Rosa Maria Espinosa

My main research interests are kinetics of salt crystallization and freezing in porous material, stress related to pore pressure, thermoporoelasticity, pore structure, pore-clogging with salt crystals, hysteretic behavior, transport properties of porous materials including cement-based materials, modeling and numerical simulation of coupled heat, moisture and ion transport couple with phase changes of salts and chemical reactions

Note: Rosa has taken a position as a research scientist at EMPA in Zurich, Switzerland

Current research project

Crystallization pressure of salt crystals growing in confined pores is found to be one of the main reasons for damage to stone and masonry. However, the processes and pathways of salt damage are still poorly understood. In fact, there appear to be many unverified assumptions as to how and why salt weathering occurs. 

My research deals with the experimental investigation of the crystallization kinetics in porous materials and of the deformation caused by crystallization as well as with the analysis of the experimental results with the goal to estimate the crystallization pressure of the confined salt crystals and of the resulting mechanical stress. The analysis of these results requires coupling thermodynamics and kinetics of phase changes of salts with transport of fluid in porous media, with thermoporoelasticity as well as with the thermal stress in composites (in that case, a composite formed by the porous material with salt crystals distributed in the pores). From this analysis I expect to clarify some of the mysteries of the damaging mechanism of crystallization.

An important application field of my work is the conservation of historic building material, since salt crystallization is one of the most important damaging mechanisms.


Rosa joined Prof. Scherer’s group as a postdoctoral visitor fellow in September 2007. She received her PhD in civil engineering materials in December 2004 from Hamburg University of Technology with high honors. Her doctoral research work dealt with the experimental investigation and the modeling of the hysteresis of the sorption behaviour of cementitious materials considering the thermodynamics of adsorption and capillary condensation as well as the change of the material structure due to chemical aging, drying and hydration. Rosa received master’s degrees in Industrial Engineering (Mechanics) from the Technical University of Valencia, Spain in 1997.


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