Exploring sulphate resistance of coal mining waste blended cements through experiments and thermodynamic modelling

Laura Caneda-Martínez, Wolfgang Kunther*, César Medina, María Isabel Sánchez de Rojas, Moisés Frías

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


This study evaluates the sulphate resistance of blended cement derived from the addition of thermally activated coal waste as pozzolan, at replacement levels of 0%, 20% (CMW20) and 50% (CMW50) with a multi-method approach. The pastes were prepared at a w/b ratio of 0.5, using a water-reducing admixture in the blended pastes to compensate for their high water demand. Sulphate resistance is reduced in CMW20 pastes, while long-term benefits are observed for CMW50 pastes, although moderate signs of deterioration are observed at the beginning of the exposure. The initial damage in CMW50 pastes is attributable to the precipitation of products (mainly ettringite and monosulphoaluminate) in the small capillary pores (<0.01 μm). This is prevented in OPC and CMW20 pastes since their microstructure allow the precipitation in the macropores (>0.05 μm). The greater long-term resistance of CMW50 pastes was explained by thermodynamic calculations, which suggests that the lower calcium leachability of these cements prevented gypsum formation. This, together with the higher content of carboaluminate phases, leads to lower supersaturation levels in the pore solution with respect to ettringite, reducing stresses derived from sulphate exposure.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104086
JournalCement and Concrete Composites
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness and the European Regional Development Fund (MINECO/ FEDER ) [grant number BIA-2015-65558-C3-1,2,3-R ] and as well as by the Spanish Training Program, and the European Social Fund (MINECO/FSE) [grant number BES-2016-078454]. The authors are also grateful to the Sociedad Anónima Hullera Vasco-Leonesa, SIKA (Madrid, Spain), the Spanish Cement Institute (IECA) and the Scientific Research Support Services of the University of A Coruña for their assistance. The sample preparation of the SEM samples by A. M. Rzepkiewicz-Hansen is gratefully acknowledged.


  • Crystallization pressure
  • Mine tailings
  • Sulphate attack
  • Supplementary cementitious materials
  • Thermodynamic modelling

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