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AC1 517.2R-87

(Revised 1992)

Accelerated Curing of Concrete at Atmospheric Pressure-State of the Art

Reported by AC1 Committee 5 17


Luke M. Snell

Lee Polisner


Vice Chairman

Robert M. Bamoff Russell J. Burley Frank V. Camarda Kevin D. Callahan Sidney Freedman Richard E. Galer

Steven H. Gebler Mark B. Hogan Joseph J. Jerome Nicholas Kozin Roman Malinowski W. cahiin McCall*

LeoB. Walbert


Robert E. Price Leo E. Rivkind Jere H. Rose Thomas H. Sadler Joe A. Willett

Committee members voting on the

1992 revisions are listed on p.


Accelerated curing of concrete is used extensivly in lhe productionof precast con- crete structural members, pipe, masonry units, and presíressedproducts. Steam curing isprobably the mosi widely used meíhod at the present time. Recent modi6 cations and changes in this method are discussed, as wellas effectof the curing cycles In addition to steam curing, the effect of variaiionsin the concrete materials on accelerated curing is discussed, as are special cements and accelerators. Special treatments, including carbonation, accelerated drying, and heating prior to mold- ing, are also cover&

In addition, other accelerated curing methods such as &~ca[ frared heating, are discussed.

oil, and in-


accelerated curing; admixtures.



steam curing.


cium chlorides; carbonation; concrete blocks, concrete pipes; coolin&curing; electric cur- ing; heating; infrared heating; kilns; masonry; pozzolans; precast concrete; prestressed con- crete; regulated set cements: reviews.

Chapter 3-ERect 5f variati5ns in accelerated- curing cycles, page 517.m-4


3.2-Curmg for concrete masonry units 3.3-Curing concrete pipe 3.4-Curing of precast andíor prestressed concrete products

Chapter 4-Special treatments, page 537.m-57


4.2-Carbonation treatment methods 4.3-Methods of accelerated drying of concrete products 4.4-Heating prior to molding

Chapter .j;=E!ectrical, oil, and infrared methods, page 517.2R-?2

5. 1-General 5.2-Electncal curing methods 5.3-Use of hot oil or other fluids for heating forms 5.4-Infrared curing of concrete



page 517.m-3



2.3-Special cements


and special cements,

AC1 Committee Reports, Guides, Standard Practices, and commentaries are intended for guidance in designing, planning, executing, or inspecting conshuction and in preparing specifications. Reference to these documents shall not be made in the Project Documents. If items found in these docu- ments are desired to be part of the Project Documents they should be phrased in mandatory language and incorporated into the Project Documents.


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Chapter B-References, page 537"2R"16


6.2-Cited references


AC1 Committee 517 was organized in 1958 as the coin- mittee on Low Pressure Steam Curing. Since then, its scope has been enlarged to include means of accelerating curing of structural concrete members, concrete block, pipe, and pre- cast concrete, and the title has been changed to Accelerated Curing of Concrete at Atmospheric Pressure.

Copyright O 1987,American Concrete instituie.

AU &?ha merved, includingri&is of rcQrduction and use in any form or bv anv nieans, including the making of copies by any photo process, or by any electronic OT me-

written,or oral, or recording for sound or visualreproduction or

chanical device, printed,

for use in any knowledge or retrieval system or device, unless permission in writing is ob-

tained frornthe copyright propnetors.AcI5172R-87supe~~AcI517.2R-80.The 1992 changesconsisted solely of deleting the year from the reference standards in Chapter 6 and became effective Nov.1,1992. *Assumed chairmanship March 1986.

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5 17.2R-2


A previous report1 of the committee dealt exclusively with steam-curing methods and the effects of various ingre- dients, i.e., portland cement, aggregate, water, and admixtures. Accelerated curing involves the addition of heat and moisture to expedite concrete curing. By definition it in- cludes, but is not limited to, steam curing. The primary purpose of accelerated curing of concrete is the early devel- opment of strength. Forms, casting beds, and curing devices or facilities can then be reused at frequent intervals, and a low in-process inventory maintained. The objective of this report is to review new develop- ments in accelerated curing including new types of cements, curing methods, techniques, and their effects on products. Regulated set cements, shridtage compensated cements, and other special cements for high temperature curing are covered in addition to the effect of variations in steam- curing cycles, special treatments such as carbonation, heat- ing fresh concrete, pressure molding, electric curing, and steam injection.

CHAPTER I-BASIC CONCRETE MATERIALS 1.1 -General Concrete products subjected to accelerated curing at at- mospheric pressure use the same basic materials as nor- mally cured concrete. Trial batches should be made to determine the effects of accelerated curing on the properties of the concrete. Rapid hydration, for example, may cause a reduction in the strength usually attained at later ages. The production benefits derived from rapid strength develop- ment must be balanced with the possible detrimental effects on ultimate properties.

1 .2-Cement All types of portland cement described inASTM C 150 can be used in concretes cured by any of the various acceler- ated methods. In addition, the blended cements described in ASTM C 595, as well as the special cements discussed in Chapter 2, can be used. The cement type to be used is determined in the same manner as normal curing. It should be recognized, however, that different cements of the same type will have signifi- cantly different characteristics when cured under acceler- ated conditions. Types I and III are used most frequently; but where special conditions warrant, such as sulfate ex- posure, Types II and V or blended cements should be used. Air-entraining cements which meet the requirements of ASTM C 150 and C 595 can be used interchangeably with comparable results except in the production of cellular con- crete. For cellular concrete there may be an adverse reaction between the air-entraining addition and the foaming agent used to form and stabilize the cellular structure. The op- timum accelerated curing cycle will depend in part on the type and source of cement selected. The complex cement hydration reactions are influenced by temperature, time, humidity, and other curing conditions.


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Concrete aggregates should be tested for compliance with appropriate specifications such as ASTM C 33, C 330, or C 331. Aggregates with different thermal and absorptive prop- erties, however, will react differently when subjected to ele- vated temperatures, such as concretes made with normal weight versus lightweight aggregates.


Water quality requirements for concrete subjected to ac-




are the

same as for normally




Chemical admixtures-Most air-entraining


water-reducing admixtures perform as effectively in con- crete subjected to accelerated curing as they do in concrete cured under normal temperatures. However, optimum dos- age rates of water-reducing admixture may be different than manufacturer?s recommendations. Before an admixture is used, it is advisable to malte trial batches to determine op- timum dosage for a cost-effective curing cycle. Water-reducing admixtures complying with ASTM C 494 types A, D, E, F and G requirements may allow mixing water reductions of 5 to 25 percent for concrete having similar or higher worltability. Concrete containing Types F and G high-range water- reducing admixtures are particularly benefited by delayed addition to the concrete mix. Laboratory and field data indi- cate that the increased compressive strengths associated with heat-cured concrete containing high-range water re- ducers are a result of their lower water-cement ratios. Most concretes with and without high-range water reducers have comparable compressive strengths and comparable density for the same water-cement ratios. Concretes containing chemical admixtures that retard the set normally benefit from an extended preset time, even though the total curing cycle remains the same as for non- retarded concrete. As is true for nonretarded concrete, the initial set must be attained before application of the steam or heat. When accelerating admixtures are used, the preset time may possibly be shortened. The time of initial set for freshly mixed concrete should be determined by the stan- dard method of test ASTM C 403. Comparative evaluations are necessary to determine the most cost-effective class and type water-reducing admixture to use for a given set of concrete materials and an acceler- ated curing cycle. 1.5.2 Pozzolans and slags--Fly ash that meets the re- quirements of ASTM 6 18 has been used as a partial replace- ment for portland cement or an additive in concretes cured by accelerated means with satisfactory results. High-temperature moist curing is a means for accelerat- ing the slow reaction between a pozzolan and the free calcium hydroxide Ca(OH)2, liberated during cement hydra- tion. Temperatures above 190 F (88 C), however, are re- quired to accelerate the reactions sufficiently to increase the early strengths. Ground iron blast-furnace slagl.1 that meets the require- ments of ASTM C 989 has been used as a partial replace-

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ment for portland cement in concrete production. When cured in accelerated conditions, it has been shown to be highly active resulting in increased early strength gain. Cur- ing temperatures above 140 F (60 C) result in further activa- tion of the slag.



Materials which accelerate hardening and promote early strength development of concrete are advantageous in the manufacture of many concrete products. Early attainment of strength in a building block, for example, compensates in part for slow hardening in cold weather and decreases the time required to produce a fully matured block. Similar advantages are obtained in the manufacture of other con- crete products. During warm weather, accelerators must be used judiciously so as not to produce too rapid a set. Many plants employ high temperature curing without accelerators during summer months and a combination of high tem- perature curing with an accelerator during the winter months.


