Chemomechanical Modeling of Sulfate Attack–Induced Damage Process in Cement-Stabilized Pavements

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Cement-stabilized pavement layers are subject to sulfate attack (SA) in sulfate-abundant regions due to internal expansion– induced damage throughout its expected service life. SA is a coupled physical-chemical-mechanical damage process for cementitious materials involving complicated chemical reactions between sulfate and components of cement composite. SA contains intricate interactions among porous media, moisture transport, and heat transfer. Engineering mechanics has been used to explain the failure process of the internal expansion caused by this coupled physical-chemical ingress phenomenon. Existing studies have considered only heat transfer or moisture content–dependent modeling. The literature lacks a comprehensive model that considers coupled interaction of temperature and humidity upon sulfate ingression. Thus, a chemomechanical (CM) model has been developed for capturing the true failure process of cement-stabilized pavement subgrades under SA. In this paper, a set of governing equations are developed, and a unique expression for a moisture-dependent and heat-dependent sulfate diffusion coefficient is proposed. Consequently, the equations are solved using the finite-element method. The results conform well with experimental results. The model has been validated to be accurate enough compared with previously implemented models. It is capable of evaluating and predicting SA-induced expansive failure in unsaturated cement-stabilized pavements. Two different models were combined to estimate the mechanical behavior of cement-stabilized subgrades subject to SA. Finally, the Drucker-Prager (DP) failure criterion was used for determining the damage zone.