Cement foam stability : link with cement paste rheological properties

Abstract : Cement foams advantages compared to normal concrete is their low density, low material need and thermal insulation properties. To better understand how the morphology of the cement foam affects its properties, we create solid cement foam with well controlled structure. This involves two steps: the creation of the fresh cement foam with chosen structure, and the stability of this structure up to cement hardening. Our cement foam fabrication protocol allows us to obtain fresh cement foams samples with very well controlled parameters. For each sample, all the bubbles have the same size, and we can select the content of air, water, cement and surfactant. This technique consists in mixing a well-controlled precursor aqueous foam stabilized by surfactant, with a cement paste prepared separately. First, we study the interaction of surfactants and cement paste. Some surfactants cannot stabilize foam in cement paste highly alkaline solution. Some others, mainly anionic surfactants, adsorb on cement grains surface, which modifies interactions between cement grains and consequently the yield stress of the cement paste. At low surfactant concentration, cement grain surface becomes hydrophobic and yield stress increases due to hydrophobic attraction between cement grains. At high surfactant concentration, adsorbed micelles create a steric repulsion between cement grains and make yield stress of cement paste drop. In a second chapter, we study the effect of bubbles on the yield stress of aerated cement paste. To compare the results with the literature, the measured yield stress is normalized by the yield stress of the suspending cement paste, i.e. taking into account the effect of surfactant. For a surfactant with low affinity to cement grains surface, results are consistent with literature, whereas reduced yield stress is much higher than expected when surfactant strongly adsorb on cement grain surface. This effect is attributed to the change of the bubble surface properties due to the adsorption of hydrophobic cement grains at the air-liquid interface. Then, we focus on cement foam stability, at air content 83%. We first study three series of experiments at given water-to-cement ratio and bubble size. For each series, the yield stress of the cement paste is changed by addition of superplasticizer or high amount of anionic surfactant. Unexpectedly, the best foam stability is obtained for relatively low yield stress. Rheological measurements on the fresh cement foams allowed us to understand this improved stability as a consequence of the reorganization of cement grains into denser packing. In a second part on stability, we study the influence of bubble size, water-to-cement ratio and surfactant content. A stability criterion is defined from the bubble size and the interstitial cement paste yield stress. Eventually, we observe that cement foam structure affects water imbibition velocity and mechanical resistance to compression of hardened cement foams
Keywords : Cement Foam Rheology
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Blandine Feneuil. Cement foam stability : link with cement paste rheological properties. Materials. Université Paris-Est, 2018. English. ⟨NNT : 2018PESC1045⟩. ⟨tel-02084040⟩

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