Chemicals that accelerate the hardening of mixtures con- taining portland cement and water include some of the solu- ble chlorides, carbonates, silicates, nitrates, thiocyanates, fluosilicates, hydroxides, and also some organic com- pounds. Use of accelerators may result in a reduction of long-term strength. Those with a chloride base have occa- sionally had detrimental effects on plant equipment. Any chemical accelerating admixture should be trial tested prior to full production use.

2.2.1 Calcium chloride-The use of one percent calcium

chloride by weight of the cement is usually sufficient to accelerate setting and increase strength sufficiently for cold weather concreting, with protection as described on AC1 306R. The selection of the optimum amount should be based on the setting time and the early strength desired. A complete discussion of the use of calcium chloride in con- crete is given by Shideler.2.1 The effect of calcium chloride on corrosion of reinforcing steel is covered in AC1 201.2R,

AC1 212.1R, AC1 212.2R, and AC1 222R, as well as in a

organic acceler-

ators are available for use where chloride-bearing admix- tures are not acceptable because of the likelihood of corrosion.

2.2.2 Water-reducing accelerating admixtures- Water-

reducing accelerators conforming to ASTM C 494, Type E, may be beneficial in accelerating setting time and in increas-

ing strength at early and later ages. If adequate information is not available, tests should be made to evaluate the effect of a particular admixture using job materials with expected temperatures and manufacturing procedures. Since most of these materials contain calcium chloride, the user should determine the percent by weight of the cement which its use will introduce into the concrete.

number of other papers. 2.2-2s Proprietary

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When requested, admixture manufacturers generally will disclose the amount of chloride in their admixture. AC1 212.1R and AC1 2 12.2R provide detailed information on accelerating and other admixtures.



Calcium aluminate cements have been used to shorten the time of setting of portland cement.2.6,2.7 Due to problems of strength reduction by conversion of the hydrates, the com- mittee recommends it not be used for this purpose. 2.3.1 Regulated-set cement-Regulated-set cement is a modified portland cement which contains a substantial amount of calcium fluoaluminate. Initial and final set occur almost simultaneously, and therefore the time between mix- ing and set is often referred to as handling time. Regulated- set cement can be manufactured to have a handling time from 2 to 45 min. The level of early strength gain is adjusted by the cement producer by controlling the amount of cal- cium fluoaluminate. The time of set is reduced and the compressive strength gain rate is increased in regulated cement mortars and con- cretes when: (a) the cement content of the mix is increased, (b) the water-cement ratio is reduced, (c) the mix tem- perature is increased, and (d) the curing temperature is increased. In hot weather it may be necessary to slow or retard the setting action of the cement to have adequate time to place and consolidate the concrete, especially when batch mixing and manually transporting the concrete. Setting time usu- ally will not be a problem when the regulated set portland cement concrete is being produced in a continuous mixer and mechanically conveyed to the forms. When too rapid a set is encountered, citric acid can be added to the mix as a retarder. Conventional retarders for portland cement are not effective in slowing or controlling the set of regulated set cement. Where it is practical, the setting action can be ef- fectively controlled by adjusting the mix temperature. All exposed surfaces of newly placed, regulated-set port- land cement concrete should be protected from moisture loss. Chlorinated rubber, butadiene styrene, or styrene acry- late sealing and curing compounds, as well as polyethylene sheets or wet burlap are recommended for this purpose. When mixing mortars or concretes containing regulated- set cement, it has been found that excessive accumulations of hardened material in the mixers and processing equip- ment can be avoided when certain batching sequences and practices are followed. For example, it will usually be bene- ficial if at least a portion of the mix water and some of the sand or aggregate for the following batch is added to the mixer immediately following the discharge of the previous batch. The best utilization of the fast strength development char- acteristics of this cement is possible when the concrete or mortar is prepared in a continuous mixer with as low a water-cement ratio and as high a mix temperature and ce- ment content as will permit proper placement, consolida- tion, and finishing of the concrete. It is desirable to keep placement and finishing time as short as possible because of the short setting time.


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The application of steam at atmospheric pressure to the curing chamber is one of the oldest and most widely used methods of accelerated curing of concrete. Reference to this technique can be found in literature dating to 1912. Under ideal conditions the curing of concrete by steam at atmospheric pressure (low-pressure accelerated curing) has the advantage over other methods of accelerated curing in that the curing environment of the concrete is near satura- tion in regard to moisture. Evaporation of water from the product is minimized, which is especially important where demolded or partially demolded products (block, pipe, etc.) are involved. Although the steam curing of masonry units, pipe, and precast or prestressed concrete products follows the same basic rules, curing procedures are different for each. As an example, masonry units are of small mass and have a rela- tively large area-mass ratio. Heat transfer and evaporation will be fast. Pipe and precast products may be cured in a form where evaporation is minimum, or may be of such large mass that heat transfer is slow, and large temperature gradients and resultant stresses may exist between the center and the outside of the mass. Therefore, the curing of each type of concrete product is discussed in a separate section of this chapter.

3.2-Curing for concrete masonry units

As in the curing cycle for all concrete products, an ade- quate supply of moisture is essential to insure hydration of the cement. During steaming, ample moisture is generally provided through steam condensation. Lack of adequate moisture may result in reduced strengths and plastic cracking. The most distinguishing feature of concrete masonry units is the use of zero-slump, nonplastic concrete in man- ufacturing the product. The concrete becomes plastic only through intense vibration and pressure employed. Table 3.2 applies for the majority of those plants employ- ing accelerated curing in conventional (atmospheric pres-

sure) steam-curing lulns. The first footnote, however, im- plies that the preset time need be increased by only I hr when ambient temperature is below 32 F (O C). Research indicates that a longer period of time would be required to develop the same early strength as that achieved at 60 F (16 C). When ambient temperatures are below 32 F (O C), the best practice would be to introduce the molded units into the luln and slowly raise the temperature to at least 60 F (16 C) (in 1 to 11/2 hr). Then use the minimum preset time indicated in the table prior to increasing the temperature at the rate shown in the table. Research with lightweight aggregate block’3.1 indicates that it would tale about 41/2 hr at 35 F (2 C) to achieve the strength that could be achieved in about 1/2 hr at 90 F (32 C) or in 1 hr at 70 F (21 C). The same research with sand and gravel aggregate block indicates that it would tale 5% hr to achieve the same strength at 45 F (7 C) as could be achieved in 2 hr at 75 F (24 C).

3.2.1 Effect of variation in the curing cycle on com- pressive strength and other properties of concrete ma-

sonry-All portions of the curing cycle are completely interrelated. A change in one part of the curing cycle may cause adverse effects in another portion of the cycle. For example, the lack of an adequate preset period could be partially corrected by a slower rate of temperature rise, and conversely, a long preset period could be followed by a relatively rapid rate of temperature rise exceeding even the maximum of 60 F (16 C) per hr indicated. The prime reason for talung care in planning the preset time (time-temperature related) and steaming rate is due to the different coefficients of thermal expansion of water, air, and the cement paste and aggregates in the mix. If the concrete does not have sufficient early strength to resist the expansive forces during heating, damage can result. Under conditions of mass production and rapid turnover in auto- mated block plants it is possible to reduce the time required for preset and temperature rise periods if the concrete tem- peratures are elevated above ambient conditions at the time of mixing. There has not been sufficient research on this method with concrete block, but studies3.2 indicate that ele- vating the temperature of the concrete mix through steam

Table 3.2-Accelerated curing cycles for concrete masonry units

Temperature and rate of temperature change

Curing period

Time, hr

deg F

deg C

Preset* Lightweight block









Normal weight block

2 minimum



Rate of rise





22-23 perhr

Maximum temperature

12 (minimum) for


Lightweight block

combined maximum



Normal weight block

temperature plus








2.8 C per hr

(duration of time of

maximum average

maximum average

initial set)



’Increase presei time

Ir hr when ambient temperature is below 32 F (oc)

+When pozzolans are employed as pari of the cementing medium, maximum temperatures of 200-2 O F (93-99 C) should be investigated for both lightweight and nomial weight aggregate units.

Soaking period-In

steam curing, the time during which the live steam supply is shut off and the concrete products are

exposed to the residual heat and moisture. The curing cycle may include a “soaking” or a constant “maximum temperature pe- riod,” but need not include both. Soaking plus maximum temperature time should total 12 hr minimum. Soaking time may be reduced by an amount of time equal to the time at maximum temperature.

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injection would considerably shorten the steam-curing time now commonly used.

3.2.2 Preset period for concrete masonry-As noted, a

minimum preset time of 1 hr is suggested for lightweight block and 2 hr for normal weight block prior to applying steam. This recommendation is based on average conditions and may be restrictive in some cases and inadequate in others. For instance, with a coarse-textured, poorly com- pacted lightweight aggregate block it is entirely possible to begin raising temperatures in the luln immediately without significant detriment to the concrete. The porosity allows the air and water to expand without causing internal tensile stresses. On the other hand, with the very high strength concrete block currently being produced for some architec-

tural facing units and for high-rise, load-beating construc- tion, a preset time of 2 hr at 60 F (16 C) may not be adequate. With these units, which have strengths of 3500 to 6000 psi (24 to 41 ma), it may be well to consider a minimum of 3 hr preset time at temperatures in excess of 60 F (16 C) and a minimum of 4 hr with temperatures between

40 and 60 F (4 and 16 C).

