The hydration of cement is often modeled as a phase boundary nucleation and growth (pBNG) process. Classical pBNG models, based on the use of isotropic and constant growth rate of the main hydrate, that is, calcium-silicate-hydrate (C-S-H), are unable to explain the lack of any significant effect of the water-to-cement (w/c) ratio on the hydration kinetics of cement. This paper presents a modified form of the pBNG model, in which the anisotropic growth of C-S-H is allowed to vary in relation to the nonlinear evolution of its supersaturation in solution. Results show that once the supercritical C-S-H nuclei form, their growth remains confined within a region in proximity to the cement particles. This is hypothesized to be a manifestation of the sedimentation of cement particles, which imposes a space constraint for C-S-H growth. In pastes wherein the sedimentation of cement particles is disrupted, the hydration kinetics are no longer unresponsive to changes in w/c. Unlike C-S-H, the ions in solution are not confined, and hence, the supersaturation-dependent growth rate of C-S-H diminishes monotonically with increasing w/c. Overall, the outcomes of this work highlight important aspects that need to be considered in employing pBNG models for simulating hydration of cement-based systems.


Materials Science and Engineering

Second Department

Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering


This research was conducted in the Materials Research Center (MRC) at Missouri S&T. The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support that has made these laboratories and their operations possible. Funding for this research was provided by the National Science Foundation [NSF, CMMI: 1661609], MRC at Missouri S&T [MRC Young Investigator Seed Funding] and the University of Missouri Research Board [UMRB].

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Article - Journal

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Final Version

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© 2018 American Chemical Society (ACS), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 May 2018