Open main menu

Sorel cement (also known as magnesia cement) is a non-hydraulic cement first produced by Frenchman Stanislas Sorel in 1867.

The cement is a mixture of magnesium oxide (burnt magnesia) with magnesium chloride with the approximate chemical formula Mg4Cl2(OH)6(H2O)8, corresponding to a weight ratio of 2.5–3.5 parts MgO to one part MgCl2.[1]

The name "Sorel cement" is also used for zinc oxychloride cements, also discovered by Sorel, which is prepared from zinc oxide and zinc chloride instead of the magnesium compounds.[2]

Composition and structureEdit

The set cement consists chiefly of a mixture of magnesium oxychlorides and magnesium hydroxide in varying proportions, depending on the initial cement formulation, setting time, and other variables. The main stable oxychlorides at ambient temperature are the so-called "phase 3" and "phase 5", whose formulas can be written as 3Mg(OH)
2
·MgCl
2
·8H
2
O
and 5Mg(OH)
2
·MgCl
2
·8H
2
O
, respectively; or, equivalently, Mg
2
(OH)
3
Cl
·4H
2
O
and Mg
3
(OH)
5
Cl
·4H
2
O
.[3]

Phase 5 crystallizes mainly as long needles which are actually rolled-up sheets. These interlocking needles give the cement its strength.[4]

In the long term the oxychlorides absorb and react with carbon dioxide CO
2
from the air to form magnesium chlorocarbonates.[5]

PropertiesEdit

Sorel cement can withstand 10,000–12,000 psi (69–83 MPa) of compressive force whereas standard Portland cement can typically only withstand 7,000–8,000 psi. It also achieves high strength in a shorter time.[6]

The pore solution in wet Sorel cement is alkaline (pH 8.5 to 9.5), but significantly less so than that of Portland cement (pH 12 to 13).[7]

Other differences between magnesium-based cements and portland cement include water permeability, preservation of plant and animal substances, and corrosion of metals.[8] These differences make different construction applications suitable.[9]

Prolonged exposure of Sorel cement to water leaches out the soluble MgCl
2
, leaving hydrated brucite Mg(OH)
2
as the binding phase, which without absorption of carbon dioxide, can result in loss of strength.[7]

Fillers and reinforcementEdit

In use, Sorel cement is usually combined with filler materials such as gravel, sand, marble flour, asbestos, wood particles and expanded clays.[10]

Sorel cement is incompatible with steel reinforcement because the presence of chloride ions in the pore solution and the low alkalinity (pH < 9) of the cement promote steel corrosion.[7] However, the low alkalinity makes it more compatible with glass fiber reinforcement.[10] It is also better than Portland cement as a binder for wood composites, since its setting is not affected by the lignin and other wood chemicals.[10]

The resistance of the cement to water can be improved with the use of additives such as phosphoric acid, soluble phosphates, fly ash, or silica.[7]

UsesEdit

Magnesium oxychloride cement is used to make floor tiles and industrial flooring, in fire protection, wall insulation panels, and as a binder for grinding wheels.[10] Due to its resemblance to marble, it is also used for artificial stones,[10] artificial ivory (e.g. for billiard balls) and other similar purposes.

PreparationEdit

Sorel cement is usually prepared by mixing finely divided MgO powder with a concentrated solution of MgCl
2
.[7]

In theory, the ingredients should be combined in the molar proportions of phase 5, which has the best mechanical properties. However, the chemical reactions that create the oxychlorides may not run to completion, leaving unreacted MgO particles and/or MgCl
2
in pore solution. While the former act as an inert filler, leftover chloride is undesirable since it promotes corrosion of steel in contact with the cement. Excess water may also be necessary to achieve a workable consistency. Therefore, in practice the proportions of magnesium oxide and water in the initial mix are higher than those in pure phase 5.[10] In one study, the best mechanical properties were obtained with a molar ratio MgO:MgCl
2
of 13:1 (instead of the stoichometric 5:1).[10]

ProductionEdit

Magnesite and dolomite are both abundant raw materials however their manufacture into cements has been limited in the west due to limited markets. Its widespread acceptance and use for building board in China, has made this country the dominant supplier of raw materials. In the west, magnesium based cements are relatively expensive but only because of the relatively high cost of the magnesium oxide raw material [11] compared to portland-cement based concrete outside Asia.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Holleman, A. F.; Wiberg, E. "Inorganic Chemistry" Academic Press: San Diego, 2001. ISBN 0-12-352651-5.
  2. ^ Charles A. Sorrell (1977): "Suggested Chemistry of Zinc Oxychloride Cements". Journal of the American Ceramic Society, volume 60, issue 5‐6, pages 217-220. doi:10.1111/j.1151-2916.1977.tb14109.x
  3. ^ Isao Kanesaka and Shin Aoyama (2001): "Vibrational spectra of magnesia cement, phase 3". Journal of Raman Spectroscopy, volume 32, issue 5, pages 361-367. doi:10.1002/jrs.706
  4. ^ B. Tooper and L. Cartz (1966): "Structure and Formation of Magnesium Oxychloride Sorel Cements". Nature, volume 211, pages 64–66. doi:10.1038/211064a0
  5. ^ W. F. Cole and T. Demediuk (1955): "X-Ray, thermal, and Dehydration studies on Magnesium oxychlorides". Australian Journal of Chemistry, volume 8, issue 2, pages 234-251. doi:10.1071/CH9550234
  6. ^ Ronan M. Dorrepaal and Aoife A. Gowen (2018): "Identification of Magnesium Oxychloride Cement Biomaterial Heterogeneity using Raman Chemical Mapping and NIR Hyperspectral Chemical Imaging". Scientific Reports, volume 8, article number 13034. doi:10.1038/s41598-018-31379-5
  7. ^ a b c d e Amal Brichni, Halim Hammi, Salima Aggoun, and M'nif Adel (2016): "Optimization of magnesium oxychloride cement properties by silica glass". Advances in Cement Research (Springer conference proceedings). doi:10.1680/jadcr.16.00024
  8. ^ [1]
  9. ^ Du, Chongjiang (1 December 2005). "A Review of Magnesium Oxide in Concrete". Concrete International. 27 (12).
  10. ^ a b c d e f g Zongjin Li and C. K. Chau (2007): "Influence of molar ratios on properties of magnesium oxychloride cement". Cement and Concrete Research, volume 37, issue 6, pages 866-870. doi:10.1016/j.cemconres.2007.03.015
  11. ^ [2]