3.2.3 Temperature rise period for concrete masonry-As

with the preset period, the temperature rise period or rate of temperature change should be tailored to the product and to its history prior to steaming. If the plant layout and facilities are such that long preset times are generally used, it is possible that for normal production units the rate of tem-

perature rise could exceed that indicated in the table, that is,

60 F (33 C) per hr. However, with high-strength block 3500

to 6000 psi (24 to 41 MPa), the rate of temperature rise should probably not exceed 60 F (33 C) per hr, even if preset periods of 4 hr at temperatures above 60 F (16 C) are em- ployed. In both the preset period and the temperature rise period, it is important that the relative humidity of the

chamber surrounding the block be above 90 percent.

3.2.4 Steaming

and soaking period for concrete ma-

sonry--The most common practice in the concrete masonry industry is to employ steaming and soaking periods of 12 or more hr of the normal 24 hr molding and curing process. It has been found that a combined steaming and soaking pe- riod of 12 hr is sufficient to produce the strength needed for purposes of product handling. If the steaming period is fol- lowed by a drying cycle, it is quite common to use less than 12 hr of steaming and soaking, followed by a drying period within the same luln. It is generally considered good prac- tice to employ drying temperatures under 250 F (121 C) unless plant tests are conducted to show that higher tem- peratures would not be detrimental. Some steaming and drying processes have employed drying temperatures as high as 450 F (232 C) without affecting the units; however, these high temperatures usually have damaged the roof and walls of the lulns. Individual plant tests should be run to determine a reason- able drying cycle. The length of the drying cycle subse- quent to the steam curing would be determined by the moisture content that is desired in the block. There is some information given in the literature3.3,3 4 with regard to drying times that may be expected for units manufactured with various aggregate types.

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In the most extensive series of tests conducted on steam curing and drying of concrete masonry units at atmospheric pressure, W. H. Kuenning and C. C. Carlson,3.1 report in their summation that “it appears that block concretes have some tolerance for high temperature curing conditions which provide relative humidities in the luln atmosphere that are less than 100 percent, but humidities lower than 90

percent cannot be used without some loss of strength. As a general guideline it is suggested that relative humidities as low as 90 percent can be tolerated without serious effects on the strength and other properties of concrete masonry units.

3.2.5 Conventional kilns and appurtenant facilities for

steam curing concrete masonry-ACI 517 includes infor-

mation with regard to equipment required, design of lulns, and the sizing of steam boilers. More extensive coverage is given on this subject by R. E. Copeland in an article pub- lished in 1971.3.5

3.2.6 Continuous or automated curing systems currently

employed in the concrete masonry industry-“Continuous”

or perhaps more properly termed “automated curing sys- tems” are claimed to have a number of advantages over conventional materials handling and curing systems. Some of the claimed advantages are lower operating costs, less plant space required, and lower initial investment. These systems are designed to eliminate forldift truck handling of racks or cured block, less fuel consumption, and shorter curing cycles. While it is claimed that these systems pro- duce a better product, some of the relatively short curing times employed are open to question. Because of the variety in the different systems, it is not possible to discuss in detail the operation of these systems. The reader is referred to the manufacturer’s literature for more information.

3.3-Curing concmte pipe

With few exceptions, concrete pipe is steam cured at atmospheric pressure. The particular methods, curing cy- cles, and temperatures employed depend on the type of manufacturing equipment used and the manner in which the concrete is placed and consolidated. For example, in some processes the molds are removed immediately after place- ment, while in others, all but a small portion are enclosed in the form during curing. Another difference important to the curing is the amount of water in the mix. Consistencies for the various processes range from “earth-moist’’ to slumps in excess of several inches. Depending on these and other differences, curing cycles affect pipes made by the various methods in different ways and to differing degrees. As in all curing systems, an adequate supply of moisture is essential to insure hydration of the cement. During accel- erated curing, ample moisture is provided through steam condensation or by other means such as mist or water sprays. Pipe made of the drier mixes where the forms are stripped immediately, however, often require additional water during the preset and early temperature rise periods. Lack of adequate moisture at these times may lead to re- duced strengths and plastic shrinkage cracking.

3.3.1 Delay or preset period-For optimum results, the

preset period should be the same as the time required for initial set determined by ASTM C 403. These times are

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generally 2 to 3 hr for Type I and III cements, and 4 or 5 hr for Type II and V at 70 F (21 C). Where concrete or ambient temperatures are significantly higher or lower, the time should be adjusted accordingly. During the preset period the ambient temperature of the curing enclosure should be kept as close as possible to the temperature of the concrete and mold. The use of a shorter than optimum preset period can cause thermal expansion of the concrete before the structure of the material has attained sufficient strength to resist the internal stresses. As a result, cracks develop, usually micro- scopic but quite large in extreme cases, and the strength of the concrete is reduced. The drier earth-moist mixes used in machine pipe and the dry-cast process are able to withstand relatively short preset periods without damage because of their lower water content. At a total moisture content of 5 percent some mixes have shown no significant decrease in compressive strength with preset periods as short as 1 hr. In centrifugated pipe where the moisture content of the interior surface is quite high, an insufficient preset period will lead to blistering and scaling of the surface. Also, where the fresh concrete is dependent on the mold for sup- port, early application of heat may cause the mold to expand away from the concrete, resulting in slumps and cracks. Too long a preset period is generally not as harmful as one that is too short. Although some reduction of strength will occur, it is usually not significant. Pipe in which large surface areas are exposed, however, are susceptible to plas- tic shridtage cracking if evaporation rates are high. This vulnerability is particularly high in centrifugated pipe where the water has been forced out of the concrete and there is little if any bleeding capacity left. Where such conditions are prevalent, fog sprays are used to keep the ambient hu- midity as high as practical. Refer to AC1 308 for more detailed information concerning plastic shridtage cracking.

3.3.2 Temperature rise periodforconcretepipe-Fol-

lowing the preset period, the temperature of the curing en- closure should gradually be raised to the desired curing temperature. Controlling the rate of temperature rise is important to avoid damage to the pipe. Should the tem- perature be raised too rapidly, stresses will develop because of the temperature gradients. Cast pipe cured with the inner and outer molds in place are particularly susceptible. The steel molds expand before the concrete has an opportunity to do so, resulting in longitudinal cracking. Large-diameter pipe are more vulnerable than the small-diameter pipe. Whereas small-diameter cast pipe have successfully with- stood changes in temperature of 60 F (33 C) per hr, it is often necessary to limit the rate of temperature rise of a larger diameter pipe to temperature changes of 35 F (19 C) per hr to avoid cracking. The point of application of heat and moisture is also important. Care should be taken to avoid localized overheat- ing of the product and the distribution should be arranged so as to minimize expansion of the molds.

3.3.3Accelerated curing period for concrete pipe-Gen-

erally, the higher the curing temperatures, the lower the 28- day strengths. The maximum temperature used should be the lowest possible consistent with production require- ments. The reduction of the maximum accelerated curing

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temperature from 140 to 120 F (60 to 49 C) may not signifi- cantly reduce early compressive strengths. When the accelerated curing time required is in excess of 12 hr, it is common to interrupt the curing to strip and reuse

the forms. American Water Works Association standards3.6 require at least 6 hr before this interruption, but in practice it is generally longer to insure adequate stripping strengths. There appear to be no noticeable effects on the strength or other qualities, but further studies are required to determine the exact significance of interrupted curing cycles. Large variations in temperature during accelerated curing due to the intermittent application of heat should be avoided. While the product can usually withstand thermal shoclts relatively well, proportional controllers should be employed wherever possible to minimize temperature varia- tions, particularly with larger pipe and also toward the end of the cycle.

3.3.4 Cooling period for concrete pipe-There is no re-

search to indicate to what extent rapid cooling of concrete after curing is detrimental. Under extreme temperature con- ditions, cracking during cooling has been reported where the pipe was restrained by the mold and large temperature gradients occurred. A controlled cooling period, however, is both practical and beneficial to the extent that thermal shock is minimized.

