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Sol-gel transition by evaporation in porous media

Romane Le Diz\`es CastellLeo PelTinhinane Chekai ...+3 Noushine Shahidzadeh
Nov 2023
Historical monuments, outdoor stone sculptures and artworks made of porous materials are exposed to chemical and physical degradation over time. Presently, the most promising route for consolidation of weakened porous materials is the injection of viscoelastic solutions of polymerizing compounds. Those compounds, after injection, undergo a sol-gel transition inside the porous media through evaporation of the solvent. Finding a suitable gelifying solution as a consolidant calls for understanding the drying kinetics of viscoelastic fluids in porous media. Here, we present a multiscale study of the drying kinetics of solutions during the sol-gel transition. We investigate the drying dynamics and subsequent water uptake of a gel using NMR and X-ray microtomography techniques in porous materials. We find that during drying, a distinct front develops which separates the liquid region from the gelled region. This front advances from the free surface of evaporation towards the inner parts of the stone. We identify different drying periods which appear to be dependent on the intrinsic properties of the porous medium influencing strongly the homogeneity of the final gel distribution within a treated stone. Our findings not only are relevant for the consolidation of porous artworks but also for civil and soil engineering processes where the fluids considered are generally more complex than water.
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