Electrosteric stabilization of concentrated cement suspensions imparted by a strong anionic polyelectrolyte and a non-ionic polymer

Hyun Joon Kong, Stacy G. Bike, Victor C. Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Strong polyelectrolytes, known as superplasticizers, improve the initial fluidity of concentrated cement suspensions through electrostatic stabilization. These polyelectrolytes do not maintain the initial fluidity, however, primarily due to an increase in the ionic strength of the cementitious suspension. Consequently, non-ionic polymers are often used in conjunction with polyelectrolytes to provide steric stabilization and hence to sustain the desired fluidity over a longer time, and this has lead to the development of copolymers with both electrostatic and steric (electrosteric) functionalities. To design such polymers, it is necessary to optimize the balance between electrostatic and steric stabilization to maximize suspension fluidity. We have quantified the effects of a strong anionic polyelectrolyte, melamine formaldehyde sulfonate (MFS), and a non-ionic polymer, hydroxypropylmethylcellulose (HPMC), on the zeta potential of cement particles and the steady shear and low-amplitude rheological properties of concentrated cement suspensions. While the adsorption of MFS onto the cement particle surfaces leads to a sign inversion in the zeta potential, the adsorption of the non-ionic HPMC has no significant effect on the potential. The addition of HPMC to the suspensions substantially reduces the steady shear viscosity and the storage modulus at constant MFS concentration; in addition, there exists an intermediate HPMC concentration that minimizes fluidity. The resulting suspension fluidity is also maintained over a longer time than in the absence of HPMC. This improvement in the stability and fluidity of cement suspensions is attributed to "complementary electrosteric dispersion/stabilization", and provides insight to the design of polymers with electrosteric functionality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)842-850
Number of pages9
JournalCement and Concrete Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Flocculation
  • Low-amplitude rheological properties
  • Zeta potential

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering
  • Ceramics and Composites


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