Alkali-activated cement sensors for sodium chloride monitoring

L. Biondi, M. Perry, J. McAlorum, C. Vlachakis, A. Hamilton, G. Lo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
39 Downloads (Pure)


Chloride-induced corrosion of reinforced concrete costs the global economy billions of dollars every year. Despite concerted research effort, the non-invasive, continuous monitoring of sodium chloride in concrete structures is still an unsolved problem. Here, we outline a first-time demonstration of a sodium chloride sensor based on alkali-activated cements: a class of cementitious, electrolytically conductive materials which are typically used for concrete construction and repair. In this work, internal sodium chloride concentrations ranging from 0–22 wt% were measured independently of moisture contents via shifts in electrical impedance. The typical sodium chloride measurement precision was 0.85 wt%. Non-linearity of the sensor response due to signal saturation began at sodium chloride concentrations >5 wt%. We use experimental measures of ion dynamics to link this saturation to the deleterious effect of high concentrations on ion mobility. This study demonstrates sensor feasibility, and provides new experimental evidence to further our understanding
of ionic conductivity mechanisms in these materials. The work will allow for the development of self-sensing repair and construction materials for locating and quantifying sodium chloride levels within concrete structures — a valuable
technology for supporting concrete health monitoring and maintenance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21197-21204
Number of pages8
JournalIEEE Sensors Journal
Issue number19
Early online date27 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2021


  • NaCI sensor
  • alkali-activated materials
  • geopolymers
  • multifunctional materials
  • smart cements
  • electrolytic sensors
  • construction materials


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