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Computational Materials Science 43 (2008) 974979


A comparison study of porosity and compressive strength

mathematical models with image analysis
Ali Ugur Ozturk *, Bulent Baradan
Department of Civil Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Dokuz Eylul University, 35160 Izmir, Turkey
Received 24 September 2007; received in revised form 4 February 2008; accepted 16 February 2008
Available online 28 March 2008

In this study, mathematical models obtained to determine the relationship between pore structure of cement mortars and compressive
strength values were compared with results of image analysis results. Micrographs of polished sections of prepared cement mortars were
taken to determine the area ratio values of pore structure in cement mortars. The relationships between pore structure and compressive
strength values were investigated. Four dierent types of mathematical models for the relationship between porosity and compressive
strength were examined. The obtained results for each mathematical model were compared to image analysis results. The study shows
that image analysis techniques have a great capacity to dene the relationship between pore area ratios obtained by microstructural
investigations and compressive strength values. There is a good correlation between this relationship by image analysis and other mathematical models.
2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
PACS: 68.37.Hk; 62.23.Pq; 07.05.Pj; 07.05.Tp
Keywords: Porosity; Compressive strength; Image analysis; Microstructure; Cement mortar; Chemical admixture

1. Introduction
The microstructureproperty relationship has become
more important by the development in microstructural
investigations due to current experimental techniques.
These investigations lead to have great capacity to dene
the inner properties of cementitious materials. Characterization of inner structure of cementitious materials is necessary in order to understand the behavior of a structural
material under dierent condition. Within the past two
decades, technological advantages in the understanding
of materials, as well as in computational capabilities have
led to improve the properties of various materials.
Cements are the most widely used materials in dierent
types of construction. Products of the reaction between
cements and water serve as a binder for aggregates and

Corresponding author. Tel.: +90 232 412 7001; fax: +90 232 453 1192.
E-mail address: ugur.ozturk@deu.edu.tr (A.U. Ozturk).

0927-0256/$ - see front matter 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

other materials such as bers. Concrete gains strength

gradually as a result of a chemical reaction (hydration)
between cement and water; for a specic concrete mixture,
strength at any age is related to the degree of hydration.
During hydration process, cement paste microstructure
changes by time especially at early ages. Early age characteristics can be classied into rheologic behavior, heat evolution, setting, and strength development. Hydration
products also aect hardened concrete structures, as well
as the durability of reinforced concrete.
Knowledge of the microstructural evolution of cementitious materials at early age is helpful for forecasting their
performance. Microstructural studies and numerical simulations become increasingly important to understand the
formation of the microstructure [1]. Image analysis of micrographs of cementitious materials are performed to quantify
the microstructure of cement pastes for determination of
porosity, pore structure and phases such as undierentiated
hydration products and anhydrous cement content [29].

A.U. Ozturk, B. Baradan / Computational Materials Science 43 (2008) 974979

The structure of concrete material can be approximately

classied into micro (less than 1 lm), meso (between 1 lm
and 1 cm) and macro (greater than 1 cm) levels [10]. These
pore size levels have great eects on the durability and
mechanical properties of concrete. One of these properties
of concrete, which is supposed to show high performance,
is compressive strength. Compressive strength depends on
pore structure and hydration degree of a cementitious
material [11]. Pore size and pore size distribution aect
the strength property of a cement mortar.
Many studies have been made to establish a relationship
between strength and microstructural properties such as
pore structure and pore size distribution [1214]. Porosity
and pore structure and mechanical condition of pore shells
have a marked inuence on the mechanical properties.
Porosity is considered to have a signicant impact on compressive strength [15,16]. Generally, compressive strength
increases linearly with density [17].
It has been revealed that the porosity is one of the
parameters aecting the strength of cementitious materials.
However; many other factors such as pore size distribution,
microcracks, and interface are also important factors determining mechanical properties of cementitious materials
[18]. The variation of pore structure, including porosity
and pore size distribution, could be used to indicate the
degradation of mechanical properties of concrete [19].
Evidence has been presented that mercury intrusion
porosimetry (MIP) measurements of pore size distribution
systematically misallocates the sizes of almost all of the volume of pores in hydrated cementitious materials, it assigns
them to sizes smaller than the threshold diameter regardless
of their actual sizes. It appears that the failure of the MIP
with cement systems is intrinsic rather than accidental, and
derives from the lack of direct accessibility of most of the
pore volume (including air voids) to the mercury surrounding the specimen [20].
Therefore, image analysis has a great capacity to determine the microstructure that aects the macro properties of
cementitious materials. To use current experimental technologies lead to have great benets to get better results.
During last 20 years, to investigate polished sections of
specimens by scanning electron microscope (SEM) with
backscattered electron (BE) mode has become more important [21]. Since the debut in the early of 1980s, SEM micrographs under BE mode have shown a great potential to
investigate cementitious materials [22,23].
To investigate polished sections of specimens by microscopy techniques has become more important. Flat sections
of cementitious materials were prepared by obeying some
specimen preparation techniques. Specimens covered by
epoxy or polyester are polished by diamond paste of micro
sprays in order to get polished sections. There are several
advantages of this technique.
Although cement paste has a reasonably heterogeneous
structure, this technique has a great capacity on determining the relationship between microstructure and mechanical properties by quantitative measures. Microscopy


