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Materials and Structures / Matériaux et Constructions, Vol.

37, Month 2004, pp XX-XX

Effect of fly ash and slag on the fracture characteristics
of high performance concrete

B.H. Bharatkumar1, B.K. Raghuprasad2, D.S. Ramachandramurthy1,

R. Narayanan1 and S. Gopalakrishnan1
(1) Structural Engineering Research Centre, CSIR Campus, Taramani, Chennai-600 113, India
(2) Civil Engineering Department, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore-560 012, India

The premature deterioration of concrete structures in La détérioration prématurée des structures en béton dans des
aggressive environments has necessitated the development milieux agressifs a favorisé le développement des bétons haute
of high performance concrete (HPC). The major difference performance. La principale différence entre le béton ordinaire et
between conventional concrete and HPC is essentially the celui à haute performance est l’addition dans ce dernier
use of chemical and mineral admixtures. The improved d’adjuvants chimiques et minéraux. L’utilisation de tels
pore structure of HPC achieved by the use of chemical and adjuvants améliore globalement la structure poreuse du béton et
mineral admixtures causes densification of paste-aggregate contribue aussi à la densification de l’interface pâte / granulat et
transition zone, which in turn affects the fracture de ce fait, modifie les caractéristiques de rupture. Afin d’étudier
characteristics. Hence, studies were taken up to investigate les effets de l’addition de cendres volantes ou de laitier sur les
the effect of fly ash and slag on the fracture characteristics caractéristiques de rupture du béton à haute performance, des
of HPC. Beam specimens (geometrically similar and single poutres-spécimens avec entaille pratiquée à mi-portée ont été
size variable notch) with locally available fly ash (25%) and coulées avec des mélanges contenant jusqu’à 25% de cendres
slag (50%) as cement replacement materials were prepared volantes ou 50% de laitier comme substituants du ciment. Deux
and tested in a servo-controlled Universal Testing Machine catégories de poutres ont été testées sous déplacement contrôlé
(UTM) under displacement control. From the value of the sur une machine servo-hydraulique UTM (Universal Testing
peak load for each beam, various fracture parameters were Machine): des poutres à dimensions variables avec un rapport
calculated. The results show that there is a reduction in the Longueur d’entaille / Profondeur constant et des poutres à
fracture energy due to addition of fly ash or slag, which can dimensions constantes et un rapport Longueur d’entaille /
be attributed to the presence of unhydrated particles of size Profondeur variable. A partir de la valeur de la charge à la
larger than that of normal flaws in concrete. Also due to rupture, des paramètres de rupture ont été calculés. Les résultats
densification, the post peak behaviour is steeper for the fly montrent une diminution dans la valeur de l’énergie de
ash or slag based HPC mixes. The results of the fissuration après addition d’adjuvants. Cette diminution peut
investigation are presented in this paper. s’expliquer par la présence dans le béton de particules de
matériau non-hydratées de taille supérieure à la taille habituelle
des défauts internes dans la pâte. Par ailleurs, en raison de la
densification de l’interface pâte / granulat, le comportement post-
pic est modifié pour les mélanges contenant des cendres volantes
ou du laitier. Les résultats de cette étude sont présentés ci-après.

1. INTRODUCTION Mineral admixtures, also called as cement replacement

materials (CRM), act as pozzolanic materials as well as fine
fillers, thereby the microstructure of hardened cement matrix
High Performance Concrete (HPC) is that concrete which becomes denser and stronger [2]. The mineral admixtures are
meets special performance and uniformity requirements that generally industrial by products (fly ash, slag, silica fume etc)
cannot always be achieved by conventional materials. The and thus we can ensure a major economic benefit. However, at
major difference between conventional concrete and HPC is ambient temperatures, their pozzolanic reaction is generally
essentially the use of chemical and mineral admixtures. Use of slow. The slow rate of setting and hardening associated with
chemical admixtures reduces the water content, thereby the incorporation of CRMs in concrete is advantageous, if
reducing the porosity within the hydrated cement paste [1]. durability is of primary interest [3]. Concrete containing CRMs

