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Concrete is a conglomerate, stone like material composed essentially of three materials: Cement, water and aggregate. Sometimes a fourth material, an admixture (additive for concrete) is added for a variety of specific purposes, such as acceleration or retardation of setting or hardening. The strength and quality of concrete depend not only on the quality and quantity of the materials, but on the procedures used in combining these materials and the skill involved in the placing and curing of concrete. 6.1 Concrete Making Materials

Concrete, as pointed out above, is a composite material made of Portland cement, water and aggregates. In some cases admixtures may be added to give the concrete special properties either when fresh or hardened or both. In this part, we deal with the properties of the component materials and the requirements they have to fulfill in order to produce good and sound concrete. a) Portland Cement

Refer the notes on cementing materials. b) Water

Water fit for drinking is generally suitable for making concrete. Substances in water that, if present in large amounts, may be harmful are: salt, oil, industrial wastes, alkalies, sulphates, organic matter, silt, sewage etc. Tests by the sense of smell, sight or taste should reveal such impurities, however water of doubtful quality should be submitted for laboratory analysis and test. Water-used in concrete mixes has two functions, the first is to react chemically with the cement which will finally set and harden, and the second function is to lubricate all other materials and make the concrete workable. The quality of cement paste is determined by the proportion of water to cement (Watercement ratio). Too much water prevents proper setting: Too little water prevents complete chemical reaction called hydration; the water and cement combine chemically to form a new compound. A 50 kg bag of cement requires approximately 12.5 liters of water for complete chemical combination of materials. However, the use of exactly the amount of water needed for chemical combination is not practical under field condition. Usually 20 liters to 40 liters must be used for each sack of cement. The extra water serves as a lubricant to carry the cement paste into small pores of the aggregate. Excess water is also needed to wet the aggregate so that it will not absorb water needed by the cement.

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The more water added to the mix, the more fluid and plastic it will be (the better the workability will be), and the weaker the concrete will be. Too much water will cause the aggregate to segregate, resulting in concrete that is uneven in strength. The excess water will float the fine, light particles of cement to the top of freshly placed concrete. This process is called bleeding. The amount of water to be mixed with a given quantity of cement is expressed as the number of liters of water to each 50 kg bag of cement. The proportion of water to cement is referred to as the water-cement ratio. Water may be measured either by volume or by weight. Weight or volume of water Weight of cement The tanks on modern concrete mixers are equipped with water gauges or meters that assure the proper amount of water for each batch. The amount of water in the aggregate must be determined so that the total amount of water in the design mix will be correct. It should be pointed out that the total amount of water required per unit volume of fresh concrete depends on a number of factors that are: 1. The desired consistency of the concrete, which may be expressed as will be seen, by the slump test. 2. The maximum size, particle shape and grading of the aggregate 3. Water reducing admixtures. c) Aggregate

Aggregates generally occupy 65 to 75% of the volume of concrete. Hence due consideration should be given in their selection and proportioning. Aggregates range from fine sands to rocks 38 mm in diameter or larger. The quality of the concrete is affected in several ways by the aggregate. The strength of the aggregate limits the strength of the concrete. The surface of the grains affects the plasticity of a concrete mix. Rounded grains will move more easily as the concrete is placed. Long and thin aggregate will weaken concrete. The aggregates used in concrete may be natural aggregates, such as sand and gravels taken directly from riverbank or gravel deposits, or they may be byproducts of an industrial process (e.g. blast-furnace slag). In Ethiopia the great majority of aggregates used for concrete are obtained from natural sources, either in the form of rock, which is crushed to obtain the desired maximum size or gravel, which is processed by crushing or screening oversized materials. In choosing aggregate for use in a particular concrete attention should be given to three important requirements:

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Workability when fresh for which the size and gradation of the aggregate should be such that undue labor in mixing and placing will not be required. Strength and durability when hardened - for which the aggregate should: a) be stronger than the required concrete strength b) contain no impurities which affect strength and durability c) contain no silt which affect the adhesive strength between aggregate and cement paste (this is mainly a problem in relation to fine aggregate) d) be resistant to weathering action

