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SP 173-5

New Admixtures for Eliminating Steam


Curing and its Negative Effects on
Durability
by R. Khurana and I. Torresan

Synopsis: Heat curing is the most common method used for accelerating the
strength development in concrete. Accelerated curing finds large applications
in the precast industry for quick turnaround of forms and casting beds. The
increase in the initial strengths is simply a result of increased rate of hydra-
tion caused by higher temperature.
However, later strengths are often lower than those of the same concrete
cured at 20° C.
The causes of the strength loss are of physical and chemical nature. The
physical cause results in increased porosity and cracking because the con-
crete constituents have different thermal expansion, (air has the highest). The
chemical causes are the differences in the hydration products, microstructure
and degree of hydration. Generally, physical causes are the dominating fac-
tors for strength loss in heat cured concrete.
Results of extensive laboratory and field tests are presented showing that
equivalent compressive strengths at 18 hours are obtained with concrete con-
taining the new generation superplasticizers and heat cured concretes at 60°
C. The 28 day strengths of concretes with admixtures are substantially
higher. Thus, with the use of these new generation superplasticizers it's pos-
sible to overcome the negative effects of steam curing such as strength loss,
permeability, shrinkage, creep and frost resistence.

Keywords: Admixtures; curing; durability

83
84 Khurana and Torresan

Eng. Rabinder Khurana, Director of Materials Testing Laboratory MAC Spa,


Treviso, Italy. Post graduate Diploma in Reinforced Concrete Structures
from Milan Polytechnic, Italy. More than 25 years of experience in concrete
technology and admixtures applications world wide. Active member of CEN
TC 104 SC3 "Admixtures for Concrete" and CEN TC 104 SC8 WG2 "Prod-
ucts and systems for the protection and repair of concrete structures.".

Dr. Ivana Torresan, graduate in Industrial Chemistry from Venice University


Italy 1988. Since 1988 has worked in the field of concrete admixtures focus-
ing on the development of new polymeric superplasticizers. At present Direc-
tor of Research and Development at MAC, Modem Advanced Concrete
(MBT Group) in Treviso (Italy).

INTRODUCTION

The amount of concrete produced by the precast industry is increas-


ing rapidly as the market for precast structural elements grows. Heat or ac-
celerated curing is extensively used by the manufactures for quick tum
around and reuse of forms and casting beds based on a cycle of 24 hours or
less. This usually leads to the use of thermal curing cycles of 6-18 hours du-
ration with short precuring period, rapid increase of temperature and high
peak temperatures, sometimes upto 80° C. Accelerated curing, on one hand
fulfills the needs of the production process but on the other hand gives a con-
crete with a lower final strength and reduced durability. The causes of
strength loss are reported to be of physical and chemical nature (1-2-3). The
physical causes result in increased porosity and cracking because the con-
crete constituents have different thermal expansion. They are also the domi-
nating factors for strength loss in heat cured concrete. Water reducing
admixtures and superplasticizers have been extensively used in the concrete
industry for improving the workability and for lowering the W/C to obtain
higher early and long term strengths. However, the amount of water reduc-
tion obtainable with sulphonated melamine formaldehyde condensates (MS)
and sulphonated naphtalene formaldehyde condensates (NS) base superplas-
ticizers is limited to about 25% (4) which is a considerable amount, but not
sufficient enough for obtaining compressive strengths required by the pro-
ducer for prestress transfer at 12-18 hours after casting the concrete.
The new generation superplasticizers based on polycarboxylic ether polymers
(CE) with long comb type side chains allow for a reduction of water content
of up to 40%. This is due to the fact that the structure of the polymers allows
them to be adsorbed on the surface of the cement particle, creating on elec-
trical charge and a stearic hinderence which greatly stabilizes the dispersion
Chemical Admixtures 85

of cement particles. This paper reports the results of laboratory and field
tests carried out with this superplasticizer (CE) vis a vis a state of the art,
high molecular weight sulphonated naphtalene formaldehyde condensate su-
perplasticizer (NS).