1359-5997/04 © RILEM 1/10 MS 1607

Bharatkumar, Raghuprasad, Ramachandramurthy, Narayanan, Gopalakrishnan

typically provides lower permeability, reduced heat of mechanical properties, such as, compressive strength, split
hydration, higher strength at latter ages and increased tensile strength and flexural strength at various ages and
resistance to attack from sulphates [4, 5]. Thus, the combined limited durability studies in terms of chloride diffusion at the
use of chemical and mineral admixtures leads to economical age of 56 days.
concrete with enhanced durability. Many investigators have
evaluated the mechanical and durability characteristics of HPC
mixes. The effect of mineral admixtures on the strength of 2. EXPERIMENTAL INVESTIGATIONS
HPC varies markedly with their properties and hence, should
be used with care and not on the basis of any generalization.
The early age compressive strength of HPC mixes shows
2.1 Materials
lower value for the same water-binder ratio (w/b) because of Cement: The main characteristics of cement (53 grade)
slower pozzolanic reaction. However, a higher rate of strength used are given in Table 1.
development similar to only OPC may be achieved by slight Coarse aggregate: Crushed granite aggregates (maximum size
modification in the mix proportion [5-7]: 12.5 mm) were used. The specific gravity, dry rodded unit
The improved pore structure of HPC achieved by the use of weight and water absorption of coarse aggregate are 2.71,
chemical and mineral admixtures, causes densification of 1550 kg/m3 and 0.5% by weight of the aggregate respectively.
paste-aggregate transition zone, which, in turn, affects the
fracture characteristics, especially for those mixes having Sand: River sand passing 4.75mm size was used. The
strengths more than 50 MPa. Giacco et al. [8] reported that the specific gravity and the fineness modulus of sand were 2.62
fracture energy of concrete increases with increase in strength and 2.48 respectively.
of concrete and the characteristics length decreases as the Superplasticiser (SP): A sulphonated napthalene formaldehyde
concrete strength increases. Zhou et al. [9] reported that critical type SP was used.
stress intensity factor increases with increasing compressive Fly ash: Fly ash (Class F) from the thermal power plant
strength. Gopalakrishnan et al. [10] investigated the flexural near Chennai, India was used. The main characteristics of
behvaiour of reinforced HPC beams and reported that the fly ash are given in Table 1.
flexural behaviour of reinforced beams with and without
Slag: Ground granulated blast furnace slag supplied by a
mineral admixtures is same, provided the compressive
company in Andhra Pradesh, India was used. The main
strengths are same. However, as the strength of HPC increases
characteristics of slag are given in Table 1.
there is need to modify the stress block parameters. In the high
strength matrix, the tensile strength can be 2.5 times greater
than the normal strength matrix; however, the increase in Table 1 - Details of cementitious materials
fracture energy or elastic modulus is not as much. Properties Cement
Fly ash Slag
Consequently, high strength matrix has a much lower 53 Grade
brittleness number and is more susceptible to the development SiO2 (%) 19.11 58.8-59.1 33.67
of cracks [11-13]. It has been shown that the silica fume based Al2O3 (%) 6.43 39.9-40.3 20.56
concrete (high strength concrete) is brittle and linear elastic Fe2O3 (%) 5.22 1.01
fracture mechanics can be applied to characterise its fracture. MgO (%) 0.71 0.22-0.34 9.63
However, effect of fly ash and slag on fracture characteristics CaO (%) 63.78 0.86-1.02 32.45
is not the same as silica fume. Generally, silica fume having SO3 (%) 1.29 -- 0.10
fineness of 1500-2000 m2/kg is added upto 5-10% as CRM or Na2O, K2O (%) 0.97 0.59-1.25 1.24
in addition to cement, whereas, fly ash having fineness of LOI (%) 1.34 1.05-1.08 --
250-400 m2/kg is added up to 25-40% and slag having fineness Free lime (%) 0.20 -- 0.27
of 400-600 m2/kg is added up to 70% as CRM. Both fly ash Specific gravity, 3.14 2.15 2.95
and slag act as pozzolana and make the concrete denser by
refining the pore structure, but due to low w/b ratio and higher strength (MPa) at
amount of mineral admixture may have unhydrated particles of the age of 3days 26.50 -- --
size larger than that of normal flaws in concrete. Hence, the 7 days 33.20
fracture characteristics of fly ash or slag based HPC may not 28 days 53.40
be the same as silica fume based HPC. Not much information
is available on the effect of fly ash and slag on the fracture
characteristics of HPC. 2.2 Mix proportions
Hence, it is necessary to evaluate the fracture properties of
HPC, if the safety of structures built with such concrete and The mix proportions used are given in Table 2. Totally 8
their durability are to be assured. Hence, studies were series comprising of 4 OPC based mixes, one having w/b of
conducted at Structural Engineering Research Centre (SERC), 0.50 (without SP) and the other three having w/b ratios of
Chennai, India, to investigate the effect of mineral admixtures 0.5, 0.4, 0.36 (with SP), 2 fly ash and 2 slag based mixes
on the fracture properties of HPC. Concrete beam specimens (with SP) having w/b ratio of 0.4, and 0.36 have been
(both geometrically similar and single size variable notch investigated. Pan type mixer machine was used for
specimens) made with different binders (OPC, OPC + fly ash preparing the concrete mix. The following sequence of
and OPC + slag) were prepared and water cured before testing. mixing was arrived at based on initial trials: first loading
Evaluation was made by comparing fracture characteristics at with 50% of total quantity of water, then adding aggregate,
the age of 56 days for the different mixes, besides studying its sand and cementitious materials, then adding remaining