Economy of the mixture- meaning to say that the aggregate should be: a) available from local and easily accessible deposit or quarry b) well graded in order to minimize cement paste, hence cement, requirement

Classification of Aggregates Aggregates are generally classified based on their source, their chemical composition, their weight, their size or the mode of preparation. As regards the source, aggregates may be natural or artificial. Natural aggregates are obtained from riverbeds (sand, gravel) or from quarries (crushed rock), while artificial aggregates are generally obtained from industrial wastes such as the blast furnace slag. There are three main classes of aggregates differing in their chemical composition and these are derived from argillaceous (composed primarily of Al2O3), siliceous (composed primarily of Si2O3), and calcareous rock (composed primarily of CaCO3). The classification of rocks according to their mode of formation is igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rock. Based on their weight, aggregates are divided into three groups: 1. Heavy aggregates with densities more than 4000kg/m3 (these include steel balls, bronze and other metals used in concrete for radiation shielding) 2. Normal weight aggregates with densities between 2400 and 2800kg/m3 3. Light weight aggregates such as pumice and scoria which used to make light weight concrete, having solid densities in the region of 700kg/m3

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Grading requirements for concrete aggregates From the above explanation it is clear that both the maximum size and grading are important factors to be considered when calculating proportions for concrete mix. For this reason national standards specify grading limits for coarse and fine aggregates. According to Ethiopian Standard, fine aggregate should consist of natural sand obtained from the natural disintegration of rock or sand obtained from crushed stones where as coarse aggregate should be gravel, crushed gravel, or crushed stone. The grading or particle size distribution of fine aggregate and coarse aggregate should be within the limits specified in the following tables:

Grading Requirement for Fine Aggregate

Grading Requirement for Coarse Aggregate

Sieve size (ES) 9.5mm 4.75mm 2.36mm 1.18mm 600m 300m 150m

Percentage passing 100 95-100 80-100 50-85 25-60 10-30 2-10

Sieve Size

Percentage Passing Nominal Size of Graded Aggregate (mm) *38-5 *19-5 *13-5

75mm 63mm 37.5mm 19mm 13.2mm 9.5mm 4.75mm 100 95-100 30-70 10-35 0-5 100 95-100 25-55 0-10 100 90-100 40-85 0-10

The largest sieve through which at least 90% of the aggregate passes defines the maximum size of an aggregate. Admixtures


Admixtures are ingredients other than water, aggregates, hydraulic cement, and fibers that are added to the concrete batch immediately before or during mixing. A proper use of admixtures offers certain beneficial effects to concrete, including improved quality, acceleration or retardation of setting time, enhanced frost and sulfate resistance, control of strength development, improved workability, and enhanced finishability.

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Water - reducers

Water-reducing admixtures are groups of products that are added to concrete to achieve certain workability (slump) at a lower w/c. The basic role of water reducers is to deflocculate the cement particles agglomerated together and release the water tied up in these agglomerations, producing more fluid paste at lower water contents. Use of water reducers usually reduces water demand 7-10%. A higher dosage of admixtures leads to more reduction; however, excess retardation may be encountered. It is well known now that using water-reducing admixtures increases concrete strength. Increases in compressive strength are as much as 25% greater than would be anticipated from the decrease in w/c. Although using admixtures in concrete improves concrete's properties, misusing any kind of admixtures will negatively affect these properties. It is therefore important to follow the manufacturer's recommendations whenever admixtures are used. b) Set retarders

Retarding admixtures (retarders) are known to delay hydration of cement without affecting the long-term mechanical properties. They are used in concrete to offset the effect of high temperatures, which decrease setting times, or to avoid complications when unavoidable delays between mixing and placing occur. Use of set retarders in concrete pavement construction 1) enables farther hauling, thus eliminating the cost of relocating central mixing plants; 2) allows more time for texturing or plastic grooving of concrete pavements; 3) allows more time for hand finishing around the headers at the start and end of the production day; and 4) helps eliminate cold joints in two-course paving and in the event of equipment breakdown. Many researchers studied mechanisms of set retardation. Several theories have been offered to explain this mechanism. A review of these theories was presented by Young. The role of retarding admixtures can be explained in a simple way: the admixtures form a film around the cement compounds (e.g., by absorption), thereby preventing or slowing the reaction with water. The thickness of this film will dictate how much the rate of hydration is retarded. After a while, this film breaks down, and normal hydration proceeds. However, in some cases when the dosage of admixtures exceeds a certain critical point, hydration of cement compounds will never proceed beyond a certain stage, and the cement paste will never set. Thus, it is important to avoid overdosing a concrete with a retarding admixture. c) Accelerators

