The Effect of Nanosilica Incorporation on the Properties of Cement-Based Materials with and Without other Supplementary Admixtures – A Literature Review

The Open Construction and Building Technology Journal 13 Oct 2022 REVIEW ARTICLE DOI: 10.2174/18748368-v16-e2207290


The development of nanotechnology has made it possible to design new materials and improve existing ones. Regarding new supplementary admixtures for cement-based materials, nanosilica is more advantageous than any other nanomaterial. This is due to its high pozzolanic reactivity, besides its filling and seeding effects, which are a consequence of the higher and more reactive specific surface area of the nanosilica and its amorphous structure. Nonetheless, when used improperly or in an inadequate dosage, such a nanomaterial may negatively affect the cement admixture, compromising both fresh and hardened properties. Hence, it is fundamental to understand the nanosilica’s behavior inside the cementitious medium. This review paper is based on recent literature about the incorporation of nanosilica in cementitious materials. The analyses showed that, once incorporated in the cement matrix, nanosilica tends to agglomerate. The behavior of such agglomerates influences both the pozzolanic filling and seeding effects. Therefore, a suitable dispersion of the nanoparticles must be achieved. In this sense, third-generation superplasticizers are used, usually up to 3% of cement mass. The mechanical properties of cement-based materials with nanosilica depend on the amount of nanomaterial and on its specific surface area. There is not an agreement on the optimum dosage of nanosilica, however, percentages up to 5% in cement mass seem to provide a better performance, when compared to greater ones. It is not worthy to use nanosilicas with excessive specific surface area values, because they tend to form large agglomerates, reducing fluidity and compressive strength. Particles with surface areas up to 300 m2/g usually present good performance. Nanosilica improves the early age strength and contributes to the pore refinement of cement-based materials. The combination of nanosilica with other nanomaterials or industrial by-products can improve the mixture’s performance. Nonetheless, the use of silica nanoparticles with agricultural wastes negatively affects the mechanical properties at early ages.

Keywords: Nanosilica, Nanoengineered concrete, Silica nanoparticles, Pozzolanic effect, Supplementary admixtures, Fresh properties, Mechanical properties.
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