Project: Kinetic of Salt Crystallization and Mechanical damage in Historic Masonry

Duration 01/02/2013 - 01/10/2015
Project Topic The objective of the project is to develop an integrated approach for modeling and analysis of the decay mechanism of masonry structures (made by fired clay or natural stone brick) due to salt crystallization. In particular, the idea is to combine, at the (sub)micro-scale, theoretical, numerical and experimental studies to model the interaction between crystallization and deformation/damage of the masonry porous material and, then, to pass this information at the macro-scale, in order to develop effective predictive tools useful from the engineering point of view. In this way, a greater understanding of crystallization processes can be achieved and used to predict damage behavior. For example, the results elucidates why the same salt can cause damage in some conditions and not in others. By the project outlined below, scientists are now capable to (1) quantify the internal changes in 3D at a pore scale level; (2) use these observations to create new models and to provide instant feedback towards these models; (3) predict the macroscopic effects, based on the microscopic observed phenomena and processes. Therefore, a deep understanding of the crystallization processes can be achieved and future damage scenarios can be predicted. The highly advanced tools employed in the project are the high resolution X-ray computed tomography, micro experiments on salt nucleation and growth in confined geometries and designed porous network, and micro-macro FE numerical modelling
Project Results
(after finalisation)
The project had a great transnational impact, since masonry structures are present all over the world. Moreover, the proposed integrated approach was extended to other natural stones and bricks and to other deterioration phenomena. This research developed and implemented highly advanced research techniques and models, which enables scientists to reveal the relationship between porescale features and macroscopical effects and additionally assists in opening new lines of research in many other disciplines. The coupling of microscopic and macroscopic studies, both experimentally and theoretically, allowed achieving a better understanding of the formation and decomposition mechanisms of salt crystals in porous materials and of the related damage at the micro-scale, and to develop effective predictive tools of the masonry behavior (including damage prediction) at the macro-scale. These fundamental insights benefits a better choice of damage prevention methods in civil engineering and conservation, also in view of the global climate change and pollution that render the environmental action more and more aggressive. Concrete outcome include a report on the formation and decomposition mechanisms of salt crystals in porous materials
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Project partner

Number Name Role Country
1 University of Bologna Coordinator Italy
2 Ghent University Partner Belgium
3 University of Amsterdam Partner Netherlands
4 SanMarco Terreal Italia Partner Italy