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Chapter 3: Concrete


1st Ed, Civil Engineering Materials

Chapter 3
3.1 Properties of Fresh Concrete
3.2 Water Cement Ratio and Workability
3.3 Strength and Grade of Concrete
3.4 Concrete Preparation; Mixing, Placing, Delivery, Compaction, Curing
3.5 Standard Testing for Fresh and Harden Concrete
3.6 Properties of Harden Concrete; Durability and Permeability
3.7 Concrete Mixture and Design
3.8 Types of Concrete
3.9 Admixture for Concrete
3.10 High strength concrete

Concrete a composite man made material, is the most widely used material
in the construction industry. It consist of a rotationally chosen mixture of
binding material such as lime or cement, well graded fine and coarse
aggregate, water and admixture. In a concrete mix, cement and water form a
paste or matrix which fills the voids of the fine aggregate and binds them (fine
and coarse) together. The mixture than placed in forms and allowed to cure
and becomes hard like stone. The hardening of concrete is caused by
chemical reaction between water and cement and it continues for a long time,
and consequently the concrete grows stronger with age.
Coarse Aggregate
Fine Aggregate


Figure 4.1: Basic concrete materials

The strength, durability and other characteristic of concrete depend upon the
properties of its ingredients, the proportion of the mix, the method of
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Chapter 3: Concrete

1st Ed, Civil Engineering Materials

compaction and other controls during placing and curing. Basically, concrete
can be classified into two stages namely;

Fresh concrete
Hardened concrete

Fresh concrete is a mixture of water, cement,

aggregate and admixture. The constituent materials
should be uniformly distributed after mixing within the
concrete mass during handling and placing.
Harden concrete is after the concrete preparation of
fresh concrete; process of mixing, placing,
compaction, finishing and curing, the concrete will
harden. With time the hardened paste continues to
harden and gain strength a process known as
Properties of Fresh Concrete
Certain properties are desired of the freshly mixed concrete even though for
a short time only because it affects the quality and cost of hardened
concrete. The properties are defined as follows;

The wetness or dryness of the mix that is the consistency or slump.


Uniformity of the mix meaning that the concrete is mixed thoroughly

has a standard appearance and all ingredients are evenly distributed
in the mix.


Workability of the fresh concrete that is the ease with which concrete
is placed and consolidated/vibrated.


Water Cement Ratio and workability

3.2.1 Water Cement Ratio (w/c)

The quality of concrete is measured by its strength and durability. The
principal factor affecting the strength of concrete is the water/cement ratio of
the mix.

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Chapter 3: Concrete

1st Ed, Civil Engineering Materials

Water/cement ratio can be defined as

the ratio of weight of water with the
total weight of cement that has been
used in the certain of concrete mix.

The compressive strength of concrete at a given age and under normal

temperature depends primarily on two factors which are the water/cement
ratio and the degree of compaction. When concrete is fully compacted its
strength is taken to be inversely proportional to the water/cement ratio as
shown in Figure 3.2, which the lower water/cement ratio, the greater
compressive strength would be achieved.

Figure 3.2: The relationship between compressive strength and

water/cement ratio of concrete
Concrete containing water enough for hydration only, would be very dry and
difficult to place and compact. Therefore, additional water must be added to
make the mix workable enough to be easily place inside the forms and work
around the reinforcement. However, this additional water should be kept to a
minimum. The use of too much of water will weaken the strength of the

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Chapter 3: Concrete

1st Ed, Civil Engineering Materials

Water occupies space in concrete, as it evaporates it leaves voids, therefore
the more the uncombined water, the more voids there will be in the set
concrete and the less will be its density, strength and durability.
For proper workability the w/c ratio varies from 0.4-0.6. However, maximum
strength is derived at w/c = 0.4. When it is decreased to less than 0.4 there is
improper consistency and workability of cement and honey combed structure.
However, concrete compacted by vibrator displays higher strength even up to
w/c = 0.3.
3.2.2 Workability
For practical purposes, workability implies the ease with which a concrete
mix can be handled from the mixer to its finally compacted shape without
segregation during placement and compaction.
Factors that affect the workability of concrete are;
Water/cement ratio
Fineness of cement
Time and temperature
There are four main characteristic of workability, which are;
1) Consistency
A state of fluidity of concrete mix, including
the wettest and densest type and this
depends on the water content in the mix.
2) Mobility
The ease with which concrete can flow into
(reinforcement) thus completely filling the
moulds (formworks).
3) Compactibility
The ease with which the concrete mixes
can be completely compacted and the air
voids removed.
4) Stability
The ability of the concrete to maintain its
uniformity i.e to remain a stable coherent
homogenous mass during handling and
vibration without constituents segregating.

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Chapter 3: Concrete

1st Ed, Civil Engineering Materials

Optimal workability would give maximum density, minimum voids and no
segregation. The workability tests that are commonly conducted are slump
test, Vebe test and compacting factor test.

Strength and Grade of Concrete

3.3.1 Strength of Concrete

Strength of concrete is commonly considered as its most valuable property,
other than durability and impermeability. Nevertheless strength usually
gives an overall picture of the quality of concrete because strength is
directly related to the structure of the hardened cement paste.
The strength of concrete is defined as the maximum
stress it can resist or the maximum load it can carry.

Cubes, cylinders and prisms are the three types of compression test
specimens used to determine the compressive strength. The cubes are
usually of 100 mm or 150 mm side, the cylinders are 150 mm diameter
by 300 mm height, and the prisms are 100 mm x l00 mm x 500 mm in
To estimate the load at which the concrete members may crack,
normally flexural tensile strength test will be conducted. From this
test, the flexural tensile strength or the modulus of rupture is thus
determined. The modulus of rupture is determine by testing standard
test specimens of 150 mm x 150 mm x 700 mm over a span 600mm or
100mm x 100mm x 500mm over a span 400 mm under symmetrical
two point loading.
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Chapter 3: Concrete

1st Ed, Civil Engineering Materials
Factors Influencing the Strength of Concrete
There are several factors that influence the strength development of
concrete. Normally as time passes by, with proper curing the concrete
strength should increase. Nevertheless the strength gain can be put to a
halt and consequently creating durability problems if proper curing is not
done and the durability aspects are not considered. Factors influencing the
strength of concrete can be grouped into two categories:

Factors Depending On Testing Method



a. Size of test specimen;

Size of specimen in relation to the size of aggregate;
Support conditions of specimen;
Moisture conditions of the specimen;
Type of loading adopted;
Rate of loading of the specimen;
Type of testing machine; and
h. The assumption in the analysis relating stress to failure load.
Factors Independent of the Type of Test

The type of cement, age, type of aggregate and admixture;

Degree of compaction;
Concrete mix proportions, i.e. cement content, aggregatecement ratio, amount of voids and water-cement ratio;
Type of curing and temperature of curing:
Nature of loading to which the specimen is subjected, i.e. static,
sustained, dynamic etc.; and
Type of stress situation that may exist.

3.3.2 Grade of Concrete

The concrete is generally graded according to its compressive strength at
28 days. The various grades of concrete as stipulated in codes of practice
BS 8110 grouped the grade in nine categories which is based on their
characteristic strength in N/mm 2. Table 3.1 shows the tabulation of concrete
grade based on BS 8110.
Concrete of grade 7 and 10 is suitable for lean concrete bases and for
mass concrete and these need not be designed. The concrete of grade
lower than grade 15 is not suitable for reinforced concrete works and

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Chapter 3: Concrete

1st Ed, Civil Engineering Materials

grades of lower than grade 30 are not to be used in the prestressed
concrete works.
Table 3.1: Grades of concrete proposed by BS 8110


Characteristic Strength

Lowest grade suitable for specific




Mass concrete



Reinforced concrete using Lightweight




Reinforced concrete using Heavyweight




Prestressed Post-tensioned concrete



Prestressed Pre-tensioned concrete

Concrete Preparation

3.4.1 Selection of Materials

To achieve the desired qualities, the materials for making concrete - cement,
fine and coarse aggregates, and water are selected cautiously on the basis
of the quality acceptance tests.
3.4.2 Batching
The design of concrete mixture involves the determination of the most
economical and practical combination of ingredients to make the concrete
workable in its plastic state and to make it develop the required qualities
when hardened.
A proper and accurate measurement of all materials used in the production of
concrete is essential to ensure uniformity of proportions and aggregate
grading in successive batches. The quality of the concrete produced will
depend on the accuracy of the batching operation. There are two types of
batching which are;


Weight batching

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Chapter 3: Concrete

1st Ed, Civil Engineering Materials

For most large and important jobs the batching of materials is usually
done by weighing. Batching by weight eliminates error due to
variations in the properties of voids contained in a specified volume,
especially with the batching of sand.
Measurement by weight is therefore logical and provided the weighing
machine retains its accuracy at the site, error in proportioning should
be negligible. An important advantage with weight batching is the
greater uniformity between successive batches of concrete.

