A study of carbonation in non-hydraulic lime mortars

  • Michael Lawrence

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


Lime has been used in construction for millennia, and its value, especially in the field of conservation architecture, has only recently been rediscovered. Lime mortars harden through carbonation, and this thesis is a study of that process. The research conducted has resulted in the development of two novel techniques for the measurement and detection of carbonation. The first technique is a method of thermogravimetric analysis which allows the carbonation profile to be measured within an acceptable time-frame. The second technique is the use of drilling resistance measurement to visualise the carbonation profile. The potential of elemental analysis to measure the carbonation profile has also been identified. It has been demonstrated that the lime/water ratio has less impact on the compressive strength of air lime mortars than had previously been supposed. The change in the pore size distribution of air lime mortars caused by carbonation has been studied, and a theory has been proposed to explain this phenomenon. Five different forms of air lime binder were studied. The impact of these on the structural performance of the resultant mortars has been assessed. It was concluded that mortars made with lime putties perform better than mortars made with dry lime hydrate. Mortars made with dispersed hydrated lime appear to perform as well as mortars made with lime putties, but at a slower rate of strength growth. The use of extra mature lime putty does not appear to confer structural performance benefits when compared with ordinary lime putty. It has been shown that the use of calcitic aggregates can produce air lime mortars which perform as well as moderately hydraulic lime mortars. It is theorised that this phenomenon is not directly related to carbonation, but rather to a complex interaction of the granulometry, mineralogy, chemistry and porosity of the aggregate with the binder.
Date of Award1 Jan 2006
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorPete Walker (Supervisor) & Dina D'Ayala (Supervisor)


  • Drilling resistance
  • Thermogravimetric analysis
  • Air Lime
  • Pore size distribution
  • Calcitic aggregates
  • Carbonation
  • Lime mortar
  • Lime/water ratio

Cite this