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Lecture Eight

Basic Characteristics of Concrete

Concrete is a mixture of sand, gravel, crushed rock, or other aggregates (which

occupy most of the volume) held together by a hardened paste of cement and water (which is the binding agent).

Manufacturing process for cement: 1) Limestone is crushed. 2) The crushed limestone is mixed in clay. 3) The mixture is further pulverized, either wet, or dry. 4) The resultant is burned in a kiln for 4 hours at 3000 degrees Fahrenheit. 5) Gypsum is added, and the clinker (unfinished cement product) pulverized.

Principles of Portland Cement concrete: 1) Strength depends on the water-cement ratio in the initial mix. Water is kept to a minimum for maximum hardness. 2) Water increases workability, allowing the proportion of aggregate to cement to be increased, thereby reducing cost. 3) The ideal amount of cement is just enough to coat each aggregate particle completely. 4) Fine aggregates require more coating material, and so the total cost of the concrete increases as the size of the aggregate decreases. 5) Shrinkage due to evaporation is proportional to the amount of cement paste; the higher the proportion of cement, the more shrinkage.

Hardening of Concrete: Concrete becomes hard and strong through the process of hydration. Hydration occurs when elements from the cement combine chemically with water to form molecules or crystals. As such, it is necessary that water be present in the concrete until the reaction reaches equilibrium. Approximate time periods for the different stages of hydration of modern cement: 1) Initial set (after 45 min): The concrete is ready to be troweled. 2) Final set (after about 10 hrs): The concrete is hard enough for the forms to be removed. 3) Full hydration (after about 7 days): The concrete is said to be cured. After, there is no need to insure the presence of water in the concrete. 4) Full strength (after about 28 days): Evaporation is essentially complete, and the concrete can accept full loading.

Preparation process- Use of Water: 1) The amount of water required to hydrate the concrete is actually very small. 2) Water is required to make the concrete easy to place, but this need must be balanced by the fact that too much water weakens the concrete. 3) Final set is cased on the evaporation of the excess water that was used to make the concrete plastic enough to place.

Preparation process-placement: Concrete is placed dry, meaning with the minimum amount of water, and then vibrated to ensure that there are no air pockets. Vibration is kept to a minimum to prevent segregation of the aggregate from the cement.

Preparation process-mixing: Mixing is used to ensure that every piece of aggregate is coated with the cement paste.

Curing: Curing is the process of ensuring full hydration. It involves making sure that the concrete is wet for the necessary period, and that it does not freeze (which would inhibit the chemical process).

The main methods of curing: 1) Periodic spraying or hosing down with water 2) Waterproof cover to trap moisture. 3) Using a sealing compound.

4) Pumping steam into the concrete.


Characteristics of concrete aggregates-Size: Coarse/fine: the distinction between coarse and fine aggregates is made of in diameter. Coarse and fine aggregates are known as gravel and sand respectively. Typically, sand and gravel are both found in concrete. An example is 1:2:4 concrete which has the proportions as follows: a. 1 volume cement b. 2 volumes fine aggregate (sand) c. 4 volumes coarse aggregate (gravel) Characteristics of concrete aggregates -Size limits: Common sizes: particles are commonly graded up to 1 in diameter. Size limit: particles of up to 3 in diameter can be used, but the diameter of the largest particles used should not exceed 1/5 the width of the form. Furthermore, aggregate should not be more than the size of the narrowest space between re-bars.

Characteristics of concrete aggregates- Quality: The best quality aggregates are those whose members are round, because the resulting concrete will have the smallest gaps between particle members.

Characteristics of concrete aggregates- Weight: In some application, lightweight concrete is desirable. In order to reduce weight, aggregates are composed of cinders, burned clay, vermiculite, and perlite.

Strength of Concrete Compressive Strength: Concrete is strong in compression. Compressive strength is given in psi or in Kg/cm2 Stresses of 2000 to 5000 psi can safely be supported by different kinds of concrete Stronger concrete is more expensive; different strengths are specified based on application. Tests are made of the compressive capacity of batches of concrete, by the pouring of test cylinders, which once cured, are crushed in a laboratory

Reinforced Concrete: Although it is very strong in compression, concrete has virtually no tensile strength. Therefore, concrete is cast around steel reinforcement bars, whenever tensile forces are present. Aside from simple bars.

Methods of reinforcement when there are long spans, or when the section of concrete must be reduced: 1) Pre-stressed wires: bars are stretched before pouring, and held until curing is complete. The tension in the wire forms equilibrium with compression in the concrete. 2) Post tensioning: small tubes are cast into the concrete. After curing, the tubes are filled with steel bars that are then permanently tensioned.

On site Concrete Construction

Formwork Materials: 1) Wood: made of planks or plywood 2) Steel: used frequently for reusable forms 3) Fiberglass: results in lighter formwork 4) Waxed paper: used for pouring columns, can only be used once.

Categories of formwork: Permanent: Lost forms stay as part of the finished building. They are commonly used in floors, and ceilings, or when the form will be used for fire protection. The following are types of lost forms. a. Structural steel deck b. Asbestos cement c. Gypsum panels d. Ferro-cement

Categories of formwork: Non-permanent: these forms can be subdivided into simple, or reusable. The first can be simply nailed together, and then ripped apart after the final set. The second requires some kind of mechanical adjustment for the joints.

Basic methods for pouring concrete into forms

Main factors to keep in mind when considering the pouring of concrete on site: 1) Concrete should never be pushed horizontally (that is, out of a container). 2) Concrete should be dumped directly into the form, it should never be dropped into the form. 3) Pouring should be done continuously, so that the concrete in a form is all at about the same level of curing at all times. 4) Vibration and puddling should be used to eliminate air pockets. However, excessive vibration will separate aggregates. 5) Concrete is delivered in ready-mix trucks. If it can not be poured directly from the truck, it should be placed by either hoists or barrows, or pumping. 6) Joints between one days pour and the next are called construction joints. At least of old concrete should be removed before the new concrete in the joint is poured.


Ways to avoid weaknesses that might arise in the structure due to joints: 1) Plan to locate the joints in areas that will experience minimum shearing stress. 2) Use keys, that is, shape the forms so that they will fit into one another. 3) Roughen the surfaces that will be in contact, to maximize friction. 4) Place grout on the old concrete.

Concrete Structure

Rules of thumb for dimensions of structural members in concrete construction: 1) Beams: a. Overall depth of beams = span /5 b. With of beams = depth/2 2) Columns: a. Minimum dimension is 8 b. Cross sectional area in square inches = load (in psi)/1000

Rules of thumb for dimensions in floor structures: One way spans (assumed to support structurally in one direction, or having joist ribs in one direction) 1) Slabs without joist ribs: a. Slabs up to 12 in the direction of the deflection. b. Thickness of the slab = span/20

Rules of thumb for concrete structural floors: Two-way spans (assumed to support structurally in two directions or having perpendicular joist ribs). 1) Slabs without joist ribs: a. Slabs (without joist ribs) up to 24x24 (i.e. 576 sq. ft.) b. Thickness of the slab = span/30

2) Joist slabs: 2) Joist slabs a. slabs from 12 to 30 b. good for oblong bays c. overall depth of slab plus joist ribs = span/20 + 2 d. common spacing of 20 and 30 between ribs e. joists commonly have a width of 5 to 9 a. Waffle slabs are used for 24 to 50 in the large dimension (maximum of 2500 sq. ft.) b. Overall thickness of slab and joist rib = span/30 + 2 c. Rectangular modules have common linear dimensions of 2,3, 4, & 5