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Chapter 2: Literature review

2. Literature review

Up to now, studies on high-strength foam concrete have been scarce. However,

considerable research work has been carried out on conventional foam concrete. Knowledge in

conventional foam concrete is helpful for the study on high-strength foam concrete since there

are many similarities between the two types of foam concrete. In this consideration, studies on

both conventional and high-strength foam concrete were reviewed.

From previous investigation, the production and properties of foam concrete are

mainly affected by : i) Type of constituents and their proportions in concrete mixture; ii)

Process of production.

2.1 Constituents of foam concrete

The essential components in foam concrete are binder, water and foam.

Optionally, sand,

fibre, filler and additives such as water-reducing agent, setting-controlling agent, etc. can be

added according to the practical requirement [Deijk, 1991].



The most commonly used binder is cement, but other supplementary materials such as

silica fume, fly ash, slag or waste, can also be included in as long as their acceptability has

been demonstrated. The addition of supplementary materials as partial replacement to the

binder can enrich the concrete with various desirable properties in its fresh and hardened states

[Narayanan and Ramamurthy, 2000].

Binder can be even materials without cement. For

example, the successful use of binder made of ground granulated blast furnace slag plus low-

value liquid glass [Beljakova et al., 1998], and magnesite powder [Vinogradov et al., 1998] in

foam concrete were reported.



ACI 523.1R-92 [American Concrete Institute, 1992] recommends the use of Portland

cement or Portland blast furnace slag cement which conforms to the respective ASTM

Chapter 2: Literature review

Specifications: C 150 [American Society for Testing and Materials, 1994], Type I or Type III;

Type IA or Type IIIA; C 595 [American Society for Testing and Materials, 1994] , Type IS or

Type IS-A.

It also points out that High-early-strength cements (Type III or IIIA) are often

used to advantage the production of low density concrete. The practical use of finely-ground

cement, high-early-strength Portland cement and rapid setting hydraulic cement were reported

by Fujiwara et al [1995], Johansson et al.[1999] and Hashimoto et al.[1976], respectively.

ii) Supplementary material

Spinnery [1993], in his patent of producing non-shrinking foam concrete, has reported

replacing cement with an equal amount of cementitious fines which can be fly ash (Type F

and C), slag cement and kiln dust or non-cementitious fines which can be limestone, silica and

granitic fines.

Fujiwara et al. [1995] reported the use of binder comprising high-early-strength

Portland cement, silica fume and ultra-fine silica stone powder to produce high-strength foam

concrete. The mean particle size of ultra-fine silica stone powder of 2.4µm, is approximately

the square root of the product of the mean particle size of the silica fume, 0.1µm, and that of

cement, 20µm, which is expected to have densification effect and increase the strength of the

resulting paste.

His study also showed that the combination of 10% silica fume, 30% ultra-

fine silica stone powder and 60% cement resulted in the most satisfactory workability and

compressive strength among all the trial mixes. The 28-day compressive strength of the foam

concrete with wet density of 1500 kg/m 3 was around 50 MPa.

Kamaya et al. [1996] pointed out that it is preferable to use non-organic materials,

which have specific surface area higher than 7500 cm 2 /g as supplementary material, for the

production of high-strength foam concrete, otherwise the strength of the resultant foam

concrete will be drastically reduced.

Kearsley and Visagie [1999] reported that, using unclassified fly ash, of which around

40% of the particles have diameters exceeding 45 µm, the 56 day compressive strength of

Chapter 2: Literature review

foam concrete with wet density of 1500 kg/m 3 could achieve around 45 MPa,. Although the

compressive strength of foam concrete produced by Kearsley and Visagie is lower than what

Fujiwara et al. have produced at the same density, the former is still significantly higher than

the conventional foam concrete. Therefore, it seems that, without using ultra fine material

such as silica fume or materials with fineness higher than 7500 cm 2 /g, the production of high-

strength foam concrete is still possible.

2.1.2 Mixing water

According to ACI 523.3R-93 [American Concrete Institute, 1993], mixing water for

foam concrete should be fresh, clean and drinkable. This is particularly important when using

protein-based foaming agents as any organic contamination could have an adverse effect on

the quality of the foam produced [British Cement Association, 1991].

Undrinkable water

could also be used only if the resulting foam concrete has 7- and 28-day strengths equal to at

least 90% of the strength of similar specimens made with water from a municipal supply. The

strength comparison should be made on mortars, identical except for the mixing water,

prepared and tested in accordance with ASTM C109 [American Society for Testing and

Materials, 1993].

2.1.3 Foam

The low specific gravity of foam concrete is achieved by introducing foam bubbles in

the cement paste and the concrete produced. Foam bubbles are air voids enclosed by the wall

of a solution of foaming agent.

