Teachers and Employees

Weber, Johannes ao. Univ.-Prof. Dr.phil.

Mineralogical and microstructural characteristics of historic Roman cement ....
article in journal with citation index
Conservation and Restoration, Electron microscopy, Architecture (Fine Arts/Design)
Roman cements, one of the most extensively produced types of hydraulic binders of the second half of the 19th century, played an important role in the architecture of many European countries. This paper deals with the chemical-mineralogical and microstructural characterisation of historic Roman cement renders from Budapest, Hungary. Different microscopic techniques were used on polished thin sections and fracture surfaces in order to understand the method of producing these renders and the effect of urban pollution on them. The renders exhibited characteristics typical to a Roman cement mortar, such as high binder to aggregate ratios (b/a), mostly fine-grained aggregates and high capillary porosity, but without the shrinkage cracks that are also normally present. This research suggests that coarse residual cement grains may have acted in a manner similar to aggregates by absorbing stress and thereby reducing the formation of shrinkage cracks. Based on the mineral characteristics of residual cement grains, the samples could be divided into two groups, which correspond to either a higher or lower temperature of calcination of the original source material of the cement. Chemical characteristics of the binders suggest the presence of intermixed CaCO3 originating from the carbonation of hydration products and partly from residual calcium carbonate of the raw material. Despite dense and often impermeable coats applied in later renovations and exposure to a polluted urban environment, which resulted in formation of gypsum on the surface of the renders, the samples show good to excellent state of preservation after more than a century. The strong “house of cards”-like arrangement of the complex C-(A)-S-H-type phases is responsible for both the high capillary porosity and the good resistance of Roman cement renders to atmospheric pollution and potentially damaging salts such as Na- and K-chlorides which are found near the base of the building due to sidewalk de-icing. These results help to better understand the behaviour of historic Roman cement renders, which in turn assists in making good decisions in choosing a repair material to future restorations of 19th century fac¸ ades built with this material.
Johannes Weber, F. Pintér, I. Vidovszky, K. Bayer
Elsevier Masson SAS
published in
Journal of Cultural Heritage
15 (2014)