Jing Hu, Piet Stroeven


As a composite material, the performance of concrete materials can be expected to depend on the properties of the interfaces between its two major components, aggregate and cement paste. The microstructure at the interfacial transition zone (ITZ) is assumed to be different from the bulk material. In general, properties of conventional concrete have been found favoured by optimum packing density of the aggregate. Particle size is a common denominator in such studies. Size segregation in the ITZ among the binder particles in the fresh state, observed in simulation studies by concurrent algorithm-based SPACE system, additionally governs density as well as physical bonding capacity inside these shell-like zones around aggregate particles. These characteristics have been demonstrated qualitatively pertaining also after maturation of the concrete. Such properties of the ITZs have direct impact on composite properties. Despite experimental approaches revealed effects of aggregate grain shape on different features of material structure (among which density), and as a consequence on mechanical properties, it is still an underrated factor in laboratory studies, probably due to the general feeling that a suitable methodology for shape characterization is not available. A scientific argument hindering progress is the interconnected nature of size and shape. Presently, a practical problem preventing shape effects to be emphasized is the limitation of most computer simulation systems in concrete technology to spherical particles. New developments at Delft University of Technology will make it possible in the near future to generate jammed states, or other high-density fresh particle mixtures of non-spherical particles, which thereupon can be subjected to hydration algorithms. This paper will sketch the outlines of a methodological approach for shape assessment of loose (non-embedded) aggregate grains, and demonstrate its use for two types of aggregate, allowing evaluation of usefulness of the various methods.

concrete aggregate; Fourier analysis; quantitative image analysis; shape characterisation; stereology

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DOI: 10.5566/ias.v25.p43-53

Image Analysis & Stereology
EISSN 1854-5165 (Electronic version)
ISSN 1580-3139 (Printed version)