Figure 3.3: Weigh batching machine


Volume Batching
For most small job, volume batching is adopted by the amount of each
solid ingredient is measured by loose volume using measuring boxes,
gauge box, hopper or wheel barrows. In batching by volume,
allowance has to be made for the moisture present in sand which
results in its bulking. It also advisable to set the volumes in term of
whole bags of cement.

Figure 4.4: Wooden box for gauging aggregates

3.4.3 Mixing

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Chapter 3: Concrete

1st Ed, Civil Engineering Materials

The objective of mixing is to coat the surface of all aggregate particles with
cement paste and blend the ingredients into a uniform mass. It must be
ensure that each constituent is thoroughly dispersed throughout the mix to
give a homogeneous product. Concrete mixing is normally done by
mechanical means called mixer, but sometime the mixing of concrete is done
by hand.

Machine mixing
Machine mixing can either be in rotation or stirring operation. The
rotation operation is used in tilting drum mixer, non-tilting drum mixer,
and dual drum mixer and continues mixer, while the stirring operation
is used in pan-type mixer see Figure 3.5.



Figure 3.5: (a) Drum mixer, (b) Pan-type mixer

Under normal machine mixing conditions, about 10 percent of the
mixing water should be placed in the mixing drum before the dry
materials are added. Water then is added uniformly with the dry
materials until about 10 percent of the water remains. This water is
added after all of the other materials are in the drum or pan.

Hand mixing
There may be occasions when the concrete has to be mixed by hand,
and because of this case uniformity is more difficult to achieve,
therefore particular care and effort are necessary.
The aggregate should be spread in a uniform layer on a hard, clean
and non-porous base. Cement is then spread over the aggregate and
the dry material are mixed by turning over from one end of the heap to
another and cutting with a shovel until the mix appear uniform. The
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Chapter 3: Concrete

1st Ed, Civil Engineering Materials

water is gradually added to the trough formed by the uniform dry mix
and the mix is turned over until a homogeneous mixture of uniform
color and consistency is obtained.

Figure 3.6: Mixing the concrete by hand

3.4.4 Transporting
The various methods used to move the concrete from the mixer or truck to
the forms depend largely upon the job conditions.
On small jobs, wheel barrows are the usual means of transportation.
However, concrete can be handled and transported by many methods
including the of chutes, buggies operated over runways, buckets handled by
cranes or cable ways, trucks, pump to force the concrete through pipelines
and equipment to force the concrete thorough hoses pneumatically.

Figure 3.7: (a) Wheel barrow; (b) Bucket

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Chapter 3: Concrete

1st Ed, Civil Engineering Materials

Figure 3.8: Pump concrete

The main consideration in selecting the type of equipment to be used is an
economic one, however, certain jobs require specialized equipment and thus
the cost is a secondary consideration.
Others factors that need to be looked into when selecting the transporting
and handling equipment are the segregation of aggregates, loss of entrained
air, loss of cement paste, and change in slump.
3.4.5 Placing
The methods used in placing concrete in its final position have an important
effect on its homogeneity, density and behavior in service. To secure good
concrete it is necessary to make certain preparations before placing.
The formworks must be examined for correct alignment and adequate rigidity
to withstand the weight of concrete, impact loads during construction without
undue deformation.
Formworks should be moistened before the concrete is placed, otherwise
they will absorb water from the concrete and swell. In addition, the forms
should be oiled to make form removal easier.
The concrete should be placed in its final position rapidly so that it is not too
stiff to work. Water should not be added after the concrete has left the mixer.

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Chapter 3: Concrete

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When placing the concrete, care should be taken to drop the concrete
vertically and not too great a height.

3.4.6 Compaction
The objective of compaction is to eliminate air holes and to achieve
maximum density of concrete.
During mixing of concrete a considerable quantity of air is entrapped and
during its transportation there is a possibility of partial segregation taking
place. If the entrapped air is not removed and the segregation of coarse
aggregate not corrected, the concrete may be porous, non-homogeneous
and reduced the concrete strength.
Therefore the process of removal of entrapped air and of uniform placement
of concrete to form homogeneous dense mass is termed compaction.
To compact the concrete, it should be mechanically vibrated or hand spading
as it goes into the form. The reason for compaction are to ensure the
requirement of strength, impermeability and durability of harden concrete.
The process of compaction consists of elimination of entrapped air and
forcing the particles into a close configuration.
Method of compaction can either be hand compaction or machine

Hand Compaction
Hand compaction methods consist of rodding, tamping and spading
with suitable tools. Concrete mixes that normally use for hand
compaction are of fairly workable mix if the sections are at narrow and
the reinforcement closely packed.


Machine compaction
Compaction by using vibrators makes possible the placement of stiff,
harsh concrete mixes that cannot be placed and consolidated readily
by hand. Vibration makes it possible to use less workable mixes,
resulting in increased strength and lower drying shrinkage for given
mix proportions. Vibrating machines are usually operated by petrol
engines, compressed air or electricity. The vibrating machines that are
suitable for site use are of 3 main types, namely:
o Internal vibrator-pocker
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Chapter 3: Concrete

1st Ed, Civil Engineering Materials

o External vibrator-clamp to formwork
o Vibrating tables

The internal vibrator head should be kept moving in and up-and-down

direction to consolidate the concrete. Thus, preventing honeycombing
and air voids at the surface of the form. Systematic vibration will
consolidate the concrete adequately.

Figure 3.9: Vibrator pocker

3.4.7 Curing
In order to obtain good concrete the placing of an appropriate mix must be
followed by curing in a suitable environment during the early stages of
The purpose of curing is to promote the hydration of cement, thus the
development of strength and durability of concrete. It also controls the
temperature and moisture movement from and into the concrete.
More specifically, the objective of curing is to keep concrete saturated, or as
nearly saturated as possible, until the originally water-filled space in the fresh
cement paste has been filled to the desired extent by the products of
hydration of cement.
In the case of site concrete, active curing stops nearly always long before the
maximum possible hydration has taken place. Normal curing keeps concrete
saturated or as nearly saturated as possible until water-filled space has been
occupied by the product of hydration. Inadequate curing through loss of water
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Chapter 3: Concrete

1st Ed, Civil Engineering Materials

by evaporation will fail to gain strength.
The necessity for curing arises from the fact that hydration of cement can
take place only in water-filled capillaries. This is why a loss of water by
evaporation from the capillaries must be prevented. Furthermore, water lost
internally by self desiccation has to be replaced by water from outside, i.e.
ingress of water into the concrete must be made possible.
Method of Curing
In general, concrete should be cured for at least three days and preferable
for a week after it is placed. The curing time depends on the temperature of
the concrete. The length of time that the concrete is to be protected against
the loss of moisture depends on:

The cement content

Mix proportions
Required strength
Size and shape of the concrete mass - Weather
Future exposure conditions

Curing can be divided into two classifications:

Those which supply additional moisture to the concrete, and
Those which prevent loss of moisture from the concrete by sealing
the surface.

Water Curing
Curing by flooding, ponding, or mist spraying is widely used. It is the
most effective of all known curing methods for the prevention of mix
water evaporation. This method is not always practical, however,
because of job conditions. Continuous sprinkling with water is also
an excellent method of curing. If the sprinkling is done at intervals,
the concrete must not be allowed to dry between applications of
water. A constant supply of water prevents the .possibility of crazing
or cracking due to alternate wetting and drying.


Water Retaining Methods

These methods involve the use of coverings that are kept
continuously wet, as such as sand, earth, canvas, sawdust or straw.
When concrete is cured by one of these methods, the entire
concrete surface, including exposed edges or sides, must be
covered. The material is kept moist by periodical sprinkling of water.

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Chapter 3: Concrete

1st Ed, Civil Engineering Materials

Figure 3.10: Curing a concrete slab by flooding

Figure 3.11: Concrete have been cured using blanket


Waterproof Mechanical Barriers

Barriers of waterproof or plastic film seal in the water and prevent
evaporation. Advantages of mechanical barriers is that periodic
additions of water are not required, provide protection against
damage from subsequent construction activity as well as protection
from the sun. This waterproof paper if of a good quality can be
reused. These materials are applied as soon as the concrete is hard
enough to resist surface damage.

