This study investigates the influences of internal curing on reducing the autogenous shrinkage of alkali-activated slag/fly ash (AASF) paste. The influences of internal curing with superabsorbent polymers (SAPs) on the reactions and microstructure of AASF paste are investigated. It is found that the SAPs absorb liquid mainly before the initial setting time of the paste. Afterwards, the liquid is gradually released, keeping the internal relative humidity of the paste close to 100%. The internal curing with SAPs can significantly mitigate the autogenous shrinkage of AASF paste, especially after the acceleration period of the reaction. The mitigating effect of internal curing is due to the mitigated self-desiccation in the paste, rather than the formation of a denser microstructure or expansive crystals. The cracking potential of AASF under restrained condition is also greatly mitigated by internal curing. Despite the slight reductions in the elastic modulus and the compressive strength, great improvement is obverted in the flexural strength of the paste. This work confirms the effectiveness of internal curing of AASF with SAPs and further provides a promising way to reduce the autogenous shrinkage of AASF without compromising its mechanical properties.
- Alkali-activated slag/fly ash
- Autogenous shrinkage
- Internal curing
- Mechanical properties