Effect of ettringite on thaumasite formation

S. Köhler, D. Heinz, L. Urbonas

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Deterioration of cementitious building materials is often caused by sulphate attack where ettringite and gypsum play the most destructive role at moderate ambient temperatures. In contrast, thaumasite [Ca 3Si(OH)6•12H2O](SO4)(CO 3) is mostly observed at comparatively low temperatures of less then 15 °C. This mineral forms from calcium, sulphate, carbonate and silicon. The latter originates from the decomposition of C-S-H which results in deterioration of the hardened cement paste structure. To investigate the effect of ettringite on thaumasite formation, pastes were mixed using synthetic clinker phases, fly ash and nanosilica. Aqueous suspensions were prepared with the ground-hydrated pastes mixed with calcite and either gypsum or sodium sulphate. Following different storage periods, the solid phase was separated by filtration, dried and analysed by XRD using the Rietveld method as well as ESEM and TEM. The liquid phase was analysed by ICP-OES. The results indicate that thaumasite formation occurs through the heterogeneous nucleation of thaumasite on the surface of ettringite, due to the structural similarities of these minerals. This reaction is followed by further epitaxial growth of thaumasite from its components present in solution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)697-706
Number of pages10
JournalCement and Concrete Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2006


  • Ettringite
  • Sulphate attack
  • Thaumasite


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