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Chapter 3: Concrete

1st Ed, Civil Engineering Materials

Chemical Membranes
Chemicals can be sprayed on the surface to cure concrete. Liquid
membrane-forming curing compounds retard or prevent the
evaporation of moisture from the concrete. The chemical application
should be made as soon as the concrete is finished. If there is any
delay in the application, the concrete must be kept moist until the
membrane is applied. The membrane curing compound must not be
applied when there is free water on the surface or after the concrete
is dry.



Steam Curing
In steam curing, the heating of the concrete products is caused by
steam either at low pressure or high pressure. The method ensures
even heating of products all over, even if the space between the
stacked precast concrete products is very small.
Steam curing is more favourable to mixes of concrete with low watercement ratio than mixes with higher water-cement ratio. The choice of
steam curing cycle will be governed by:

The pre-curing period

The rate of increase and decrease of temperature.
The level and time of constant temperature.
An early rise in temperature at the time of setting of concrete may be
detrimental to concrete because the green concrete may be too weak
to resist the air pressure set up in the pores by the increased
temperature. Too high a rate of increase or decrease in temperature
introduces thermal shocks and the rates should generally not exceed
10 C to 20 C per hour.

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Chapter 3: Concrete

1st Ed, Civil Engineering Materials

Figure 3.12: Autoclave for steam curing large diameter hoses


Standard Testing for Fresh and Harden Concrete

3.5.1 Testing of Fresh Concrete

In fresh concrete, concrete is in the plastic state which can be moulded into
desired shape. Therefore, in order to handling concrete without segregation,
to placing without loss of homogeneity and to compacting with specified
effort, the certain testing should be performed to ensure that the concrete are
workable enough.
Slump Test
This method of test specifies the procedure to be adopted, either in the
laboratory or during the progress of work in the field, for determining the
consistency of concrete where the nominal maximum size of the aggregate
does not exceed 38 mm.
The internal dimensions of the mould for the test specimen shown in Figure
4.13 are bottom diameter = 200 mm, top diameter = 100 mm, and height =
300 mm.
The mould is filled in with fresh concrete in four layers, each approximately
one-quarter of the height and tamped with twenty-five strokes of the rounded
end of the tamping rod. The strokes are distributed in a uniform manner over
the cross -section and for the second and subsequent layers should
penetrate into the underlying layer. The bottom layer is tamped throughout its
depth. After the top layer has been rodded, the concrete is struck off level
with a trowel or the tamping rod, so that the mould is exactly filled.

Plan view

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viewJanuary 2010

Chapter 3: Concrete

1st Ed, Civil Engineering Materials

Figure 3.13: Mould for Slump test

The mould is removed immediately by raising it slowly and carefully in a
vertical direction. This allows the concrete to subside and the slump is
measured immediately by determining the difference between the height of
the mould and that of the highest point of the specimen being tested (Fig.
4.14). The slump measured is recorded in terms of millimeters of subsidence
of the specimen.

Figure 3.14: Measuring slump

Compacting Factor Test
This test is more precise and sensitive than the slump test and is particularly
useful for concrete mixes of very low workability as are normally used when
concrete is to be compacted by vibration; such concrete may consistently fail
to slump. A diagram of the apparatus used in compacting factor test is shown
in Figure 4.15.
The sample of concrete to be tested is placed gently in the upper hopper.
Hopper clamper is fiIIed level with its brim and the trap-door is opened to
allow the concrete to fall into the lower hopper.

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Chapter 3: Concrete

1st Ed, Civil Engineering Materials

Figure 3.15: Compaction factor apparatus

Certain mixes have a tendency to stick in one or both of the hoppers. If this
occurs, the concrete may be helped through by pushing the rod gently into
the concrete from the top. During this process, the cylinder should be
covered by the trowels. Immediately after the concrete has come to rest, the
cylinder is uncovered, the trap-door of the lower hopper is opened, and the
concrete is aIIowed to fall into the cylinder. The excess of concrete remaining
above the level of the top of the cylinder is then cut off.
The weight of the concrete in the cylinder is then determined to the nearest l0
g as the weight of partiaIIy compacted concrete. The cylinder is refilled with
concrete from the same sample in layers of approximately 50 mm, the layers
being heavily rammed or preferably vibrated so as to obtain full compaction.
The top surface of the fully compacted concrete is carefully struck off level
with the top of the cylinder. The compacting factor is defined as the ratio
of the weight of partially compacted concrete to the weight of fully
compacted concrete. It is normally stated to the nearest second
decimal place.
Vebe Consistometer Test
The test determines the time required for transforming, by vibration, a
concrete specimen in the shape of a conical frustum into a cylinder. The
apparatus (Figure 3.16) consists of a vibrator table resting upon elastic
supports, a metal pot, a sheet metal cone, open at both ends, and a standard
iron rod.
A slump test as described earlier is performed in the cylindrical pot of the
consistometer. The glass disc attached to the swivel arm is moved and
placed just on the top of the slump cone in the pot and before the cone is
lifted up, the position of the concrete cone is noted by adjusting the glass disc
attached to the swivel arm . The cone is then lifted up and the slump noted
on the graduated rod by lowering the glass disc on top of the concrete cone.
The electrical vibrator is switched on and the concrete is allowed to spread
out in the pot. The vibration is continued until the whole concrete surface
uniformly adheres to the glass disc and the time taken for this to be attained
is noted with a stop watch. The consistency of the concrete is expressed in
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Chapter 3: Concrete

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VB-degree which is equal to the recorded time in seconds. The required
slump is obtained on the basis of the consistency scale given in Table 3.1.
The curve in Figure 3.17 indicates the relationship between slump in mm and
the degrees covered by the consistency scale given in Table 3.1.

Figure 3.16: Vebe Consistometer

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Chapter 3: Concrete

1st Ed, Civil Engineering Materials

Figure 3.17: Relationship between slump and Vebe degrees

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Chapter 3: Concrete
1st Ed, Civil Engineering Materials


Table 3.2: Values of Workability for Different Placing Conditions

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Chapter 3: Concrete
1st Ed, Civil Engineering Materials

3.5.2 Testing of Hardened Concrete

There are several reasons why testing of hardened concrete is important,
there are:

Test can investigate the fundamental physical behavior of concrete

such as elastic properties and strength characteristics;


When physical laws are not fully understood testing can simulate
expected conditions to evaluate performance;


Tests to determined physical material constants like the modulus of

elasticity; and


Quality control.

Common characteristics of concrete like strength and durability should not be

considered fundamental material properties. Variables like specimen
geometry and preparation, moisture content, temperature, loading rate, and
the type of testing device will affect the mechanical behavior. Therefore,
when defining some mechanical property it is necessary to specify the test
used to determine the value.

The testing of hardened concrete can be classified into two types which are
destructive test and non-destructive test.

Destructive test

Cube test (BS 1881: Part 116)
This is currently the most common type of destructive test for concrete, owing
to the cheapness of the cube moulds and the comparative simplicity of
manufacture and testing of cubes.
Carefully obtained samples of the concrete mix are placed and compacted in
accurately formed steel moulds, with machine inner surface. Bonding with the
steel mould is prevented by coating with release agent. The surface of each
cube is covered with impermeable sheet or the entire mould sealed. After 24
hours the cube is removed and cured under water at about 20 oC, until tested
at age of 7th, 14th and 28th days.
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Chapter 3: Concrete
1st Ed, Civil Engineering Materials

At the testing day, the cube with size of 150mm x 150mm x 150mm or
100mm x 100mm x 100mm, then place centrally between the platens of a
compression testing machine, trowelled face sideways, and the load is
applied such that the stress increase at a given constant rate until failure.
The maximum load is recorded and the values were divided with the cross
sectional area of the cube to obtained the compressive strength of the cube.