Accelerating admixtures are added to concrete either to increase the rate of early strength development or to shorten the time of setting, or both. Chemical compositions of

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accelerators include some of inorganic compounds such as soluble chlorides, carbonates, silicates, fluosilicates, and some organic compounds such as triethanolamine. Among all these accelerating materials, calcium chloride is the most common accelerator used in concrete. Most of the available literature treats calcium chloride as the main accelerator and briefly discusses the other types of accelerators. However, growing interest in using "chloride-free" accelerators as replacement for calcium chloride has been observed. This is because calcium chloride in reinforced concrete can promote corrosion activity of steel reinforcement, especially in moist environments. However, the use of good practices, i.e. proper proportioning, proper consolidation, and adequate cover thickness can significantly reduce or eliminate problems related to corrosion. d) Superplasticizers

The use of superplasticizers (high range water reducer) has become a quite common practice. These classes of water reducers were originally developed in Japan and Germany in the early 1960s; they were introduced in the United States in the mid-1970s. The main purpose of using superplasticizers is to produce flowing concrete with very high slump in the range of 175-225 mm to be used in heavily reinforced structures and in placements where adequate consolidation by vibration cannot be readily achieved. The other major application is the production of high-strength concrete at w/c's ranging from 0.3 to 0.4. The capability of superplasticizers to reduce water requirements 12-25% without affecting the workability leads to production of high-strength concrete and lower permeability. 6.2 Fresh Concrete

Having considered the ingredients of concrete, we should now address ourselves to the properties of freshly mixed concrete. Since the long-term properties of hardened concrete; strength, volume stability, and durability are seriously affected by its degree of compaction, it is vital that the consistence or workability of the fresh concrete be such that the concrete can be properly compacted and also that it can be transported, placed, and moulded into the desired shape.

6.2.1 a)

Properties of Fresh Concrete Workability

It is the property of fresh concrete that determines the ease with which a material can be used to give a product of the required properties or it is the property of fresh concrete that determines the amount of work required for placement and compaction that determines the resistance to segregation.

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It is the term used to denote the degree of wetness or fluidity of concrete. Experience has shown that wet concretes are more workable than dry (stiff) concretes, but concretes of the same wetness (consistence) may differ in workability. The degree of wetness of a concrete mixture may be classified as stiff, plastic, and flowing. The slump test It is the most widely used method to check the consistence of concrete. The method as devised in the late twenties of America, was a simple frustrum of a cone. According to ASTM 143(23) the frustrum of a cone should be 305 mm high, 203 and 102 mm diameter at the bottom and top respectively. After being moistened, it is placed on a smooth surface with the smaller opening at the top, and filled with the concrete sample in three layers, each approximately one third of the volume of the cone. The consistence is measured in terms of the amount it has slumped in centimeter.

Factors that affect workability and consistence The materials that constitute concrete principally affect workability and consistence of fresh concrete. The factors governing the plasticity of a concrete mixture are: 1. 2. 3. 4. Relative quantities of cement paste and aggregates Plasticity of the cement paste Grading of aggregates Shape and surface characteristics of aggregate particles

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Batching (proportioning) and mixing concrete

