Self-sealing of cracks in concrete using superabsorbent polymers

Cracks in concrete can self-heal when exposed to prolonged wetting, but this is limited to narrow cracks. In practice, cracks > 0.2 mm cause leakage and impair performance of structures.

The potential of superabsorbent polymers (SAPs) to self-seal such cracks was investigated. Source: wilhei/ -

Researchers investigated the potential of superabsorbent polymers (SAPs) to self-seal such cracks  via transport experiments, microscopy and modelling. Forty samples containing SAP and through-thickness cracks were subjected to 0.12 wt.% NaCl at 4 m/m pressure gradient to simulate groundwater seepage.

SAP can re-swell

Results show that SAP can re-swell and seal cracks, for example in the case of 0.3 mm cracks reducing peak flow rate and total flow by 85% and 98% respectively. Increasing SAP dosage accelerates sealing, but imparts a strength penalty and this limits practical applications. Modelling suggests that the effectiveness of SAP can be enhanced by increasing its re-swelling ratio and particle size, and depressing its initial swelling. These variables increase the SAP exposed in a crack and the gel volume available to seal it.

The study is published in: Cement and Concrete Research.

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