Materials and Structures / Matériaux et Constructions, Vol. 37, Month 2004

with variable notch-depth were

Table 2 - Details of concrete mix proportions
tested under flexure using a
Sl. Mix ID Content, kg/m3 Slump, load controlled machine and
No. Cement Fly ash Slag Sand Agg. Water SP mm only the peak load was
1 O*-0.50 392 -- -- 865 911 196 -- 60 recorded.
2 O-0.50 344 -- -- 865 1018 172 0.70 60
3 O-0.40 430 -- -- 793 1018 172 0.70 50 3. EVALUATION OF
4 O-0.36 472 -- -- 753 1018 172 0.70 55
5 F-0.40 323 107 -- 754 1018 172 0.75 45
6 F-0.36 354 118 -- 710 1018 172 0.75 45 CHARACTERISTICS
7 S-0.40 215 -- 215 793 1018 172 0.75 40
8 S-0.36 236 -- 236 753 1018 172 0.75 40 3.1 KIC and GC based
O*- OPC without SP, O- OPC, F- Fly ash, S- Slag mixes
0.50, 0.40, and 0.36 indicate the w/b ratio on linear elastic
fracture mechanics
water with SP (SP was added in steps). Slump test was (LEFM) approach
carried out on fresh concrete to evaluate its workability.
Slight variation in SP dosages was effected to account for The critical stress intensity factor KIC for different specimen
changes in ambient temperature, humidity at the mixing geometries and loading configuration is proportional to the
stage and the presence of mineral admixture. applied failure load Pmax. The most commonly used specimen
for the determination of KIC is a notched beam loaded in three
2.3 Preparation of test specimens point bending. The critical stress intensity factor KIC is
calculated using the formula [16]:
As recommended by RILEM committee-FMT-89 [14],
geometrically similar beam specimens for evaluation of KIC = (3Pl/2td2) √(πao ) F(a) (1)
fracture characteristics and cubes, cylinders and prisms for where F(A) = (1/√π)((1.99 – A(1-A)(2.15-3.93A + 2.7A2) /
evaluating mechanical and durability characteristics were ((1 +2A)(1-A)1.5) (2)
cast using steel moulds. The moulds were filled with
concrete in three layers and each layer was compacted well A= (ao/d), a0 is the initial notch depth, d is the depth of the
using a table vibrator. The specimens were demoulded after beam, t is the width of the beam and P is the maximum
24 hrs of casting and cured by immersing them in water. load, l is the span (4d). The critical energy release rate GC is
Notches of 3 to 4mm thick of various depths were cut in the related to KIC as:
beam specimens using a concrete cutting machine before
testing for fracture characteristics. GC = (KIC)2/E (3)
where E is the Young’s modulus
2.4 Testing of specimens
The compressive strengths at the ages of 3, 7, 28, and 56 3.2 Fracture energy (GF) from work-of
days were evaluated using 100mm cube specimens. Split fracture
tensile strength and flexural strength at 56 days were evaluated Fracture energy or specific fracture energy (GF) is the
using 200 x 100mm cylindrical specimens and 100 x 100 x energy needed to create a crack of unit area and is given by
500mm prism specimens respectively. Rapid chloride (RILEM committee FMC-50[17]:
permeability test as per ASTM C 1202 [15] using 100mm dia
x 50mm thick disc shaped specimens was carried out at the age GF = (WF+WS δo)/Alig (4)
of 56 days. The geometrically similar beam specimens having
constant notch-depth/beam depth ratio of 0.3 were tested using where WF is the work of fracture (equal to area under load
a servo-controlled Universal Testing Machine (UTM) under deflection plot), WS is the sum of the self weight of the
constant displacement rate of 0.05mm/min. A single point specimen and fixtures, Alig is the area of the ligament that
loading system was adopted in which the beam was simply was intact before the test.
supported over a span equal to four times the depth of beam.
The load, deflection and crack mouth opening displacement 3.3 Fracture energy (Gf) and fracture process
were measured till failure. An LVDT of + 10mm range was zone (cf) from size-effect law
mounted on a specially fabricated frame for accurate
measurement of deflection. A clip gauge of + 4mm range over Structures and test specimens made out of brittle
a gauge length of 25mm was fixed across the notch at the heterogeneous materials, such as concrete, rock and ceramics,
bottom face of the beam to measure the crack mouth opening exhibit a pronounced size effect on their failure loads. This
displacement (CMOD). The output from the external LVDT, phenomenon, which is an important consequence of fracture
clip gauge and the load channel from UTM were connected to mechanics, has been described by the size-effect law proposed
ORION data logger to record displacement, CMOD and load, by Bažant [18, 19]. The fracture energy (Gf) and size of fracture
and data were stored on a computer on-line at every 2 second process zone (cf) from size-effect model is given by [14]:
intervals. The test was continued till the beam failed. The σN = Bft /(1+d/d0)1/2 (5)
beam specimens with single size of 50 x 100 x 500 mm and

