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By Tarun R. Naik and Rakesh Kumar

Report No. CBU-2001-24
October 2001

A CBU Report

Department of Civil Engineering and Mechanics

College of Engineering and Applied Science




Self-compacting concrete, as the name indicates, is a type of concrete that does not
require external or internal compaction but it gets compacted under its self-weight. It is
commonly abbreviated as SCC and defined as the concrete which can be placed and
compacted into every corner of a form work, purely by means of its self-weight by
eliminating the need of vibration or any type of compacting effort [1]. Self-compacting
concrete (SCC) was originally developed at the University of Tokyo, Japan, in
collaboration with leading concrete contractors during late 1980s [2]. The notion behind
developing this concrete was the concerns regarding the homogeneity and compaction of
cast-in-place concrete within intricate (i.e., highly reinforced) structures and to improve
overall durability quality of concrete due to a lack of skilled labor in Japan.


concrete is highly flowable and cohesive enough to be handled without segregation. It is

also referred as self-leveling concrete, super-workable concrete, highly-flowable
concrete, non-vibrating concrete, etc. [3].

The concrete flow blocking mechanism of heavily reinforced section during pouring of
concrete was visualized and explained by Hoshimoto, et al. [4]. Based on experimental
observations, Hoshimoto, et al. [4] reported that the blockage of the flow of concrete due
to a narrow cross-section occurs due to the contact between coarse aggregate of concrete

during the time of concrete placement. When concrete flows between reinforcing bars,
the relative location of coarse aggregate is changed. This relative displacement develops
shear stress in the paste between the coarse aggregate, in addition to compressive stress.
For concrete to flow through such obstacles smoothly, the shear stress should be small
enough to allow the relative displacement of the aggregate. To prevent this, a moderate
viscosity of the paste is necessary [4]. The shear force required for relative displacement
largely depends on the water-to-cementitious materials ratio (W/Cm) of the paste.
Increase of the water-to-cementitious materials ratio increase the flowability of the
cement paste at the cost of decrease in its viscosity and deformability, the primary
requirements for a self-compacting concrete. The self-compacting concrete is flowable
as well as deformable without segregation [16].

Therefore, in order to maintain

deformability along with flowability in paste, a superplasticizer is indispensable in the

concrete. With a superplasticizer, the paste can be made more flowable with little
concomitant decrease in viscosity [1].

An optimum combination of W/Cm and

superplasticizer for achievement of self-compatibility can be derived for fixed aggregate

content concrete. Okamura [1] has suggested a limiting value of coarse aggregate and
fine aggregate for self-compactable concrete as around 50% of the solid volume for the
concrete and 40% for mortar.

Mehta [5] and Neville [6] have suggested a simple approach of increasing the sand
content at the cost of coarse aggregate by 4% to 5% to avoid segregation.


flowability requirement of self-compacting concrete allows the use of mineral admixtures

in its manufacturing. Use of mineral admixtures such as fly ash, blast furnace slag,

limestone powder, etc. could increase the slump of the concrete mixture. Use of mineral
admixtures also reduces the cost of concrete. The incorporation of one or more mineral
admixtures or powder materials having different morphology and grain-size distribution
can improve particle-packing density and reduce inter-particle friction and viscosity.
Hence, it improves deformability, self-compatibility, and stability of the self-compacting
concrete [7].

Yahia, et al. [8] reported a reduction in the dosages of superplasticizer by using fly ash
and blast furnace slag in self-compacting concrete needed to obtain similar slump/flow
compared to concrete made with portland cement only. The well known beneficial
advantages of using fly ash in concrete such as improved rheological properties and
reduced cracking of concrete due to the reduced heat of hydration of concrete can also be
incorporated in SCC by utilization of this material as a filler. SCC often incorporates
several mineral and chemical admixtures, in particular a superplasticizer and a viscositymodifying admixture (VMA). The superplasticizer is used to insure high fluidity and
reduce the water-to-cementitious materials ratio. The VMA is incorporated to enhance
the yield value and viscosity of the fluid mixture, hence reducing bleeding of the

The homogeneity and uniformity of the self-compacting concrete is not

affected by the skill of workers and shape and bar arrangement of structures because of
high-fluidity and resisting power of segregation of materials [1].

A highly flowable concrete is not necessarily self-compacting because self-compacting

concrete should not only flow under its own weight but also fill the entire form and

achieve uniform compaction without segregation. Use of steel fiber in self-compacted

concrete is also reported [3]. The use of fiber reinforcement in SCC enhance its tensile
strength and delays the onset of tension cracks due to heat of hydration due to high
cement content in it. Use of high-volume fly ash in SCC is also reported [9]. The use of
self-compacting concrete can yield many advantages, such as:
Promote the development of a more rational concrete production
Industrialized production of concrete
Significant reduction in the cost of in-situ cast concrete construction by
eliminating compaction needed during concreting, labor, and equipment wear and
tear cost related to compaction.
Reduction in the construction time by accelerating the construction process
Improve the quality, durability, and reliability of concrete structures
Improve working environment at construction sites by reducing noise pollution
Easily placed in thin-walled elements or elements with limited access
Ease of placement results in cost savings through reduced equipment and labor


Self-compacting concrete components are similar to other plasticized concrete.


consists of cement, coarse and fine aggregates, mineral and chemical admixtures, etc.
Self-compactability of concrete can be affected by the physical characteristics of
materials and mixture proportioning. The mixture proportioning is based upon creating a

high-degree of flowability while maintaining a low-water/cementitious materials ratio,

W/Cm (<0.40). This is achieved using high-range water reducing (HRWR) admixture
combined with stabilizing agents to ensure homogeneity of the mixture [2].

