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Suresh Kumar, Dinesh Kumar and Nancy Mittal

National Council for Cement and Building Material


The paper presents the study of Controlled Low Strength Materials (CLSM) utilizing Fly Ash from Thermal
Power Plant. The properties of CLSM that had been investigated included Bleeding, Density of hardened
CLSM, Permeability and unconfined Compressive strength of CLSM at 7 days and 28 days age. The CLSM
specimens were prepared by varying the proportion of cement, fine aggregate, fly ash and water. CLSM
mixtures were cast into cube moulds with the size of (100mmx100mmx100mm). In order to achieve good
flowability the water/cement ratio used in CLSM was found to be very high. With the increase of fillers
especially fly ash, bleeding and segregation conditions of CLSM are improved. With various mix design of
CLSM, compressive strength of CLSM is controlled between 1.00MPa to 8.3MPa, in order to suit the
requirement of different application, such as excavatable backfill and structural backfill. With this range of
strength, CLSM can be used as alternative materials to solve the soft soil problems. The paper describes the
use of CLSM with an emphasis on the use of waste Materials like fly ash for infrastructure applications.

Keywords- CLSM; Fly ash; Bleeding and Segregation; Density; Permeability; Compressive strength;
Backfill; Soft Soil Problems.


CLSM is a self-compacting, flowable, low-strength cementitious material used primarily as backfill, void fill
and utility bedding as an alternative to compacted fill. Several terms are currently used to describe this
material, including flowable fill, unshrinkable fill, controlled density fill, flowable mortar, plastic soil-
cement, soil-cement slurry, K-Krete and other various names (1).

Controlled low-strength materials are defined by Cement and Concrete Terminology (ACI 116R) as
materials that result in a compressive strength of 8.3MPa or less. However, most current CLSM applications
require unconfined compressive strengths of 2.1MPa or less. This lower-strength requirement is necessary to
allow for future excavation of CLSM. The term CLSM can be used to describe a family of mixtures for a
variety of applications. For example, the upper limit of 8.3MPa allows use of this material for applications
where future excavation is unlikely, such as structural fill under buildings (2). CLSM can replace compacted
soil as structural fill or backfill in many applications. Because CLSM flows and needs no compaction, its
ideal for use in tight or restricted- access areas where placing and compacting soil or granular fill is difficult
or even impossible. CLSM is used as a backfill material for utility trenches containing ducts and/or pipes,
around manholes and other excavations in streets, around foundations, or as a fill for abandoned tunnels,
sewers, storage tanks, etc. Utility companies often specify CLSM instead of soil for backfilling around pipes
or conduits. The material flows under and around pipes, providing uniform support without leaving voids.
Self- leveling, CLSM also eliminates the chance of workers accidentally damaging pipes by operating
compaction equipment near them. If easy access to utility lines is essential for maintenance or repairs,
CLSM compressive strengths can be specified at or below 0.70Mpa. At these strengths, the material can be
excavated easily with a backhoe or other digging equipment. CLSM also has applications for pavement
construction and maintenance. Used under roadways, it serves as a strong, stable subbase (3). Generally,
CLSM mixtures are not designed to resist freezing and thawing, abrasive or erosive forces, or aggressive
chemicals2. These factors should be taken into consideration when designing CLSM mixtures. Here are
some factors that should be considered: 1. Removability (Excavatability) 2. Flow ability 3.Available
Materials 4. Load Transfer (Bearing capacity). Many waste materials were successfully used to develop
CLSM. To name a few, there are flue gas desulphurization material, foundry sand, wood fly ash, dry
scrubber ash and glass cullet (4). We have taken up this study further to use fly ash conforming to IS: 3812
(Part-2), which is a coarse fly ash and replaced part of cement and fine aggregate to a greater extent.
Attempt is made to look into the maximum usage of coarse fly ash in CLSM.


2.1 Materials for CLSM

Conventional CLSM mixtures usually consist of water, Portland cement, fly ash or other similar products,
fine or coarse aggregates or both. It is not necessary to use the standardized materials as set by many
available standard requirements (2). Selection of materials should base on availability, cost specific
application, and necessary characteristics of mixture, such as strength, flowability, excavatability, and

2.1.1 Cement

Cement is a binder material that holds all the other materials together and contributes to the strength and
cohesion for CLSM mixtures. Ordinary Portland Cement 43 Grade conforming to IS 8112:1989 is used in
our experiment work. The Chemical composition and physical properties of Cement are given in Table 1&2

Table.1 Chemical composition of Cement

Material CaO SiO2 Al2O3 Fe2O3 MgO K2O Na2O SO3 Cl LOI
Cement 60.70 21.77 4.18 3.77 4.47 0.67 0.09 2.24 0.006 1.61

Table.2 Physical Properties of Cement

SI No. Physical properties Cement

1 Fineness Blaine, m2/kg 302
2 Specific Gravity 3.15
3 Setting Time, minutes
Initial 125
Final 185
4 Compressive Strength, N/mm2
3-day 30.00
7-day 38.00
28-day 53.00
5 Soundness
Autoclave, % 0.04
Le Chaterlier Exp. (mm) 1.00
2.1.2 Fly Ash

Fly ash obtained from thermal power plant was used in the investigation. The fly ash used in this
investigation conforms to IS: 3812 (Part 2)-2003. The Chemical composition and physical properties of fly
ash are given in Table 3 & 4 respectively.