Bharatkumar, Raghuprasad, Ramachandramurthy, Narayanan, Gopalakrishnan

where, σN = cn P/td is the nominal stress at maximum load where Y = (1/g(α)) (cn/σN)2 , X = (g(α)/g’(α)) d
P, cn is an arbitrary constant (here it is equal to 1), ft is the
tensile strength, t is the width of the beam and d is the depth Gf2 = 1 / EA2 (13)
of the beam, B and do are the material parameters related to cf2 =C2/A2 (14)
fracture energy (Gf) and fracture process zone (cf) for the
infinitely large specimen as [20]: The constants A2 and C2 can be evaluated from the
measured maximum load of single size with variable notch
Gf = (B ft /cn)2 (do g(α)/E) (6) beam specimens, from which one can calculate Gf2 and cf2
(the subscript 2 indicate that the fracture parameters Gf and cf
cf = do g(α)/g’(α) (7)
are evaluated from the test results of single size variable
where g(α) = cn π α f (α)2, g’(α) = dg(α)/dα, Gf is the notch specimens).
fracture energy and cf is the size of fracture process zone
Substituting in the above equation:
σN = cn [ E Gf / (g’(α) cf +g(α) d)]1/2 (8)

Case I - Geometrically similar specimens

4.1 Mechanical properties
The compressive strength, split tensile strength, and flexural
Since g(α) and g’(α) are constant for geometrically
strength results for the various mixes are given in Table 3. It is
similar specimens and depth is varying, Equation (8) can
seen from the results of mixes O*-0.50 and O-0.50, that the
be rearranged as:
addition of superplasticiser reduces the water content from 196
Y = A1 X + C1 (9) to 172 kg/m3 and does not affect the various mechanical
properties at the age of 56 days. It is seen from the results of
where Y = (cn/σN)2, X = d, remaining mixes that the use of fly ash (25% replacement) or
slag (50% replacement) results in decrease in compressive
Gf1 = g(α) / EA1 (10)
strength by 12 to 16% at 7 and 28 days and 7-10% at 56 days.
cf 1= (g(α)/g’(α)) (C1/A1) (11) The split tensile strength and flexural strength results also
showed reduction due to addition of fly ash or slag. This is
The constants A1 and C1 can be evaluated from the because of the slower pozzolanic reaction of the mineral
measured maximum loads of geometrically similar specimens, admixture, which caused slow rate of setting and hardening. It
from which one can calculate Gf1 and cf1 (the subscript 1 is seen from literature that a higher rate of strength
indicates that the fracture parameters Gf and cf are evaluated development similar to only OPC may be achieved by heat
from the test results of geometrically similar specimens). The curing, partial replacement of the fine aggregate rather than
specimen sizes used in the present study are: maximum size of OPC, finer grinding of the fly ash or slag, reduction of w/b
aggregate (g) = 12.5mm, width of beam (t) = 50mm, depth of ratio by increasing binder or reducing the water or by partial
beam (d) = 4d (50, 100, 200mm), span (l) = 4 d (200, 400, replacement of a less reactive slag or fly ash with more
800mm), length of beam (L) = 5d (250, 500, 1000mm) and reactive pozzolana (such as silica fume or rice husk ash). In the
notch depth (ao/d) = 0.3 present case, the reduction in w/b ratio is achieved by
Case II – Single size variable notch specimens increasing the binder content by 10% for concrete strengths
more than 50 MPa and keeping the water content constant for
For normal or large size aggregate (g ≥ 20mm), it is seen achieving a similar strength as OPC [5]. However, one can
that the specimen size required becomes very large and the keep the binder content constant and reduce the water content
handling of such test specimens becomes difficult. To by the use of higher dosage of superplasticiser. It is seen from
overcome this difficulty, a new test method, called single the results that reduction of w/b ratio (i.e. comparing O-0.40
size variable notch test method was proposed by Tang et al. with F-0.36 and S-0.36 mixes) results in nearly same
[21]. Specimens used in this test method can be of the same mechanical properties at the age of 56 days. As explained in
size and shape, but have different notch depths. For the earlier publication [7], the efficiency factor of the mineral
present study, the size of specimens used is: size of beam (t admixture can be calculated from the Bolomy [22]
x d x l) – 50 x 100 x 500mm, span = 4d (400mm), notch relationship:
depths = 0.075d, 0.15d, and 0.3d (7.5, 15, and 30mm).
In single size
variable notch Table 3 - Results of mechanical and durability properties
specimens, g(α) and Mix ID Compressive strength (MPa) Split tensile Flexural Chloride
at the end of strength strength permeability
g’(α) are not constant
3 days 7 days 28 days 56 days (MPa) at the (MPa) at the (coulomb) at the
because of variable end of 56 days end of 56 days end of 56 days
notch depth and d is O*-0.50 25.16 30.67 44.69 49.36 3.17 5.55 5337
constant, Equation (8) O-0.50 22.26 24.50 47.30 49.91 3.26 5.53 3967
can be rearranged as : O-0.40 37.60 41.93 63.49 65.99 4.38 6.20 3096
O-0.36 40.50 45.25 69.73 71.27 5.04 6.81 2604
Y = A2 X + C2 (12)
F-0.40 30.92 35.65 54.73 59.35 4.14 5.61 556
F-0.36 32.96 39.76 60.17 66.46 4.86 6.26 500
S-0.40 22.03 37.07 55.55 58.76 4.16 5.50 601
S-0.36 23.30 38.06 58.60 65.23 4.71 6.32 550

