3d microstructure simulation of reactive aggregate in concrete from 2d images as the basis for asr simulation

Xiujiao Qiu*, Jiayi Chen, Maxim Deprez, Veerle Cnudde, Guang Ye, Geert De Schutter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
21 Downloads (Pure)


The microstructure of alkali-reactive aggregates, especially the spatial distribution of the pore and reactive silica phase, plays a significant role in the process of the alkali silica reaction (ASR) in concrete, as it determines not only the reaction front of ASR but also the localization of the produced expansive product from where the cracking begins. However, the microstructure of the aggregate was either simplified or neglected in the current ASR simulation models. Due to the various particle sizes and heterogeneous distribution of the reactive silica in the aggregate, it is difficult to obtain a representative microstructure at a desired voxel size by using non-destructive computed tomography (CT) or focused ion beam milling combined with scanning electron microscopy (FIB-SEM). In order to fill this gap, this paper proposed a model that simulates the microstructures of the alkali-reactive aggregate based on 2D images. Five representative 3D microstructures with different pore and quartz fractions were simulated from SEM images. The simulated fraction, scattering density, as well as the autocorrelation function (ACF) of pore and quartz agreed well with the original ones. A mm concrete cube with irregular coarse aggregates was then simulated with the aggregate assembled by the five representative microstructures. The average pore (at microscale m) and quartz fractions of the cube matched well with the X-ray diffraction (XRD) and Mercury intrusion porosimetry (MIP) results. The simulated microstructures can be used as a basis for simulation of the chemical reaction of ASR at a microscale.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2908
Number of pages24
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • 3D simulation
  • Aggregate microstructure
  • Gaussian filtering method
  • Image analysis
  • Reactive silica


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