Experimental and numerical study of effective thermal conductivity of cracked concrete

Lei Shen, Qingwen Ren*, Linfei Zhang, Yan Han, Gianluca Cusatis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


The pronounced decrease of Effective Thermal Conductivity (ETC) due to the cracking behavior of concrete changes the temperature profile in concrete structures, indirectly inducing the redistribution of thermal stresses. To study this phenomenon, a mini-scale numerical method within the framework of finite element method is proposed for both tensile and compressive cracked concrete and this method is applied to obtain quantitative relationships between tensile or compressive strain and ETC. Results show that (a) for tensile dominated failure, concrete ETC decreases by 23% during the plastic stage whereas little decrease is found at complete failure; (b) for compressive dominated failure, ETC decreases by 30% during the plastic stage, and then becomes stable afterwards. In the softening stage ETC linearly decreases with the increase of compressive strain; (c) it is the interfacial thermal resistances induced by the micro-cracks between aggregates and mortar rather than the macro-cracks that play the dominant role in this phenomenon; (d) concrete ETC becomes anisotropic when cracks appear. The experiments show that compressive cracked concrete's ETC vertical to cracks dramatically decreases by 20–25% at plastic drop stage and then becomes stable at the plastic steady stage. The numerical results are used to determine the interfacial thermal resistance factor in Wang Jiajun model. The proposed formulation provides results that are in excellent agreement with experiments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)55-68
Number of pages14
JournalConstruction and Building Materials
StatePublished - Oct 30 2017


  • Cracked concrete
  • Effective thermal conductivity
  • Experiment
  • Finite element method
  • Mini-scale modeling
  • Wang Jiajun model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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