Open Accesn Version

Knowledge of the degree of hydration of cement pastes is critical for determining properties such as the durability of concrete. As part of an integrated study on the prediction of chloride ingress in reinforced concrete, synchrotron Xray powder diffraction was used to estimate the degree of hydration of cement pastes. While for the past 20 years the composition of Portland cement has been determined by Rietveld analysis of X-ray diffraction, nevertheless there are a number of factors, including the amorphous content of the cement and relative proportion of mineral polymorphs present in the initial clinker, whose impact on the analysis are still not completely understood. Analysis of the resulting diffraction patterns indicated enhanced identification of polymorphs of alite, belite, ferrite and aluminate, which are present in the initial unhydrated cement and clinker, as well as improved quantification of hydrated crystalline phases such as calcium hydroxide and ettringite, which are key phases determining the speed of the chemical reactions in cement. In this paper we describe the experience that we have gained in the determination of the degree of hydration of cement pastes. We detail the standards and precautions that we took to characterize production cements and their hydration products.