Effects of nano-particles on failure process and microstructural properties of recycled aggregate concrete

Wengui Li, Chu Long, Vivian W. Y. Tam, Chi-Sun Poon, Wen Hui Duan

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177 Citations (Scopus)


The effects of nano-particles including nano-silica (NS) and nano-limestone (NL) on the crack propagation and microstructure properties of recycled aggregate concrete (RAC) were experimentally investigated in this study. The crack initiation and propagation of nano-particles modified RAC with different nano-particle modification were evaluated using digital image correlation technique (DIC). The microstructures and porosity of interfacial transition zones (ITZ) in nano-modified RAC were also examined using scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and mercury intrusion porosimetry (MIP). It was found that the micro-cracks were typically derived from relatively weak ITZs in RAC, and then progressively propagated along the compressive loading direction. The meso-crack developments eventually led to final splitting failure. The results indicated that compared to NL, NS was more effective in improving the microstructure properties and enhance the mechanical strength of RAC. The porosity and water absorption of RAC were obviously reduced by the NS incorporation. However, due to particles agglomeration, NL could not effectively improve the microstructure of RAC for further enhancing the RAC mechanical properties. Furthermore, in terms of severe particles agglomeration, NL was even detrimental to the mechanical strength of RAC especially at the late-age.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-50
Number of pages9
JournalConstruction and Building Materials
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2017


  • Interfacial transition zone (ITZ)
  • Micro-cracks
  • Microstructural properties
  • Nano-particles
  • Recycled aggregate concrete (RAC)
  • Water absorption

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