applications improve the ability to characterize the microstructure of cement mortar and concrete, and helps in
investigating eects of admixtures, determining durability
problems and service life [24].
In this study, polished sections of mixes were prepared
in dierent ages to investigate the improvement of microstructure. The development of microstructureproperty
relationship was determined with respect to strength developments of mortars.
2. Experimental
2.1. Materials
Naphthalene sulphonate based admixture, which is type
G admixture according to ASTM-C 494 was used with dif-

Table 1
Properties of chemical admixture



Solid phase

ASTM-C 494 Type G


1.161.19 kg/


TS EN 934-2 Part.11.1-11.2


Table 2
Properties of OPC (cement type: CEMI 42.5 R)


Results of chemical
(Cl) amount
(SO3) amount


Results of physical analysis

Initial setting
Final setting
Specic surface


(TS EN 197-1)


TS EN 196-2
TS EN 196-2
TS EN 196-2



TS EN 196-3



TS EN 196-3


TS EN 196-6


TS EN 196-3




Results of compressive strength test

(2 day) Strength
N/mm2 TS EN 196-1
(28 day) Strength N/mm2 TS EN 196-1

Table 3
Mix design of cement mortars
Mix name

1% NSB
2% NSB

Amount by weight in mix (gr)










A.U. Ozturk, B. Baradan / Computational Materials Science 43 (2008) 974979

ferent ratios to prepare mortars with dierent porosity

characteristics. The properties of chemical admixtures used
in mortars are given in Table 1. Ordinary Portland cement
(OPC) used in mortars is CEM I 42.5 R. The properties of
cement are given in Table 2.
2.2. Method
2.2.1. Material preparation
Cement mortars were prepared for axial compressive
strength tests and image analysis of micrographs taken

by SEM. Chemical Admixture was added into the mixes

with 1% and 2% by the ratio of cement weight. Mix designs
of cement mortars are given in Table 3.
To avoid the eects of cutting process required for
image processing, during casting some amount of mixtures
were cast into plastic caps. After 1, 2, and 7 days, hydrations of mixes were stopped by putting specimens into alcohol isopropylique during 5 days. The specimens were
covered by polyester, and, then each specimen was examined by polishing process. Each specimen was sanded by
600 and 1200 sandpapers. After sanding, each specimen

Compressive Strength Development

Compressive Strength Values ( Mpa )






Control Specimen
% 1 NSB
% 2 NSB







Time (day )

Fig. 1. Compressive strength development of cement mortars.

Flow Values

Flow Values (mm)





Flow (mm.)







No Admixture

%1 NSB

Fig. 2. Flow values of cement mortars.

%2 NSB


A.U. Ozturk, B. Baradan / Computational Materials Science 43 (2008) 974979


Fig. 3. Micrographs of 7 day cement mortars by 1000 magnication: (a) control; (b) 1% NSB and (c) 2% NSB.

was polished by 0.25, 1, 3 and 9 lm diamond paste for

120 s [25]. The specimens were covered by gold (Au) for
SEM analysis.
2.2.2. Tests on cement mortars
Axial compressive strength tests were conducted on the
50 mm cement mortar cubes at the ages of 1, 2, 7 and 28

Table 4
Mathematical models between porosity and compressive strength

Empirical equation

Balshin [26]
Ryshkewitch [27]
Schiller [28]
Hasselman [29]

rc rc0 1  nm
rc = rc0exp(m  n)
rc = rc0ln(n/no)
rc = rc0m  n

Pore Area Ratio Development

Control Specimen
% 1 NSB
% 2 NSB

Pore Area Ratio Development (%)








Time (day)

Fig. 4. Development of pore area ratio values.


