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Accelerating admixtures for concrete.

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 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.
Calcium Chloride. Calcium chloride (CaCl2) is a byproduct of the Solvay
process for sodium carbonate manufacture.
limestone brine solution


Na2CO3 +


Calcium chloride is available in two forms. Regular flake calcium chloride

(ASTM D 98 Type 1) contains a minimum of 77% CaCl 2; concentrated
flake, pellet, or granular calcium chloride (ASTM D 98 Type 2) contains a
minimum of 94% CaCl2 (ACI Comm. 212 1963). A 29% solution of CaCl 2 is
the most frequent form of liquid product commercially available. In solid or
liquid form, the product should meet the requirement for ASTM C 494, Type
C and ASTM D 98 (Admixtures and ground slag 1990).
Calcium chloride has been used in concrete since 1885 (Rixom and
Mailvaganam 1986) and finds application mainly in cold weather, when it
allows the strength gain to approach that of concrete cured under normal
curing temperatures (Rixom and Mailvaganam 1986). In normal conditions,
calcium chloride is used to speed up the setting and hardening process for
earlier finishing or mold turnaround.

Effects of calcium chloride on concrete properties are also widely studied

and quantified. Aside from affecting setting time, calcium chloride has a
minor effect on fresh concrete properties. It has been observed that
addition of CaCl2slightly increases the workability and reduces the water
required to produce a given slump (Ramachandran 1984) and reduces
bleeding. Initial and final setting times of concrete are significantly reduced
by using calcium chloride. Effects of calcium chloride on initial and final
setting of cement paste are shown in Figure 2.4 (Ramachandran 1984).
The total effect of adding calcium chloride depends on dosage, type of
cement used, and temperature of the mix.
Compressive and flexural strengths of concrete are substantially improved
at early ages by using calcium chloride. Laboratory tests have indicated
that most increases in compressive strength of concrete resulting from the
use of 2% of calcium chloride by weight of cement range from 400 to 1,000
psi (2.8 to 6.9 MPa) at 1 through 7 days, for 70 F (21 C) curing (ACI
Comm. 212 1963). Long-term strength is usually unaffected and is
sometimes reduced, especially at high temperatures (Admixtures and
ground slag 1990).
There is evidence that drying shrinkage of mortar or concrete is increased
by using calcium chloride, especially at early ages. The large shrinkage at
earlier periods may be attributed mainly to more hydration. Some work has
shown that it is possible to reduce drying shrinkage by the addition of
sodium sulfate (Ramachandran 1984). At early ages concrete with 2%
CaCl2 shows a higher resistance to freezing and thawing than that without
the accelerator, but this resistance is decreased with time. It has been
found, however, that addition of CaCl 2 up to 2% does not decrease the
effectiveness of air entrainment (Ramachandran 1984).
Because of its corrosion potential, calcium chlorideespecially in
prestressed concretehas been strictly limited in use. ACI Committee 222
(1988) has determined that total chloride ions should not exceed 0.08% by
mass of cement in prestressed concrete. British Standard CP.110 strongly
recommends that calcium chloride should never be added to concrete
containing embedded metals.
Nonchloride Accelerators Although calcium chloride is an effective and
economical accelerator, its corrosion-related problem limited its use and
forced engineers to look for other options, mainly nonchloride accelerating

admixtures. A number of compoundsincluding sulfates, formates,

nitrates, and triethanolaminehave been investigated. These materials
have been researched and successfully used in concrete. Triethanolamine
(N(C2H4OH)3) is an oily, water-soluble liquid with a fishy odor and is
produced by the reaction between ammonia and ethylene oxide. It is
normally used as a component in other admixture formulations and rarely, if
ever, as a sole ingredient (Rixom and Ramachandran 1986).
Calcium formate is another type of nonchloride accelerator used to
accelerate the setting time of concrete. At equal concentration, calcium
formate (Ca[OOOCH] 2) is less effective in accelerating the hydration of
C3S than calcium chloride and a higher dosage is required to impart the
same level of acceleration as that imparted by CaCl 2 (Ramachandran
1984). An evaluation study of calcium formate as an accelerating admixture
conducted by Gebler (1983) indicated that the composition of cement, in
particular gypsum (SO3) content, had a major influence on the compressive
strength development of concretes containing calcium formate. Results
showed that the ratio of C3A to SO3should be greater than 4 for calcium
formate to be an effective accelerating admixture; and that the optimum
amount of calcium formate to accelerate the concrete compressive strength
appeared to be 2-3% by weight of cement (Gebler 1983). Calcium nitrate
and calcium thiosulfate are also considered accelerators.
Calcium nitrite accelerates the hydration of cement, as shown by the larger
amounts of heat developed in its presence. Calcium nitrite and calcium
thiosulfate usually increase the strength development of concrete at early
ages (Ramachandran 1984).
1. Verification tests should be performed on liquid admixtures to confirm
that the material is the same as that which was approved. The
identifying tests include chloride and solids content, ph and infrared
2. Calcium chloride should not be used where reinforcing steel is
3. Calcium chloride should not be used in hot weather conditions,
prestressed concrete or steam cured concrete.

4. In applications using calcium chloride, the dosage rate should be

limited to 2 percent by weight of cement.
5. Care must be taken in selecting non-calcium chloride accelerators
since some may be soluble salts which can also aggravate corrision.
Sections of this document were obtained from the Synthesis of Current and
Projected Concrete Highway Technology, David Whiting, . . . et al, SHRPC-345, Strategic Highway Research Program, National Research Council.
ACI Committee 212. 1963. Admixtures for concrete. ACI Journal
Proceedings 60 (11):1481-524.
ACI Committee 222. 1988. Corrosion of metal in concrete. ACI manual of
concrete practice. Part 1. ACI 222R-85. Detroit: American Concrete
Admixtures and ground slag for concrete. 1990. Transportation research
circular no. 365 (December). Washington: Transportation Research Board,
National Research Council
Gebler, S. 1983. Evaluation of calcium formate and sodium formate as
accelerating admixtures for portland cement concrete. ACI Journal 80
Ramachandran, V. S. 1976. Calcium chloride in concrete. Science and
technology. Essex, England: Applied Science Publishers.
Ramachandran, V. S. 1984. Accelerators. In Concrete admixtures
handbook: Properties, science, and technology, ed. V. S. Ramachandran.
Park Ridge, N.J.: Noyes Publications.
Rixom, M. R., and N. P. Mailvaganam. 1986. Chemical admixtures for
concrete. Cambridge, England: The University Press.

Concrete Decor Archives Mixtures & additives

and Accelerators


Accelerators are one of the most popular

kinds of chemical admixtures. Like water
reducers, retarders and plasticizers,
when added to a concrete batch either
immediately before or during mixing.
by John Strieder
To kick the set time of a batch of concrete into
high gear, hit the accelerator.
Like water reducers, retarders and plasticizers,
accelerators are one of the most popular kinds of
chemical admixtures, added to a concrete batch
either immediately before or during mixing.
Accelerators make concrete set faster, also
known as increasing the rate of hydration. At the
same time, they promote strengthdevelopment so
it happens earlier in the set time of a slab.
If a contractor is using an accelerator, the odds
are good that the weather is wintry. Accelerators
counteract the influence
of cold weather, which
slows down the curing
and setting process.
But accelerators aren't
just for cold weather. A
contractor can use one
anytime a curing process
admixture may allow a
concrete worker to remove forms earlier, get onto
a concrete surface earlier for finishing, and
sometimes even put loads on it earlier, such as
when diverting foot traffic to do patching.