There are two methods of batching: the weight batching and the volume batching. Weight batching is preferred over volume batching especially on important jobs. This is because of the fact that the quantity of solid materials in a container very much depends on its degree of compaction i.e. on the closeness with which the material packs. If the material packs closely with few air voids, the solid volume of materials is greater than if the material is packed loosely. This is more if the material is made of fine particles. However, because it is convenient, volume batching is used at most construction sites. Even if proportions of materials for concrete mix are given by volume, volume batching of cement should be avoided because being a very fine material, its solid volume will be greatly affected by the way it is filled in the gauge box. It is a principle of making good concrete to measure cement by weight even though the aggregates and water are measured by volume. Ordinary cement is batched by the bag because a bag of cement makes a convenient measure for this purpose. Each cement bag contains a net weight of 50 kg. Based on the assumption that 1-liter of PC weights 1.44 kg, a 50 kg bag will contain 34.7 liters of cement that for convenience can be rounded off to 35 liters. Water is usually measured by volume in a tank or by means of flow type water maters. Proportions by volume are usually specified in terms of aggregates in a dry condition, but the batch quantities must be given in the loose condition. Care must be taken in the case of wet sand that might bulk. Concrete is either mixed by hand or by machine. For hand mixing a clean surface should be selected. The measured quantities of aggregates and cement should be turned over from one spot to another, with shovels, a sufficient number of times to produce a mass of uniform color. Preferable the cement and sand should be mixed first and then coarse aggregate added over the spread mixture, the three materials should then be mixed thoroughly until the coarse aggregates are uniformly distributed throughout the mixture of cement and sand. Once the dry mixture is completed, measured amount of water is added slowly preferably throughout a hose from a watering can while the materials are turned over with shovels, this turning being continued until the cement, sand and coarse aggregate have been thoroughly and uniformly combined and the desired workability and smoothness obtain throughout the mixture. In all-important work when hand mixing is adopted, it is advisable to use 10% of cement in addition to the specified quantity in order to compensate for the lower strength that usually is obtained with hand mixing. Machine mixing obviously gives better and uniform mixes than the method described above, and it is generally preferred and recommended. There are different types of concrete mixers such as the tilting drum type, the non-tilting drum type and the pan type.

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Placing and Compacting

The operations of placing and of compacting are interdependent and are carried out almost simultaneously. They are most important for the purpose of ensuring the requirements of strength, impermeability, and durability of the hardened concrete in the actual structure. As far as placing is concerned, the main objective is to deposit the concrete as close as possible to its final position so that the segregation is avoided and the concrete can be fully compacted. To achieve this objective, the following rules should be born in mind. a) the concrete should be placed in uniform layers, not in large heaps or sloping layers; b) the thickness of a layer should be compatible with the from the bottom of each layer; c) the rates of pacing and compacting should be equal; d) where a good finish and uniform color are required on column as walls, to forms should be filled at a rate of at least 2m per hour, avoiding delays (long delays can result in the formation of cold joints); e) each layer should be fully compacted before placing the one, and each subsequent layer should be placed whilst the underlying layer is still plastic so that monolithic construction is achieved; f) collision between concrete and formwork or reinforcement should be avoided. For deep section a long down pipe or termie ensures accuracy of location of the concrete and minimum segregation; g) concrete should be placed in a vertical plane. When placing in horizontal or sloping forms, the concrete should be placed vertically against, and not away from the previously placed concrete. For slopes greater than 10o, a slip-from screed should be used.

There exist specialized techniques for placing concrete, such as slip-forming and the termie method. Slip forming is a continuous process of placing and compaction, using low workability concrete whose proportions must be carefully controlled. Both horizontal and vertical slip forming is possible, the latter being slower and requiring formwork until sufficient strength has been achieved to support the new concrete and the formwork above. The capital cost of the equipment is high but this is more than offset by its very thigh rate of production. Placing concrete by termie is particularly suited for deep forms, where compaction by the usual methods is not possible, and for underwater concreting. In the termie method, high workability concrete is fed by gravity through a vertical pipe that is gradually raised. The mix should be cohesive, without segregation or bleeding, and usually has high cement content a high proportion of fines, and contains a workability aid (an admixture).

