Influence of nanosilica and a polycarboxylate ether superplasticizer on the performance of lime mortars
The effect of individual and combined addition of both nanosilica (NS) and polycarboxylate-ether plasticizer (PCE) admixtures on aerial lime mortars was studied. The sole incorporation of NS increased the water demand, as proved by the mini-spread flow test. An interaction between NS and hydrated lime particles was observed in fresh mixtures by means of particle size distribution studies, zeta potential measurements and optical microscopy, giving rise to agglomerates. On the other hand, the addition of PCE to a lime mortar increased the flowability and accelerated the setting process. PCE was shown to act in lime media as a deflocculating agent, reducing the particle size of the agglomerates through a steric hindrance mechanism. Mechanical strengths were improved in the presence of either NS or PCE, the optimum being attained in the combined presence of both admixtures that involved relevant microstructural modifications, as proved by pore size distributions and SEM observations.