A number of methods exist to optimize the concrete mixture proportions for selfcompacting concrete. One of the optimization process suggested by Campion and Jost
[2] is given below:
W/Cm equal to regular plasticized concrete, assuming the same required strength;
Higher volume of fine aggregate than most plasticized concrete; for example,
cement, fly ash, and mineral fines;
Optimized gradation of aggregates; and
High-dosage of HRWR (0.5 to 2% by weight of cement, 460 to 1700ml/100kg, 7
to 26 fl. oz/ cwts).

The simplest method for mixture proportioning for self-compacting concrete is suggested
by Okamura and Ozawa [1]. In this method:

1. Coarse aggregate content is fixed at 50% of the solid volume.

2. Fine aggregate is placed at 40% of the mortar fraction volume.
3. Water-to-cementitious materials ratio in volume is assured as 0.9 to 1.0
depending on properties of the cement.
4. Superplasticizer dosage and the final W/Cm ratio are determined so as to
ensure the self-compactability.

Since, the self-compacting concrete consists of large portion of fine aggregate, a rational
mixture proportioning method for self-compacting concrete using a variety of materials is


A number of self-compacting test methods such as slump/flow (slump test), U-flow test,
V-flow time, L-box test, etc. are in use for evaluation of self-compacting properties of the
SCC. Self-compacting concrete test methods have two main purposes. One is to judge
whether the concrete is self-compactable or not, and the other is to evaluate deformability
or viscosity for estimating proper mixture proportionality if the concrete does not have
sufficient self-compactability.

Slump/flow test

Slump/flow test is the simplest and most commonly adopted test method for evaluating
self-compactability quality of self-compacting concrete.

This test consists of

measurement of the mean diameter in two perpendicular direction of the concrete spread
after the concrete had stopped flowing. Self-compacting concrete is characterized by a
slump/flow of 660 to 720 mm (26 to 28 in.). Measurement of slump indicates the
flowability of self-compacting concrete and determines the consistency and cohesiveness
of the concrete [2]. Slump/flow test judges the capability of concrete to deform under its
own weight against the friction on the surface of the base plate with no other external

resistance present [7]. According to Nagataki and Fujiwara [15], a slump/flow ranging
from 500 to 700 mm (20 to 28) is considered as a proper slump required for a concrete
to qualify for self-compacting concrete. At more than 700 mm, the concrete might
segregate and at less than 500 mm the concrete is considered to have insufficient flow to
pass through highly congested reinforcement. According to Bartos [11], the slump/flow
test can give an indication of filling ability and susceptibility of segregation of the selfcompacting concrete. However, this test is not sensitive enough to distinguish between
self-compacting concrete mixtures and superplasticized concrete.

U-flow test

This test examines the behavior of the concrete in a simulated field condition [12]. It is
the most widely adopted test method for characterization of self-compacting concrete.
This test simulates the flow of concrete through a volume containing reinforcing steel.
This test is considered more appropriate for characterizing self-compactibility of concrete
[1, 2]. In this test, the degree of compactability can be indicated by the height that the
concrete reaches after flowing through an obstacle.

The test is performed by first

completely filling the left chamber of the U-flow device, while the sliding doors between
the two chambers are closed. The door is then opened and the concrete flows past the
rebars into the right chamber. Self-compacting concrete for use in highly congested areas
should flow to about the same height in the two chambers. If the filing height is at least
70% of the maximum height possible, then the concrete is considered self-compacting.
The selection of this percentage is arbitrary and higher value might be considered more

conservative. In the U-flow device, the maximum height is 285.5 mm, half of 571 mm,
the total height. Therefore, a concrete with a final height of more than 200 mm is
considered self-compacting concrete [12].

This test measures filling, passing, and

segregation properties of self-compacting concrete.

V-flow test

Another type of test, which is frequently adopted, is the V-flow test. It consists of a
funnel with a rectangular cross section. The top dimension is 495 mm by 75 mm and
bottom openings is 75mm by 75mm. The total height is 572 mm with a 150 mm long
straight section. The concrete is poured into the funnel with a gate blocking the bottom
opening. When the funnel is completely filled, the bottom gate is opened and the time for
the concrete to flow out the funnel is noted. This is called the V-flow time [12]. A flow
time less than 6 seconds is recommended for a concrete to qualify for a self-compacting
concrete [9].