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The purpose of compaction is to remove as much of the entrapped air as possible so that the hardened concrete has a minimum of void, and consequently, is strong, durable and of low permeability. Low slump concrete contains more entrapped air than high slump concrete, and hence, the former requires more effort to compact it satisfactorily. This effort is provided mainly by the use of vibrator. Vibration of concrete The process of compacting concrete by vibration consists essentially to the elimination of entrapped air and forcing the particles into a closer configuration. Extremely dry and stiff mixes can be vibrated satisfactorily so that compared with compaction by hand; a given desired strength can be achieved with lower cement content. This means a saving in costs, but against that we have to offset the cost of the vibrating equipment and of heavier, sturdier formwork. In any case, however the cost of labor would probably be the deciding factor as far as the total costs are concerned. Both compaction by hand and compaction by vibration can produce good quality concrete, with the right mix and workmanship. Likewise, both methods can produce poor concrete; in the case of hand-rammed concrete, inadequate compaction is the most common fault whilst in the case of vibration, non-uniform compaction can occur due to inadequate vibration or to over-vibration which causes segregation; the latter can be prevented by the use of a stiff and well-graded mix. The specified consistence of the mix governs the choice of the vibrator as, for example, mixes suitable for pumping may have too-wet a consistence for vibration. Thus, for efficient compaction, the consistence of the concrete and the characteristics of available vibrator have to be matched. Essentially, there are three basic methods of compacting concrete by vibration, and these are discussed below. There are variations of these types that have been developed for special purposes but they are beyond the scope of this hand out. i) Internal vibrators

Of the several types of vibrators, this is perhaps the most common one. It consists of a poker, housing and eccentric shaft driven through a flexible drive from a motor. The poker is immersed in concrete and thus applies approximately harmonic forces to it; hence, the alternative names of poker vibrator or immersion vibrator. The poker should be easily moved from place to place so that the concrete is vibrated every 0.5 to 1.0m for 5 sec to 2 min, compaction can be judged by the appearance of the surface of concrete, which should be neither honeycombed nor contain an excess of mortar. Gradual withdrawal of the poker at the rate of about 80 mm per second is recommended so that the hole left by the vibrator closes fully by itself without any air being trapped. The vibrator should be immersed, quickly, through the entire depth of the freshly deposited concrete and into the layer below if this is still plastic. In this manner, monolithic concrete is obtained, thus avoiding a plane of weakness at the junction of the

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two layers, possible settlement, cracks and the internal effects of bleeding. It should be noted that, with a lift greater than about 0.5m, the vibrator may not be fully effective in expelling air from the lower part of the layer. ii) External vibrators

This type of vibrator is rigidly clamped to the formwork that rests on an elastic support, so that both the form and the concrete are vibrated. As result, a considerable proportion of the work done issued in vibrating the formwork, which has to be strong and tight so as to prevent distortion and leakage of grout. The principle of the external vibrator is the same as that of an internal one. They are used for precast or thin in situ sections having a shape or thickness that is unsuitable for internal vibrators. The concrete has to be placed in layers of suitable depth as air cannot be expelled through too great a depth of concrete, and the position of the vibrator may have to be changed as so concreting progresses. Portable, non-clamped external vibrators may be used at sections not otherwise accessible, but their range of compaction is very limited, one such vibrator is an electric hammer, sometimes used for compacting concrete test specimens. iii) Vibrating tables

A vibrating table provides a reliable means of compaction of precast concrete units and has the advantage of ensuring uniform vibration. The system can be considered as a case of formwork clamped to the vibrator, as opposed to that of an external vibrator, but the principle of vibrating the concrete and formwork together is the same. Generally, a rapidly rotating in opposite directions, the horizontal component of vibration can be neutralized, so that the table transmits a simple harmonic motion in the vertical direction only. 6.2.4 Curing Concrete

Moisture is necessary for the proper hardening of concrete because the chemical reaction that results in the setting and hardening of the paste takes place only in the presence of water. It is true that the amount of water normally used at the time of mixing is adequate for this purpose, however, the loss from evaporation from the time the concrete is mixed and placed is usually so rapid that there may not be enough of it left for full hydration and hardening. Excessive loss of water due to evaporation may cause the hydration process to stop all together with a consequent reduced strength development. In addition, if concrete dries out too quickly by exposure to sun and wind, it will shrink. This early and usually rapid shrinkage will result in tensile stresses that will lead to surface cracks.