MATERIALS FOR LABORATORY TESTS

Most of the prefabrication industry in Europe uses portland cement type


CEM I 52.5 conforming to EN 197-1. For this test programme a cement
type CEM I 52.5 from Italcementi Savignano (Italy) and crushed aggregates
and sand of dolomitic nature from a local quarry near Treviso, Italy were
used.
The CE and NS superplasticizers were of Italian origin with a dry materials
content of 40 and 38% and densities of 1.115 and 1.21 kg/m3 respectively.

MIXTURE PROPORTIONS

The proportions of sand (0-5 mm), medium aggregate (5-1 5 mm) and
coarse aggregate (15-20 mm) were optimized in accordance with Bo1omey's
reference grading curve for a concrete having a cement content of 370
Kg/m 3 • The weights of the aggregates were adjusted to compensate the vol-
ume of water reduced by the superplasticizers. The mixture proportions for
the reference concrete are shown below.

Mixture Proportions
Cern I 52.5 Cement 370 kg/m3

Water 232 kg/m3

Sand (0-5 mm) 895 kg/m3

Medium Aggregate (5-1 5 mm) 270 kg/m3

Coarse Aggregate ( 15-20 mm) 625 kg/m3

Consistence class S5

Slump 22 em
86 Khurana and Torresan

PROPERTIES OF FRESH CONCRETE

Admixture Dosage. W/C. Air Content. Slump and Density

Precast structural elements have usually thin cross sections and are
normally heavily reinforced with steel bars and prestressed tendons or cables.
For a rapid placement and efficient consolidation, concrete having a fluid
consistence (slump > 200 mm) is preferably used. To allow the concrete to
be mixed, transported and placed in forms, the concrete should maintain its
initial slump for at least 30 minutes. The properties of the fresh concretes are
reported in Table 1.
The water reduction with CE superplasticizers is 36.5% as compared
to 27% with NS superplasticizer. Also, the slump retention is better with CE
(230 mm slump after 30' forCE against 140 mm slump for NS).

MECHANICAL PROPERTIES OF HARDENED CONCRETE

To evaluate the effect of accelerated curing on the mechanical prop-


erties of hardened concrete two series of specimen were cast. One series of
specimen were stored at 20° C and 95% relative humidity till the time of test-
ing while the second series was subjected to steam curing. The cycle was 1
hours precuring, 3 hours for temperature rise from 20° C to 60° C, 6 hours
curing at 60° C, 8 hours cooling. One set of 3 specimen was tested at 18
hours and the remaining specimen were then stored at 20° C and 95% rela-
tive humidity till the time of testing.

Compressive Strengths

Table 2 shows the compressive strengths of 150 mm cube specimen


(an average of 3 samples) cured at 20° C and steam cured specimen upto 90
days of age and the relative strength loss caused by the heat treatment. An
examination of the results reveal that the compressive strength of concrete
cured at 20° C for 18 hours with CE superplasticizers is pratically equal to
that of a heat cured concrete with NS superplasticizer!! It may be noted that
the strength loss becomes evident after 7 days of curing.
Chemical Admixtures 87

Flexural and Tensile Splitting Strengths

Results of flexural and tensile splitting strengths are shown in Table 3


and Table 4. 18 h flexural strengths ofCE concrete (6.3 MPa) cured at 20° C
is more than that of a steam cured NS concrete; the difference is maintained
at all ages. The same is valid for the tensile splitting strength.

Young's Modulus of Elasticity

The modulus of elasticity, results reported in Table 5, follows the


same pattern as with other parameters. After 24 hours of curing at 20° C, the
modulus of elasticity of the concrete with CE concrete is 32.570 MPa in-
creasing to 45.600 MPa at 90 days.

Bond to Steel

Bond to steel was determined on plain bars using the "pull out" test
method. The results are reported in Table 6. The bond strength with concrete
' containing CE superplasticizers is extremely high (19.3 and 21.0 MPa at 7
' and 28 days respectively). They are 30% more than those with NS superplas-
ticizer. These high values maybe due to the low W/C, excellent flow charac-
teristics and cohesive nature of the concrete mix with CE superplasticizer.

