Peng Liu, Min Qu, Fazhou Wang, Guohua Hu, and Chuanlin Hu



It is well known that the workability of concrete will decrease when doped with secondary fly ash (FA). The authors reported a new FA composite with surface modification which can improve the fluidity of cement and the workability of concrete.

A polycarboxylate (PC) high-range water-reducing admixture (HRWRA), which contained poly ethylene glycol (PEG) side chain, carboxylic groups, and hydroxysilane groups, was synthesized by free radical copolymerization. It was subsequently grafted onto fly ash (FA) beads.

The Si-OH groups on the surface of alkali-activated FA beads interacted with the PC molecules through covalent hydroxysilane linkage. In the PC-modified FA beads, new infrared (IR) peaks appeared at 2900 and 1100 cm−1 that were assigned to the vibration of C-H and C-O-C groups, respectively.

A peak shift in 29Si NMR from −80 to −86 ppm also confirmed the successful grafting of the PC molecules onto the FA beads. Thermal analyses indicated that each of the PC moieties accounted for 2.1 wt. % of the modified FA beads.

Compared with the crude FA and the alkali-activated one, the PC-modified FA significantly improved the workability of the cement paste and enhanced the mechanical properties of the cement after hydration for 7 days.

Thus, the PC-modified FA composite could serve as a promising additive for cementitious materials.


alkali activation; fluidity; fly ash; water reduction; workability