It is important therefore that fresh concrete be kept moist for several days after placing. This process, known as curing should begin soon after the concrete is set and continue preferably for a number of days.

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From the above, the purpose of curing can be summarized as follows: 1. Curing is to prevent formation of surface cracks due to rapid loss of water while the concrete is fresh and weak. To assure attainment of strength by providing enough moisture for the hydration of the cement grains throughout the concrete.


Curing is most important in hot climates. Methods of curing In the case of concrete members with a small surface/volume ratio, oiling and wetting the forms before casting may aid curing. The forms may be left in place for sometime and, if of appropriate material, wetted during hardening. If they are removed at an early stage, the concrete should be sprayed and wrapped with polythene sheets or other suitable covering. Large horizontal surfaces of concrete, such as highway slabs, present a more serious problem. In order to prevent crazing of the surface on drying out, less of water must be prevented even prior to setting. As the concrete is at that time mechanically weak it is necessary to suspend a veering above the concrete surface. This protection is required only in dry weather, but may also be useful to prevent rain marring the surface of fresh concrete. Once the concrete has set, keeping the concrete in contact with water can provide wet curing. This may be achieved by spraying or flooding (ponding), or by covering the concrete with wet sand, earth, sawdust or straw, periodically-wetted mats can be used, or alternatively an absorbent covering with access to water can be placed over the concrete. A continuous supply of water is naturally more efficient than an intermittent one. Another means of curing is to seal to concrete surface by an impermeable membrane or by waterproof reinforced paper or by plastic sheets. A membrane, provided it is not punctured or damaged, will effectively prevent evaporation of water from the concrete but will not allow ingress of water to replenish that lost by self-desiccation. The membrane is formed by sealing compounds applied in liquid form by hand or by spraying after the free water has disappeared from the surface of the concrete but before the pores in the concrete dry out so that they can absorb the compound. The membrane may be clear, white or black. Except when used on concrete with a high water/cement ratio, sealing membranes refuse the degree and rate of hydration compared with efficient wet curing. However, wet curing is often applied only intermittently so that in practice sealing may lead to better results than would otherwise be achieved. Reinforced paper, once removed, does not interfere with the adhesion of the next lift of concrete, but the effect of membranes in this respect has to be ascertained in each case plastic sheeting can cause discoloration or mottling because of non-uniform condensation of water on the underside of the sheet. To prevent this condition, and therefore loss of water, when plastic sheets are used they just rest tightly against the concrete surface. The period of curing cannot be prescribed in a simple way but, the process should begin soon after the concrete is set and continue preferably for a number of days. Curing is most important in

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hot climates and the periods of curing given in BS or ASTM should be extended in countries with hot climates. Influence of temperature Generally, the higher the temperature of the concrete at placement, the higher initial rate of strength development, but the lower the long-term strength. This is why it is important to reduce the temperature of fresh concrete when concreting in hot climates. The explanation is that a rapid initial hydration causes a non-uniform distribution of the cement gel with a poorer physical structure, which is probably more porous than the structure developed at normal temperatures. 6.3 Hardened Concrete

The desired characteristics of concrete vary from one construction to the other and as such, they should be considered in relation to the quality required. The properties of hardened concrete we will discuss in this part are: 6.3.1 Strength Durability

Strength of concrete

Concrete is used to build structures with. Since the primary function of practically all structures is to carry loads or resist applied forces of whatever nature, concrete used for such purposes must have strength. This is the reason why the strength of concrete is commonly considered although in some cases other characteristics, such as durability and water tightness (or impermeability), may be more important. Nevertheless, strength usually gives an overall picture of the quality of concrete, and it is considered as good index whether direct or inverse, of most of the other properties. The continuous phase in concrete is the hardened cement paste (cement stone): hence, it can rightly be said that the properties of concrete are closely related to that of the structure of the paste, and as such stronger concretes are nearly impermeable and consequently durable, they are also stiffer; however, they usually exhibit higher drying shrinkage which might finally result in cracking. The strength of cement-bound materials in compression, tension and shear, follows the same general pattern as in the other ceramic type materials, such as stone or fire-clay products. The stresses in tension are amplified according to Griffiths theory and, in consequence, tensile strength is less than 10% of compressive strength. As a result of its low tensile strength, concrete is generally reinforced in areas whenever tensile stresses arise, although some tensile or flexural strength is nevertheless, assumed in such situations as unreinforced road slabs, ground floor slabs and foundations.

