Characterization of supplementary cementitious materials by thermal analysis

Susan A. Bernal, Maria C.G. Juenger, Xinyuan Ke, Winnie Matthes, Barbara Lothenbach, Nele De Belie, John L. Provis

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76 Citations (SciVal)


Working Group 1 of RILEM TC 238-SCM ‘Hydration and microstructure of concrete with supplementary cementitious materials (SCMs)’ is defining best practices for the physical and chemical characterization of SCMs, and this paper focusses on their thermal analysis. Thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) can provide valuable data on the chemical and mineralogical composition of SCMs. Loss-on-ignition (LOI) testing is a commonly used, standardized, but less sophisticated version of TGA that measures mass at endpoints only, with heating generally in air. In this paper we describe the use of TGA and LOI to characterize Portland cement with limestone additions, coal combustion fly ashes, ground-granulated blast furnace slag, calcined clays, and natural pozzolans. This paper outlines the value and limitations of TGA and LOI (in the formats defined in different standards regimes) for material characterization, and describes testing methods and analysis. TGA testing parameters affect the mass loss recorded at temperatures relevant for LOI measurements (700–1000 °C) of slags and fly ashes, mainly associated with oxidation reactions taking place upon heating. TGA of clays and natural pozzolans is utilized to identify optimal calcination conditions leading to dehydroxylation and consequent structural amorphization, particularly for kaolinite. However, dehydroxylation and amorphization do not occur at similar temperatures for all clays, limiting the applicability of TGA for this purpose. Although TGA is widely utilized for characterization of SCMs, the testing parameters significantly affect the results obtained, and TGA results require careful interpretation. Therefore, standardization of TGA testing conditions, particularly for LOI determination of slags and fly ashes, is required.

Original languageEnglish
Article number26
JournalMaterials and Structures
Early online date10 Aug 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017


  • Characterization
  • Loss on ignition
  • Pozzolans
  • Supplementary cementitious materials
  • Thermal analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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