L-box test

The L-box test method uses a test apparatus consisting of a vertical section and a
horizontal section. Reinforcing bars are placed at the intersection of the two areas of the
apparatus. The vertical part of the box is filled with 12.7 liters (approximately 30 lbs) of
concrete and left to rest for one minute in order to allow any segregation to occur. The
gap between the reinforcing bars is generally kept 35 and 55 mm for 10 and 20 mm

coarse aggregate, respectively. The time taken by the concrete to flow a distances of
200mm (T-20) and 400mm (T-40) in the horizontal section of apparatus, after the
opening of the gate from the vertical section, is measured. The heights of concrete at
both ends of the apparatus (H1 and H2) are also measured to determine L-box results.
This test gives an indication of the filling, passing, and segregation ability of the concrete

From the published literature, a wide variation in the methods adopted for evaluating selfcompacting characteristics of concrete can be observed. Ferrari [12] reported that a
concrete mixture qualify for self-compactability based on slump/spread but could fail on
the basis of V-flow and U-flow test results.

Similar results are also reported by

Bouzouba and Lachemi [9] for slump spread and V-flow tests.

Hardened Concrete Properties

The mechanical properties of self-compacting concrete are similar to regular concrete

having equal w/cm. The homogeneity of self-compacting concrete can be seen through
micrography analysis. Campion and Jost [2] reported no difference in composition and in
strength of the cores drilled out from wall elements (of actual structure) at different
heights. They further reported only minor differences between durability factors such as
chloride diffusion or freezing and thawing resistance of self-compacting concrete and
regular plasticized concrete. The shrinkage measurement studies also revealed equal
value or slightly higher shrinkage values for self-compacting concrete [2]. Zhu, et al.


[13] studied the uniformity of in-situ properties of self-compacting concrete mixtures, in

practical structural columns and beams, and compared the results of core compression
tests, pull-out test results, and rebound hammer for near surface properties to those of
properly compacted conventional concrete. Based on the experimental analysis, Zhu, et
al. [13] noticed no significant differences in uniformity of in-situ properties between the
two concretes.

Application of Self-Compacting Concrete

At present, the applications of self-compacting concrete are limited to special cases

where it is impossible to use ordinary concrete. SCC has been used for the repair of
bridges. In 1990, self-compacting concrete was used in the construction of the two
anchorages of Akashi Straights bridges [1]. It was the first project to utilize SCC. Due to
high-pumpability associated with this concrete, it was transported 200 m (approximately
650 ft.) through pipes to the actual construction site. The maximum size of the coarse
aggregate used in that SCC was 40 mm (1.6 in). The concrete fell as much as 3 m (10 ft.)
but segregation did not occur. The use of SCC saved 20% of construction time of the
anchorage [2]. Use of self-compacting concrete for repair of a bridge built in 1990 in the
Swiss Alp has been also reported [2].

Development of self-compacting concrete is a very desirable achievement in the
construction industry for overcoming problems associated with cast-in-place concrete.


Self-compacting concrete is not affected by the skill of workers, and shape and amount of
reinforcing bar arrangement of a structure. Due to high-fluidity and resisting power of
segregation of self-compacting concrete, it can be pumped longer distances.


compacting concrete extends the possibility of use of various mineral by-products in its
manufacturing. All types of structural construction is possible with this concrete. The
use of SCC not only shortens the construction period but also ensures quality and
durability of concrete. This non-vibrating concrete allows faster placement and less
finishing time leading to improved productivity. Until now (2001) date, there is no
universally adopted standardized test method for evaluation of self-compactability of this
concrete. Currently, the use of self-compacting concrete is being rapidly adopted in
many countries.

Use of this concrete should overcome concrete placement problems

associated with the concrete construction industry.

However, there is a need for

conducting more R & D work for the measurement and standardization of the methods
for the evaluation of the self-compacting characteristics of SCC.


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International, Vol.19, No.7, pp.50-54, July 1997.


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Possibility of Concrete Design and Placement, Concrete International,
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Containing Fly Ash, in V. M. Malhotra (Ed.), American Concrete Institute
SP178-9, pp.159-179, June 1998.


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Technique for Blocking of Fresh Concrete Flowing in Pipe, Concrete Library
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pp. 367-378, 1986.


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Concrete: Properties of Hardened Concrete, Advanced Concrete Masonry
Center, University of Paisley, Scotland, UK, May 2000.


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Rheological Parameter on Self-Compctability of Concrete Containing Various
Mineral Admixtures, in A. Skarendahl, O. Petersson (Eds)., Proceeding of
the First RILEM International Symposium on Self-Compacting Concrete,
Stockholm, September 1999.


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High Volumes of Class F Fly Ash, Preliminary Results, Cement and
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Concrete, Proceeding of CEN/STAR PNR Workshop on Measurement,
Testing and Standardization: Future Needs in the Field of Construction
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of Self-Compacting Concrete in Full-scale Structural Elements, Cement and
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Publications S. A. R. L., Cachan Cedex, France, 154 pages, 2001.


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