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Factors affecting strength Consideration has already been given to a number of factors affecting strength, though it may be appropriate to elaborate on some aspects of this information. a) Water/cement ratio

As far as mix proportions are concerned, this is the most important factor affecting strength for given materials. Lower water/cement ratios lead to higher strengths. The effect may broadly be considered as the same as that of compaction, higher water/cement ratios resulting in more porous cement paste and hence, lower strength. The strengthwater/cement ratio relationship is in fact, approximately logarithmic in the normal strength range the log of strength increasing uniformly with reduction in water/cement ratio. Illustrating this point, the strength of concrete is increased by 25% by reducing the water/cement ratio from 0.6 to 0.5 and further 25% increases would be obtained by further reductions to 0.4 and 0.3. Clearly, when the added advantage of high durability is considered, there would seem to be great benefit in producing powerful compaction methods for concrete of low workability and low water/cement ratio, though these techniques are most suited to factory production. b) Age

From an age of about 12 hours, the strength of concrete increases rapidly with time, the rate of hardening thereafter reducing the strength approaching its long-term value exponentially. Correlations between strength at different ages are important since they often form the basis of 28 day, or later, strength prediction, by testing at early ages. Typical age factors are shown in the following table. For 0.6 water/cement, concrete continuously cured, the relationship between 7 and 28 days strengths has been the subject of particular interest, the traditional working guide being that 28 days compressive strength is 5% greater than 7 day strength. This rule is no longer accurate for modern cements where the hydration process occurs more rapidly, the 28-day strength now showing a smaller percentage increase over the 7-day value, a rise of less than 30% being more likely.

Table: Strength ratios for 0.6 water/cement concrete at various ages Age (days) Strength 1 0.20 3 0.48 7 0.72 28 1.00 60 1.07 90 1.10 180 1.13

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Compressive strength Of the various strength properties of concrete it is generally the compressive strength that attracts the greatest interest since it is this property that is made use of in designing building units of structural or of simple load bearing quality. In addition, it has a great practical and economic significance because the sections and sizes of the concrete structures are determined by it. Since most concrete structures are designed to resist compressive stress, it is this property which is usually prescribed by codes or standards in terms of either ultimate strength or working stress which is taken as a percentage of the crushing strength as determined by standard cube or cylinder tests or using proportions of beams broken in flexure. Methods of testing for strength These may be classified as destructive and non-destructive, the former providing the basis for most design and production aspects of structural concrete, despite the fact that destructive testing, as well as non-destructive testing, must be regarded, in general, as an indirect way of ascertaining concrete strength. Destructive tests a) Cube test

This is currently the most common type of destructive test for concrete, owing to the cheapness of the cube moulds and the comparative simplicity of a manufacture and testing of cubes. Carefully obtained samples of the concrete mix are placed and compacted in steel moulds. Bonding with the steel is prevented by coating with release agent. After 24 hours the cube is removed and cured under water until tested. The cube is ten placed centrally between the plates of a compression-testing machine, trowel led face sideways, and the load is applied such that the stress increases at a given constant rate until failure. The maximum load is recorded. Cube in sizes of either 200 mm, 150 mm or 100 mm are common. b) Cylinder tests

These have some advantages and some disadvantages compared with the cube test. Since only the cylinder ends are loaded, the body of the mould need not be machined and can be formed from cheaper materials, such as plastics on the other hand, the ends of the cylinder must be of accurate tolerance, requiring capping of one or both ends, dependent upon weather a machined base-plate is used. The normal height to width ratio of a cylinder is 2:1 so that platen restrain is less than in a cube, leading to lower apparent strengths. When correlating to cube strengths, a ratio of 1:25 is generally taken and a further factor will need to be included if the height diameter ratio is not 2:1