Drying Shrinkage

The drying shrinkage was determined for concretes stored at 20±3 ° C


and relative humidity of 50±5%. No significant comparison can be made be-
tween steam cured specimen and non steam cured specimen because acceler-
ated curing does not allow a precise determination of the initial reading.
Figure 1 shows the drying shrinkage values of the three mixes. The concrete
with CE superplasticizer shows the least shrinkage. This is due to the lower
W/C and higher NC (effect of higher water reducing capacity).
88 Khurana and Torresan

Creep Coefficent and Specific Creep

Fig. 2 shows the development of creep coefficent. Once again, con-


crete with CE superplasticizer shows a better performance than the NS su-
perplasticizer. The behaviour of concrete with CE and NS superplasticizers is
definitely better than the reference concrete. Specific creep values, shown in
Fig 3, once more highlight the lower values for concrete with CE superplasti-
cizer. This is highly appreciated by the prestressed concrete industry because
this would mean a lower loss of the prestressing force.

DURABILITY EV ALVATION

To evaluate the effect, if any, of accelerated curing on the durability


of concrete, several laboratory investigations were made using test specimen
cured at 20° C and 95% relative humidity and test specimen subjected to ac-
celerated curing. Since the aggregates used were non reactive and no air en-
trainment was used, no tests for alkali-silica reaction and resistence to
deicing salt scaling were made. The properties examined are reported below.

Water Permeability

Water permeability was determined in accordance with DIN 1048


test method. The specimen were cured for 28 days. The depth of penetration
of water was determined and the results are shown in Table 7. Due to its
lower W/C the mix with CE superplasticizer shows a lesser penetration of
water and is therefore less permeable. Accelerated curing seems to increase
the penetration and permeability.

Resistence to Freezing and Thawing Cycling

Air entrainment is known to improve the resistence of concrete to


freezing and thawing cycles. In this programme, no air entrainment was used
and the test specimen, with their natural entrapped air, were subjected to
freezing and thawing cycles as per ASTM C666, procedure A. Fig. 4 shows
the results of the tests upto 300 cycles. The reference concrete and the con-
crete with NS superplasticizers, cured at 20° C show a rapid deterioration
Chemical Admixtures 89

after 90 cycles. All the heat cured samples and the sample with CE super-
plasticizer show no deterioration upto 300 cycles

Carbonation

The samples (10 em cubes) were prepared and cured, as described


before, for 28 days. They were then stored in an ambient at 20±3° C and
relative humidity of 50±5%. Periodically specimen are broken and phenolph-
thlein is applied to the freshly broken surface. The depth of carbonation is
determined. The results are shown in Fig. 5. Steam curing specimen show
lower depth of carbonation. Once again, the concrete with CE superplasti-
cizer shows a better performance than the concrete with NS superplasticizer.

FIELD TESTS

Results of the laboratory test have shown that concrete made with
CE superplasticizer and cured at 20° C give similar compressive strengths of
concretes made with NS superplasticizer and steam cured (60° C peak tem-
perature). With the objective of verifying the possibility of eliminating steam
curing in the precast industry, full scale production of precast prestressed
beams were made in 2 precast plants located in the north and the centre of
Italy. The data and results are given below.

Precast Plant in Reggio Emilia

In this plant double T prestressed beams of 72 em height, 8 em


thickness and span varying from 12 to 22m are cast on 126m long casting
beds. The normal steam curing cycle is: 2 hours precuring, 3 hours tempera-
ture rise to 60° C, 8 hours at 60° C and 4 hours cooling. Prestress transfer
takes place after 17 hours when the compressive strength of the concrete is
more than 35 MPa. The cement content (CEM I 52.5) of the mixes was 380
Kg/m3 and the maximum size of the aggregate used was 18 mm. The tem-
pertaure of the fresh concrete was 18° C. The results are summarized in Ta-
ble 8.
90 Khurana and Torresan

Precast Plant in Pescara

In this plant the tests were carried out on a V-shaped beam of 1. 5 m


height, 22 m span and 15 m3 volume. The characteristic strength of the con-
crete is 55 MPa and prestress transfer takes place 18 hours after casting
when the concrete reaches 35 MPa of compressive strength. Cement type
CEM I 52.5 is used at 400 Kg/m3• Due to the presence of congested rein-
forcement the consistence class of concrete is S5 (Slump > 22 em). The
steam curing cycle is: 3 hours precuring, 3 hours temperature rise to 60° C, 6
hours at 60° C and 6 hours cooling. The results of comparative tests are
given in Table 9.

