CE22 - Sociétés urbaines, territoires, constructions et mobilité

Thermal Deformations of Concrete: predictive modeling for tailored design and adaptation – THEDESCO

astructures and building envelopesTHErmal DEformationS of COncrete: predictive modeling for tailored design and adaptation of energy infr

Modeling strategies that can describe the peculiar thermal response of cement-based materials from the underlying physics will represent an advance in the field by enhancing the confidence on the predictions of the performance and durability of cement-based materials. Also, the knowledge obtained from modelling can be used to advance in the design cement-based materials with tailored thermal properties, following the example of the research on other micro- and mesoporous materials.

Goal: to provide models of the thermal expansion and heat capacity of cement-based materials that are informed by the relevant physical phenomena and that can be used in the engineering practice.

Critical questions regarding the thermal behavior of cement-based materials remain unanswered. In particular, the physical origins of the following aspects are still to be addressed:<br />1. Concerning the coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE), cement-based materials exhibit at least two non-trivial behaviors: (i) the CTE is a non-monotonous function of the relative humidity, reaching a maximum value at approximately 70% RH; and, (ii) the CTE often reach a minimum value at the first days.<br />2. The effective heat capacity of heterogeneous materials is expected to be the average of the heat capacities of all phases weighted by their (volume or mass) fractions, i.e. described by a mixture law. However, estimations of the heat capacity of cement-based materials using mixture laws are not in a reasonable agreement with experimental data.

Molecular simulations; Micromechanics; Finite Element Analysis.


The main expected results include:
- Correlation between composition, (micro-)structure and thermal properties of cement-based materials informed by the molecular scale.
- A model of the coefficient of thermal expansion and heat capacity of the cement-based materials implemented on a FEM open code.
- A database on the thermal properties of cement-based materials.

- Masara, F., Honorio, T., Benboudjema, F. (2023) Sorption in C-S-H at the molecular level: Disjoining pressures, effective interactions, hysteresis, and cavitation. Cement and Concrete Research 164, 107047. doi.org/10.1016/j.cemconres.2022.107047

- Honorio, T., Masara, F., Benboudjema, F., 2021. Heat capacity, isothermal compressibility, isosteric heat of adsorption and thermal expansion of water confined in C-S-H. Cement 6, 100015. doi.org/10.1016/j.cement.2021.100015

- Abdolhosseini Qomi, M.J., Brochard, L., Honorio, T., Maruyama, I., Vandamme, M., 2021. Advances in atomistic modeling and understanding of drying shrinkage in cementitious materials. Cement and Concrete Research 148, 106536. doi.org/10.1016/j.cemconres.2021.106536

Understanding the thermal deformations of cement-based materials is crucial to ensure the performance of building envelopes and infrastructures subjected to thermal loads. Thermal deformations are recognized as one of the major causes of cracking of cement-based materials. The prediction of thermal deformations relies on an accurate description of the thermal properties, namely the coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE), the heat capacity (a property related to the increase of temperature of a material upon heating) and the thermal conductivity. Sensitivity analysis shows that relatively small variations in the heat capacity and in CTE may significantly affect the thermal response of concrete structures. For cement-based materials, these properties are reported to be composition, time, temperature and relative humidity (RH) dependent. The goal of this project is to provide a model of the thermal properties of cement-based materials that are informed by the relevant physical phenomena in a multiscale framework and that can be used in the engineering practice. The target applications are concrete infrastructures and building envelopes made of cement-based materials that are subjected to thermal loads in an environment with a given RH. We will focus on the elucidation of the physical origins as well as the temperature and RH-dependency of the CTE and the heat capacity. We assume that accounting for the multiscale nature of cement-based materials is crucial to understand thermal deformations since key aspects of the thermo-mechanical behavior of cement-based materials are related to nanoscale processes. To tackle this problem, we propose a strategy combining molecular simulations, micromechanics and finite element analysis. Additionally, a major part of the project will be devoted to gathering data to create a database on the thermal properties of cement-based materials that will be used for validation of the model according to various environmental conditions and compositions of the materials. Molecular simulations are adapted to assess the behavior of water confined at nanopores because they allow quantifying the intermolecular forces associated with adsorption phenomena and confinement. Micromechanics will be used to bridge the scales from the molecular scale up to the scale of industrial application of cement-based materials. Finite elements simulations will be used to study the thermal deformation and cracking at the macroscopic scale. The expected outcomes of this project will contribute to reduce the empirism in thermo-hydro-mechanical modelling of concrete that can leads to the design more durable and resilient structures tailored to performance specifications, the extension of the service lives existing ageing infrastructures, and the reduction of the impact of using concrete.

Project coordinator

Monsieur Tulio HONORIO DE FARIA (Laboratoire de Mécanique et Technologie)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


LMT Laboratoire de Mécanique et Technologie

Help of the ANR 284,040 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: March 2020 - 48 Months

Useful links

Explorez notre base de projets financés



ANR makes available its datasets on funded projects, click here to find more.

Sign up for the latest news:
Subscribe to our newsletter