Mechanical and microstructural characterization of alkali sulfate activated high volume fly ash binders

Akash Dakhane, Shannon Tweedley, Siva Kailas, Robert Marzke, Narayanan Neithalath

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


This paper presents a detailed characterization of cementitious blends containing high volumes of fly ash, activated using pH-neutral alkali sulfates. It is shown that this methodology, while resulting in a clinker factor reduction of 70%, provides requisite early-age strengths while compromising the 28-day strengths by only 30–40% as compared to plain OPC mixtures. The early age heat release for blends containing Class F fly ash is reduced by about 50% as compared to the straight OPC mixture. The overall pore volume increases with sulfate addition for the Class C fly ash based binder while it decreases when Class F fly ash is used, indicating the beneficial effect of the sulfate activation process in conjunction with a low calcium fly ash. The differences in reaction product constitution are brought out using thermal analysis and FTIR spectroscopy. 29Si NMR spectroscopy coupled with Gaussian spectral deconvolution on Class F fly ash-OPC blends provides valuable information on the changes in Qn(mAl) structures with addition of sodium sulfate, indicating the changes in the reaction products. From a durability perspective, Class F fly ash-based binders are found to be less susceptible to external or internal forms of sulfate attack as compared to plain OPC or the corresponding unactivated mixtures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)236-246
Number of pages11
JournalMaterials and Design
StatePublished - May 15 2017


  • Alkali sulfate
  • Characterization
  • Fly ash
  • Porosity
  • Spectroscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Mechanical and microstructural characterization of alkali sulfate activated high volume fly ash binders'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this