Table.3 Chemical composition of Fly Ash

Material CaO SiO2 Al2O3 Fe2O3 MgO K2O Na2O SO3 Cl LOI
Fly ash 2.11 62.88 26.23 4.23 1.43 1.15 0.30 0.11 0.011 0.21

Table.4 Physical Properties of Fly Ash

SI No. Physical properties Fly Ash

1 Fineness Blaine, m2/kg 234
2 Specific Gravity 2.11
3 Lime reactivity, N/mm2 4.90
4 Soundness Autoclave, % 0.03

2.1.3 Fine Aggregates

The water absorption and specific gravity of the sand used is 0.80% and 2.61, respectively and conforms to
grading Zone I. The testing of sand was done as per Indian Standard Specifications IS: 383:1970. The sieve
analysis results are shown in Table 5.

Table.5 Physical Properties of Fine Aggregate

IS Sieve designation Percentage passing Grading Limit for Zone I as

per IS:383-1970
10mm 100 100
4.75mm 89 90-100
2.36mm 80 60-95
1.18mm 62 30-70
600m 31 15-34
300m 6 5-20
150m 1 0-10
Zone I

2.2 Test Procedure

2.2.1. Concrete Mix Design

The mix formulation used in the investigation is shown in Table 6. The proportions for the CLSM mixtures
were designed for cement contents ranging from 30 to 70 kg/m3 and fly ash contents between 460 and 1200
kg/m .The CLSM was designed for 28-day characteristics strength of 0.52MPa with the slump requirement
of 175-200mm. The Target mean strength is calculated by using the equation i.e. fck + 1.65*S, where S is
assumed standard deviation as 20% of required characteristics strength at 28-day.
2.2.2. Mixing, Slump Test, Casting, De-moulding and Curing

The mixing was done in a pan mixer for 2 to 3 minutes and workability of CLSM mix was checked using
slump cone method as per IS 1199:1959. The cube specimens of 100mmx100mmx100mm size were cast
without any vibration. The specimens were stored in a place free from vibration, in moist air of > 90%
relative humidity and at a temperature of 27C2C until the fourth day after preparation. Humidity chamber
were used to maintain these condition. On the fourth day, specimens were placed in a water curing tank.

2.2.3. Bleeding

The bleeding test of CLSM was carried out as per the method given in IS: 9103-1999. A cylindrical
container of approximately 0.01m3 capacities was filled with fresh CLSM and the test specimen was kept at
27C temperatures. The water accumulated at the top was drawn off by means of a pipette, initially at 10min
intervals during the first 40min and after that at 30 min intervals subsequently till bleeding ceases. The
bleeding water was collected in a graduated jar and accumulated quantity of bleeding water was recorded at
the end of test and the percentage of bleeding water was calculated.

2.2.4 Density of Hardened CLSM

Density of hardened CLSM specimens was measured by measuring the mass of the hardened CLSM, and
then divided by the volume of CLSM measured.

2.2.5 Compression test

Compression test was carried out on compression testing machine having maximum load capacity of 150
KN. Cubes of size 100mmx100mmx100mm were tested.

2.2.6 Permeability of CLSM

Permeability of most excavatable CLSM is similar to compacted granular fills. Cylindrical specimens with
the size of (150mmx150mm) were cast for Permeability test. Finer constituent materials and mixtures of
higher strength can achieve permeabilities as low as 1.00 x 10-7 cm/sec (2). Permeability is increased as
cementitious materials are reduced and aggregate contents are increased. Permeability of hardened CLSM
was tested as per IS: 3085-1965 and pressure head was maintained as 1kg/cm2.

Table.6 Trails conducted for CLSM

Water Cement Fly ash Fine Workability 7-Day 28-Day Density of

Content Content Content aggregate of concrete comp. comp. Hardened
(Kg/m3) (Kg/m3) (Kg/m3) content obtained in strength of strength of CLSM
(Kg/m3) terms of cube cube (Kg/m3)
slump (mm) (N/mm2) (N/mm2)
250 30 460 1364 180 0.80 1.45 2122
250 50 460 1347 170 1.20 2.99 2126
250 70 460 1330 170 1.40 3.62 2132
290 30 800 839 165 0.85 1.77 1976
304 50 800 786 195 1.82 3.68 1954
355 50 1000 405 185 1.65 3.09 1832
375 30 1200 122 180 0.66 1.47 1736

Properties of CLSM such as bleeding, density, unconfined compressive strength and permeability
are discussed.