Materials and Structures / Matériaux et Constructions, Vol. 37, Month 2004

S = m (c/w) + C for OPC mixes (15) coulombs) chloride-ion permeability. Whereas the OPC mixes
with SP are classified as moderate (2000 – 4000 coulombs)
S = m ((c+kf)/w) + C forHPC mix (16) chloride-ion permeability and OPC mix without SP is
where S is the compressive strength in MPa, c is the cement classified as high (> 4000 coulombs) chloride-ion
content in kg/m3, w is the water content in kg/m3, f is the permeability.
mineral admixture content in kg/m3, m, and C are the empirical
constants, k is the efficiency factor of mineral admixture. If the 4.3 Fracture characteristics
mass of mineral admixture is ‘f’ and is equivalent to a mass of
‘kf’ of cement in terms of strength development then k is called Fracture characteristics such as fracture toughness (KIC)
based on LEFM, fracture energy (GF) based on work-of
the efficiency factor (Smith [23]). The efficiency factor
depends on the age of the concrete, percentage replacement fracture and fracture energy (Gf) and size of fracture
level, type of mineral admixture etc. process zone (cf) based on size effect model for various
HPC mixes are given in Table 4. Fig. 1 shows the typical
Based on the strength results of OPC mixes, the constants m
and C can be evaluated from the Equation (15). Then using the load-CMOD plot for w/b = 0.36. In general, it is seen that
strength results of mixes containing mineral admixtures, as the depth of specimen increases, there is increase in
deflection and CMOD at peak load.
efficiency factor can be calculated using Equation (16). For the
present study, at the age of 56 days, m = 27.47, C = -5.01 and
the efficiency factor for fly ash and slag are 0.77 and 0.86 4.3.1 Fracture toughness (KIC or GC) based on LEFM
respectively (for more details refer [7, 24]). Fracture toughness (KIC) is the value of critical stress
intensity factor K, for which the crack starts growing. KIC
4.2 Durability properties values for various mixes were obtained from a peak load based
on LEFM approach (Equation (1)) and are given in Table 4. It
It is seen from literature that due to the addition of fly ash or is seen that with a decrease in w/b, there is an increase in the
slag in the concrete mixes, the durability properties are fracture toughness (5-10%). It is also seen that there is a
improved [3, 7, 25, 26]. In the present study, only chloride reduction in the fracture toughness (10-25%) due to addition of
permeability study was carried out to show that these mixes, fly ash or slag. The reason may be due to presence of large size
containing mineral admixtures possess improved durability unhydrated fly ash or slag particles that act as a flaw, which
properties. The values of chloride permeability as per ASTM can initiate the failure earlier than that without fly ash or slag
C 1202 [17] in terms of total charge passed through the (lower peak load), also, the microstructure is being enhanced
specimen for various mixes are given in Table 3. It is seen that due to addition of fly ash or slag resulting in steeper post peak
addition of mineral admixtures reduces the chloride behaviour. Taylor and Tait [27] have also observed that at
permeability. The chloride permeability was found to be less initial ages, the fly ash was found to have increased fatigue
than 1000 Coulombs for concrete mixes with mineral resistance and toughness due to the spherical fly ash particles
admixtures. As per the ASTM classification, concrete mixes having a blunting effect. However with increase in age, the
with mineral admixtures are classified as very low (100 - 1000 mixes containing fly ash were slightly less resistant to fatigue

