Sulfate attack expansion mechanisms

Wolfram Müllauer, Robin E. Beddoe, Detlef Heinz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

255 Scopus citations


A specially constructed stress cell was used to measure the stress generated in thin-walled Portland cement mortar cylinders caused by external sulfate attack. The effects of sulfate concentration of the storage solution and C3A content of the cement were studied. Changes in mineralogical composition and pore size distribution were investigated by X-ray diffraction and mercury intrusion porosimetry, respectively. Damage is due to the formation of ettringite in small pores (10-50 nm) which generates stresses up to 8 MPa exceeding the tensile strength of the binder matrix. Higher sulfate concentrations and C3A contents result in higher stresses. The results can be understood in terms of the effect of crystal surface energy and size on supersaturation and crystal growth pressure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)208-215
Number of pages8
JournalCement and Concrete Research
StatePublished - 2013


  • Crystallization pressure (C)
  • Ettringite (D)
  • Expansion (C)
  • Stress (C)
  • Sulfate attack (C)


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