Conceptual and numerical Modeling and simulation of microstructure of Cement-Based materials

Klaas van Breugel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


A complex material, like concrete, can be considered a system rather than a material. Looking at concrete as a system helps us to understand its complexity and its response to external loads and long-term performance and it opens the way for modifying traditional concrete mixtures and designing new ones with predefined properties. In all this, models play a crucial role. The actual relevance of understanding and modeling cementitious materials is presented in this paper. By referring to an inventory of long-term performance of concrete structures, it is illustrated how important it is to know the consequence of adopting changes in mix design. Different types of models, i.e. models acting on different length scales, are briefly presented and outstanding fundamental questions are listed. Then, three examples are presented where experimental studies and numerical modeling have revealed new insight in the performance of cementitious materials. First the use of a micro-scale model is discussed for mixture optimization of blended cements. The second example shows that simplified models for the evolution of transport properties in cement-based materials in view of service life predictions exhibit shortcomings, which can only be understood and tackled by performing in-depth experimental investigations. Finally, an example of modeling of self-healing of microcracks is shown. That study revealed that self-healing of cracks is not only a matter of filling a crack with reaction products, but also of densification of the microstructure adjacent to the crack.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-75
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Sustainable Cement-Based Materials
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Blended cement
  • Modeling
  • Multidisciplinary
  • Multiscale
  • Self-healing
  • Service life prediction
  • Transport properties


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