3.4-Curing of precast andlor prestressed concrete products

In the curing of precast and/or prestressed concrete prod- ucts, all factors are interrelated. A change in one part of the operation may affect the others. The optimum curing cycle can generally be determined only by trial. Also, the size of the structural member may affect the optimum steam-curing cycle. As an example, small masses become heated faster than larger masses; however, a large mass of concrete will generate and retain more of its own heat through hydration. Such a large mass will reach a higher internal temperature than indicated by the ambient temperature. The water-ce- ment ratio employed will also affect the steam-curing cycle. Low water-cement ratio concrete generally requires a shorter preset period. In some cases for members with high volume-to-surfaceratios, the heat of hydration is all the heat that is needed to cure the product. In all cases, it is a significant contributor to the curing heat. The insulation and coverings used to protect and insulate the forms and fresh concrete must be designed for maximum thermal efficiency. This insulation should minimize air leakage and moisture loss. Since the heat of hydration is a significant contributor to curing-cycle efficiency, the internal concrete temperature rather than the ambient air temperature should be monitored to realize this quantity of heat.

3.4.1 Preset period-7h preset period can be defined as

the duration of time after the concrete has been batched until initial set is obtained. During this period, heat is not nor-

mally applied unless it is necessary for maintaining the initial temperature. The preset period should be established by determining the initial setting time of the concrete by procedures in ASTM C 403. It appears that energy conser- vation and optimum early-age strengths can be achieved by

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starting the heat-curing process at times close to the initial set time.

3.4.2 Rate Of temperature rise-The rate of temperature

rise employed in curing precast or prestressed concrete products normally varies from about 20 to 80 F (1 1 to 44 C) per hr. The rate of temperature rise during the initial heating period has little influence on early-age or later-age com- pressive strengths as long as a proper preset period is used. For Type I and III cements, rates of 40 to 80 F (22 to 44 C) per hr provide slightly higher early-age strengths than 20 F

(11 C) per hr. The 28-day strengths are not significantly affected by variation in rate of rise from 20 to 80 (11 to 44 C) per hr.

3.4.3 Maximum



rate of tem-

perature rise and maximum curing temperature can influ- ence the required time of curing. Generally, a higher maximum temperature during the curing cycles reduces the type of curing required at the maximum temperature. This time period at maximum temperature is based upon the compressive strength obtained immediately after heat curing and possible at later ages.3.7 When the proper preset periods were used during the investigation by Brown,3.8 he concluded that no significant differences in early strengths could be found with Type II cement concretes for maximum curing temperatures of 140, 160, or 180 F (58, 70, or 82 C). The 28-day strengths of concretes cured at temperatures of 160 to 180 F (70 to 80 C) are slightly reduced from those cured at temperatures of 120 or 130 F (48 or 50 C). Con- cretes cured with a proper preset period will typically un-

dergo a 5 percent strength reduction at 28 days.

3.4.4 Duration of

maximum temperature-The duration

of the maximum temperature should not be confused with the time that the heat source is actually turned on. In most prestress applications, it is advantageous to turn off the heat after the temperature of the product has stabilized at the


Numerous plant studies have shown that if the heat is turned off after the maximum temperature has been reached and the curing environment is well insulated, the 12-hr com-

pressive strength is not significantly reduced. Significant strength was gained from age 4 to 10 hr, and then the rate of strength gain diminished very rapidly after 10 to 12 hr. The initial rate of strength gain from heat-cured concrete was measured to be as high as 900 psi (6.2 MF’a) per hr and was as low as 300 psi (2.1 MPa) per hr for different but typical mixes used in prestressed concrete. The lower rates were associated with Type I or II cement con- cretes having moderate water-cement ratios. Generally, when a very high rate of initial strength gain was realized, it was obtained by using a low water-cement ratio in combina- tion with a Type III cement. The rate of strength gain after about 10 to 12 hr of total age is small. When a low rate of initial strength gain is expected, longer duration of max- imum temperature may be needed.3,9

3.4.5 Cooling period-There is little evidence that rapid

cooling, even to freezing, after accelerated curing is detri- mental to strength or durability, provided that with pres-

tressed products, detensioning is performed immediately after the removal of the enclosure. Tests show that typical

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precast concrete members cool off slowly at a maximum

rate of

exposure, no greater than 8 F (4 C) per hr during the second 4-hr period, and no greater than 4 F (2 C) per hr during the third period when exposed to freezing temperatures. These low rates of cooling suggest that thermal shock does not occur in typically sized precast prestressed concrete rnern- bers. The data show that this gradual cooling period pro- vides additional curing and air-drying time prior to the time when internal water might freeze. The data also show that even if the water did freeze, the compressive strength was not reduced.3.9 Even though extensive investigations show that rapid cooling rarely affects the concrete products, there are times when rapid cooling may cause the formation of cracking in the surface layers of very thick and large-sized units. A lower rate of cooling has been recommended for such units (AC1 224.1R). Occasionally, transverse cracks have been noticed in beams subjected to cooling prior to detensioning. For this reason, pretensioned members should be detensioned im- mediately after the steam-curing cycle has been com-


10 F (6 C) per hr during the first 4-hr period of

3.4.6 Effect of

variations in the curing cycle on com-


is no one

curing cycle that is best for all plants. Each plant is unique and the curing cycle that is optimum for one plant may not be effective in another. Many factors act and interact in the curing cycle, and they influence the strength and other prop- erties of the product. Factors that are conducive to high early strengths usually conflict with the factors that are ad- vantageous for later strengths. The use of automatic heat-curing systems for control cyl- inders using heated water or air were developed by John Laing Research and Development of England and by Pfeifer during the period of 1972 to 1976. These “master-slave’’ temperature-controller systems allow the off-bed curing of cylinders so that equal maturity of the cylinders and the full- sized prestressed concrete members is assured. These sys- tems have been used in actual precast plant conditions, and they were found by test to be accurate in providing equal maturity, i.e., equal time-versus-temperature curves for the cylinder and the full-sized concrete product.3-9 Under these conditions, the “master-slave’’ system also provides proper graduated cooling for the cylinders and overheating because of improper positioning on the forms will be avoided.



other properties-There




4.1 -General This chapter covers special treatments employed in the manufacture of precast concrete products which are used as a part of, or as a complement to, conventional curing pro- cedures. The treatments discussed are carbonation, hot air drying, and preheating of concrete prior to molding. Artificial carbonation treatment was introduced on a com- mercial scale in the concrete products industry during the late 1950s and early 1960s. Research demonstrated that car- bon dioxide (C02) in the normal atmosphere (about 0.03

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Reversible, 5 H P







I L 20’-









3-250.000 eTu



Fig. 4.2.1-T~uoexamples of use of boiler flue gases for drying-carbonationtreatment

percent) reacts with hydrated portland cement to cause shrinkage4,l and indicated that concrete products could be artificially carbonated to reduce subsequent shrinkage.4.2 Hot air drying of hardened concrete products is achieved in a number of ways in addition to the use of flue or burner gases containing C02. Early in the history of precast con- crete products, units were partially cured in damp air or fog rooms, or with steam, and then partially dried with steam radiators built in the luln walls. Some block plants built separate rooms and used oil-fired furnaces and duct sys- tems, similar to those employed in home heating systems, to dry their concrete masonry units. Other plants accelerated the natural air drying rate by directing hot air through can- vas-covered cubes of block in the storage yard. Both of these latter systems were primarily used to meet specifications on moisture content rather than to promote strength gain. Preheating concrete prior to molding is accomplished in one of two ways. Either the aggregates and/or water are heated prior to mixing, or the mixture itself is heated while still plastic. The first method is the natural adaptation of cold weather concreting practices, while the second is pri- marily based on European production techniques.

4.2-Carbonation treatment methods Carbonation of concrete is generally considered as an ongoing chemical reaction between CO2 gas and selected

compounds formed in the concrete during the hydration of the portland cement. The principal reaction involves cal- cium hydroxide, Ca(OH)2, which, when exposed to C02, combines to form calcium carbonate (CaCO3) and water.

Theoretically, the

plete carbonation has taken place, i.e., no Ca(OH)2 remains to be converted. Other hydration products which may have calcium oxide (Cao) as a constituent also appear to partici- pate in the process, but not calcium sulfate (CaS04).4.3Car-

process continues until such time as com-

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bonation induces shrinkage which, once having occurred, tends to stabilize the moisture content and the volume of concrete. Thus, intentional carbonation as practiced by in- dustry is an effort to promote drying shridcage prior to installation of a concrete product. Since the average concrete block requires about 1 lb

(0.4536 leg) of CO2 to fully carbonate, an economic com- promise to partially carbonate steam-cured block by intro- ducing waste flue gases (from the boiler furnace) into the steam luln was necessary. Due to variable effectiveness, and the long time needed to produce favorable results, this pro- cedure was not widely used. Various commercial systems evolved which combined a shorter than normal steam-cur- ing cycle with hot air drying provided by gas and fuel oil burners. Even though the in-plant systems do not afford the degree of carbonation achieved in laboratory studies, some benefits are obtained by drying with hot air containing the products of combustion (including C02). Most of the carbonation treatment systems used today are actually a part of the curing process, but some are separate. In either case, the treatment is more correctly described as a curing and/or drying process using hot air containing CO2 gas. The often-used term “carbonation curing” is really a misnomer as the improvements achieved in product proper- ties in plant operations (more rapid strength gain, reduction in moisture content, and reduction in potential drying shridcage) are affected more by the high temperature than by the presence of CO2 gas.

