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Activation Energies of High-Volume Fly Ash Ternary Blends: Hydration and Setting



Dale P. Bentz


Because ready-mixed concrete is placed under a wide variety of environmental conditions, the influence of temperature on the hydration reactions and the accompanying setting (hardening) process is of critical importance. While contractors are generally quite comfortable with the temperature sensitivity of conventional ordinary portland cement (OPC) concretes, more sustainable mixtures containing high volumes of fly ash (HVFA), for example, often present problems with delayed setting times and increased temperature sensitivity. Based on isothermal calorimetry and Vicat needle penetration measurements, this study demonstrates that the high temperature sensitivity of such HVFA mixtures can be effectively moderated by the replacement of a portion of the fly ash with a fine limestone powder. In addition to accelerating and amplifying hydration and reducing setting times at a given temperature, the presence of the fine limestone powder also lowers the apparent activation energy for the setting process for temperatures below 25 °C. The reactivity of limestone in these mixtures is quantified using thermogravimetric analysis (TGA). Comparison of results for limestone powders of nominal sizes of 1 µm and 17 µm replacing 10 % by volume of the cement in an OPC mixture indicates that the former is highly superior to the latter in accelerating/amplifying hydration and reducing setting times.
Cement and Concrete Composites


Apparent activation energy, high-volume fly ash, hydration, isothermal calorimetry, limestone powder, setting.


Bentz, D. (2014), Activation Energies of High-Volume Fly Ash Ternary Blends: Hydration and Setting, Cement and Concrete Composites, [online], (Accessed July 14, 2024)


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Created July 17, 2014, Updated November 10, 2018