Arabian Journal for Science and Engineering

, Volume 44, Issue 2, pp 1403–1413 | Cite as

Effect of Multiwalled Carbon Nanotubes on Sensing Crack Initiation and Ultimate Strength of Cement Nanocomposites

  • Fahad Al-MufadiEmail author
  • Hany A. Sherif
Research Article - Mechanical Engineering


Sensing crack in multiwalled carbon nanotube (MWCNT)-reinforced cement under compression stress was investigated to aid in the temporal detection of crack initiation. Cement-based nanocomposite specimens were prepared with fixed proportions (e.g., water/cement ratio and sand/cement ratio) and varying concentrations of MWCNTs (0.01%, 0.02%, 0.1% and 0.2% by weight of cement). Microstructure was analyzed by means of a scanning electron microscope to show crack bridging and EDX spectroscopy to confirm the existence of MWCNTs in cement paste. Crack monitoring was presented through the variation of the temporal slope of electrical resistance during compression stress of nanocomposite samples. It is shown that temporal slope variation can be used as an index for crack warning owing to its well-defined patterns with distinct peaks that correlate with crack initiations and propagation. A significant increase in ultimate compressive strength with MWCNT concentration more than 0.1 wt% with respect to cement was observed.


MWCNT–cement composite Polarization Crack initiations Crack sensing 



Alternating current


Carbon nanotubes


Carbon nanofibers


Direct current


Fractional change in resistance


Multiwalled carbon nanotube


Sand-to-cement ratio


Water-to-cement ratio

List of symbols


Compressive force (N)

\(\Delta F\)

Change of force (N)


Initial electrical resistance of the cement composite (\(\Omega )\)


Absolute electrical resistance at time t (\(\Omega )\)

\(\Delta R\)

Change of electrical resistance (\(\Omega )\)


Time (s)


Time delay between measured compressive stress and electrical resistance (s)

\(\Delta t\)

Sampling time interval (s)

\(\beta \)

Slope of normalized electrical resistance with the time (\(\hbox {s}^{-1})\)

\(\kappa \)

Normalized electrical resistance

\(\sigma \)

Compression stress (MPa)

\(\psi \)

Sensitivity of cement composite at fracture (defined as the electrical resistance change \(\Delta R\) due to force change \(\Delta F\)), (\(\Omega \)/N)


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.



The authors wish to express their gratitude and sincere appreciation to the authority of King Abdul Aziz City for Sciences and Technology (KACST) for financing this research work.


