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Synthesis and optimization of a montmorillonite-tolerant zwitterionic polycarboxylate superplasticizer via Box-Behnken design

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 July 2021

Jun Ren
School of Architecture and Planning, Yunnan University, Kunming, 650051, P.R. China Guangdong Key Laboratory of Durability in Coastal Civil Engineering, College of Civil Engineering, Shenzhen University, Shenzhen, 518060, P.R. China
Shuqiong Luo*
Henan Key Laboratory of Materials on Deep-Earth Engineering, School of Materials Science and Engineering, Henan Polytechnic University, Jiaozuo454003, P.R. China
Shi Shi
Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering, University College London, London, WC1E 6BT, UK
Hongbo Tan
State Key Laboratory of Silicate Materials for Architectures, Wuhan University of Technology, Wuhan430070, P.R. China
Xianfeng Wang
Guangdong Key Laboratory of Durability in Coastal Civil Engineering, College of Civil Engineering, Shenzhen University, Shenzhen, 518060, P.R. China
Min Liu
Guangdong Key Laboratory of Durability in Coastal Civil Engineering, College of Civil Engineering, Shenzhen University, Shenzhen, 518060, P.R. China
Xiangguo Li
State Key Laboratory of Silicate Materials for Architectures, Wuhan University of Technology, Wuhan430070, P.R. China


Polycarboxylate superplasticizer (PCE) is sensitive to the clay present in concrete aggregates. In particular, Montmorillonite (Mnt), an impurity inevitably contained in the aggregate, can significantly influence the performance of concrete. In an effort to improve the compatibility of PCE, a zwitterionic PCE with cationic amide groups and shorter side-chain lengths was synthesized via free radical copolymerization. The optimal synthesis condition was verified via Box-Behnken design. In addition to characterizing the PCE, the performance of PCE in cement pastes with or without Na-Mnt was examined and the underlying mechanism was explored. The results show that, compared with commercially available PCE, the required dosage of PCE for cements containing Na-Mnt decreased. Unlike commercially available PCE, no intercalation occured on the newly manufactured clay-tolerant PCE within the layers of Mnt, resulting in a greater sorption thickness and improved dispersion of the cements containing Na-Mnt.

Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of The Mineralogical Society of Great Britain and Ireland

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Associate Editor Chun-Hui Zhou

This paper was submitted for the special issue ‘Clays and Functional Materials’ and was presented at the Asian Clay Conference, Singapore 2020.


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