A.U. Ozturk, B. Baradan / Computational Materials Science 43 (2008) 974979


Compressive Strength fc (MPa)


Experimental results
Theoretical model
Fc= 136.11exp(-0.0689P)
R = 0.956
Balshin model







Pore Area Ratio P (%)

Fig. 5. Relationship between pore area ratio and compressive strength values.

days. Microstructural studies were conducted on cement

mortars which were taken during preparation of cement
mortars into the plastic tubes for image processing. Pore
segmentation analyses were conducted to determine the
pore area ratio values of cement mortars.
3. Results
Axial compressive strength test were performed at age of
1, 2, 7 and 28 days. Compressive strength developments of
specimens are given in Fig. 1. Also, ow values were determined for each mix. The ow values are shown in Fig. 2.
SEM analysis and image processing were performed to
obtain pore characteristics of each cement mortar at the
age of 1, 2 and 7 days. Micrographs of prepared specimens
were taken from three dierent areas of polished sections to
provide homogeneity of analysis. Micrographs were taken
with 1000 magnication in backscattered mode for each
mix at the age of 1, 2 and 7 days. Micrographs of 7 day
cement mortars by 1000 magnication of each mix are
shown in Fig. 3.
Pore structure phases of cement mortars were investigated. Segmentation analyses of mortars were performed
to determine the pore structure. The development of pore
area ratio values obtained by image processing of micrographs with 1000 magnication is given in Fig. 4.
Due to hydration development by time, pore area ratio
values decrease for each specimen. However, area ratio values of pore structure are always higher for specimens, in
which hydration processes were decelerated, in all periods.
It is obvious that the values of pore area ratio values for
mixes with admixtures are lower than the values for control
mixes. Pore area ratio values for all mixes have got the
same trend which shows a decrease with time.
Image analysis values were compared with mathematical
models which are given below in Table 4, to obtain the relationship between pore structure and compressive strength.

In these equations, rc is dened as the strength of a

porous material. rc0 is the theoretical strength of a material at zero porosity. Porosity is represented with n, and
n0 is the critical porosity at zero strength. Also, m is a
constant. Porosity and compressive strength relationship
graphs due to mathematical models given in Table 4 were
compared with the results of image analysis in Fig. 5.
4. Conclusions
Current technologies lead us to have a better view on
microstructure of cementitious materials. Not only
mechanical tests, but also image analysis techniques give
good results to determine the properties of cementitious
materials. Image analyses of micrographs taken by new
technologies have a great capacity to realize the inner structure. Microstructural investigations can be made to
improve the macro properties of materials.
Microstructure-property relationship is obtained
according to area ratio values of pore structure and compressive strength developments of cement mortars. Pore
area ratio values of cement mortars for 1, 2, and 7 days
were related to compressive strengths to investigate eects
of the development of pore area ratio values on strength
development. Pore area ratio values decrease by time due
to hydration process.
The maximum area ratio values of pore structure
decreasing by time are obtained with 2% additions which
have overdosage eect. As mentioned above, strength
properties of cementitious materials depend on pore structure and hydration degree which can be explained as the
amount of hydrated part. Pore area ratio values which represent the total porosity in a polished section were related
with compressive strength development for each specimen.
The delay in compressive strength development of specimens prepared with chemical admixture can be seen
clearly. Therefore, 2% addition shows an overdosage eect

A.U. Ozturk, B. Baradan / Computational Materials Science 43 (2008) 974979

and, the compressive strength values of these specimens are

much lower than other specimens. These specimens have
the lowest compressive strength values due to their more
porous structures according to overdosage eect. However,
mixes with 1% addition have 28-day old compressive
strength values as much as compressive strength values of
control specimens.
Therefore, porositycompressive strength relationships
were obtained by dierent mathematical models. These
models were drawn and related with the relationship
between compressive strength values and porosity determined by pore area ratios from image analysis. A good correlation has been obtained between the relationship from
image analysis and other mathematical models. This study
indicates that image analysis results have a great capacity
to determine the relationship between microstructure and
macro properties.
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