Figure 3.18: Compacting of concrete cube

Cylinder Splitting Test (BS 1881: Part 117)
In this test, cylinders which are typically 300mm long and 150mm in diameter,
are loaded in a compression tester with their cylindrical axes horizontal,
stress concentrations being avoided by use the hardboard or plywood strips
about 12mm wide.
The successful operation of the test requires careful alignment of the cylinder
(or use of a jig) and packing strips should be used once only to ensure
uniform bedding, especially in the case of weak concretes, for which plywood
is more suitable material. Except near the packing pieces, a tensile stress is
induced by concrete on the vertical plane and the tensile strength ft at failure
is given by:


Equation 3.1

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Chapter 3: Concrete
1st Ed, Civil Engineering Materials

W = Load at failure
D = Diameter of cylinder
L = Length of cylinder
Note that, since the failure area is DL, the expression is the same as



failure _ area
Equation 3.2

Figure 3.19: The cylinder splitting test for measurement of the tensile
strength of concrete

Non-destructive tests
These tests are useful to: (1) quality control; (2) determination of the time for
form removal; and (3) help assess the soundness of existing concrete
Surface Hardness Methods - One of the oldest nondestructive tests,
developed in Germany in the 1930's. Basically, the surface is impacted
with a mass and the size of the resulting indention is measured. The
accuracy of these types of tests is only 20 to 30%.
Rebound Hardness - The most common nondestructive test is the
rebound test. The test measures the rebound of a hardened steel
hammer impacted on the concrete by a spring. This method has the
same limitations as the surface hardness tests. The results are
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Chapter 3: Concrete



1st Ed, Civil Engineering Materials

affected by: (1) surface finish; (2) moisture content; (3) temperature;
(4) rigidity of the member being tested; (5) carbonation of the surface;
and (6) direction of impact (upward, downward, horizontal). Most
useful in checking the uniformity of concrete.
Penetration Resistance - Resistance of concrete to penetration by a
steel probe driven by a given amount of energy is measured. This test
is not affected by surface hardness or carbonation as the above tests,
however, the mix proportions and material properties are still

Pull-Out Test - Pull-out test determine the force required to pull a

steel insert out of concrete which it was embedded during casting.
This test is a measure of the shear strength of the concrete which can
be correlated with compressive strength. This test is better than those
previously discussed, however, the test may be planned in advance
and the assembly embedded in the concrete during casting.
Ultrasonic Pulse Velocity - This test is based to the fact that the
velocity of sound is related to the elastic modulus. The device is
accurate to about + 1%. The position of the testing equipment can
affect the measurement, method A given the best results. There are
several factors which affect this test: (1) surface smoothness; (2)
travel path of the pulse; (3) temperature effects on the pulse velocity;
(4) moisture content; (5) presence of steel reinforcing bars; and (6)
age of concrete.

Properties of Hardened Concrete

3.6.1 Deformation under Load

It is a stress strain relationship under normal loading and under sustained
loading. Under normal loading, the first effect of applying a load to concrete is
to produce an elastic deformation, thus obey Hooke's Law. Concrete is
elastoplastic material, therefore as the load increases deformation
Under sustained loading, prolong application of stress causes a slow
deformation, commonly known as creep. The increase of deformation is not
proportional; as the time passes the deformation is lesser. The magnitude of
deformation depends primarily on the stress-strength ratio at the time of
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loading, but it is also influence by factors such as the mix proportions, the
size of the specimen and even the climatic conditions. If the load is later
removed, the concrete undergoes an immediate elastic recovery. Creep
recovery is a slower process, and the concrete will in any case not fully
regain its original dimensions. Figure 4.18 shows the graph of deformation of
hardened under load. In this graph, the assumption made is that the stress
strain curve is linear (straight line) and the creep deformation of concrete also
varies linearly with the sustained stress up to a value of 0.5fo.

Figure 3.20: Deformation of hardened concrete under load

3.6.2 Durability of Concrete

Durability is defined as the ability to withstand the damaging effects of the
environment over a long period of time. Therefore it is essential that concrete
is designed in such a way that it may be of service without deterioration over
a period of years. Such concrete is said to be durable.
The absence of durability may be caused either by the environment to which
the concrete is exposed i.e. external or by internal cause within the concrete
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itself. The external causes can be:

Physical, chemical or mechanical.

Due to weathering. occurrence of extreme e temperature, abrasion,
electrolytic action, and
Attack by natural or industrial liquids and gases.

In order to be durable, concrete must be relatively impervious. The salts in

sea water react chemically with concrete. The salts crystallize in the
pores of concrete after the evaporation of water and cause disruption.
The corrosion of reinforcement may lead to rupture of cover concrete.
Therefore it is recommended to the following in order to have durable
concrete, and they are:

Use of low, water-cement ratio.

Well compacted concrete.
Good workmanship to reduced porosity.
Sufficient cover over reinforcement.
The use of aluminious sulphate resisting cement, Portland blastfurnace or Portland pozzolana cement.
Decreases with age

3.6.3 Permeability
Concrete has a tendency to be porous due to the presence of voids formed
during or after placing. To produce concrete of low permeability, full
compaction and proper curing is essential. For a given aggregate, the
permeability of concrete can be reduced by reducing the water content
or by increasing the cement content. Low permeability of concrete is
important in increasing resistant to frost action and chemical attack and in
protecting embedded steel against corrosion.
Therefore the study of permeability of concrete is important in case of
reinforced concrete, ingress of moisture and air will result in corrosion of steel
which leads to an increase in the volume of steel, and to cracking and
spalling of concrete cover.
Factors influencing permeability are:
Water-cement ratio.

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Type of structure.
Method of compaction.
Soundness and porosity of the aggregate.
Age - Permeability increases with age. The decrease being greater for
wet mixes than for drier one.
Grading of aggregate.

3.6.4 Shrinkage
Shrinkage is a contraction deformation suffered by concrete even under no
load. The shrinkage of concrete is dependent on the amount of drying that
can take place. It is therefore influenced by the humidity and temperature of
the surrounding air, the rate of air flow over the surface and the proportion of
the surface area to volume of concrete.
The two types of shrinkage strains are: Plastic shrinkage.
Drying shrinkage.
Plastic shrinkage is cause due to the hydration of cement which results in
reduction in the volume of the system of cement plus water to an extent of
about 1 percent of the volume of dry cement. This contraction is known as
plastic strain and it is aggravated due to loss of water by evaporation from
the surface of concrete, particularly under hot climates and high winds. This
can result in surface cracking.
Drying shrinkage is shrinkage which takes place after the concrete has set
and hardened. It takes place in the first few months. Drying shrinkage is
cause due to withdrawal of water from concrete stored in unsaturated air
voids. A part of this shrinkage can be recovered on immersion of concrete in
Concrete Mixture and Design
Concrete mix design has a number of different approaches such as ACI
(American Concrete Institution) developed in U.S.A. and the most popular
and widely used is the DOE (Department of Environmental) method. It is the
British method of concrete mix design and it is being used in United Kingdom
and other parts of the world. This method is based on extensive laboratory
and field experiments carried out by the Road Research Laboratory U.K.
3.7.1 DOE Method for Normal Concrete

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This method is applicable to normal weight concrete made with Portland
cement only or taken into account ground granulated blastfurnace slag or fly
ash. This method does not cover the flowing concrete, pumped concrete or
lightweight aggregate concrete.
Design Mix Stages
The mix design is carried out according to the DOE Method in the following
five stages.
Determining the free water/cement ratio
Given the required characteristics strength at a specified age. Use Equation
3.3 to obtain the target mean strength at that age, which is the compressive
strength to be used in the mix design.
Target mean strength = Characteristic strength + Ks

Equation 3.3

The constant k is derived from the mathematics of normal distribution and

increases as the proportion of defectives is decreased, thus:

K for 10% defectives = 1.28

K for 5% defectives = 1.64
K for 2.5% defectives = 1.96
K for 1% defectives = 2.33
s = standard deviation of the strength tests. Refer to Table 3.3 for the
typical values.
For design the concrete mix grade 30 with assumption of 5% defectives and
8 N/mm2 standard deviation. The target mean strength is calculated as
Target mean strength = 30 N/mm2 + 1.64 (8 N/mm2) = 43 N/mm2
Table 3.3: Standard deviation under different condition

Standard Deviation,s (N/mm2)

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Good control with weight batching, use

of graded aggregates, etc Constant

Fair control with weight batching. Use of

two sizes of aggregates. Occasional

Poor control. Inaccurate volume

batching of all-in aggregates. No

Given the type of cement and aggregate, use Table 3.4 to obtain the
compressive strength at the specified ages that correspond to a free water
cement ratio of 0.5.
For example: ordinary Portland cement and crushed aggregate are used.
From the Table 3.4 of the compressive strength of 49 N/mm2 at 28 days (and
36 N/mm2 at 7 days and etc.)
In Figure 3.21 follow the starting line to locate the curve which passes
through the point. (49 N/mm2, w/c=0.5), in this particular case, it is the third
curve from the top of the figure. This curve shows that to obtain our target
mean strength of 43 N/mm2, we need a water/cement ratio of 0.54.
If the w/c ratio obtained in previous step exceeds the maximum w/c ratio
specified for durability (Table 3.5 BS8110) then adopt the lower valueresulting in a concrete having a higher strength than required.
Table 3.4: Approximate compressive strengths of concrete made with a
free water/cement ratio of 0.5 according to the DOE Method
Type of
(Type I)

Type of

Compressive strength* (MPa(psi))

at the age of (days)




22 (3200)

30 (3200)

42 (6100)

49 (7100)


27 (3900)

36 (5200)

49 (7100)

56 (8100)

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(Type III)


29 (4200)

37 (5400)

48 (7000)

54 (7800)


34 (4900)

43 (6200)

55 (8000)

61 (8900)

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Figure 3.21: Relationship between cube compressive strength and free

water/cement ratio

Table 3.5: Durability requirement(BS8110)

Exposure Condition
Very severe
Maximum free w/c ratio
Minimum cement content (kg/m3)
Concrete fcu (N/mm2)

Nominal cover (mm)





Determining the water content
Given the slump or VB time, determine the water content from Figure 3.21.
Using Table 3.4, when coarse aggregate and fine aggregates of different
types are used, the water content W is estimated as follows:

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W f Wc

Water Content (kg/m3)


(Equation 3.4)

: water content appropriate to the type of fine aggregate

: water content appropriate to the type of coarse aggregate

The aggregate type in Table 3.6 refers to all types of aggregates.

