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Fundamentals of alkali-silica gel formation and swelling: Condensation under influence of dissolved salts

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Author: Visser, J.H.M.
Source:Cement and Concrete Research, 105, 18-30
Identifier: 783894
Keywords: Architecture and Building · Alkali-silica reaction · Condensation · Gel time · Gel formation · Swelling · Dissolved salts · Buildings and Infrastructures · 2015 Urbanisation · 2015 Fluid & Solid Mechanics · SR - Structural Reliability · TS - Technical Sciences


The current theory of ASR gel formation in concrete between silicic acid anions with cations and is unable to explain the differences in concentration required for gel formation between e.g. potassium and sodium or the effect of calcium on the gel formation. In this paper, a new gelation mechanism is explained by means of a condensation between silicic acid anions. The role of salts on the ASR gel formation and gel time is described by their charge screening capacity of the silicic acid, resulting in the decreasing concentration range for gelation: Ca < Mg < Cs < Rb < K < Na < Li. A Cation Gelling Strength (CGS) is defined to assess the cation strength when different cations are present. Silica gel formation will moreover in many cases form a calcium silica precipitate rather than a gel that will be difficult to distinguish from CSH formed during hydration.