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Cylinder testing has been in use for many years in the form of testing of cores cut from the concrete. This allow visible examination and strength testing of the in-situ material, though cutting them is expensive and, if reinforcement is also cut, there may be implications both in terms of the test result and the stability of the structure itself. 6.3.2 Durability

In practice, concrete is designed and constructed in order to build permanent structures. However, at times, its service life may be markedly reduced by the disintegrating effects of either the environment to which it is exposed or by internal causes within its mass. The environment causes may be: a) Physical, i.e. weathering, due to the action of rain, freezing and thawing and dimensional changes (expansion and contraction) resulting from temperature variations and/or alternate wetting and drying, Chemical, due to aggressive waters containing sulfates, leaching in hydraulic structures and chemical corrosion, and Mechanical wear, by abrasion from pedestrian or vehicular use, by wave action in structures along the seashore or erosion from the action of flowing water.



The resistance of concrete to the effect of weather, to salt scaling and to chemical attack, to mechanical damage resulting from abrasion or impact are the different aspects of durability of concrete; and the concrete that withstands the conditions it is intended for, without deteriorating, over a long period of time, is said to be durable. In countries with temperate and tropical climate such as Ethiopia, the problem of freezing and thawing does not practically exist; however, it is quite possible that a concrete in service becomes exposed to chemical attack. Chemical attack is brought about by the penetration of various agents of the environment (such as reactive liquids particularly sulfates, polluted air, etc) into the mass of the concrete and the chemical reaction of such agents with the different components of the concrete. Failure of the concrete to resist chemical attack is primarily a failure of the cement paste; if the cement paste can be made resistant, the concrete will be resistant and serviceable.


Mix Design

It was shown that the properties of a freshly mixed as well as the resulting hardened concrete are closely associated with the characteristics and relative proportions of the component materials. It is therefore obvious that by determining the relative quantities of the component materials prior to mixing, one can produce a concrete of desired properties. This process is known as mix design or mix proportion.

_______________________________________________________________________________ 59 Eyob Yilma, Construction Technology Department, NCTTE

At present there are a number of methods of mix design established and used in different countries. Although different in few details, all mix design procedures have the prime objective of obtaining the most economical mix proportions of cement, water, fine and coarse aggregates and occasionally admixtures, to produce concrete of desired properties when fresh as well as hardened. The various methods can be classified as follows: a) b) c) 6.4.1 The trial method of proportioning The arbitrary proportions Recommended practices for selecting proportions Trial Method of Proportioning

This method is based on Abrams Law, i.e., the strength of concrete depends upon the net ratio of the mixing water to the cement. It also requires that samples of the cement, fine aggregate, and coarse aggregate be available. It is usually done at a building site, in advance of actual construction, using portions of supplied materials as follow: 1. 2. Selection of the water/cement ratio appropriate to the requirements of strength and other properties such as durability. If such data is not available, then it has to be assumed. Making one or more small trial batches of concrete having this water/cement ratio and the required consistency, in order to determine the optimum proportions and amounts of the aggregates that will produce a workable mix with a minimum of paste and therefore cement. Arbitrary Proportions


Some specifications and standards prescribe fixed proportions of cement to fine, coarse aggregate either by weight or by volume like 1:3:6 or 1:2:4. This is known as arbitrary proportioning and the proportions have been established by experience and observations. However, this method does not define the amount of water or the water/cement ratio. The prescription of EBCS-2 (1995) is shown as an example (see the table on page 61). 6.4.3 Recommended Practices

It is by considering the important factors like: water/cement ratio, type of cement, cement content, workability, strength and aggregate size. You can find all the details in the textbook written by A.M. Neville & J. J. Brooks, Concrete Technology, Singapore, 1993.

_______________________________________________________________________________ 60 Eyob Yilma, Construction Technology Department, NCTTE

_______________________________________________________________________________ 61 Eyob Yilma, Construction Technology Department, NCTTE