External sulfate attack is a complex phenomenon and is manifested in the form of large expansion, cracking, and spalling depending on the exposure solution and material constituent properties. Several models were developed in the past to demonstrate sulfate attack mechanisms that account for the diffusion of sulfate ions into the porous concrete and the successive deformation triggered by the chemical reaction and precipitation of expansive agents. However, none of these models accounts for the effect of the migration of solvent water from the low solute concentration solution to high solute concentration solution driven by the osmotic pressure. Osmotic pressure is believed to cause spalling and cracking of concrete substrates coated with semipermeable membrane that prohibits diffusion of ions from the surroundings into the porous body. In order to determine the effect of osmotic pressure on the deformation of concrete exposed to sulfate solution, a coupled poromechanical model has been developed. Sensitivity analysis has been performed to investigate the effect of material constituent properties and exposure solution on the osmotic pressure induced damage propensity of concrete. It has been found that concrete surface can exhibit high instantaneous tensile stress developed by the gradient in the salt concentration between the pore solution and external surroundings.
Grasley, Zachary, "Modeling Sulfate Attack in Modern Concrete for Building Sustainable and Resilient Infrastructure" (2018). Publications. 9.