Cement Assessment by optical microscopy or SEM
Cements can be assessed using broadly the same approach as for clinkers.
Generally, as with clinkers, examinations of cements are comparative; two or more cements are best examined which are nominally similar but which show different performance characteristics. The objective is often to determine if the cause(s) of the observed differences in performance are related to mineralogy.
Note: the pages on this website refer to 'cement,' used here as shorthand for Portland cement. Other types of cement (eg: calcium aluminate cement) can, of course, also be examined by SEM or optical microscopy.
There are some significant limitations in examining a cement compared with a clinker:
The gypsum clearly affects the bulk composition, and hence any calculation of mineral proportions. The small cement particle size in relation to typical alite crystal sizes may reduce the extent to which alite size can be used to infer burning conditions.
Circumstances in which cement examination by microscopy may be useful include:
As the reasons for considering a detailed examination of cement vary widely, we suggest you contact us to discuss your particular interests.