfate resistance. Using sulfate testing results on mortar previously obtained at The University of Texas at Austin, this research evaluated the mineralogical, chemical, and physical characteristics of fly ash and attempted to link these measured characteristics (or combinations thereof) to sulfate resistance of concrete.