4.2.1 Drying with gases containing CO2 after acceler-

ated curing-A number of plants have used a product dry- ing system that uses the heat from flue gases which are diverted from the steam boiler. A stack switch automatically controls the flow of flue gases into the luln while prohibiting the entry of heavy smoke when the burner is first started (Fig. 4.2.1). Some of the plants also use steam-heating coils to obtain higher luln temperatures. A large diameter, pro- peller-type fan is use d to provide circulation within the luln. Tests conducted in plants with this type drying facility showed CO2 concentration in the lulns ranging from less than 1.0 to 3.8 percent. This low concentration, compared to the 8-10 percent desirable, was believed to be due to intermittent input of gases (to maintain constant maximum temperature), dilution by luln leakage, absorption of CO2 by water in the luln, and depletion of CO2 by the carbonation reaction.4,4 Results of the plant tests showed that reduction in drying shrinkage ranged from negligible to 42 percent for a 24 hr drying treatment. The plant reporting best results with concrete block used a maximum drying temperature of 175 F (79 C), 25 percent relative humidity, and a 3.8 percent CO2 concentration in the atmosphere of the kiln. Reduction in drying shridcage of up to 37 percent for concrete brick was obtained using normal production procedures with a treatment of 24 hr at 200 F (93 C), 30 percent relative humidity, and about 2 percent CO2 concentration in the atmosphere of the luln. It is recommended that plants considering a system of this type try the following: maximum temperatures of 150-2 12 F (66-100 C); relative humidities of 15-35 percent; CO2 con- centrations as high as possible; and a treatment period of about 24 hr, consistent with production requirements.

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Fig. versions of a popular commercial curing-drying-carbonation system

4.2.2 Acceleruted-curing carbonation drying systems using kiln burners &stem

combining boiler-generated steam and

gas burners-A system using a low pressure boiler to gen- erate steam for the kiln, combined with gas burners to fur- ther increase temperature during curing and promote drying, is used by a number of concrete products plants. The curing-drying procedure is as follows: the block or precast units are allowed a presteaming period of 1 to 2 hr; the steam is then introduced through steam headers located at the rear ceiling and front floor locations; temperature increase is usually about 40-50 F (22-28 C) per hr (achieved with steam and burners on “low fire”); a maximum luln temperature of 160-200 F (71-93 C) is held about 6 hr (with steam and burners); the steam is reduced to the minimum sufficient to help circulation of heat in the luln and the burners are turned to high fire; and lastly, a maximum dry- ing-carbonation temperature of 220-450 F (104-232 C) is achieved in about 4 hr and is held for an additional 6-8 hr. The advantages of this type of curing-drying-carbonation system are that one-day strengths are higher than normally obtained in ordinary steam curing, potential drying shrinkage is reduced by about 25 percent, and low moisture content is obtained. Disadvantages are high fuel consump- tion and disruptive stresses on existing kiln walls and roofs. Plants that used this system had problems with cracking of luln walls and roof slabs which were not designed to stand the higher temperature differential required in the process.


Copyright American Concrete Institute

Provided by IHS under license with ACI No reproduction or networking permitted without license from IHS Steam andbr hot moist air generated by gas

burners passing through pipes

immersed in water ta&-

This process is widely used in the concrete block industry, and two such systems are shown in the schematic drawings (Fig. The system with circulating ductworlc has a better performance as it decreases the variation in curing- drying temperatures between the front, back, top, and bot- tom of lulns. When the steaming period is completed, the hot gases carrying the CO2 are diverted from the vaporizing tadc directly to the luln. This system has the advantage of low cost (with few lulns), low fuel consumption, and relatively good one-day strength and reduction in drying shridcage. Disadvantages are that costs would be greater than a steam boiler system for a large number of lulns. Also, long-term compressive strengths (60 days) are usually less than those of conven- tional low pressure steam-cured block (especially with rela- tively dry block mixes). Oil-fired burners

used to




sprayed onto steel plate-A system used in Australian con- crete products plants is illustrated in Fig. and de- scribed in the referenced document.4.5 Gun type oil-fired burners are fitted with a combustion air blower which forces hot gases into a mild steel combustion chamber (refractory- lined) and then into the luln. Water is added with spray nozzles directed onto the hot entry duct. Axial flow fans, fastened to the rear wall of the lulns near the ceiling, pro- vide some circulation. In the Australian concrete block in-

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Fig. Australian curing-drying-carbonation system

dustry, 86 lulns use this method to cure and dry block. It is reported that a 10 percent reduction in compressive strength can be expected if the atmosphere is dry. There were some reports of color change and efflorescence by some pro- ducers, but others reported that the CO2 gases helped reduce these problems. It was reported that this system is more economical than a steam boiler system if not more than 8 lulns are involved. Miscellaneous curing systems-There are other types of curing-drying-carbonation systems used in the products industry. Two such systems were developed by concrete block machinery manufacturers. The first consists of a doughnut-shaped boat which floats on heated water. Racks of freshly molded block are lowered into the boat and allowed to cure for two revolutions in the hot, humid atmo- sphere. No drying cycle is included. The second system consists of a round, doughnut-shapedluln with a continuous rack mounted on wheels that ride on rails. The “round- house” is sectioned into areas for preset, steaming, steam with hot air (from burners), and partial drying. The cycle is quite short, after which the block are expected to have suffi- cient strength for stacking. Further strength development comes with yard storage.

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4.3-Methods of accelerated drying of concrete products

Products specifications often contain a moisture content limitation to improve dimensional stability. High tem- perature drying after steam curing (separate chambers) has proven satisfactory in reducing the moisture content of con- crete well below 30 percent of total absorption without sig- nificantly affecting other physical properties. Tests have in- dicated some reduction in ultimate compressive strength and impact-fracture resistance when drying temperatures in ex- cess of 240 F (116 C) were used.4.6 These results, however, are not necessarily consistent, and plants should conduct their own comparative tests when considering using high drying temperatures for shortening the drying cycle. In addition to the two types of commercial drying runs shown in Fig. 4.3.1 and 4.3.2, yard storage drying of tar- paulin-enclosed stockpiles via forced warm air heating is used.4,7 In this system warm air from portable heaters is ducted into the enclosures which are vented at or near their tops. All surfaces of the block piles are kept clear for cir- culation of air within the enclosure, and the tarpaulins are held tightly closed except for the vents. A frame may be required to support the tarpaulins and to assure adequate


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Ex haust Stack






1,500,000 BTU Oil Furnace

Fig. 4.3.1-Drier

at Cleveland Builders Supply Co.



airflow along the outside edges and across the tops of the piles. Block may be stacked with the cores either horizontal or vertical, the important consideration being their align- ment so that channels are formed to allow a relatively unob- structed hot airflow from the heat duct to the exhaust vent. It has been reported that butane or natural gas are the preferred fuels for drying, as the use of oil has resulted in some staining of light-colored concrete products. This prob- lem with oil can be reduced if the burners are adjusted for maximum efficiency.

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Fig. 4.3.2-Dryingroom at Standard Building Products


4.4-Heating concrete prior to molding

“hot-mix’’ concretes are defined as plastic con-

cretes having a temperature in excess of 90 F (32 C). Heat- ing water and aggregates independently generally results in mixtures where the concrete temperature is less than can be readily attained when steam is injected into the plastic mass during mixing. Since the shorter curing time depends on being able to maintain elevated temperatures for some hours, the process necessarily includes heating andor in- sulating forms and molds. When steam injection is used,

Heated or

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4. Cost of fuel needed to obtain stripping strength is

1 claimed to be much lower with steam-injected concrete mixes than with other heating methods. It is reported that

Fig. 4.4.2-Concrete mixer equipped with steam injection system

there appears to be additional benefits with the use of high pressure steam attributed to its capability of penetration coupled with reduced condensation. While both methods suggest the need for additional care during the production process, control of water in the mix when low pressure

steam is used demands greater attention because of its vari- able moisture contribution. It should be expected that the ultimate strength of hot-mix concretes will be less than that of concretes which have equal water-cement ratios but are molded at 60-70 F (16-21 C) and subsequently are moist- cured in that temperature range.

number of plants

have used hot water and warm aggregates to increase the temperature of concrete prior to molding, especially during the winter months. The degree of temperature increase ob- tainable with hot water is rather small, especially for low water content mixes such as those used in malung concrete

4.4.1 Hot

water and aggregated

block and pipe.

