Application of neutron imaging to investigate durability of cement-based materials
Service life and durability of reinforced concrete structures have become crucial issues in all industrialized countries because of their economic and ecological relevance. Limited durability is frequently due to deterioration of steel and cement-based materials, such as mortar and concrete, by interactions with water and aggressive aqueous solutions. Neutron imaging has proved to be a powerful non-destructive technique to study quantitatively water content and water movement in porous materials. A neutron beam is much more attenuated by hydrogen in water than by most other elements present in cement-based materials.
Investigations of moisture movement
In a new review, focus is placed on applications of both two-dimensional neutron radiography and three-dimensional neutron tomography to investigate specific aspects of durability and deterioration of cement-based materials. Examples of results obtained by qualitative and quantitative investigations of moisture movement in cracked and uncracked cement-based materials are presented. Self-healing, efficiency of water repellent treatment, internal curing, frost damage, fire spalling, ettringite formation and observations of various reinforced concrete components are addressed.
Potential for further research
The results obtained by neutron imaging provide a solid basis for better understanding of deterioration mechanisms of cement-based materials. Recent improvements of neutron imaging facilities have allowed unexpected possibilities to study complex processes in cement-based materials. The potential for further research based on this promising technology is outlined and discussed.
The review is published in: Cement and Concrete Research Volume 108, June 2018, Pages 152-166.