In concrete repair systems, material properties of the repair material and the interface are greatly influenced by the moisture exchange between the repair material and the substrate. If the substrate is dry, it can absorb water from the repair material and reduce its effective water-to-cement ratio (w/c). This further affects the hydration rate of cement based material. In addition to the change in hydration rate, void content at the interface between the two materials is also affected. In this research, the influence of moisture exchange on the void content in the repair system as a function of initial saturation level of the substrate is investigated. Repair systems with varying level of substrate saturation are made. Moisture exchange in these repair systems as a function of time is monitored by the X-ray absorption technique. After a specified curing age (3 d), the internal microstructure of the repair systems was captured by micro-computed X-ray tomography (CT-scanning). From reconstructed images, different phases in the repair system (repair material, substrate, voids) can be distinguished. In order to quantify the void content, voids were thresholded and their percentage was calculated. It was found that significantly more voids form when the substrate is dry prior to application of the repair material. Air, initially filling voids and pores of the dry substrate, is being released due to the moisture exchange. As a result, air voids remain entrapped in the repair material close to the interface. These voids are found to form as a continuation of pre-existing surface voids in the substrate. Knowledge about moisture exchange and its effects provides engineers with the basis for recommendations about substrate preconditioning in practice.
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