4.4.2 Steam injected into mixer to produce hot con-

crete-Commercial mixers can be equipped with steam outlet jets to inject steam into the mix to heat the concrete. One such arrangement is shown in Fig. 4.4.2. This method of accelerating the hardening of concrete is used for produc- ing precast concrete panels in Europe, the Soviet Union, and Japan. The mixer steam-injection process does elimi- nate the uniformity and condensate problems associated with the heating of aggregates in silos. Heating with steam injected into the mixer, however, can result in too much water when aggregates are wet unless superheated steam is used. As with any method or process, both advantages and disadvantages are encountered. The advantages claimed for steam heating in a mixer are:

1. Time for stripping of molds can be appreciably re- duced. Stripping times as short as 4 hr have been reported for lightweight concrete wall panels.

2. Steam-mixed concrete can reduce the cycle times nor-

mally employed with subsequent curing, and possibly elim-

inate the usual delay period prior to steam curing.

3. The steam-heated concrete process can be used during

the winter months to help standardize the production-curing

cycle on a year-round basis.

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only 57.4 lb (26 kg) of injected steam is needed to obtain demolding strengths for lightweight concrete, as compared to 840-1340 lb (381-608 kg) of steam required to heat


Disadvantages or problems which should be anticipated with steam heating concrete are:

1. Increased corrosion of mixing and batching equip- ment.

2. Difficulty in controlling the desired amount of mix

water, and more variable performance with different ce- ments (due to variable percent of aluminates in cements, with higher aluminate contents resulting in lower strengths).

3. Ten to twenty percent less strength at age 1 year than is

typically obtained from concretes cast and cured at normal

temperatures. This is comparable to that experienced in steam curing of concrete products.

4. An increase in the amount of mix water may be re-

quired with hot concrete to obtain the same workability as obtained at normal temperatures.

5. Thermal shrinlcage should not be a significant problem

with precast concrete, but it may be a problem with cast-in- place applications. Overall steam injection heating of concrete in mixers of- fers potential for accelerating the hardening of precast con- crete products with a possible savings in the amount of energy required.


5.1 -General Methods discussed in this chapter include electrical, hot- oil, and infrared curing techniques. In all of these methods heat is used to accelerate cement hydration. Generally, high- early-strength portland cement is also used to further accel- erate the strength gain of the concrete. The first attempt to use electrical curing was made in America in 1924. In Sweden, formal recommendations were made in 1932 for the accelerated curing of concrete using wet concrete as an electrical conductor. Following the Swedish work, additional investigations were conducted in Germany, France, England, USSR, and Japan.5.1-5.6 These studies also generally used the fresh concrete as a conductor. Other methods of using electrical energy for curing pur- poses were tried in England, Japan, and the USSR; however, the first wide-scale use of electrical curing took place in France in 1960.5.1 In addition to accelerated curing, the French engineers found the method to be effective in pre- vention of freezing of fresh concrete in cold weather. To avoid problems encountered in earlier work, the French in- troduced insulated resistance wires. Infrared radiation curing was first used by Russian en- gineers. Concrete cured by this method showed a more rapid strength gain than concrete cured by steam. The sys- tem used by the Russians was particularly applicable to the manufacture of hollow core concrete products.

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5.2-Electrical curing

Current applications of electrical curing in the United States are mostly limited to precast, prestressed concrete members. While fabricating plants have installed electrical curing systems, and the method has progressed past the experimental stage, it is still being improved. This method has several advantages, among which are:


1. Low capital expense for equipment


Relatively small amount of equipment required


Automatic and reliable controls


Small labor requirement


High-early-compressive strength can be attained

6. No fuel storage

7. Uniform temperature and curing over the entire cross


There are several methods available for using electrical energy as a heat source to accelerate concrete curing. One of the first methods used the wet concrete as an electrical con- ductor. Although the basic theory is sound, there are several problems associated with the method. One is the difficulty in controlling the temperature as the electrical resistance changes during the hydration of the concrete. Difficulty is also encountered when reinforcing steel is used in the con- crete, as there is a possibility that corrosion can occur. Another method tried uses the electrical resistance of the reinforcing wires or bars to produce heat. To accomplish this a large current at low voltage is required. The method accelerates the hydration of the concrete near the reinforce- ment which creates an internal core of hardened concrete permitting handling of the members at an early age. Since the reinforcement is heated to temperatures higher than the surrounding concrete, the differential temperature causes a slight prestressing of the concrete upon cooling and further resistance to cracking. The use of reinforcing steel as a conductor, however, also has problems. One is the high current requirement which affects the economy of the method. Other problems are the danger of corrosion and the tendency to short-circuit through metal forms or other metal reinforcements. To overcome some of the above problems, a seven-wire prestressing strand was developed having a center wire which is electrically insulated from the surrounding wires. Pilot tests on this strand were promising, but projected pro- duction costs have restricted its use. Still another method developed to use electrical energy as a heat source is the utilization of electrical heating blankets. The heating blankets are economical, portable, and can be used for heating large areas such as slabs. In addition, if the blanket is properly constructed, it acts as a vapor barrier to prevent the escape of moisture. In Europe, wire-mesh heat- ing elements have been used for heating slabs. Problems with the use of electric blankets are that hot spots can occur if complete contact is not maintained between the concrete and the blanket. The most popular method of using electric heat at the present time is electrically heated steel forms. The heating elements are applied directly to the outside of the forms and then covered with insulation, which is very efficient for thin precast sections such as T-beams. Since each section of

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form is a separate system, heat can be applied and regulated along the length of the precasting bed. The most efficient method of using electrical energy to accelerate curing is to have embedded, insulated resistance wires in the concrete. Proper spacing of the wires can pro- vide a uniform heat throughout the cross section. After the desired strength has been attained, the wires are cut and remain in the concrete member. Control specimens can be cast and cured with conditions identical to the prototype member by using independent automatic controls to regulate the heat intensity. The use of internal resistance wires to heat concrete has several advantages including low cost, uniform heating, automatic controls, and safety.

5.2.1 Equipment for




equipment required for electrical curing of concrete varies

with the method used. In general, the equipment consists of heating elements, power supply, heat controls, and elec- trical measuring devices. A brief description of equipment that is commonly used follows:

Heating elements. There are three types of insulated conductors that can be used for the curing process:

1. Longitudinal reinforcement coated with synthetic

films. Compounds with a base of phenolformaldehyderesin have been found to insulate the steel, while a good bond to concrete is still formed.

2. Insulated, center core wire of a prestressing strand.

This method may be the most effective. At the present time the only production of this type strand has been experimen-

tal and is very expensive.

3. Insulated resistance wire. The type commonly ac-

cepted for large-scale adoption of electrical curing as an economical process uses low-cost insulated wire. This wire can be drawn from common metals which satisfy the mini- mum strength requirement. The insulating sheaths must also have sufficient resistance to high temperatures, be flexible enough to conform to the shape of the product, and tough enough to withstand the tensile, bending, and abrasive forces. Irradiated polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or Teflon coat- ings satisfy the requirements for insulation.

of the advan-

tages of electrical curing is that temperatures can be easily controlled. The same curing temperature can be reproduced repeatedly in the product. There are several major instru- ments which can be used for heating control, some of which are briefly described below:

5.2.2 Heat



1. Circuit switch unit: An instrument which can be oper-

ated manually on and off to obtain temperatures following a design curve.

2. Variac: A variable voltage transformer. Increasing or

decreasing the voltage will change the power input to pro-

duce the desired temperature curve.

3. Versatronilc control and circuit breaker: An automatic

circuit breaker controlled by the desired temperature. The

temperature can be monitored with a thermocouple.

5.2.3 Limitations and suggestions for internal electrical

curing-Although the resistance wire is well insulated, there is no guarantee that the resistance wire will function properly after casting and consolidating the concrete. Per- sonnel using vibrators must be trained to prevent damage to the heating elements. It is recommended that the voltage be

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kept low and other precautions talen to insure the safety of personnel from electrical hazards. Research on the compressive strength of concrete has shown that the strength at a particular time is a function of the total thermal energy absorbed by the freshly cast con- crete.5.7 From an economic point of view, it is preferable to use the minimum number of heating elements and locate them where they will be most effective. In addition to the heat source provided by the electrical resistors, the heat of hydration of the cement provides a significant amount, thus reducing the total power requirement. Results from temperature distribution shidies5.7 indicate that with internal electrical curing the temperature along the surface of the beam is uniform due to the high thermal conductivity of the steel forms. It is also noted that the heat flows from the inside of the mass to the outside, which is opposite to the heat flow in steam-cured members. Cores talen from test specimens5.7 showed some variation in the modulus of rupture and compressive strength. This variation was similar for the specimens with equal distribu- tion of heat, unequal distribution of heat, and specimens cured by steam. Higher strengths were obtained from the thicker sections of all specimens. For all specimens, the 28- day strength exceeded the design strength of the concrete.

