Numerical validation of a population balance model describing cement paste rheology


Rheology control is essential during the period in which cement and concrete pastes are encountered in the fresh state, due to the fact that it directly affects workability, initial placement and the structural performance of the hardened material. Optimizations of clinker formulations and reductions in cement-to-water ratios induced by economic and environmental considerations have a significant effect in rheology, which invokes the need for mechanistic models capable of describing the effect of multiple relevant phenomena on the observed paste flow. In this work, the population balance framework was implemented to develop a model able to relate the transient microstructural evolution of cement pastes under typical experimental conditions with its macroscopic rheological responses. Numerical details and performance are assessed and discussed. It was found that the model is capable of reproducing experimentally observed flow curves by using measured cluster size distribution information. It is also able to predict the complex rheological characteristics typically found in cement pastes. Furthermore, a spatially resolved scheme was proposed to investigate the nature of flow inside a parallel-plates rheometer geometry with the objective of assessing the ability of the model of qualitatively predicting experimentally observed behavior and to gain insight into the effect of possible secondary flows

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