Water Content (kg/m3)
Table 3.6: Approximate free water contents required for various level of
workability according to the 1988 DOE Method
Max. Size
mm (in.)

10 (3/8)

20 (3/4)

40 (11/2)

mm (in.)
time, s


Water content, kg/m3 (lb/yd3) for :

0 10
10 30
30 60
(0 )
(1/2 1) (1 2 )

60 80
(2 - 7)

> 12

6 12



150 (255)
180 (305)

180 (305)
205 (345)

205 (345)
230 (390)

225 (380)
250 (420)

135 (230)
170 (285)

160 (270)
190 (320)

180 (305)
210 (355)

195 (330)
225 (380)

115 (195)
155 (260)

140 (235)
175 (295)

160 (270)
190 (320)

175 (295)
205 (345)

Determining the cement content
The value given by Equation 3.1 should be checked against any maximum or
minimum cement contents that may have been specified for durability. Refer
Table 3.5.

water cement ratio

Cement content (kg/m3)

(Equation 3.5)

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If the cement content calculated from Equation 3.5 is below a specified
minimum, this minimum must be used - resulting in a reduced water/cement
ratio and hence has a higher strength than the target mean strength. If the
calculated cement content is higher than a specified maximum, the specified
strength and workability cannot be simultaneously met with the selected
materials, try to change the type and maximum size of the aggregate.
Determining the aggregate content
Having calculated the water content and cement content, the total aggregate
content in practice is obtained from the chart in the DOE document. The
value can be calculated from basic principles. For each cubic meter of fully
compacted fresh concrete,

cementcontent watercontent


Volume occupied by aggregate

(Equation 3.6)
c = 3150 kg/m3 is density of cement particles
w = 1000 kg/m3 is the density of water
Total aggregate content (kg) = a x Volume occupied by aggregate
(Equation 3.7)
a, is the density of the aggregate particles. The DOE recommends that if no
information is available a should be taken as 2600 kg/m 3 for uncrushed
aggregates and 2700 kg/m3 for crushed aggregate.

Determining of the fine and coarse aggregate contents
Total aggregate content consists of fine aggregate will depends on the
grading zone 1, 2, 3 and 4 (see Table 3.5). The general principle in mix
design is the finer the grading of the fine aggregate. The larger its structure
area per unit weight, the lower will be the proportion expressed as a
percentage of the total aggregate required to produce a concrete.
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For a given slump and w/c ratio, the proportion of fine aggregate can be
determined from Figure 3.22 in which the grading zones are those of Table
Table 3.7: Grading limits for DOE mix design procedure
Percentage by weight passing standard sieves
Standard Sieve sizes
10 mm
5 mm
No. 7 (2.36 mm)
No. 14 (1.18 mm)
No. 25 (600 m)
No. 52 (300 m)
No. 100 (150 m)

Zone 1
90 100
60 95
30 70
15 34
5 20
0 10

Zone 2
90 100
75 100
55 90
35 59
8 30
0 10

Zone 3
90 100
85 100
75 100
60 79
12 40
0 10

Zone 4
95 100
95 100
90 100
80 100
15 50
0 15

Figure 3.22: Proportions of fine aggregates for grading zones 1,2,3,4

(See Table 3.5) for use with 20 mm nominal maximum size coarse

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Figure 3.23: Estimate wet density of fully compacted concrete

3.7.2 ACI Method for Normal Concrete
The American Concrete Institute (ACI) mix design method is one of basic
concrete mix design methods available. This section summarizes the ACI
absolute volume method because it is widely accepted in the U.S. and
continually updated by the ACI.
Design Mix Stages
The standard ACI mix design procedure can be divided up into 8 basic steps:
Choice of Slump
The choice of slump is actually a choice of mix workability. Workability can
be described as a combination of several different, but related, PCC
properties related to its rheology:

Ease of mixing
Ease of placing
Ease of compaction
Ease of finishing

Generally, mixes of the stiffest consistency that can still be placed adequately
should be used (ACI, 2000). Typically slump is specified, but Table 3.6
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shows general slump ranges for specific applications. Slump specifications
are different for fixed form paving and slip form paving. Table 3.7 shows
typical and extreme state DOT slump ranges.
Table 3.6: Slump ranges for specific applications (after ACI, 2000)

Type of Construction



Reinforced foundation walls and footings

25 - 75


Plain footings, caissons and substructure


25 - 75


Beams and reinforced walls

25 - 100


Building columns

25 - 100


Pavements and slabs

25 - 75


Mass concrete

25 - 50


Table 3.7: Typical state DOT slump specifications


Fixed Form

Slip Form





25 - 75


0 - 75


as low as 25
as high as

as low as 1
as high as 7

as low as 0
as high as

as low as 0
as high as 5

Maximum Aggregate Size
Maximum aggregate size will affect such PCC parameters as amount of
cement paste, workability and strength. In general, ACI recommends that
maximum aggregate size be limited to 1/3 of the slab depth and 3/4 of the
minimum clear space between reinforcing bars. Aggregate larger than these
dimensions may be difficult to consolidate and compact resulting in a
honeycombed structure or large air pockets. Pavement PCC maximum
aggregate sizes are on the order of 25 mm (1 inch) to 37.5 mm (1.5 inches).
Mixing Water and Air Content Estimation
Slump is dependent upon nominal maximum aggregate size, particle shape,
aggregate gradation, PCC temperature, the amount of entrained air and
certain chemical admixtures. It is not generally affected by the amount of
cementitious material. Therefore, ACI provides a table relating nominal
maximum aggregate size, air entrainment and desired slump to the desired
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mixing water quantity. Table 3.8 is a partial reproduction of ACI Table 6.3.3
(keep in mind that pavement PCC is almost always air-entrained so airentrained values are most appropriate). Typically, state agencies specify
between about 4 and 8 percent air by total volume (based on data from
ACPA, 2001).
Water-Cement Ratio
The water-cement ratio is a convenient measurement whose value is well
correlated with PCC strength and durability. In general, lower water-cement
ratios produce stronger, more durable PCC. If natural pozzolans are used in
the mix (such as fly ash) then the ratio becomes a water-cementitious
material ratio (cementitious material = portland cement + pozzolonic
material). The ACI method bases the water-cement ratio selection on
desired compressive strength and then calculates the required cement
content based on the selected water-cement ratio. Table 3.9 is a general
estimate of 28-day compressive strength vs. water-cement ratio (or watercementitious ratio). Values in this table tend to be conservative (ACI, 2000).
Most state DOTs tend to set a maximum water-cement ratio between 0.40 0.50
Cement Content
Cement content is determined by comparing the following two items:

The calculated amount based on the selected mixing water content

and water-cement ratio.
The specified minimum cement content, if applicable. Most state
DOTs specify minimum cement contents in the range of 300 - 360
kg/m3 (500 - 600 lbs/yd3).

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Table 3.8: Approximate Mixing Water and Air Content Requirements for Different Slumps and Maximum Aggregate Sizes
Mixing Water Quantity in kg/m3 (lb/yd3) for the listed Nominal Maximum Aggregate Size
9.5 mm
(0.375 in.)

12.5 mm
(0.5 in.)

19 mm
(0.75 in.)

25 mm
(1 in.)

37.5 mm
(1.5 in.)

50 mm
(2 in.)

75 mm
(3 in.)

100 mm
(4 in.)

