Poor workability is a common feature of calcium sulfoaluminate (CSA) cement paste. Multiple chemical admixtures, such as set retarders and dispersants, are frequently employed to improve the workability and delay the setting of CSA cement paste. A quantitative assessment of the compatibility, efficiency, and the effects of the admixtures on cement paste workability is critical for the design of an appropriate paste formulation and admixture proportioning. Very limited studies are available on the quantitative rheology-based method for evaluating the workability of calcium sulfoaluminate cement pastes. This study presents a novel and robust time-dependent rheological method for quantifying the workability of CSA cement pastes modified with the incorporation of citric acid as a set retarder and a polycarboxylate ether (PCE)-based superplasticizer as a dispersant. The yield stress is measured as a function of time, and the resulting curve is applied to quantify three specific workability parameters: (i) the rate at which the paste loses flowability, (ii) the time limit for paste placement or pumping, marking the onset of acceleration to initial setting, and (iii) the rate at which the paste accelerates to final setting. The results of the tested CSA systems show that the rate of the loss of flowability and the rate of hardening decrease monotonously, while the time limit for casting decreases linearly with the increase in citric acid concentration. The dosage rate of PCE has a relatively small effect on the quantified workability parameters, partly due to the competitive adsorption of citrate ions. The method demonstrated here can characterize the interaction or co-influence of multiple admixtures on early-age properties of the cement paste, thus providing a quantitative rheological protocol for determining the workability and a novel approach to material selection and mixture design.


Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering

Second Department

Materials Science and Engineering

Third Department

Chemical and Biochemical Engineering


National Science Foundation, Grant 1932690

Keywords and Phrases

calcium sulfoaluminate cement; chemical admixture; retarder; rheology; workability

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)


Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version

Final Version

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Publication Date

01 Aug 2022