Table 4 - Results of fracture properties

Sl. No. Mix ID Beam depth KIC GIC GF Gf1 Cf1 Gf2 Cf2
d Eq. (1) Eq. (3) Eq. (4) Eq. (10) Eq. (11) Eq. (13) Eq. (14)
(mm) (MPa-(mm)0.5) (J/m2) (J/m2) (J/m2) (mm) (J/m2) (mm)
50 26.44 19.89 100
1 O*-0.50 100 32.18 29.48 122 44.03 10.95 28.29 2.92
200 34.62 34.11 129
50 26.82 20.36 67
2 O-0.50 100 33.90 32.54 98 40.49 7.61 26.70 1.71
200 33.92 32.57 82
50 32.76 26.43 88
3 O-0.40 100 35.19 34.08 125 43.50 7.04 35.94 4.23
200 38.68 40.65 130
50 36.48 31.53 114
4 O-0.36 100 37.93 34.08 127 46.37 5.48 43.52 5.44
200 41.42 40.65 132
50 26.79 18.63 76
5 F-0.40 100 33.22 28.65 93 44.08 13.4 31.51 3.25
200 36.21 34.04 106
50 26.99 17.87 70
6 F-0.36 100 33.26 27.15 96 44.84 13.17 36.96 4.54
200 36.38 32.46 118
50 26.15 17.85 81
7 S-0.40 100 29.00 21.94 100 40.72 15.55 31.18 4.75
200 34.06 30.26 105
50 27.85 19.21 76
8 S-0.36 100 32.53 26.20 100 41.09 11.21 37.03 8.19
200 35.77 31.68 107

Bharatkumar, Raghuprasad, Ramachandramurthy, Narayanan, Gopalakrishnan

Fig. 1 - Typical load-CMOD plot for mixes with w/b = 0.36,

d=100mm. Fig. 2 - Variation of KIC with depth for different mixes.

crack growth due to the poor bond between the gel and the growth before failure takes place in case of quasi-brittle
large unhydrated fly ash particles, acting as flaws that were materials. It is also seen from the literature that for normal
now larger in relation to other flaws in the matrix, which had grade concrete, GF varied from 40 to 130 J/m2, but GC varied
reduced with continued hydration. Thus, since KIC is between 3 to 20 J/m2 [28]. For the present investigation, it is
determined based on maximum load, fly ash or slag based seen that GF varies from 70 to 132 J/m2, while GC varies
concrete mixes exhibit lower fracture toughness than that of between 17 to 40 J/m2. Moreover, GF is not constant but vary
OPC mixes. with the size –they increase with an increase in depth of beam.
It is also seen from Fig. 2 that the fracture toughness Hillerborg [29] reported the results of an extensive round robin
increases as the depth increases and this is also evident series of tests on nearly 700 three-point bend beams performed
from literature that the fracture toughness (KIC) is in 14 laboratories around the world. These results also showed
dependent on size of beam. This variation of KIC is also that GF increases with an increase in specimen size. The
reflected in the corresponding toughness value GC, since variability of GF with specimen size and for its significant
KIC and GC are directly related as per Equation (3). departure from GC is mainly due to the violation of the two
basic assumptions: firstly the work done by the external load
4.3.2 Fracture energy(GF) from work-of-fracture(WF) goes solely into stable crack extension and secondly the energy
Fracture energy GF is the energy needed to create a crack of required to create a crack of unit area is independent of
unit area and also called as specific fracture energy. The work- geometry and loading configuration. Several investigators have
of fracture WF was calculated by measuring the area under the identified many processes, such as crushing of material, thermal
load-deflection plot and the fracture energy was calculated from loss, energy consumed in minor cracking, tortuosity of the
the Equation (4) and is given in Table 4. For elastic brittle fracture path, etc. other than the stable crack extension on
material GF = GC, however, for concrete, which is a quasi which some energy is expended. Hence, it is clear that some
brittle material, GF is higher than GC because of the stable crack errors are attributable to the determination of WF and Alig, which
can explain the variability in GF.