5.2.4 Effect of internal electrical curing on properties of







ducted at The Pennsylvania State University5.7 on pre- stressed concrete beams to determine the effect of electrical curing on prestress loss, bond, transfer length, cracking loads, and strength. These tests were conducted on small beams and full-scale I-beams with steam and internal elec- trical energy. The prestress loss studies indicated that a 10 percent lower prestress loss was obtained with the electrically cured beams than with the steam-cured beams. The bond transfer length in the electrically cured beams, however, was 20 percent greater than for the steam-cured beams. Hammerhead-typebeams were tested to evaluate the flex- ural bond strength of the concrete cured by the different methods. These tests did not show any significant difference in the flexural bond strength. Four full-scale, prestressed I-beams were cast from iden- tical concrete on the same prestressing bed. Three of the beams were cured with electrical energy, and one was cured by steam at atmospheric pressure. No significant difference was found between the two curing methods in camber, flex- ural stiffness, beam cracks, or surface strain under load. The electrically cured members showed less prestress loss than the steam-cured beam, but more strand slip at transfer of the prestressing force. The ultimate strength of the elec- trically cured beams was higher than for the steam-cured beam. This ultimate strength was based on yielding of the steel strand and not on complete destruction of the beams.

5.2.5 ï!iíerrnal and mechanical properties of


during the curing cycle--In the design of any system to be used for accelerated curing of concrete, it is essential that the thermal and mechanical properties of the fresh concrete be laiown. As part of their studies on electrical curing, researchers at The Pennsylvania State University5.8 evalu-

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ated the modulus of elasticity, ultimate strength, coefficient

of linear expansion, heat of hydration, modulus of heat transfer, and specific heat of concrete for the first 24 hr of

the curing cycle. These tests were conducted on a high- early-strength concrete having a design strength of 6000 psi (41 MPa). Curing temperatures studied were 75 F, 125 F,

and 175 F (24 C, 52 C, and 78 C). Concretes cured at 75 F

(24 C) were used as the basis of comparison for the higher curing temperatures. In addition to studying the thermal and mechanical properties, an analytical procedure was devel- oped to predict the temperatures and energy requirements for heating irregular-shaped concrete members with either internal or external heat sources. While only one concrete

mix was tested, these results are indicative of the behavior

of most commonly used portland cement concretes. Mechanical properties-Since the effect of

the preset time was studied in previous research,s 93s.10 it was

not considered as a variable. Specimens cured at elevated temperatures were heated immediately after casting. As a result of this zero preset time the mechanical properties

exhibited erratic behavior. The results, however, did indicate

that the modulus of elasticity of concrete cured at 175 F (78

C) for 24 hr was 25 percent higher than that for the same

concrete cured at 75 F (24 C). Also the compressive strength at 24 hr for concrete cured at temperatures above 125 F (52

C) for 24 hr was 50 percent greater than that for concrete

cured at 75 F (24 C). ï!iíerrnal properties-To investigate the coeffi-

cient of linear thermal expansion, concrete specimens were

cast at room temperatures 75 F (24 C) on a roller assembly.

At different preset times for each specimen, a uniform heat

was applied, and the elongation of the specimen was care-

fully measured. Results of this series of tests are shown in Fig. This graph, which plots the coefficient of linear thermal expansion versus the preset time, shows that the Coefficient of expansion varies by a factor of ten during the first few hours after mixing the concrete. Therefore, it is important that when heat is used to accelerate the curing of concrete, it should not be applied until a preset time of 4 or 5 hr have elapsed to permit the concrete to reach a constant coefficient of thermal expansion that is very close to that of

the steel forms and molds. Previous tests indicated that preset times less than 4 hr

affected the compressive strength of the concrete, but data are not availableto indicate the probable cause of this loss of strength. The free water in the freshly mixed concrete may be the cause of this large variation in the Coefficient of expansion. After hydration is initiated, the amount of free water is decreased and the thermal properties of the solid materials become predominant. This phenomenon is also apparent in the other thermal properties discussed below. The thermal, dimensional changes in plastic concrete are especially critical in molded, precast structural products. In

this type product the molds usually restrain dimensional

changes in one or more directions, and since thermal defor-

mation is a volumetric change, deformations larger than those indicated by the Coefficient of thermal expansion can

tale place in the unrestrained direction of the concrete.

The heat of hydration is increased as the temperature increases, and the magnitude is approximately ten times


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greater at 175 F (78 C) than at 75 F (24 C) during the first 6 hr. Thereafter, the values remain relatively constant. The modulus of heat transfer decreases rapidly in magni- tude during the first 6 to 8 hr at all temperatures and then remains relatively constant. Higher temperatures yield higher moduli of heat transfer values which are approx- imately proportional to the thermal conductivities at ele- vated temperatures. The movement of water within the concrete during the first 2 hr may not materially affect the conductivity, but it does sharply influence the flow of heat. The specific heat of uncured concrete increases with in- creased temperature. Test results showed an increase of 20 percent from 75 F (24 Cl to 175 F (78 C). The water content during the first few hours before hydration is completed appears to exert a major influence.

5.2.6 Problems

with electrical



curing is still in the development stage, it can be anticipated

that problems still persist with the method. Some of the problems are associated with the electrical distribution sys- tems and controls; however, improvements are constantly being made with these devices. When thin sections are cured with electrical energy there is a tendency for cracking to occur. This cracking usually takes place at the junction of a thin section and a larger mass, such as in a T-beam where the flange meets the stem. The exact cause of this cracking has not been determined, but it is possible that thermal stresses caused by rapid cool- ing may be high in this area. There has not been sufficient research to determine when internal curing or external curing should be used. Applying heat through the steel forms appears to work well for thin sections, but for uniform heat in thick sections, internal resistance wires give better results. Heated metal forms and electric blankets present other problems. Warping of steel forms has been detected and attributed to differential temperatures in the forms. When electric blankets are used, hot spots occur unless the blanlcets have complete contact with the wet concrete. Rapid loss of moisture from the wet concrete does not appear to be a problem. Adequate moisture barriers can be placed on the wet concrete and the proper amount of mixing water will provide sufficient moisture for complete hydration.

5.3-Use of hot oil or other fluids for heating forms Hot oil has been extensively used to accelerate the curing of concrete by heating the steel forms. The oil is heated at an external point and circulated through pipes or cavities provided in the steel forms. This method provides a uniform and constant temperature to the outside of the fresh concrete when the pipes or cavities are properly located and the forms are properly protected to minimize heat loss. The properties of the concrete cured by this method should not differ from those cured with electrically heated forms, as oil is used only as the vehicle to transfer heat from some external source to the exterior of the concrete. In essence, it is another method of applying dry heat to fresh concrete. One of the advantages of using hot oil is that a constant temperature can be maintained in the heated forms. Since

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1- Ls






* 8



O. 600





o. 1oc

O. O75







ing the preset period



Time Hours



of linear thermal expansion dur-

steel forms are used with this method, their high thermal conductivity usually produces a constant uniform tem- perature on the exterior surfaces of the concrete. A disad- vantage of the method is that heat remaining in the oil at the completion of the curing cycle is usually wasted unless it can be diverted to other casting beds.

5.4-Infrared curing of concrete Thermal radiation in the form of infrared rays has had limited application in accelerated curing of concrete. This method was tried in the Soviet Union and found to be both effective and economical according to Mironov and Mal- inina (I964).5.l l Recently, idfared heaters were used in Sweden to accel- erate curing of concrete in tunnel liners. Radiation was not applied directly to the concrete but was directed to the steel forms. Unpublished reports indicate that the curing results were satisfactory, even though the heaters were not uni- formly distributed. This nonuniform heat naturally pro- duced nonuniform concrete strengths. Temperatures near the heaters were 70 C (158 F). Infrared curing was also used in Sweden on horizontal surfaces of concrete. In these applications the concrete sur- face was sometimes covered by plastic foil, and LPG-fired infrared radiation heaters were used. For concrete enclosed in steel forms it was found that 1000 watt heaters located 6-7 in. (150- 175 mm) from the forms produced the best results. More data are needed on infrared curing before specific recommendations can be made on this method.

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CHAPTER 6-REFERENCES 6.1 -Recommended references

The documents of the various standards-producingorgan- izations referred to in this document are listed below with their serial designation.


“Standard Specifications for Highway Bridges,”

American Concrete Institute

These publications may be obtained from the following organizations:

American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials 444 N. Capitol St., NW, Suite 225 Washington, DC 20001

American Concrete Institute PO. Box 19150 Detroit, MI 48219-0150

ASTM 1916 Race St. Philadelphia, PA 19 103


Guide to Durable Concrete





Admixtures for Concrete



1. AC1 Committee 517, “Low Pressure Steam Curing,” AC1 JOURNAL,


Guide for Use of Admixtures in Concrete

Proceedings V. 60, No. 8, Aug. 1963, pp. 953-986. Chapter 1


Hogan, F. J., and Meusel, J. W., “Evaluation for Durability and



Corrosion of Metals in Concrete Causes, Evaluation, and Repair

Strength Development of a Ground Granular Blast Furnace Slag,” Cement, Concrete. and Aggregates, V. 3, No. 1. Summer 198 1, pp. 40-52. Chapter 2

2.2a. Evans, R. H

“Use of Calcium Chloride in Prestressed Con-

of Cracks in Concrete Structures

2.1. Shideler, J. J., “Calcium Chloride in Concrete,” AC1 JOURNAL. Proceedings V. 48, No. 7, Mar. 1952, pp. 537-559.


Cold Weather Concreting

crete,” Proceedings, World Conference on Prestsessed Concrete (San


Francisco, July 1957), University of California, 19-57, pp. A31-1-A31-8.


