C–S–H gel densification: The impact of the nanoscale on self-desiccation and sorption isotherms

Enrico Masoero*, Gianluca Cusatis, Giovanni Di Luzio

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The relationship between humidity and water content in a hydrating cement paste is largely controlled by the nanostructure of the C–S–H gel. Current hydration models do not describe this nanostructure, thus sorption isotherms and self-desiccation are given as constitutive inputs instead of being predicted from microstructural evolution. To address this limitation, this work combines a C–S–H gel description from nanoscale simulations with evolving capillary pore size distributions from a simple hydration model. Results show that a progressive densification of the C–S–H gel must be considered in order to explain the self-desiccation of low-alkali pastes. The impact of C–S–H densification on the evolution of microstructure and sorption isotherms is then discussed, including the effect of water-to-cement ratio, cement powder fineness, and curing temperature. Overall, this work identifies an area where nanoscale simulations can integrate larger-scale models of cement hydration and poromechanics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)103-119
Number of pages17
JournalCement and Concrete Research
StatePublished - Jul 2018


  • Calcium-silicate-hydrate (C–S–H)
  • Cement hydration
  • Modelling
  • Nanoscale
  • Relative humidity
  • Self desiccation
  • Sorption isotherm

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Building and Construction
  • Materials Science(all)

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