Materials and Structures / Matériaux et Constructions, Vol. 37, Month 2004

The GF value decreases with the addition of fly ash or slag slope with the specimen depth. It is seen that as the depth of
for the same w/b. This is because GF is directly proportional to specimen increases, there is increase in the slope indicating the
the area under load-deflection plot. However, the post peak brittle failure with increasing beam depth. The addition of fly
path of load-deflection plot becomes steeper, when fly ash or ash or slag also shows that there is an increase in the post peak
slag is added due to densification and also there is a slight slope, indicating the densification of the concrete, which
reduction in the peak load, when fly ash or slag is added. Thus, results in brittle failure just after peak load. Thus, the addition
the area under the load-deflection plot is decreased due to of fly ash or slag to concrete mixes will affect the fracture
addition of fly ash or slag, which results in decrease in GF. parameters, which depends on the post peak response, such as
Fig. 3 shows the variation of fracture energy GF with work-of fracture GF.
compressive strength for all series with and without fly ash or
slag (maximum aggregate size used is 12.5mm). It is seen that 4.3.4 Fracture energy (Gf) and fracture process zone (cf)
the fracture energy increases with increase in strength as well from size effect law
as the increase in depth. The above relationship is similar to
that used by CEB-FIB [2]. Fracture energy (Gf1 and Gf2) and fracture process zone (cf1
and cf2) obtained from size effect law as per [14], using
geometrically similar specimens (suffix 1) and single size
4.3.3 Post-peak slope of the load-CMOD plot
variable notch specimens (suffix 2), are given in Table 4. It is
The slope of the post-peak response indicates the brittleness seen that the addition of fly ash or slag decreases the fracture
of concrete. Fig. 4 shows the typical variation of post peak energy slightly. Fig. 5 shows the variation of Gf1 or Gf2 with
the compressive strength of the HPC mix. It seen that the
fracture energy increases with the increase in strength. It is also
seen that the Gf1 is higher than Gf2. Similar results were also
obtained by Tang et al. [30] and they have concluded that the
single size variable notch specimens can be used to evaluate
fracture parameter using size effect law, however these
specimens should provide sufficiently broad range of the
effective structural dimension D, equivalent to the range of
g(α0)/g’(α0). Also, three point bend specimens of same size
cannot provide a large range of D, but eccentric compression
tests can provide a range of D. It may also be noted that in the
present investigation, the loading machines are different for
both the cases. The geometrically similar specimens were
tested by displacement control machine, reaching a maximum
load within 3-5 min, whereas single size variable specimens
were tested in load control machine, where maximum load is
Fig. 3 - Fracture energy GF vs compressive strength.
reached within 15-30 sec. However, experimental peak load of
geometrically similar beams compare well with the predicted
peak load based on Gf1, cf1 and Gf2, cf2 (Fig. 6). Thus, the
fracture parameters obtained using single size variable notch
beam specimens can also be used to predict the peak load.
Hence, if the objective is to have only the peak load prediction,
then single size variable notch beams can be used. However,
more studies are required to make definite conclusions on the
type of single size variable notch specimens to be adopted, to
evaluate fracture parameters based on size effect law. The
disadvantage of geometrically similar specimens is that its size
increases with the aggregate size, which will be difficult to
handle. In the case of single size variable notch specimens, the
size may be comparatively less and may be decided based on
Fig. 4 - Variation of post peak slope of load-CMOD plot with the facilities available.
depth of beam. Recently, Bažant and Giraudon [31] proposed the following
relationships between fracture
Table 5 Comparison of experimental and predicted Gf1 and cf1 using Equations energy (Gf1) of fracture process
(17) and (18) (Bažant and Giraudon (2002)) and Equation (19) (proposed) zone (cf1) with the strength of
Mix ID w/(c+f) w/(c+kf) fcm MPa Gf1, J/m2 cf1, mm concrete, w/c ratio, aggregate size,
Exp. Eq. (17) Eq. (19) Exp. Eq. (18) based on the data of 238 sets
O-0.50 0.50 0.50 49.91 40.49 40.23 40.30 7.61 3.69 available in the literature.
O-0.40 0.40 0.40 65.99 43.5 47.43 44.83 7.04 3.46
O-0.36 0.36 0.36 71.27 46.37 50.07 46.14 5.48 3.37 Gf1 = α0 (fc/0.062)0.13 (1 +
F-0.40 0.40 0.41 59.35 44.08 44.99 43.04 13.4 3.51 (g/3.95)0.47 (w/c)-0.20 (17)
F-0.36 0.36 0.38 66.46 44.84 48.13 44.93 13.17 3.42
S-0.40 0.40 0.43 58.76 40.72 44.47 42.85 15.55 3.34 cf1 = exp[γ0 (fc/0.22)-0.019 (1 +
S-0.36 0.36 0.39 65.23 41.09 47.39 44.69 11.21 3.45 (g/15.05)0.72 (w/c)0.2 (18)

