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NUMERICAL SIMULATION OF THERMO-HYGRAL ALKALI-SILICA REACTION MODEL IN CONCRETE AT THE MESOSCALE
(2010)

This research aims to model Alkali-Silica Reaction gel expansion in concrete under the influence of hygral and thermal loading, based on experimental results. ASR provokes a heterogeneous expansion in concrete leading to dimensional changes and eventually the premature failure of the concrete structure. This can result in map cracking on the concrete surface which will decrease the concrete stiffness. Factors that influence ASR are parameters such as the cement alkalinity, the number of deleterious silica from the aggregate used, concrete porosity, and external factors like temperature, humidity and external source of alkali from ingression of deicing salts. Uncertainties of the influential factors make ASR a difficult phenomenon to solve; hence my approach to this matter is to solve the problem using stochastic modelling, where a numerical simulation of concrete cross-section with integration of experimental results from Finger-Institute for Building Materials Science at the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar. The problem is formulated as a multi-field problem, combining heat transfer, fluid transfer and the reaction rate model with the mechanical stress field. Simulation is performed as a mesoscale model considering aggregates and mortar matrix. The reaction rate model will be conducted using experimental results from concrete expansions due to ASR gained from concrete prism tests. Expansive strains values for transient environmental conditions due to the reaction rate will be determined from calculation based on the reaction rate model. Results from these models will be able to predict the rate of ASR expansion and the cracking propagation that may arise.

Alkali-silica reaction causes major problems in concrete structures due to the rapidity of its deformation which leads to the serviceability limit of the structure being reached well before its time. Factors that affect ASR vary greatly, including alkali and silica content, relative humidity, temperature and porosity of the cementitious matrix,all these making it a very complex phenomenon to consider explicitly. With this in mind, the finite element technique was used to build models and generate expansive pressures and damage propagation due to ASR under the influence of thermo-hygrochemoelastic loading. Since ASR initializes in the mesoscopic regions of the concrete,
the accumulative effects of its expansion escalates onto the macroscale level with the development of web cracking on the concrete surface, hence solution of the damage model as well as simulation of the ASR phenomenon at both the macroscale and mesoscale levels have been performed. The macroscale model realizes the effects of ASR expansion as a whole and shows how it develops under the influence of moisture, thermal and mechanical loading. Results of the macroscale modeling are
smeared throughout the structure and are sufficient to show how damage due to ASR expansion orientates. As opposed to the mesoscale model, the heterogeneity of the model shows us how difference in material properties between aggregates and the cementitious matrix facilitates ASR expansion. With both these models, the ASR phenomenon under influence of thermo-chemo-hygro-mechanical loading can be better understood.