CONCLUDING REMARKS

Laboratory and field results indicate that it is possible to eliminate


steam curing used in precast and prestressed concrete industry using the new
generation of superplasticizers which allow for a water reduction of upto
40% without altering the rheological properties of the fresh concrete. The
economical advantages for the producer are substantial and easily quantifi-
able. The durability aspects, which are of great concern and importance for
the owner and the community, go hand in hand with the low water cement
ratio of the fresh concrete and the reduction of the internal microcracking
likely to be caused by the accelerated heat curing treatment. Also, the design
engineer may take advantage of the increased compressive, flexural and ten-
sile splitting strengths. Further more, the Young's modulus of elasticity and
bond to steel are greatly improved. Creep coefficient and specific creep of
concrete are also significantly reduced. These improvements are of great im-
portance, especially for prestressed concrete structures for reducing loss of
prestress due to slippage of the tendons, elastic deformation and creep. All
the mechanical properties of concrete improve as concrete matures.
Chemical Admixtures 91

REFERENCES

I. Alexanderson, J. "Strength Loss in Heat Cured Concrete"; Swedish


Cement and Concrete Institute, Stockolm, 1972, 135 pp.

2. Kjellsen, K.O. "Heat Curing and Post-Heat Regimes of High Per-


formance Concrete"; Cement and Concrete Research, Vol. 26, No.2,
pp 295-307, 1996.

3. Patel, H.H. et.al. "The Microstructure of Steam-Cured Precast Con-


crete"; Advances in Cement Research, 1996,8, No0.29, Jan., 11-19

4. Ramachandran, V.S.,Ecl. "Concrete Admixtures Handbook". 2nd


Edition 1995 pp 138.
tc
N

:::z:::
=-
=
....
Cl
TABLE 1 -PROPERTIES OF FRESH CONCRETE =
Cl
Cl
=
c.
Mix 1 2 3 -4
....
Q
....
Cll
en
Admixture type Reference CE NS Cl
=
Dosage (%) -- 0,70 1,50

W/C 0,63 0,4 0,46

Air Content (%) 1,0 1,2 0,9

Density ( kg/m3) 2392 2511 2481

Effective Cement Content ( kg/m3) 372 380 372

Initial Slump (mm) 220 230 230

Slump After 30 min. (mm) 205 230 140


Chemical Admixtures 93

TABLE 2 -COMPRESSIVE STRENGTH DEVELOPMENT AND STRENGTH LOSS


CAUSED BY HEAT CURING

Mix 2 3
Admixture Type Reference CE NS
Dosage(%) 0,70 1,50
Compressive Strength (MPa) : Cured at +20°C
18 h 12,2 43,2 31,8
1 day 15,8 55,4 38
7 days 36 84,1 60,9
28 days 44 93,8 71
90 days 48,5 102,1 77,6
Co!!Jpressive Strength (MPa) : Steam Cured
18 h 22,6 61,9 44,2
1 day 25,5 67,2 49,6
7 days 33,5 74,1 60,8
28 days 41,1 84,1 68,5

----------··--
90 days 43,4 94,8 73,7
Steam Cured : % of Increment or Decrement
18 h 85,2 39 54,7
1 day 61,4 21,3 30,5
7 days -6,9 -11,9 -0,2
28 days -6,6 -10,3 -3,5
90 days -10,5 -7,1 -5,0
94 Khurana and Torresan