Bharatkumar, Raghuprasad, Ramachandramurthy, Narayanan, Gopalakrishnan

During the mix proportioning, it is proposed to evaluate

the fracture energy in addition to strength evaluation from
the two OPC mixes having extreme w/b ratios based on
minimum and maximum cement contents. From the results
relationship between fracture energy and the compressive
strength can be obtained and used to predict the fracture
energy of the HPC mixes, having the same set of materials,
by knowing the compressive strength. For the present
investigation the relationship between the compressive
strength and the fracture energy Gf1 from the results of two
OPC mixes O-0.50 and O-0.36 is:
Gf1 = A(fcm) (19)
where, Gf1 is the fracture energy obtained from size effect
Fig. 5 - Fracture energy GF vs compressive strength. law, fcm is the mean cube compressive strength (100mm cube
size). The empirical constants A and B are 14.83 and 0.257
respectively. This relationship can be used to predict the
fracture energy for the known compressive strength of other
HPC mixes. The predicted values, based on Equation (19, for
the various mixes are also given in Table 5. It is seen that the
predicted values compare well with the experimental values.
It is also seen that the fracture energy based on size effect
law(Gf1) is less than fracture energy based on work-of
fracture(GF). The fracture energies GF and Gf1 are two
different material characteristics and are weakly related [32].
For the present investigation, the ratio of (GF/Gf1) for d= 100
mm is around 2.5, same as that reported by Planas et al. [33]
and further verified statistically by Bažant and Giraudon[31].
The main advantage of the size effect method is its
simplicity. The method requires only the measurement of
maximum load values of geometrically similar specimens or
Fig. 6 - Experimental and predicted peak load for geometrically
single size variable notch specimens, which can be carried
similar specimens.
out even with the most rudimentary equipment. Neither the
post-peak softening response nor the true crack lengths need
where, α0 = 1.44 and γ0 = 1.12 for crushed aggregate, fc is to be determined. Another advantage of the size effect
the cylinder strength, g is the maximum aggregate size and w/c method is that it yields not only the fracture energy (Gf) of
is the water-cement ratio. The values for the various mixes the material, but also the effective length of fracture process
investigated were predicted based on the above relationship by zone (cf). Both parameters together can explain the size effect
substituting fc = 0.8 fcm and w/c = w/(c + kf), where fcm is the that is exhibited by quasi-brittle materials like concrete. It is
mean cube strength (100mm size), (c + kf) is the effective also shown in literature how the fracture parameters (Gf, cf)
binder content and w is the water content. The predicted and can be used to obtain the R-curve for plain concrete and the
experimental Gf1 and cf1 values are presented in Table 5. It is fracture behaviour of structural element [16].
seen the experimental Gf1 values compare well with the
predicted values. However, the experimental values of cf1 for
the mixes containing mineral admixture are very much higher 5. CONCULSIONS
than the predicted values and therefore cf1 should be evaluated
from experiments, when fly ash or salg is used. Bažant and Based on the experimental investigations on the effect of
Giraudon [31] have also reported large scatter in the predicted mineral admixtures on the fracture characteristics of HPC,
values for cf1 and suggested that the future effort should focus such as fracture toughness, fracture energy, fracture process
on improved prediction formulae involving further parameters zone, the following conclusions are made.
of concrete composition and microstructure. Different • There is an increase in the fracture toughness (KIC) by
formulae may have to be developed for high strength concrete 5-10% as w/c decreases, due to the densification of
and light weight concrete. Further they stated that the concrete leading to higher failure load. There is a
Equations (17) and (18) are intended only for preliminary reduction in the fracture toughness (KIC) by 10-25%
design and for the analysis of structures with low fracture due to addition of fly ash or slag at the same w/b ratio
sensitivity. Important and sensitive structures should always be and this may be due to the presence of larger particles
checked by finite element analysis based on the fracture tests of unhydrated fly ash or slag that act as flaw.
of notched specimens. Hence, the evaluation of fracture • Fracture energy based on work of fracture (GF) is
parameters based on experimental tests is important and it is higher than critical energy release rate (GC) based on
necessary to identify a simple test method, which can be used LEFM, because concrete is a quasi-brittle material and
to evaluate fracture parameters during the mix proportioning has a stable crack growth prior to failure. Also GF is

Materials and Structures / Matériaux et Constructions, Vol. 37, Month 2004

size dependent and addition of fly ash or slag reduces ‘Investigations on the cementitious grout containing
the GF for mixes having the same w/b. supplementary cementitious materials’, Int. Journal of
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• It is also seen that the fracture energy based on size effect Ramachandramurthy, D.S., ‘Mix Proportioning of High
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[8] Giaccio, G., Rocco, C., and Zerbino, R., ‘The fracture energy
energies GF and Gf1 are two different material
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[14] RILEM Committee FMT 89, ‘Size-effect method for
parameter based size effect law, provided objective is determining fracture energy and process zone size of
to obtain the failure load. concrete’, Mater. Struct. 23 (1990) 461-465.
• It is recommended to use the size effect method to [15] ASTM C-1202, ‘Standard Test Method for Electrical
determine the fracture characteristics of concrete mix Indication of Concrete’s Ability to Resist Chloride Ion
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fracture performance based HPC. Based on the two Concrete and Aggregates (1990) 624-629
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[17] RILEM Committee FMC 50, ‘Determination of the Fracture
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required for a particular value of Gf. Bend Tests on Notched Beams’, Materials and Structures,
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[18] Bažant, Z.P., ‘Size-effect in Blunt Fracture: Concrete, Rock,
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1984, pp.518-535
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Director, Structural Engineering Research Centre (SERC), and Similitude’, In Fracture of Concrete and Rock, Eds.
Chennai, India. The authors wish to thank the staff of Shah, S.P. and Swartz, S.E., Springer-Verlag, New York,
Concrete Composites Laboratory and the Fatigue Testing 1987, pp. 229-241
[20] Bažant, Z.P. and Kazemi, M.T., ‘Determination of Fracture
Laboratory of SERC, Chennai for their co-operation during
Energy, Process Zone Length and Brittleness Number from
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of Fracture, Vol.44, 1990, pp.111-131
[21] Tang, T., Bažant, Z.P., Yang, S., and Zollinger, D.G.,
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Paper received: August 19, 2003; Paper accepted: February 25, 2004