3.1 Bleeding

In this experiment, there is no significant bleeding or segregation observed. This is because only fine
aggregates and fillers are used in all the mixtures instead of coarse aggregate. Fine particles have
smaller void between the particles. With less voids, particles are less likely to be dislocated. Unless
excessive free water exists or terrible bleeding occurs, segregation of CLSM designed with fine
aggregates only is very unlikely to happen (1).

3.2 Density of Hardened CLSM

The density of CLSM in this experiment obtained varies from 1736 kg/m3 to 2126 kg/m3 as given in
Table 6.The results found by Horiguchi, Okumura, and Saeki (5), the range of CLSM density varies
from 1338 kg/m3 to 2056 kg/m3. Comparing to those results, the results obtained seem to be very

3.3 Unconfined Compressive Strength of CLSM

Unconfined Compressive Strength is the parameter that determines the load-carrying ability of
CLSM. The compressive strength for all the specimens was tested for 7 days and 28 days (Fig-1).
From the figures as given in Table 6, it can be concluded that the higher quantity of cement used
will produce CLSM with higher compressive strength as it has lower water/cement ratio. This is
very rational as cement is the major source of cementitious materials within the mixture that is used
to bond the aggregates and particles. The Compressive strength of CLSM is depending on the bond
formed between these particles. Thus, it is reasonable that more cement used can generate more
strength as particles are more effectively bonded together (6). Besides cement, fly ash content also
causes minor effects to the compressive strength of CLSM specimens.

3.4 Permeability of CLSM

Permeability in an existing concrete structure is an essential and important step for the definition of
its durability, performance, and lifetime. Permeability regulates the speed of aggressive water
penetration inside concrete besides, controlling the movement of the water during the freeze-thaw
process. The coefficient of Permeability of CLSM when tested as per IS: 3085-1965 (Fig-2) is 1.00
x 10-8 cm/sec which is lower than clay that has relatively low permeability with a coefficient of
Permeability of 1.00 x 10-7 cm/sec.

Fig-1: Compressive Strength Test Fig-2: Permeability Test


Based on the experiments conducted and analysis of experimental results, the following conclusions are

i. No significant bleeding or segregation observed.

ii. Higher fly ash content generates lower density value of CLSM concrete.
iii. Higher water-cement ratio produced lower density value of CLSM concrete.
iv. Fine aggregate, especially fly ash, was the most significant factor affecting the water demand of
v. The workability of concrete decreased with the increases in volume of fly ash. It can be due to extra
fineness of flyash as the volume of flyash in CLSM mix is increased. Thus, increase in the specific
surface due to increased fineness and a greater amount of water needed for the mix ingredients to
get closer packing, results decrease in workability of mix.
vi. Fly ash from 400 Kg/m3 to 1000 Kg/m3 can be used successfully to achieve the require strength and
Workability. However higher value of fly ash up to 1200 Kg/m3 can also be considered in some
vii. The compressive strength of CLSM mixes tested is in the range of 1.0MPa to 3.68MPa. This shows
that CLSM using fly ash can be designed for excavatable and structural filling application like soil
and structural filling, utility bedding and sub-base. Based on this investigation, it is concluded that
industrial waste fly ash can is successfully used in CLSM.
viii. Fly ash used as fine aggregates replacements enables the large utilization of waste product.

Furthermore, the application of CLSM is as structural fill or backfill in place of compacted soils and
granular fill. Per cubic meter of material, CLSM costs more than conventional granular backfill. The savings
in time and money as well as versatility and consistent quality of CLSM typically outweighs the use of
conventional fill materials. Moreover, in future it will be very difficult to find soil for backfilling purposes
and for this CLSM is a very good as well as eco-friendly alternative.


(1) A. Katz and K. Kolver, Utilization of industrial by-products for the production of CLSM, Waste
Management, vol. 24(5), pp. 501-512, 2004.
(2) American Concrete Institute, Committee 229, Controlled Low-Strength Materials (CLSM), ACI
229R-94 Report, 1994.
(3) Joseph A. Amon, Controlled Lowstrength Material, The Construction Specifier, December 1990,
Construction Specifications Institute, 601 Madison St., Alexandria, VA 22314.
(4) Jenny L. Hitch, Amster K. Howard and Warren P. Bass Innovations in Controlled Low Strength
Material (Flowable Fill) , ASTM STP 1459,2002, pp. 3,15,31,41,51.
(5) Horiguchi, T., H. Okumura, and N. Saeki, 2001a. Optimization of CLSM mixes Proportion with
Combination of Clinker Ash and Flyash, In ACI Special Publication SP-199. ACI: Farmington
Hills, p. 307-325.
(6) Neville, A.M; 1996. Properties of concrete.4th Edition ed. Edinburgh Gate, Horlow: Longman.


This paper is based on R&D studies carried out at National council for cement and Building
Materials, Ballabgarh, Haryana, India. This paper is published with the permission of the Director
General of the council.