25 50 (1 - 2)

207 (350)

199 (335)

190 (315)

179 (300)

166 (275)

154 (260)

130 (220)

113 (190)

75 100 (3 - 4)

228 (385)

216 (365)

205 (340)

193 (325)

181 (300)

169 (285)

145 (245)

124 (210)

150 175 (6 - 7)

243 (410)

228 (385)

216 (360)

202 (340)

190 (315)

178 (300)

160 (270)






25 50 (1 - 2)

181 (305)

175 (295)

168 (280)

160 (270)

148 (250)

142 (240)

122 (205)

107 (180)

75 100 (3 - 4)

202 (340)

193 (325)

184 (305)

175 (295)

165 (275)

157 (265)

133 (225)

119 (200)

150 175 (6 - 7)

216 (365)

205 (345)

197 (325)

184 (310)

174 (290)

166 (280)

154 (260)

Non-Air-Entrained PCC

Typical entrapped air (percent)

Air-Entrained PCC

Recommended Air Content (percent)

Mild Exposure









Moderate Exposure









Severe Exposure









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Table 3.9: Water-Cement Ratio and Compressive Strength Relationship

Water-cement ratio by weight

28-Day Compressive
Strength in MPa (psi)



41.4 (6000)


34.5 (5000)



27.6 (4000)



20.7 (3000)



13.8 (2000)



An older practice used to be to specify the cement content in terms of the

number of 94 lb. sacks of portland cement per cubic yard of PCC. This
resulted in specifications such as a "6 sack mix" or a "5 sack mix". While
these specifications are quite logical to a small contractor or individual who
buys portland cement in 94 lb. sacks, they do not have much meaning to the
typical pavement contractor or batching plant who buys portland cement in
bulk. As such, specifying cement content by the number of sacks should be
Coarse Aggregate Content
Selection of coarse aggregate content is empirically based on mixture
workability. ACI recommends the percentage (by unit volume) of coarse
aggregate based on nominal maximum aggregate size and fine aggregate
fineness modulus. This recommendation is based on empirical relationships
to produce PCC with a degree of workability suitable for usual reinforced
construction (ACI, 2000). Since pavement PCC should, in general, be more
stiff and less workable, ACI allows increasing their recommended values by
up to about 10 percent. Table 3.10 shows ACI recommended values.
Table 3.10: Volume of Coarse Aggregate per Unit Volume of PCC for
Different Fine aggregate Fineness Modulus for Pavement PCC.
Nominal Maximum Aggregate Size

Fine Aggregate Fineness Modulus





9.5 mm (0.375 inches)





12.5 mm (0.5 inches)





19 mm (0.75 inches)





25 mm (1 inches)





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37.5 mm (1.5 inches)





50 mm (2 inches)





1. These values can be increased by up to about 10 percent for
pavement applications.
2. Coarse aggregate volumes are based on oven-dry-rodded weights
obtained in accordance with ASTM C 29.

Fine Aggregate Content

At this point, all other constituent volumes have been specified (water,
portland cement, air and coarse aggregate). Thus, the fine aggregate
volume is just the remaining volume:

Unit volume (1 m3 or yd3)

Volume of mixing water
Volume of air
Volume of portland cement
Volume of coarse aggregate
Volume of fine aggregate


Adjustments for Aggregate Moisture

Unlike HMA, PCC batching does not require dried aggregate. Therefore,
aggregate moisture content must be accounted for. Aggregate moisture
affects the following parameters:

1. Aggregate weights. Aggregate volumes are calculated based on oven

dry unit weights, but aggregate is typically batched based on actual
weight. Therefore, any moisture in the aggregate will increase its
weight and stockpiled aggregates almost always contain some
moisture. Without correcting for this, the batched aggregate volumes
will be incorrect.
2. Amount of mixing water. If the batched aggregate is anything but
saturated surface dry it will absorb water (if oven dry or air dry) or give
up water (if wet) to the cement paste. This causes a net change in the
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amount of water available in the mix and must be compensated for by
adjusting the amount of mixing water added.


Types Of Concrete

3.8.1 Reinforced Cement Concrete

Reinforced cement concrete is a composite material made up of cement
concrete and reinforcement in which the concrete resists compression with
reinforcement resisting the tension and shear. It is the most versatile building
material available and is extensively used in the construction industry ranging
from small structural elements such as beams and columns to massive
structures like dams and bridges.

Figure 3.24: Reinforced concrete slab

3.8.2 Prestressed Concrete
A prestressed concrete may be defined as a concrete in which stresses of
suitable magnitude and distribution are introduced to counteract to a desired
degree the stresses resulting from external loads. The concrete was first
used by Mandl of France in 1896. In prestressed concrete high strength
concrete and steel are desirable. The former is required because of following:
1. The smaller cross-section of member results in smaller self weight.
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2. High bearing stresses are generated in anchorage zones.
3. The shrinkage cracks are reduced, with higher modulus of elasticity and
smaller creep strain.

The loss of prestress at the initial stages is very high and for it high strength
steel is required. Prestressing is achieved by either pretensioning or posttensioning. In the former the wires or cables are anchored, tensioned and
concrete is cast in the moulds. After the concrete has gained strength the
wires are released. This sets up compression in concrete which counteracts
tension in concrete because of bending in the member. In the post-tensioning
the prestressing force is applied to the steel bars or cables, after the concrete
has hardened sufficiently. After applying the full prestress the cable passages
are grouted.
It is widely used for construction of precast units such as beams, floors,
roofing systems, bridges, folded plate roofs, marine structures, towers and
railway sleepers.

Figure 3.25: Prestressed concrete girder

3.8.3 Polymer Concrete
The strength of concrete is greatly affected by porosity and attempts to
reduce it by vibration, pressure application, spinning, etc. They are of little
help in reducing the water voids and the inherent porosity of gel which is
about 28 per cent. The impregnation of manomer and subsequent
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polyvinyl acetate, homopolymer emulsions and vinyl acetate copolymer
emulsions - are added to increase strength, resistance to oil, grease, and
abrasion. They also improve bond between new and old concrete and are
useful for prefabricated structural elements, prestressed concrete, marine
works, nuclear power plants, water proofing and ferrocement products. The
disadvantages are that they are very brittle and expensive.

3.8.4 Fiber Reinforced Concrete

Conventional concrete is modified by random dispersal of short discrete fine
fibers of asbestos, steel, sisal, glass, carbon, Poly-propylene, glass, nylon,
etc. Asbestos cement fibers so far have proved to be commercially
successful. The improvement in structural performance depends on the
strength characteristics, volume, spacing, dispersion and orientation, shape
and their aspect ratio (ratio of length to diameter) of fibers.
The pull out resistance of fibers depends upon the bond between the fibers
and matrix, the number of fibers crossing the crack, and the aspect ratio.
The advantages of fiber reinforced concrete are: Strength of concrete increase
Fibers help to reduce cracking and permit the use of thin concrete
Ductility, impact resistance, tensile and bending strength are
The disadvantages of fiber reinforced concrete are: Fibers reduce the workability of a mix and may cause the entrainment
of air.
Steel fibers tend to intermesh and form ball during mixing of concrete.
Fiber reinforced concrete is useful hydraulic structures, airfield pavements,
highway, bridge decks, and heavy duty floors.
3.8.5 Lightweight Concrete
Conventional cement concrete is a heavy building material. For structures
such as multistorey buildings it is desirable to reduce the dead loads. Light
weight concrete is most suitable for such construction works. It is best
produced by entraining air in the cement concrete and can be obtained by
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anyone of the following methods:
1) By making concrete with cement and coarse aggregate only.
Sometimes such a concrete is referred to as no-fines concrete.
Suitable aggregates are - natural aggregate, blast furnance slag,
clinker, foamed slag, etc. Since fine aggregates are not used, voids
will be created and the concrete produced will be light weight.
2) By replacing coarse aggregate by porous or cellular aggregate. The
concrete produced is known as cellular concrete which is further
classified in the following:

Based on Manufacturing Method - classified as foam concrete

and gas concrete.
Based on Type of Binding Material - classified as gas and foam
concrete (Portland cement), gas and foam concrete (lime and
sand), gas slag and foam slag concretes (lime and finely
divided blast furnance slag or fly ash).

Foam concrete is obtained by mixing cement paste or mortar with stabilized

foam. After hardening, the foam cells form concrete of a cellular structure.
The foam is obtained by stirring a mixture of resin soap and animal glue. The
best foaming agents are alumino sulphonapthene compounds and
hydrolysed slaughter blood. This is very suitable for heat insulation purposes.
Gas concrete is also known as aerated concrete. It is obtained by expanding
the binding material paste by gas forming substances such as aluminium
powder. It is used for same purposes as that the foam concrete. However, it
is better than foam concrete.
The basic considerations in choosing the proportion of light weight concrete
are economy consistent with placability and adequate strength, and
attainment of specified bulk density with the lowest consumption of cement.
The characteristics of light weight concrete can be described as follows:

Density: the density of L.W.C varies from 300-1200 kg/m 3.

