Numerical investigation of crack self-sealing in cement-based composites with superabsorbent polymers

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Recently the concept of crack self-sealing has been investigated as a method to prevent degradation and/or loss of functionality of cracked concrete elements. To obtain self-sealing effect in the crack, water swelling admixtures such as superabsorbent polymers (SAP) are added into the cementitious mix. In order to design such self-sealing systems in an efficient way, a three-dimensional mesoscale numerical model is proposed to simulate capillary absorption of water in sound and cracked cement-based materials containing SAP. The numerical results yield the moisture content distribution in cracked and sound domain, as well as the absorption and swelling of SAP embedded in the matrix and in the crack. The performance of the model was validated by using experimental data from the literature, as well as experimentally-informed input parameters. The validated model was then used to investigate the role of SAP properties and dosage in cementitious mixtures, on the water penetration into the material from cracks. Furthermore different crack widths were considered in the simulations. The model shows good agreement with experimental results. From the numerical investigation guidelines are suggested for the design of the studied composites.
Original languageEnglish
Article number103395
Number of pages12
JournalCement and Concrete Composites
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Capillary absorption of water
  • Cement-based materials
  • Cracks
  • Lattice model
  • Self-sealing
  • Superabsorbent polymers

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