Effects of Internally Introduced Sulfate on Early Age Concrete Properties: Active Acoustic Monitoring and Molecular Dynamics Simulation


Sulfate attack of concrete is still a "confused world" that deserves further study. An active acoustic method is employed to monitor the early-age evolution of fresh concrete mixed with soluble sulfate ions. The effects of introduced sulfate salt at different dosages on the setting and hardening process of fresh concrete as well as mechanical properties of hardened concrete up to the age of 28 days are examined and analyzed. The experimental results from the active acoustic monitoring clearly reveal the acceleration effect of introduced sulfate salt on the solid skeleton formation process of fresh concrete. Introduced sulfate salt leads to higher values of mechanical property indices at early ages (e.g., 1 day), but poorer mechanical properties of hardened concrete at the age of 28 days. The corresponding mechanism has been studied in the light of molecular dynamics simulation, scanning electron microscopy and X-ray diffraction, and it is concluded that introduced sulfate ions not only damage the cement matrix due to the overexpansion of ettringite formation, but also weaken the loading resistance of the ionic-covalent bonds in the C-S-H gel.


Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering


Financial support from the National Natural Science Foundation of China under the grants of 51708403, 51621092, 51408365, and 51321065, and from the China Postdoctoral Science Foundation under the grant of 2018T110200 is gratefully acknowledged.

Keywords and Phrases

Acoustic measuring instruments; Cements; Concretes; Hardening; Hydration; Molecular dynamics; Scanning electron microscopy; Sulfur compounds; Acceleration effects; Active acoustic monitoring; Cement hydration; Ettringite formations; Ionic-covalent bonds; Molecular dynamics simulations; Properties of hardened concrete; Sulfate attack; Mechanical properties; Molecular dynamics simulation

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)


Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


File Type





© 2018 Elsevier, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Nov 2018