  1. 1.
    Suaris, W.; Fernando, V.: Detection of crack growth in concrete from ultrasonic intensity measurements. Mater. Struct. 20, 214–220 (1987)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Abraham, O.; Zhang, Y.; Chapeleau, X.; Durand, O.; Tournat, V.: Monitoring of a large cracked concrete sample with nonlinear mixing of ultrasonic coda waves. In: 7th European Workshop on Structural Health Monitoring July 8–11, La Cité, Nantes, France (2014)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Claus, R.O.; Mckeenman, J.C.; May, R.G.; Bennet, K.D.: Optical fiber sensors and signal processing for smart materials and structures ARO smart materials. In: Structures and Mathematical Issues Workshop Proceeding, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and state University Blacksburg, VA (1988)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Inaudi, D.: Application of fiber optic sensors to structural monitoring. In: Culshaw B (ed.) Proceedings of SPIE–European Workshop on Smart Structures in Engineering and Technology, 13 March (2003), Vol. 4763, pp. 31–38.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Zhou, Z.; Zhang, B.; Xia, K.; Li, X.; Yan, G.; Zhang, K.: Smart film for crack monitoring of concrete bridges. Struct. Health Monit. 10(3), 275–289 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Chung, D.D.L.: Cement reinforced with short carbon fibers: a multifunctional material. Compos. B Eng. 31, 511–526 (2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Wang, X.; Fu, X.; Chung, D.D.L.: Strain sensing using carbon fiber. J. Mater. Res. 14(3), 790–802 (1999)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Fu, X.; Chung, D.D.L.: Effect of curing age on the self-monitoring behavior of carbon fiber reinforced mortar. Cem. Concr. Res. 27(9), 1313–1318 (1997)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Fu, X.; Ma, E.; Chung, D.D.L.; Anderson, W.A.: Self-monitoring in carbon fiber reinforced mortar by reactance measurement. Cem. Concr. Res. 27(6), 845–852 (1997)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Chen, P.-W.; Chung, D.D.L.: Carbon fiber reinforced concrete as an intrinsically smart concrete for damage assessment during static and dynamic loading. ACI Mater. J. 93(4), 341–350 (1996)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Chen, P.-W.; Chung, D.D.L.: Carbon fiber reinforced concrete as a smart material capable of non-destructive flaw detection. Smart Mater. Struct. 2, 22–30 (1993)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Chung, D.D.L.: Self-monitoring structural materials. Mater. Sci. Eng. Rev. R 22(2), 57–78 (1998)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Chen, P.-W.; Chung, D.D.L.: Concrete as a new strain/stress sensor. Compos. Part B 27B, 11–23 (1996)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Sun, M.; Liu, Q.; Li, Z.; Hu, Y.: A study of piezoelectric properties of carbon fiber reinforced concrete and plain cement paste during dynamic loading. Cem. Concr. Res. 30(10), 1593–1595 (2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Wen, S.; Chung, D.D.L.: Effect of stress on the electric polarization in cement. Cem. Concr. Res. 31(2), 291–295 (2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Wen, S.; Chung, D.D.L.: Cement-based materials for stress sensing by dielectric measurement. Cem. Concr. Res. 32, 1429–1433 (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Reza, F.; Batson, G.B.; Yamamuro, J.A.; Lee, J.S.: Resistance changes during compression of carbon fiber cement composites. J. Mater. Civ. Eng. 15, 476–483 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Sun, M.Q.; Liu, Q.P.; Li, Z.Q.; Hu, Y.Z.: A study of piezoelectric properties of carbon fiber reinforced concrete and plain cement paste during dynamic loading. Cem. Concr. Res. 30, 1593–1595 (2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Yu, X.; Kwon, E.: A carbon nanotube/cement composite with piezoresistive properties. Smart Mater. Struct. 18, 1–5 (2009)Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Chen, B.; Liu, J.Y.: Damage in carbon fiber-reinforced concrete, monitored by both electrical resistance measurement and acoustic emission analysis. Constr. Build. Mater. 22, 2196–2201 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Ding, Y.; Chen, Z.; Han, Z.; Zhang, Y.; Torgal, F.P.: Nano-carbon black and carbon fiber as conductive materials for the diagnosing of the damage of concrete beam. Constr. Build. Mater. 43, 233–241 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Wen, S.H.; Chung, D.D.L.: Carbon fiber-reinforced cement as a strain-sensing coating. Cem. Concr. Res. 31, 665–667 (2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Xiao, H.G.: Piezoresistivity of cement-based composites filled with nanophase materials and self-sensing smart structural system. PhD Thesis, School of Civil Engineering, Harbin Institute of Technology (2006)Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Hoheneder, J.A.: Smart.: Carbon nanotube/fiber and pva fiber- reinforced composites for stress sensing and chloride ion detection. Thesis, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, 12-1-2012Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Han, B.G.; Ou, J.P.: Embedded piezoresistive cement-based stress/strain sensor. Sens. Actuators A: Phys. 138, 294–298 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Ou, J.P.; Han, B.G.: Piezoresistive cement-based strain sensors and self-sensing concrete components. J. Intell. Mater. Syst. Struct. 20, 329–336 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Li, H.; Xiao, H.G.; Ou, J.P.: A Study on mechanical and pressure-sensitive properties of cement mortar with nanophase materials. Cem. Concr. Res. 34, 435–438 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Li, H.; Xiao, H.G.; Ou, J.P.: Effect of compressive strain on electrical resistivity of carbon black-filled cement-based composites. Cem. Concr. Compos. 28, 824–828 (2006b)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Li, H.; Xiao, H.G.; Ou, J.P.: Electrical property of cement-based composites filled with carbon black under long-term wet and loading condition. Compos. Sci. Technol. 68, 2114–2119 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Xiao, H.G.; Li, H.; OU, J.: Self-monitoring properties of concrete columns with embedded cement-based strain sensors. J. Intell. Mater. Syst. Struct. 22, 191–200 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Sun, M.Q.; Liew, Richard J.Y.; Zhang, M.-H.; Wei, Li: Development of cement-based strain sensor for health monitoring of ultra high strength concrete. Constr. Build. Mater. 65, 630–637 (2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Cao, J.; Wen, S.H.; Chung, D.D.L.: Defect dynamics and damage of cement-based materials, studied by electrical resistance measurement. J. Mater. Sci. 36, 4351–43609 (2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Chung, D.D.L.: Piezoresistive cement-based materials for strain sensing. J. Intell. Mater. Syst. Struct. 13(9), 599–609 (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Yu, X.; Kwon, E.: A carbon nanotube/cement composite with piezoresistive properties. Smart Mater. Struct. 18(5), 055010 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Hou, T.C.; Lynch, J.P.: Electrical impedance tomographic methods for sensing strain fields and crack damage in cementitious structures. J. Intell. Mater. Syst. Struct. 20(11), 1363–1379 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Karhunen, K.; Seppanen, A.; Lehikoinen, A.; Monteiro, P.J.M.; Kaipio, J.P.: Electrical resistance tomography imaging of concrete. Cem. Concr. Res. 40(1), 137–145 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Wen, S.H.; Chung, D.D.L.: Electrical-resistance-based damage self-sensing in carbon fiber reinforced cement. Carbon 45(4), 710–71 (2007)MathSciNetCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Banthia, N.: Fiber reinforced concrete for sustainable and intelligent infrastructure. In: SBEIDCO—1st International Conference on Sustainable Built Environment Infrastructures in Developing Countries ENSET Oran (Algeria). 14 (2009).Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Wen, S.H.; Chung, D.D.L.: Electric polarization in carbon fiber reinforced cement. Cem. Concr. Res. 31(1), 141–147 (2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Cao, J.Y.; Chung, D.D.L.: Electric polarization and depolarization in cement-based materials, studied by apparent electrical resistance measurement. Cem. Concr. Res. 34(3), 481–485 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Nanostructured and Amorphous Materials, Inc.:
  42. 42.
    Han, B.; Zhang, K.; Yu, X.; Kwon, E.; Ou, J.: Electrical characteristics and pressure-sensitive response measurements of carboxyl MWNT/cement composites. Cem. Concr. Compos. 34, 794–800 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Mechanical EngineeringQassim UniversityBuraidahSaudi Arabia

Personalised recommendations