Strength: It has high compressive strength in relation to density. The
tensile strength is about 1/5th of its compressive strength.
Thermal Insulation is about 3-4 times more than that of bricks and
about 10 times than that of concrete.
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Fire Resistance is excellent.
Sound Insulation is poor.
Durability Aerated concrete is slightly alkaline. Due to its porosity and
low alkalinity the reinforcement may be subjected to corrosion and as
such, require special treatments.
Reparability Light weight cellular element can be easily sawn, drilled
or nailed which makes for easy construction and repairs.
Economy Due to light weight and high strength to mass ratio, the
cellular products are quite economical.

The applications of light weight concrete are: Low density cellular concrete is used for precast floor and roofing
Load bearing walls using cellular concrete blocks.
As insulation cladding to exterior walls of structures.

Figure 3.26: Lightweight concrete

Admixture for Concrete
Admixtures are ingredients other than portland cement, water, and aggregates that may be added to concrete to impart a specific quality to either the
plastic (fresh) mix or the hardened concrete. Some admixtures are charged
into the mix as solutions. In such cases the liquid should be considered part
of the mixing water. If admixtures cannot be added in solution, they are either
weighed or measured by volume as recommended by the manufacturer.

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Admixtures are classified by the following chemical and functional physical

Air entrainers
Water reducers
Hydration controller admixtures
Supplementary cementitious admixtures

The Portland Cement Association (PCA) identifies four major reasons for
using admixtures:

to reduce the cost of concrete construction.

to achieve certain properties in concrete more effectively than by other

to ensure quality of concrete during the stages of mixing, transporting,

placing, and curing in adverse weather conditions.
to overcome certain emergencies during concrete operations.

3.9.1 Air Entrainers

Air entrainers produce tiny air bubbles in the hardened concrete to provide
space for water to expand upon freezing. Internal stresses reduce the
durability of hardened concrete, especially when cycles of freeze and thaw
are repeated many times. The impact of each of these mechanisms is
mitigated by providing a network of tiny air voids in the hardened concrete
using air entrainers. In the late 1930s. the introduction of air entrainment in
concrete represented a major advance in concrete technology. Air
entrainment is recommended for all concrete exposed to freezing.
All concrete contains entrapped air voids, which have diameters of 1 mm or
larger and which represent approximately 0.2% to 3% of the concrete
volume. Entrained air voids have diameters that range from 0.01 mm to 1
mm, with the majority being less than 0.1 mm. The entrained air voids are not
connected and have a total volume between 1% and 7.5% of the concrete
volume. Concrete mixed for severe frost conditions should contain approximately 14 billion bubbles per cubic meter. Frost resistance improves
with decreasing void size, and small voids reduce strength less than large
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In addition to improving durability, air entrainment provides other important

benefits to both freshly mixed and hardened concrete. Air entrainment
improves concrete's resistance to several destructive factors, including
freeze-thaw cycles, deicers and salts, sulfates, and alkali-silica reactivity. Air
entrainment also increases the workability of fresh concrete. Air entrainment
decreases the strength of concrete however; this effect can be reduced for
moderate-strength concrete by lowering the water-cement ratio and
increasing the cement factor. High strength is difficult to attain with airentrained concrete.
3.9.2 Water Reducer
Workability of fresh or plastic concrete requires more water than is needed
for hydration. The excess water, beyond the hydration requirements, is
detrimental to all desirable properties of hardened concrete. Therefore, water
reducing admixtures have been developed to gain workability and, at the
same time, maintain quality. Water reducers increase the mobility of the cement particles in the plastic mix, allowing workability to be achieved at lower
water contents. Water reducers are produced with different levels of effectiveness: conventional, mid-range, and high-range. The high-range water
reducer is typically called superplasticizer.
Water reducing admixtures can be used indirectly to gain strength. Since the
water-reducing admixture increases workability, we can take advantage of
this phenomenon to decrease the mixing water, which in turn reduces the
water-cementitious materials ratio and increases strength.
Superplasticizers, or high-range water reducers, can either greatly increase
the flow of the fresh concrete or reduce the amount of water required for a
given consistency. For example, adding a superplasticizer to a concrete with
a 75-mm (3 in.) slump can increase the slump to 230 mm (9 in.), or the
original slump can be maintained by reducing the water content 12% to 30%.
Reducing the amount of mixing water reduces the water-cementitious
materials ratio, which in turn, increases the strength of hardened concrete. In
fact, the use of superplasticizers has resulted in a major breakthrough in the
concrete industry. Now, high-strength concrete in the order of 70-80 MPa
compressive strength or more can be produced when superplasticizers are
used. Superplasticizers can be used in the following cases:

Low water-cementitious materials ratio is beneficial (e.g., high-strength

concrete, early strength gain, and reduced porosity) 2. placing thin
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Placing concrete around tightly spaced reinforcing steel
Placing cement underwater
Placing concrete by pumping
Consolidating the concrete is difficult

When superplasticizers are used, the fresh concrete stays workable for a
short time, 30 min to 60 min, and is followed by rapid loss in workability.
Superplasticizers are usually added at the plant to ensure consistency of the
concrete. In critical situations, they can be added at the jobsite, but the concrete should be thoroughly mixed following the addition of the admixture. The
setting time varies with the type of agents, the amount used, and the interactions with other admixtures used in the concrete.
3.9.3 Retarders
Some construction conditions require that the time between mixing and
placing or finishing the concrete be increased. In such cases, retarders can
be used to delay the initial set of concrete. Retarders are used for several
reasons, such as the following:

offsetting the effect of hot weather

allowing for unusual placement or long haul distances
providing time for special finishes (e.g.. exposed aggregate)

Retarders can reduce the strength of concrete at early ages (e.g., one to
three days). In addition, some retarders entrain air and improve workability.
Other retarders increase the time required for the initial set but reduce the
time between the initial and final set. The properties of retarders vary with the
materials used in the mix and with job conditions. Thus, the use and effect of
retarders must be evaluated experimentally during the mix design process.
3.9.4 Hydration-Control Admixture
These admixtures have the ability to stop and reactivate the hydration
process of concrete. They consist of two parts: a stabilizer and an activator.
Adding the stabilizer completely stops the hydration of the cementing materials for up to 72 hours, while adding the activator to the stabilized concrete
reestablishes normal hydration and setting. These admixtures are very useful
in extending the use of ready-mixed concrete when the work at the jobsite is
stopped for various reasons. They are also useful when concrete is being
hauled for a long time.
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3.9.5 Accelerators
Accelerators are used to develop early strength of concrete at a faster rate
than that developed in normal concrete. The ultimate strength, however, of
high early strength concrete is about the same as that of normal concrete.
Accelerators are used to

Reduce the amount of time before finishing operations begin.

Reduce curing time.
Increase rate of strength gain.
Plug leaks under hydraulic pressure efficiently.

The first three reasons are particularly applicable to concrete work placed
during cold temperatures. The increased strength gained helps to protect the
concrete from freezing and the rapid rate of hydration generates heat that
can reduce the risk of freezing.
Calcium chloride, CaCl2, is the most widely used accelerator (ASTM D98).
Both initial and final set times are reduced with calcium chloride. The initial
set time of 3 hours for a typical concrete can be reduced to 1.5 hours by
adding an amount of calcium chloride equal to 1% of the cement weight; 2%
reduces the initial set time to 1 hour. Typical final set times are 6 hours, 3
hours, and 2 hours for 0%, 1%, and 2% calcium chloride. Concrete with
CaCI2, develops higher early strength compared with plain concrete cured at
the same temperature.
The PCA recommends against using calcium chloride under the following

concrete is prestressed
concrete contains embedded aluminum such as conduits, especially if
the aluminum is in contact with steel
concrete is subjected to alkali-aggregate reaction
concrete is in contact with water or soils containing sulfates
concrete is placed during hot weather
mass applications of concrete

3.9.6 Supplementary Cementitious Admixtures

Several byproducts of other industries have been used in concrete as
supplementary cementitious admixtures since the 1970s. These materials
have been used to improve some properties of concrete and to reduce the
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problem of discarding them. Since these materials are cementitious, they can
be used in addition to or as a partial replacement for portland cement. In fact,
two or more of these supplementary cementitious additives have been used
together to enhance concrete properties. These supplementary cementitious
materials include fly ash, ground granulated blast furnace slag, silica fume,
and natural pozzolans.