Standard Practice for Curing

2.2b. Evans, R. H

and Williams, Alan, “Use of X-Rays in Measuring



Bond Stress in Prestressed Concrete,” Proceedings, World Conference on Prestressed Concrete (San Francisco, July 1957), University of California, 1957, pp. A32-1-A32-8.



Godfrey, Howard J.,

“Corrosion Tests on Prestressed Concrete



Standard Specification for Concrete Aggregates



Standard Specification for Portland Cement



Standard Specification for Lightweight Aggregates for Structural Concrete



Standard Specification for Lightweight Aggregates for Concrete Masonry Units



Standard Test Method for Time of Setting of Concrete Mixtures by Penetration Resistance



Standard Specification for Chemical Admixtures for Concrete



Standard Specification for

C 618

Blended Hydraulic Cements Standard Specification for Fly

c 9x9

Ash and Raw or Calcined Natural Pozzolan for Use as a Mineral Admixture in Portland Cement Concrete Standard Specification for Ground Iron Blast-Furnace Slag for Use in Concrete and Mortars

Copyright American Concrete Institute Provided by IHS under license with ACI No reproduction or networking permitted without license from IHS

Wire and Strand,” Journal, Prestressed Concrete Institute, V. 5, No. I, Mar. 1960, pp. 45-51.

2.4. Monfore, G. E., and Verbeck, G. J., “Corrosion of Prestressed

Wire in Concrete,” AC1 JOURNAL, Proceedings V. 57, No. 5, Nov. 1960, pp. 491-515.

2.5. Wright, T. E., “An Unusual Case of Corrosion of Aluminum

Conduit in Concrete,” Engineering bumal (Montseal), V. 38, No. 10, Oct. 1955. pp. 1357-1362.

2.6. “High Alumina Cements,” Building Research Digest No. 27,

Building Research Establishment, Garston, Watford, Feb. 1951, 6 pp.

2.7. Robson, T. D., “Characteristics and Applications of Mixtures of

Portland and High-Alumina Cement,” ChemistQ and IndmtQ (London), Jan. 1952, pp. 2-7. Chapter 3 3.1. Keunning, William H., and Carlson, C. C., “Effect of Variations in Curing and Drying on the Physical Properties of Concrete Masonry

Units, Development Department Bulletin No. D13, Portland Cement As-

sociation, Skokie, 1956, 129 pp.

3.2. Hanson, J. A., “Optimum Steam Curing Procedure in Precasting

Plants,” AC1 J~~RN~~,Proceedings V. 60, No. 1, Jan. 1963, pp. 75-100.

3.3. Kirkbride, T., “Review of Accelerated Curing Procedures,” Pre-

cast Concrete (London), V. 2, No. 2, Feb. 1971,pp. 87-90.

3.4. Mansfield, G. A., “Curing-A Problem in Thermodynamics,”

Rock Products, V. 51, No. 8, Aug. 1948, p. 212.

3.5. Copeland, R. E., “Kilns and Appurtenant Facilities for Low Pres-

sure Steam Curing,” National Concrete Masonry Association, Hemdon,


3.6. “Concrete Pressure Pipes,” AWWA Manual No. M-9, American

Water Works Association, Denver. 3.7. Pfiefer, D. W., and Landgren, J. R., “Energy Efficient Accelerated Curing of Concrete-A Laboratory Study for Plant-Produced Prestressed Concrete,” Prestressed Concrete Institute, Chicago, Dec. 1981, 66 pp.

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3.8. Brown, H. E., ?An Investigation of the Effect of the Gypsum Content and Steam Curing Variation on the Compressive Strength of Port- land Cement Concrete,? MSc thesis, University of Virginia, Charlottes- ville, Aug. 1963.

3.9. Pfiefer, D. W., and Marusin, S., ?Energy-Efficient Accelerated

Curing of Concrete-A State of the Art Review,? Prestressed Concrete Institute, Chicago, Mar. 1981, 116 pp. 3.10. Preston, H. Kent, ?Effect of Temperature Drop on Strand Stresses

in a Casting Bed,? Journal, Prestressed Concrete Institute, V. 4, No. 1, June 1959, pp. 54-57. Chapter 4 4.1. Shideler, Joseph J., ?Investigation of the Moisture-Volume Sta- bility of Concrete Masonry Units,? Development Department Bulletin No. 03, Portland Cement Association, Skokie, Mar. 1955, 54 pp. 4.2. Toennies, Henry T., ?Artificial Carbonation of Concrete Masonry

Units,? ACI JOURNAL. Proceedings


V. 56,

No. 8, Feb.

1960, pp.

4.3. Verbeck, G. J., ?Carbonation of Hydrated Portland Cement,? Ce-

ment and Concrete, STP-205, ASTM, Philadelphia, 1958, pp. 17-36.



Also, Research



No. 87,


4.4. Toennies, Henry T., and Shideler, Joseph J., ?Plant Drying and


AC1 JOURNAL,Proceedings V. 60, No. 5, May 1963, pp. 617-634. Also,

Development Department Bulletin No. D64, Portland Cement Association.

?Bumer Curing,? Precast Concrete (London),

V. 2, No. 11, Nov. 1971, pp. 644-646.






4.5. Kirkbride, T. W

4.6. ?Accelerated Drying of Concrete Masonry Units,? National Con-

crete Masonry Association, Hemdon, 1955.

4.7. ?Accelerated Drying Facilities, Methods and Costs,? Convention

Reprint, National Concrete Masonry Association, Hemdon, 1956.

4.8. Schneider, Dietmar K., ?Increasing Production and Profits with

Hot Concrete,? Journal, Prestsessed Concrete Institute, V. 18, No. 4, July- Aug. 1973, pp. 21-32.

Chapter 5

5.1. Martinet,

C., ?Electsical Process of Curing Precast Reinforced

Concrete,? Concrete Building and Concrete Products, Dec. 1963.

5.2. Fleming, A. G., ?Electrical Curing of Concrete and Mortar,?

Concrete, Dec. 1939, pp. 11-12.

5.3. Brund, A., and Bohlm, H., ?Electrical Heating of Concrete,?

Building Science Abstracts (London), V. 5, Aug. 1932, Abstract No. 1498. 5.4. Rethy, A., ?Progress in Electrical Heating of Concrete,? Building

Science Abstracts (London), V. 7, Nov. 1934, Abstract No. 1886.

and Bazhenov, Yu M.,

5.5. Skramtaeu, B.


Shuhenkin, P. F

?Complex Use of Chemical and Electrical Heating for the Production of

Precast Reinforced Concrete,? Beton i Zhelezobeton (MOSCOW),V. 6, 1964, pp. 243-246.

5.6. Ady, Nancy, ?Electrical Curing of Concrete,? Special Bibliogra-

phy No. 20, Library,

ment Association, Skokie, Mar. 1966.

5.7. Chi, C. T., and Bamoff, R. M., ?Intemal Electrical Curing of

Restressed Concrete,? Small Industries Research, Pennsylvania State Uni- versity, University Park, 1970.

5.8. Book, Norman L., and Bamoff, Robert M., ?Time Temperature

Study of Accelerated Curing of Concrete,? Structural Research Report,

Department of Civil Engineering, Pennsylvania State University, Univer- sity Park, Sept. 1973.

5.9. Pu, Dennis C., ?Electrical Curing of Concrete,? MSc thesis, Penn-

Research and Development Division, Portland Ce-

sylvania State University, University Park, 1967.

5.10. Cadwallader, G. H., ?Electrical Curing of Concrete,? MSc the-

sis, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, 1968.

5.11. Mironov, S. A., and Malinina, L. A., ?Uskorienie

betona,? Moskva (U.S.S.R.).


This report was submitted to letter ballot of the committee and was approved in accordance with AC1 balloting requirements.

Committee members voting on the 1992 revisions:

Steven H. Gebler Eugene D. Hill, Jr. Frank A. Kozelisla Ken B. Rear

W. Calvin McCall Chairman

Thomas H. Sadler Billy M. Scott Bryce P. Simons Luke M. Snell


Copyright American Concrete Institute Provided by IHS under license with ACI No reproduction or networking permitted without license from IHS

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