Materials and Structures

, Volume 49, Issue 11, pp 4765–4778

Characterization of superabsorbent poly(sodium-acrylate acrylamide) hydrogels and influence of chemical structure on internally cured mortar

Original Article

DOI: 10.1617/s11527-016-0823-7

Cite this article as:
Krafcik, M.J. & Erk, K.A. Mater Struct (2016) 49: 4765. doi:10.1617/s11527-016-0823-7


Internal curing of mortar through superabsorbent polymer hydrogels is explored as a solution to self-desiccation. Four different hydrogels of poly(sodium-acrylate acrylamide) are synthesized and the impact of chemical composition on mortar is assessed with relative humidity and autogenous shrinkage testing. The hydrogels are characterized with swelling tests in different salt solutions and compression tests. Chemical composition affected both swelling kinetics and gel network size. Mortar containing these hydrogels had increased relative humidity and markedly reduced autogenous shrinkage. Additionally, the chemical structure of the hydrogels was found to significantly impact the mortar’s shrinkage. Hydrogels that quickly released most of their absorbed fluid were able to better reduce autogenous shrinkage compared to hydrogels that retained fluid for longer periods (>4 h), although this performance was highly sensitive to total water content. The release of absorbed water in hydrogels is most likely a function of both Laplace pressure of emptying voids and chemically-linked osmotic pressure developing from an ion concentration gradient between the hydrogels and cement pore solution. If the osmotic pressure is strong enough, the hydrogels can disperse most of the absorbed water before the depercolation of capillary porosity occurs, allowing the water to permeate the bulk of the mortar microstructure and most effectively reduce self-desiccation and autogenous shrinkage.


Internal curing Superabsorbent polymer Ion-hydrogel interactions Autogenous shrinkage Relative humidity 

Supplementary material

11527_2016_823_MOESM1_ESM.doc (2.4 mb)
(DOC 2456 kb)

Funding information

Funder NameGrant NumberFunding Note
American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund
  • 54886-DNI10

Copyright information

© RILEM 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Materials EngineeringPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA

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