Common foaming agents are synthetic agents such as resin

soap, and protein-based foaming agents such as hydrolyzed protein [India Concrete Journal,

1989; Deijk, 1991].

Preformed foam, as described by ACI 523.3R-93 [American Concrete

Institute, 1993] is produced by blending the foaming agent, water and compressed air

(generated by an air-compressor) in predetermined proportions in a foam generator calibrated

for a discharge rate.

Chapter 2: Literature review

The quality of foam is affected by its density, the dilution ratio of the agent, the

foaming process, the pressure of the compressed air, and the adding and blending process with

the mortar.

In addition, a suitable workability of the mortar is vital for the uniform

introduction of foam [Kamaya et al, 1996].

This quality of foam is evident from the stability of the foam concrete and will

consequently affect the strength and stiffness of the resultant foam concrete [Beljakova et al.,


To ensure the quality of the foam, a minimum dilution ratio of foaming agent and a

minimum air pressure must be achieved. Furthermore, the foam must be added immediately

after it is produced, whilst it is still stiff.

Method of improving the stability of foam by adding a foam stabilizing fluorinated

surfactant into the foam concrete has been described in US patent no. 6153005 [Welker et al.,



Fine aggregate

The most commonly used inorganic fine aggregate is sand.

According to ACI

523.1R-92 [American Concrete Institute, 1992], sands conforming to ASTM C33 [American

Society for Testing and Materials, 1993], Concrete Aggregates, and C 144 [American Society













production of foam concrete. Sands of other gradations may be used where their acceptability

has been demonstrated.

The British Cement Association [1991] recommends that building sand or concreting

sand of 5mm maximum size may be used, and it is reported that, based on the research

findings, for a given cement content, a higher strength was obtained using sand with

maximum size of 2 mm and with 60 to 95% passing the 600 micron sieve. Waste sands, such

as single-sized tailings and granite dust, have been used successfully, but the same restrictions

on grading and maximum size still apply [British Cement Association, 1991].

Foam concrete with improved strength using ground quartz sand with specific surface

at least 2900 cm 2 /g was reported by Votintsev and Mironova [1999].

Chapter 2: Literature review

Conclusively, the fineness of sand is important for the strength of foam concrete. The

use of finer sand can improve the strength of resultant foam concrete. Fine aggregate can be

not only natural or crushed sand, but also artificial fine particles as long as their usability can

be proved. Organic fine particles such as polystyrene pellet [Rodgers, 1996] and polymer

micro-particles [Hedberg and Berntsson, 1990] can also be used to partially or totally replace

the sand as fine aggregate in foam concrete. They normally have a lower specific gravity than

that of sand and therefore help to further reduce the weight of foam concrete or improve the

strength of foam concrete when its density is maintained.

Some materials have not been reportedly used to produce foam concrete but the use

of them may bring significant economical effect. One example is middle-east sand, which is

generally considered not suitable to be used as concrete making material [Kay et al., 1994,

Fookes and Collis, 1975]. Compared to normal sand, middle-east costal sand has poor grading

and high content of chloride and sulphate salts.

Bleeding, segregation, lower strength and

poor durability of concrete have reportedly been encountered when it is used for producing

normal mortar.

However, inland dune sand which is a type of middle-east sand has low

content of chloride and sulphate salts. Compared with commonly used sand, inland dune sand

has smaller particle size, smoother surface texture and particle shape which is closer to

spherical. These features make the use of inland dune sand in foam concrete possible.



The use of fibres helps to reduce the non-load cracking of foam concrete at early ages

[American Concrete Institute, 1993]. Fibres for this purpose must have a high modulus of

elasticity and be of sufficient length, size and number to develop the required tensile resistance

at any section. The introduction of fibre reinforcement can transform the basic material












reinforcement contributes to the improved flexural strength, energy absorbing (toughness)

capabilities and post cracking behaviour [Zollo and Hays, 1989].

Chapter 2: Literature review

Fibres that can be used in foam concrete are: Glass fibre, synthetic fibre and carbon

fibre. ACI committee 544 [American Concrete Institute, 2002] has reported the information on

fibre types and sizes, and methods of handling, mixing, and placing concrete containing fibres.

Glass fibres are often used in cellular concrete.

Synthetic fibres such as polyamide fibre

[Morgun et al., 1999], polyvinyl alcohol fibre [Kenji & Mitsuo, 1989], polypropylene fibre

[ Castro and Moran, 2001] have been successfully used to produce foam concrete. Carbon

fibre can also be used but its cost could be too high. Steel fibres are not suitable to be used in

foam concrete as they may settle to the bottom of the concrete mixture.

The suitable fibre volume fraction is from 0 to about 3%. When fibre volume

fraction ranged from 0.1 to 1%, the effect of restrain in shrinkage cracking became more

significant [Grzybowski and Shah, 1990].

