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Building Materials


Cement Concrete


Concrete a composite man-made material, is the most widely used building material in the
construction industry.
It consists of a rationally chosen mixture of binding material such as lime or cement, well graded
fine and coarse aggregates, water and admixtures (to produce concrete with special properties).
In a concrete mix, cement and water form a paste or matrix which in addition to filling the voids
of the fine aggregate, coats the surface of fine and coarse aggregates and binds them together.

Freshly mixed concrete before set is known as wet or green concrete whereas after setting and
hardening it is known as set or hardened concrete. The moulded concrete mix after sufficient
curing becomes hard like stone due to chemical action between the water and binding material.

The major factors responsible for wide usage of cement-concrete are mouldability, early hardening, high early compressive strength, development of desired properties with admixtures to
be used in adverse situations

Classification of Concrete

Classification based on cementing material :Concretes are classified as lime concrete, gypsum
concrete and cement concrete.
Classification based on perspective specifications:The cement concrete is specified by proportions of different ingredients, e.g., 1 (cement) : 1.5 (fine aggregate) : 3 (coarse aggregate). It is
presumed that by adhering to such perspective specifications satisfactory performance may be
achieved. M refers to the mix. This type of concrete mix is also known as nominal mix.

Classification based on Performance oriented specifications : When the concrete properties

such as strength, water-cement ratio, compaction factor, slump, etc., are specified the concrete
may be classified as designed-mix concrete. For a design mix concrete the mix is designed to
produce the grade of concrete having the required workability and a characteristic strength not
less than the appropriate values as specified in Table


Classification based on Grade of Cement Concrete: Depending upon the strength

(N/mm2) of concrete cubes (150 mm side) at 28 days, concrete is classified as

Classification based on Bulk Density: On the basis of density, concrete is classified as super
heavy (over 2500 kg/m3), dense (1800-2500 kg/m3), light weight (5001800 kg/m3) and extra
light weight concrete (below 500 kg/m3).

Ingredients(Main & Admixtures-I.S. 9103-1999)

Fine Aggregate(sand),
Coarse aggregate(broken stones or gravel)
Plasticizers: Organic or a combination of organic and inorganic substances, which allow a
water reduction for a given workability, or give higher workability at the same water content.
Plasticizers are principally surface active (surfactants). They induce a negative charge on the
individual cement particles such that the fine cement particles are dispersed due to inter particle
repulsion.Water reducing admixtures or plasticizers therefore help to increase the flow of the
concrete mix considerably
Superplasticizers: Hydrodynamic lubricants which impart high workability by reducing friction
between the grains or by reducing the amount of water to be added. They are improved version
of plasticizers interact both physically and chemically with cement particles. The mechanism
of action of super plasticizers is same as that of plasticizer. Superplasticisers are anionic in
nature and impart a negative charge to the cement particles, causing them to repel each other.


Accelerators: Normally reduce the setting time, accelerate the rate of hydration of cement and
consequently the rate of gain of strength. The examples of accelerators are sulphates with an
exception of calcium sulphate, alkali carbonates aluminates and silicates, aluminium chloride,
calcium chloride, sodium chloride, sodium and potassium hydroxides.
Retarders: Normally increase setting time and thus delay the setting of cement. Since these
reduce the rate of hydration, more water is available and better is the workability. Retarders increase the compressive strength under freezing and thawing. Calcium sulphate, sugar, starch,
cellulose, ammonium, ferrous and ferric chlorides
Air-entraining agents : Air intentionally introduced in cement during its manufacture or during
making concrete is known as entrained air. It is different from entrapped air where continuous
channels are formed, increasing the permeability. In case of entrained air, voids formed are
discontinuous and less than 0.05 mm in diameter. Air entrainment increases workability, resistance of concrete to weathering. Possibility of bleeding, segregation and laitance is reduced.
Air entrainment is done by surface active agents, chemicals, or cement dispersing agent
Pozzolanic material : Siliceous materials which are themselves inactive but react, in presence
of water, with lime to form compounds having cementitious properties. Examples are lime, fly
ash, burnt clay and blast furnace slag. Puzzolanas react with free lime in cement and improve
the durability of concrete, and reduce rate of hardening of concrete, which is the principal
objection to its use.

Water-Cement Ratio

Water-cement ratio is one of the major factors influencing strength of concrete. It is responsible mainly for porosity of hardened cement paste. Water-cement ratio is the water used to
the quantum of cement in the mixture by weight. For proper workability w/c ratio varies from
Maximum strength is derived at w/c = 0.4 at which minimum capillary cavities are expected to
form. For complete hydration of cement under controlled conditions the water requirement is
about 38%. When decreased to less than 0.4 there is improper consistency and workability of
Concrete compacted by vibrator displays higher strength even up to w/c = 0.3 At w/c ratio>
0.6, increase in volume of hydrated products will not be able to occupy the space already filled
with water. Hence, porosity increases and strength decreases. For calculating w/c ratio it is
assumed that aggregates are saturated with surfaces dry.
Gel-space ratio is defined as the ratio of volume of hydrated cement paste to the sum of the
volumes of the hydrated cement and that of the capillary pores


In fresh concrete the theoretical w/c ratio to meet the requirements of water for chemical combination with cement, and to occupy the gel-space is about 0.4 for maximum strength. The w/c
ratio used at site may vary because of: (a) presence of free surface moisture in aggregates (b)
absorption of moisture by dry or porous aggregates. Because of the above limitations another
characteristic workability, which is again a reflection of w/c ratio, becomes important.
Theoretical w/c ratio used will not give the maximum strength. 100% compaction of concrete
will give maximum strength and this can be obtained by increasing the w/c ratio. The water lubricates the concrete which can be compacted at site with the specified efforts. The lubrication
required for handling concrete without segregation, for placing without loss of homogeneity, for
compacting with specified effort and for easy finish are indications of workable concrete.
Workability is different than consistency. The latter indicates degree of fluidity or mobility. A
concrete with high consistency need not be workable for a particular job. Concrete workable
for foundation may not be workable for slab. Even for slab different workabilities will be required
for compaction by hand and that by vibration
A workable concrete exhibits very little internal friction between the particles forming the concrete and overcomes the frictional resistance offered by the internal surface of formwork as
well as that by the reinforcement contained in the concrete with just the amount of compacting
efforts forthcoming.

