Mechanical performance, durability, qualitative and quantitative analysis of microstructure of fly ash and Metakaolin mortar at elevated temperatures

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An experimental investigation was carried out to evaluate the performance of Fly Ash (FA) and Metakaolin (MK) mortar at elevated temperatures. Variables of the test program include partial replacement of cement with MK from 5% to 20%, FA from 20% to 60% and temperatures from 27 °C to 800 °C. The mechanical performance was assessed from compressive strength while the durability was assessed from chloride permeability test. Qualitative analysis of the microstructure of heated and unheated mortar was performed by Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) while quantitative analysis was performed on SEM images using Image Pro-plus software. Test results show that for all mixes compressive strength decreased while charge passed increased with the increase in temperature from 27 °C to 800 °C. For all mixes, major strength and durability loss occurred after 400 °C. Therefore, 400 °C can be considered as critical temperature from the standpoint of strength and durability loss. Qualitative and quantitative analysis of SEM were found to be consistent with the results of strength and durability loss. The observation of SEM images and image analysis of area fractions of hardened cement paste (hcp) of different mortar mixes indicated that with the increase in temperature the pore area fraction increased while hydrated paste area fraction decreased. These factors resulted in the degradation of microstructure and affected the strength and durability of mortar. Major drop in hydrated paste area and rise in pore area fraction occurred at 400 °C. Therefore, 400 °C could be regarded as the critical temperature for change in the properties of mortar. In general, fly ash mix (FA20) showed better performance in all aspects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)338-347
Number of pages10
JournalConstruction and Building Materials
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2013
Externally publishedYes



  • Chloride permeability
  • Compressive strength
  • Elevated temperature
  • Fly ash
  • Hardened cement paste
  • Metakaolin
  • Mortar

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Materials Science(all)

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