The size of fibre is generally expressed in the unit of denier, which is a weight-per-

unit-length measure of any linear material. Officially, it is the number of unit weights of 0.05

grams per 450-meter length. This is numerically equal to weight in gramsof 9,000 meters of

the material. Denier is a direct numbering system in which the lower numbers represent the

finer sizes and the higher numbers the coarser sizes.

2.1.6 Waste or recycled material

Many people have reported the successful use of waste or recycled materials, such as

sewage sludge ash [Cook and Walker, 1999], crushed excavated material [Etherton, 2001],

slaked lime [Masao et al., 1991], crushed broken ceramic bricks [ Vinogradov et al., 1998],

and the waste from the combustion of brown coal [ Siejko and Jatymowicz, 1978], as the

constituent material of foam concrete.

Chapter 2: Literature review

2.1.7 Admixtures or additives

Admixtures or additives may be used when a specific change in the properties of the

freshly mixed or hardened concrete is desired. ACI 523.3R-93 [American Concrete Institute,

1993] specifies that admixtures should conform to ASTM C260 [American Society for

Testing and Materials, 1994] and C494 [American Society for Testing and Materials, 1992].

Commonly used admixtures are: water-reducing agent, water repellents, retarders and


For foam concrete made by pre-foaming method, it is imperative to maintain a

sufficient workability of the premixed mortar (or paste) without foam to ensure the successful

introduction of foam. Therefore, the addition of water-reducing agent would be necessary for

the production of high-strength foam concrete which generally has low water/binder ratio.

Fujiwara et al. [1995] described production of a high-strength foam concrete, of which the

amount of water was only 0.19 that of the total mass of cement, silica fume and ultra-fine

silica stone powder. To obtain a flow value of around 180mm, measured in accordance with

JISR5201[Japanese Architectural Association, 1998], the dosage of superplasticizer was 3%

by weight of the blended powder.

Admixtures may react adversely with the foaming agent [Deijk, 1991], thus when any

admixture is used in foam concrete, the compatibility of the admixture with the other

constituents in the mix should be determined by tests [American Concrete Institute, 1993].

2.1.8 Others

Foam concrete can be coated or impregnated [Terajima and Harada, 1998, Jun et al.,

1992] with resin or polymer to acquire high strength and water resistance.













lightweight foam concrete, but it is possible to use lightweight aggregate with a similar

density to the foam concrete. This will avoid segregation, improve the strength for a given

density and reduce the higher drying shrinkage associated with the lower density mixes

[British Cement Association, 1991].

Chapter 2: Literature review

2.2 Mix proportion of foam concrete

The variation in mix proportion has a strong effect on the material properties of foam

concrete. Altering the cement content and/or the water/cement ratio with a constant density

has an impact on the strength and stiffness. Increasing the aggregate and/or filler content with

a constant density decreases the shrinkage and crack sensitivity and can improve the toughness.

The change in density has an enormous impact on the thermal insulation capacity, the strength,

the stiffness and the water absorption of the material [ Deijk, 1991]. Therefore, mix proportion

must be chosen according to the practical requirements such as strength, shrinkage, thermal

conductivity, etc.

The early work reviewed by Valore [1954] and Taylor et al. [1969] indicated that

proportions were selected through trial mixes using three parameters: sand/cement ratio,

water/cement ratio and density of the mix.











proportioning begins with the selection of the unit weight of the plastic concrete (wet density),

the cement content, and the water-cement ratio. The mix can then be proportioned by the

method of absolute volumes.

The sum of the absolute volumes of cement, water, and

aggregate for one cubic meter of concrete determines the volume of air required per cubic

meter of concrete.

The relation between air volume and foam volume can be calculated

according to the density of the foam measured, which has been explained in ASTM C-769

[American Society for Testing and Materials, 1993].

Lim [1984] obtained various mix proportions by fixing the cement content and

altering the density and water to cement ratio.

Fujiwara et al. [1995] first chose an optimal binder composition by studying the

strength and workability of the resulting paste.

A low water/binder ratio equal to 0.19 was

adopted in the mixture.

Thereafter the exact binder and water content were calculated based

on the density of the foamed paste.

Chapter 2: Literature review

2.2.1 Cement or binder content

The average cement content in conventional foam concrete with or without sand

ranges from 250 to 500 kg per cubic meter of concrete [Indian Concrete Journal, 1989;

American Concrete Institute, 1993; Valore, 1954; E-A-B Associates Bayley-Edge Limited;

American Society for Testing and Materials, ASTM C796, 1993; Lim, 1984].


contents for the most commonly used mixes are between 300 and 375 kg/m 3 [British Cement

Association, 1991]. Binder content of 924.4 kg/m 3 and 1260.5 kg/m3 were adopted for high-

strength foam concrete with density around 1100 kg/m 3 and 1500 kg/m 3 [Fujiwara, 1995].