Fly Ash
Fly ash is the most commonly used pozzolan in civil engineering
structures. Fly ash is a by-product of the coal industry. Combusting
pulverized coal in an electric power plant burns off the carbon and
most volatile materials. However, depending on the source and type of
coal, a significant amount of impurities passes through the combustion
The carbon contents of common coals ranges from 70 to 100 percent.
The noncarbon percentages are impurities (e.g., clay, feldspar, quartz,
and shale), which fuse as they pass through the combustion chamber.
Exhaust gas carries the fused material, fly ash, out of the combustion
chamber. The fly ash cools into spheres, which may be solid, hollow
(cenospheres), or hollow and filled with other spheres (plerospheres).
Particle diameters range from 1 m to more than 0.1 mm, with an
average of 0.015 mm to 0.020 mm, and are 70% to 90% smaller than
0.045 mm. Fly ash is primarily a silica glass composed of silica (SiO2),
alumina (Al2O3), iron oxide (Fe203), and lime (Ca0).
The spherical shape of fly ash increases the workability of the fresh
concrete. In addition, fly ash extends the hydration process, allowing a
greater strength development and reduced porosity. Studies have
shown that concrete containing more than 20% fly ash by weight of
cement has a much smaller pore size distribution than portland
cement concrete without fly ash. The lower heat of hydration reduces
the early strength of the concrete. The extended reaction permits a
continuous gaining of strength beyond what can be accomplished with
plain portland cement.


Ground Granulated Blast Furnace Slag

Ground granulated blast furnace slag (GGBF slag) is made from iron
blast furnace slag. It is a nonmetallic hydraulic cement consisting
basically of silicates and aluminosilicates of calcium, which is
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developed in a molten condition simultaneously with iron in a blast
furnace. The molten slag is rapidly chilled by quenching in water to
form a glassy sandlike granulated material. The material is then
ground to less than 45 microns. The specific gravity of GGBF slag is in
the range of 2.85 to 2.95.
The rough and angular-shaped ground slag in the presence of water
and an activator, NaOH or CaOH, supplied by portland cement,
hydrates and sets in a manner similar to portland cement.
Ground slag has been used as a cementitious material in concrete
since the beginning of the 1900s. Ground granulated blast furnace
slag commonly constitutes between 30% and 45% of the cementing
material in the mix. Some slag concretes have a slag component of
70% or more of the cementitious material. ASTM C 989 (AASHTO M
302) classifies slag by its increasing level of reactivity as Grade 80,
100, or 120.


Silica Fume
Silica fume is a byproduct of the production of silicon metal or
ferrosilicon alloys. One of the most beneficial uses for silica fume is as
a mineral admixture in concrete. Because of its chemical and physical
properties, it is a very reactive pozzolan. Concrete containing silica
fume can have very high strength and can be very durable. Silica fume
is available from suppliers of concrete admixtures and, when
specified, is simply added during concrete production either in wet or
dry forms. Placing, finishing, and curing silica fume concrete require
special attention on the part of the concrete contractor.
Silicon metal and alloys are produced in electric furnaces. The raw
materials are quartz, coal, and woodchips. The smoke that results
from furnace operation is collected and sold as silica fume.
Silica fume consists primarily of amorphous (noncrystalline) silicon
dioxide (SiO2). The individual particles are extremely small,
approximately 1/100th the size of an average cement particle.
Because of its fine particles, large surface area, and the high SiO 2,
content, silica fume is a very reactive pozzolan when used in concrete.
The quality of silica fume is specified by ASTM C 1240 and AASHTO
M 307.

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Chapter 3: Concrete
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In addition to producing high-strength concrete, silica fame can reduce
concrete corrosion induced by deicing or marine salts. Silica fume
concrete with low water content is highly resistant to penetration by
chloride ions.
Natural Pozzolans (palm-oil fuel ash, rice husk ash)
A pozzolan is a siliceous and aluminous material which, in itself,
possesses little or no cementitious value but will, in finely divided form
and in the presence of moisture, react chemically with calcium hydroxide at ordinary temperatures to form compounds possessing
cementitious properties (ASTM C595). Naturally occurring pozzolans,
such as fine volcanic ash, combined with burned lime, were used
about 2000 years ago for building construction and pozzolan
continues to be used today. Calcium hydroxide is one of the products
generated by the hydration of C3 S and C2S. In fact, up to 15% of the
weight of Portland cement is hydrated lime. Adding a pozzolan to
portland cement generates an opportunity to convert this free lime to a
cementitious material.

High strength concrete (HSC)

It is necessary to obtain the maximum performance out of all the materials

involve in the production of high strength concrete. The materials are :
3.10.1 Portland cement
HSC requires cements that meet the ASTM Standards of C150 for
type I, II and II Portland cement. The fineness of which higher surface
area in contact with water will lead to a more rapid hydration. Most use
the Blaine fineness of 300 to 400 kg/m 2 some up to the value of 450
kg/m2. As far as the chemical composition is concern the composition
as shown in Table 1.7 is the best combination there is.
3.10.2 Superplasticizer
It is essentially impossible in the modern high strength concrete
industry preparation without the use of superpalsticizer. Basically there
are 3 principal types of superplasticizer :
a. Lignosulfonate based : not to be efficient enough for the
economic production of the very high strength concretes.
b. Melamine sulfonate based : melamine superplasticizers are clear
liquids, containing 22% solid particle, they are generally in the form
of sodium salt. Trade marked as Melment and many others
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remain popular in the production of high strength concretes.
c. Naphtalene sulfonate available under greater number of brand
names. Available in powder or brown liquids and have solid
contents of 40%. Avalable in sodium or calcium salts. Has control
on the rheological properties of high strength concretes.
3.10.3 Retarders
Only used as the last resort to minimize the problem of over rapid
slum loss. Since it is difficult to maintain the compatibility between
minimizing slump lost and without excessively reducing early strength
3.10.4 Age at test
Apart of using strength at 28 days for opc concrete, for high strength
concrete requirement of 56 and 90 days strength is common. The
increase in strength between 28 days and 56 or 90 days is
considerable (i.e. between 10% to 20%) increase in strength.
3.10.5 Curing conditions
The highest concrete strengths will be obtained with specimens
continuously moist cured (at 100% relative humidity) until the time of
testing. Research by Carrascillo, shows that HSC moistly cured for 7
days and air dried at 50% relative humidity until 28 days suffers
strength loss of 10%. In another case, up to 15 days specimen treated
with a curing compound and allowed to cure at ambient conditions
yields higher strength than moistly cured specimen. Only at later days
(56 and 90 days) did the strength of moistly cured specimen surpass
those field-cured specimen.
3.10.6 Material Proportions in HSC
Water / cementetious ratio (w/c) : determine the strength of the
concrete at the end. Several combinations are as shown in Figure
3.27. At a w/c ratio of 0.45, the range in strength is from 37 MPa to 66
MPa; while at w/c of 0.26 the range is from 78MPa to 120 MPa.

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Figure 3.27 : Compressive strength vs w/c

Cementitious material content : for normal strength concrete, cement
contents are in the range of 350 to 550 kg/m 3. However, in HSC the
amount is ranging between 500 to 650 kg/m 3.
Supplementary cementing materials : their quantity may vary
depending upon workability, economy and heat of hydration
considerations. Silica fume that increase the strength of concrete up to
98MPa generally added at rates of 5 to 10% of the total cementitious
Ratio of coarse to fine aggregates : For the maximum size of 14mm
aggregates, the range of 0.9 to 1.4 for normal strength concrete but for
HSC these ratio is between 1.5 and 1.8 but sometimes reaches 2.0.
3.10.7 Sample of mix proportion for HSC

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1st Ed, Civil Engineering Materials

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Chapter 3: Concrete
1st Ed, Civil Engineering Materials

Tutorial 3


What is concrete and how is it made?


What is curing? What is its significance?


Define water/cement ratio. How does it influence concrete strength?


What is meant by workability of concrete? How is it tested in field and

in laboratory?


Write short notes on following:

(a) Light weight concrete (b) Fiber reinforced concrete
(c) Reinforced concrete
(d) Prestressed concrete

Summary of Chapter 3
From this chapter, we can conclude that, concrete is conglomerate, stone like
material composed essentially of three materials which are cement,
aggregate and water. Sometimes a fourth material namely an admixture is
added for variety of specific purposes, such as acceleration or retardation of
setting or hardening. The strength and quality of concrete depend not only on
the quality and quantity of the materials, but on the procedures used in
combining these materials and the skill involved in the placing and curing of

Prepared by: Mohammad Soffi Md. Noh, January 2010