Factors affecting Workability

Water Content :The fluidity of concrete increases with water content. In case if more water is
added due to any reason the cement content should be proportionately increased.
Mix proportions: Higher the aggregate-cement ratio leaner will be the concrete, paste available
for lubrication of per unit surface area of aggregates will be less; workability is reduced
Aggregate Size :For big size aggregate the total surface area to be wetted is less, also less
paste is required for lubricating the surface to reduce internal friction. For a given water content
big size aggregate give high workability.
Shape of Aggregates: Round and cubical shape aggregates are more workable than rough,
angular or flaky aggregates, because they require less cement paste for lubrication as these
have less surface area and lesser voids. In case of round aggregates frictional resistance is
also small so less lubrication is required.
Surface Texture: A rough surface aggregate will have more surface area and will be more
workable(than a smooth round textured aggregate).
Grading of aggregates :Properly graded aggregates are more workable as the mix will have
least voids and excess cement paste will be available as lubricant. Also prevents segregation
Admixtures:Air entrained concrete is more workable because air forms bubbles, on which the
aggregates slide past each other increasing the workability.

Curing of Concrete

Cement gains strength and hardness due to the chemical action between cement and water
and requires moisture, favourable temperature and time.This time is called curing period.
Curing of freshly placed concrete is very important for optimum strength and durability. The
major part of the strength in the initial period is contributed by clinker compound C3 S and partly
by C2 S, and completed in about three weeks. The later strength contributed by C2 S is gradual
and takes long time. Sufficient water is needed to allow it to full gain of strength. The process
of keeping concrete damp for this purpose is known as curing.
The objective is to prevent loss of moisture from concrete due to evaporation or any other
reason, supply additional moisture or heat and moisture to accelerate the gain of strength.
Curing must be done for at least three weeks and in no case for less than ten days.
The methods of curing consist in either supplying additional moisture to concrete during early
hardening period by ponding, spraying, sprinkling, etc. or by preventing loss of moisture from
concrete by sealing the surface of concrete by membrane formed by curing compounds.
Water Curing is done by covering the concrete surface with gunny bags and then sprinkling water over them regularly or with water proof paper. In membrane curing the surface is coated with
a bitumen layer to prevent loss of moisture by evaporation.Curing can be also accomplished by
artificial heat while the concrete is maintained in moist condition which is done by steam curing.
The other methods are curing by infra red radiation,electrical curing and chemical curing.

Tests for Strength of Concrete(I.S.516)-Compression Test

150 150 150 mm cubes or cylinders of 150 mm diameter and 300 mm height are taken.
The mixed concrete is filled into the moulds in layers of 50 mm to achieve full compaction. Each
layer of mix so placed is tamped with bar, 16 mm in diameter and 600 mm long, 35 times or
with a vibrator.
The test specimens are stored at a temperature of 27 3C and a t 90 per cent humidity for 24
hour from the time of addition of water to the dry ingredients. After this period the specimens
are removed from the moulds and placed in water and kept there until taken out just prior to
Normally, the specimens are tested at 7 and 28 days. At least three specimens, preferably
from different batches, are tested at each selected age. The specimens should be tested
immediately after taking out them from water with surface water wiped off. The specimen is
placed between the platens of the compression testing machine with the care that the axis of
specimen is aligned with the centre of thrust of the spherically seated platen. The compression
testing machine should be able to apply gradual load of 14 N/mm2 / minute. Until the specimen
is crushed.
Compressive Strength = Maximum Load /Cross-sectional Area The average of the three values
is taken as the compressive strength of concrete of the batch, provided the individual variation
is not more than 15 per cent of the average.

Flexure Test

The flexural tensile strength test is performed to estimate the tensile load at which concrete
may crack. The tensile strength at failure or the modulus of rupture is determined.
The concrete is filled in the mould of size 150 150 700 mm and compacted with the tamping
bar weighing 2 kg, 400 mm long and with a ramming face 25 mm square. The specimen to be
tested is placed in the testing machine on two 38 mm diameter rollers with a c/c distance of 600
mm. The load is applied through two similar rollers mounted at the third points, i.e., spaced at
200 mm c/c.
The specimen are stored in water at a temperature of 27 3C fo r 48 hours before testing and
are tested in wet condition. The load is applied without shock and increasing continuously at a
rate of 0.7 N/mm2/minute until the specimen fails.
Modulus of rupture = pl/bd2 (a>200 mm) ,or, = 3pa/bd2 (280 mm<a>170 mm) where, a is the
distance between the line of fracture and the nearest support, b and d are width and depth of
specimen, is the length of the span on which the specimen is supported, and p is the maximum
load applied to the specimen.

Measurement of workability(I.S.-1199)-Slump Test

This test specifies the procedure to be adopted, either in the laboratory or during work in the
field, for determining the consistency of concrete where nominal maximum size of aggregate
does not exceed 38 mm.
The internal dimensions of the mould 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 25 strokes of 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.
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. The slump measured is recorded in terms of millimetres of subsidence of the specimen.

Estimate of Workability