Highly reactive carbonated recycled concrete fines prepared via mechanochemical carbonation: Influence on the early performance of cement composites

Yingliang Zhao, Kai Cui, Jionghuang He, Yong Zheng, Peiliang Shen, Chi Sun Poon, Guangmin Peng, Ruilai Guo, Daohui Xia

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


Carbonated recycled concrete fines (RCF) possess the potential to serve as supplementary cementitious materials (SCMs). However, calcium carbonate (Cc) formed during traditional carbonation methods generally shows low reactivity. Moreover, the remaining calcium silicate hydrate (C-S-H) with a low Ca/Si ratio exhibits enhanced resistance to decalcification, leading to the formation of lower content of silica gels. These factors limit the reactivity and utilization of carbonated RCF in cementitious systems. In the present work, mechanochemistry was introduced into the RCF carbonation process, a technique named mechanochemical carbonation (MC), to enhance the reactivity of carbonated RCF. This study delved into the influence of MC-treated RCF (MCR) on the early performance of cement composites. The findings reveal that MCR exerted a more pronounced promotional effect on cement hydration, as demonstrated by the earlier appearance of hydration peaks for silicates and aluminates, coupled with increased peak intensity. This then resulted in a notable enhancement in early compressive strength. Specifically, with 10 wt% MCR, the compressive strength increased by approximately 19.9 % and 24.7 % at 1 d and 3 d, respectively. In comparison, samples incorporating wet carbonated RCF (WCR) demonstrated lower enhancements, with increases of only 4.5 % and 12.0 % at 1 d and 3 d, respectively. The enhanced performance of MCR can be attributed to the increased formation of nano-sized amorphous silica gels and metastable Cc. These components exhibit elevated reactivity and contribute to seeding effects, thereby promoting the overall reactivity and strength development of the cementitious system. These findings underscore the promising application potential of MC in transforming RCF into highly reactive SCMs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105636
JournalCement and Concrete Composites
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2024


  • Mechanochemical carbonation
  • Nano-sized metastable calcium carbonate
  • Recycled concrete fines
  • Supplementary cementitious materials

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Building and Construction
  • General Materials Science


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