TABLE 3 -FLEXURAL STRENGTH AND STRENGTH LOSS CAUSED BY HEAT


CURING

Mix 1 2 3

Admixture Type Reference CE NS

Dosage(%) 0,70 1,50

Flexural Strength (MPa) : Cured at + 20 oc


1 day 3,7 6.3 5.1

7 days 4.9 7.3 6.6

28 days 5.5 9.0 6.6

90 days 7.0 10.7 7.8

Flexural Strength (MPa) : Steam Cured

1 day 4.0 6.5 5.8

7 days 5.1 7.4 6.1

28 days 5.5 7.8 7.0

90 days 6.3 9.3 7.7

Steam cured % of Increment or Decrement

1 day 8.1 3.2 13.7

7 days 4.1 1.4 -7.6

28 days 0.0 -13.3 6.1

90 days -10.0 -13.1 -1.3


Chemical Admixtures 95

TABLE 4-TENSILE SPLITTING STRENGTH AND STRENGTH LOSS CAUSED BY


HEAT CURING

Mix 2 3
Admixture Type Reference CE NS
Dosage (%) 0,70 1,50
Tensile Splitting Strength (MPa): Cured at +20°C
18 h 1,3 3,5 3,1
1 day 1,3 4,2 3,7
7 days 3,3 4,8 4,9
28 days 4,4 5,3 5,0
90 days 4,4 6,0 6,1
Tensile Splitting Strength (MPa): Steam Cured
18 h 1,8 4,1 3,1
1 day 2,0 4,6 3,3
7 days 3,1 5,2 4,1
28 days 3,4 4,6 4,1
90 days 4,1 5,9 5,7
Steam Cured ( % ) : % Increment or Decrement
18 h 38,5 17,1 0,0
1 day 53,8 9,5 -10,8
7 days -6,1 8,3 -16,3
28 days -22,7 -13,2 -18,0
90 days -6,8 -1,7 -6,6
96 Khurana and Torresan

TABlE 5 -YOUNG'S MODUlUS OF ElASTICITY

Mix 2 3

Admixture Type Reference CE NS

Dosage (%) 0,70 1,50

Modulus of Elasticity ( MPa ) :Cured at +20°C


---
1 day 22415 32571 31555

7 days 24838 40810 35873

28 days 28125 39183 37464

90 days 33442 45600 43823


--·-·-·--··

Modulus of Elasticity ( MPa ) : Steam Cured

1 day 26667 36756 31333

7 days 28235 37858 37272

28 days 30425 40533 37587

90 days 31864 42750 42894


Chemical Admixtures 97

TABLE 6 -BOND TO STEEL

Mix 1 2 3
Admixture Type Reference CE NS
Dosage (%) 01 70__ ___12_0_
Bond Strength ( MPa ) :
7 days 5,3 19,3 10,4
------~ays _____ 5,8 21,0 15,2
Bond Strength ( MPa ) : --··--------
7 days 5,8 19,5 11,3
28 da~s 5,8 20,7 11,7

TABLE 7 -WATER PERMEABILITY

Mix 1 2 3
Admixture Type Reference CE NS
Dosage (%) 0,70 1,50
W/C 0,63
----'--·------·-
0,40 0,46
Depth of Penetration (mm): Cured at +20°C
______ 28 days 85,0 ___ 12,0 ___!!L
Depth of Penetration (mm): Steam Cured
28 days 87,0 14,0 25,0
98 Khurana and Torresan

TABLE 8 -RESULT OF FIELD TESTS AT A PRECAST PLANT IN REGGIO EMILIA

Mix 1 2 3 4
Admixture Type NS CE CE CE
Dosage (%) 1 0,5 0,7 0,7
W/C 0,41 0,42 0,35 0,36
Slump (em) 18 19 24 21
Air Content (%) 1,3 0,7 0,7 0,7
Compressive Strength (MPa):Cured at +20°C
17 h -- 35,6
1 day -- 43,3
28 days -- 84,2
Compressive Strength (MPa): Steam Cured
17 h 36,6 38,6 53,5 --
1 day 43,0 46,5 55,4 --
28 days 56,6 76,1 86,2 --

TABLE 9 -RESULT OF FIELD TESTS AT A PRECAST PLANT IN PESCARA

M~ 1 2
Admixture Type NS CE
Dosage (%) 1,8 0,7
W/C 0,39 0,35
Slump ( em ) 24 24
Air Cq_nt~t:l_!l..!o ) 1,4 1,1
Compressive Strength (MPa):Cured at +20°C
17 h 36,2
1 day 41,4
28 days 86,6
Compressive Strength (MPa): Steam Cured
17h 38,0
1 day 42,6
28 days 76,0
0,000 .....- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - . , , . - - - - - - - - - - - - ,

- .. - Reference Steam Cured


-0,010

~Reference Cured at 20 oc
-0,020
"••- -.- - ,. - CE- 0.7% Steam Cured
0~
- -0,030 ·--.,. ____ ····-·--
Cl)
C'l ""·"x -- - - ...
CIS -...-cE- 0.7% Cured at 20 oc
Jl:
.§ -0,040
.c
(/)
-~-------:>4-
. - -- - • -K
- -tc - NS - 1.5 % Steam Cured
.
··- . - - - - -- -·
-0,050

··----·· --tP- NS - 1.5 % Cured at 20 oc M


=-
CI:I
-0,060
3
c=r

-0,070 ....__ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ ___,
>
c..
0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 160

Fig. 1-Drying shrinkage (curing at 20 .±. 3C o - RH =50 .±. %)


Time (Days)
-
3
;:·
c
....
Cl:l
en

=
=
Q
Q

0,00 ;:I::
=
c
.....
c - • - Reference Steam Cured =
0
;; -0,50 =
=
..~E
ca
--.-Reference Cured at 20 ·c
=
=
=-
---4
c
-1,00
=
.....
.....
u =
.......... - -- -
en
=
-· - - - - .- - - - - -----· =
;; - ,. - CE- 0.7% Steam Cured
-1,50 =
jjj
iij
E -2,00 --.--cE- 0.7% Cured at 20 ·c

-
.E
c
0 -2,50
;;
--- - - lC - «- NS - 1.5 % Steam Cured

.
ca
E
.2
G)
-3,00
~ NS - 1.5 o/o Cured at 20 •c
c
~ -3,50
1-
-4,00 ..__ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ ___.

o 10 20 30 40 so eo 70 so 90 100 110 120 130 Time (Days)

Fig. 2-Coefficient of creep development


0

-.
~
D..
-20

-40
---- ·- - - - . - - - - -· - .. - Reference Steam Cured

~Reference Cured at 20 oc

-
~

E
CD
-60
- • - CE- 0.7% Steam Cured
I

....
0

-
"C
~
-80 -,c. - - - - - X • - • - -te- - -
-x
._.,_CE- 0.7% Cured at 20 oc
.9
-
c:
0
-100

- oK - NS- 1.5 % Steam Cured


.. -120
~

...
E
.EG) -140 -.... - .. --·-----. --M-NS- 1.5% Cured at 20 oc
n
0 =
Ctl
3
-160
~
C)

-180 .....__ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _,_ _ _ _ _ _ _ ___. l>


c.
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 11 0 120 130 Time (Days)
-
§.
X
c
~
Ctl
en
Fig. 3-Specific creep development ....
c
Cl
N

.. --. -···•.-.-.-.-. ·•
::::s;
::I"
65000
- ...c

• • - Reference Steam Cured ::I

- 58500 I»
CIS ::I
a.. c.
~ 52000
-....
>-
....,._Reference Cured at 20 •c ~

......
C)

- -.
Cl)
en
:§ 45500 I»
::I
en - ,. - CE- 0.7% Steam Cured
CIS
iii 39000
0 ......,_CE- 0.7% Cured at 20 ·c
~ 32500
'3
"C
~ 26000 • tc • NS - 1.5 % Steam Cured
f.)

·~ 19500
--M--NS -1.5% Cured at 20 ·c
c:
>-
c 13000

6500
0 30 60 90 120 150 180 210 240 270 300 Number of Cycles

Fig. 4-Resistance to freezing and thawing cycle (without entrained air)


2,50

- • - Reference Steam Cured

-E
2,00 _.__Reference Cured at 20 ·c

-
E
c:
I / .. .. . I 1· "'- CE- 0.7% Steam Cured

-
.52
I'll
c:
0
...
,g
1,50
I I - ~ I l-A-CE- 0.7% Cured at 20 •c
I'll
0.... 1 oo
'
I I -- ~ _,_,..-- :>L I 1- te - NS - 1.5 % Steam Cured

-
c
0
=c.
CD

0,50
I I .--r __,...- . .. .- I I~ NS - 1.5 % Cured at 20 ·c
n
:::r
CD
3
c:;·
1:11

>
c..
3

-...
Q,QQ "' r
;;;:·
0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 Time (Days) c
CD
en
.....
Fig. 5-Carbonation depth development Cl
w