Self-sealing of cracks in concrete using superabsorbent polymers
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.