Fundamental investigation on the frost resistance of mortar with microencapsulated phase change materials

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Recent studies have shown that concrete containing Phase Change Materials (PCM) with low transition temperatures may reduce the number of freeze/thaw cycles suffered by the cementitious composite in temperate climates. Nevertheless, the positive influence of such admixtures on the frost resistance of cement-based materials has not been directly shown, nor the negative. In this study, mortars with different contents of microencapsulated PCM by volume of cement paste were studied with regard to the progression of their internal and salt scaling damages during freeze/thaw cycles. X-ray micro tomography was used to monitor damage development and spatial distribution in the mortars. Furthermore, the pore system and microstructure of the PCM-modified mortars were characterized to unveil the causes of the observed macroscopic behavior during frost weathering. The results show that limited amounts of PCM in mortar, namely 10% by volume of cement paste, results beneficial for the frost and scaling resistance of the composite. Whereas, for larger PCM additions, like 30% by volume of paste, the changes in microstructure, porosity and mechanical strength brought in by these admixtures resulted in worsened performance against freeze/thawing cycles.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103705
Number of pages12
JournalCement and Concrete Composites
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Freeze/thaw cycles
  • Microstructure
  • Mortar
  • Phase Change materials
  • X-ray microtomography


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