2.2.2 Water/binder ratio

In Valore’s [1954] work, for mixes with lower densities, higher water/cement ratios

were used for each sand/cement ratio; but for mixes at the same density, the water/cement

ratios were increased with the increased proportion of sand. He further noted that for cellular

concretes in general, it is customary to gauge the proper amount of water in a mix by

consistency rather than by a predetermined water/cement ratio.

For foam concrete without water reducing agent, the amount of water must be

sufficient to ensure that the workability of the premixed paste or mortar is satisfactory for

foam introduction [British Cement Association, 1991].

Otherwise the cement absorbs water

from the foam, causing rapid degeneration of the foam [Kearsley, 1999]. Therefore for foam

concrete with certain binder content and with certain type and gradation of sand, there is a

minimum water/binder ratio for each density range [Lim, 1984].

On the other hand, the

workability of the mortar should not be too high; otherwise the foam bubbles tend to separate,

which brings about unfavourable bulk density difference between the upper part and the lower

part of the shaped body [Narayanan, 1999, Masao et al., 1991].

In general, the optimum

water/cement ratio for the premixed paste/mortar lies between 0.5 and 0.6 [British Cement

Association, 1991].

The advent of superplasticizer makes it possible to produce foam concrete with not

only very low water/binder ratio but satisfactory workability as well.

Mortar or paste with

Chapter 2: Literature review

water/binder ratio of only 0.19 and 0.17 have been reported [Fujiwara et al., 1995, Kamaya et

al., 1996] for the production of high-strength foam concrete.

Instead of using the water/binder ratio of the foam concrete as one of the parameters,

some researchers use the water/binder ratio of the paste before the introduction of the foam as

one of the parameters [Fujiwara et al, 1995].

2.2.3 Sand/binder ratio

Conventional foam concretes made in Europe generally have sand/binder proportions



to 4:1.

McCormick [1967] observed that the effect of varying the sand content

appeared inconsequential with respect to compressive strength when the sand/cement ratio

was ranged from 1.0 to 2.0.

In the mix design recommended by ACI committee 523 [American Concrete Institute,

1993], sand/cement ratio was obtained as a dependent variable after the mix density, the

cement content and the water/cement ratio have been decided.

The sand/cement ratio thus

obtained ranged from 0.29 to 3.66 for mixes of densities ranging from 800 to 1920 kg/m 3 at

various cement contents and water/cement ratios.


Process of production




Component materials can be added into mixer by three different sequences:


dry material

i) dry material water with admixtures dissolved in foam

water with admixtures dissolved in

foamwater with admixtures dissolved in

[Valore, 1954]


water with admixtures dissolved in

water with admixtures dissolved in dry material foam

dry material

foamwater with admixtures dissolved in dry material

[American Concrete Institute, 1993]


partial water

iii) partial water partial dry materials partial water

partial dry materials

partial dry materials partial water

partial water

partial dry materials partial water

partial dry materials

partial dry materials partial water partial dry materials foam [E-A-B Associates Bayley-Edge Limited] The density of

foam [E-A-B Associates Bayley-Edge Limited]

The density of the mortar before and after the introduction of foam shall be checked

for the control of density of foam concrete [E-A-B Associates Bayley-Edge Limited]. A

Chapter 2: Literature review

variation from above mentioned sequences is also allowed if it can be shown to be


Omni mixer [Fujiwara et al., 1995] and gravity type mixer [E-A-B Associates Bayley-

Edge Limited] have been reportedly used for the production of foam concrete. ASTM C 796

[American Society for Testing and Materials, 1993] recommended that the mixer for mixing

foam concrete in laboratory shall be a powder-driven paddle type mixer with a capacity of

0.12m 3 , an operating speed of 40 to 45 rpm, and equipped with rubber wiper blades.

2.3.2 Casting

ASTM C 796 [American Society for Testing and Materials, 1993] provides the

method of casting laboratorial specimen of foam concrete. According to it, specimen shall be

carefully consolidated and then covered with a plastic sheet to prevent evaporation. For cast-

in-place foam concrete, care should be taken to avoid changing the density of the concrete

from the selected value by excessive vibration [American Concrete Institute, 1993].

2.3.3 Curing

According to ASTM C 796 [American Society for Testing and Materials, 1993],

lightweight insulating concrete specimens that for strength test should be cured in a moist

room with 100% relative humidity (RH) until three days before the date of testing.


specimens are then taken out from the curing room and oven-dried at 60 °C for 72 hours.

Strength gain may be accelerated by atmospheric steam curing. Fujiwara et al. [1995]

reported that the specimens were cured for one day in moist air and further cured in steam

(temperature increased at 20°C/hr, maintained at 65°C for four hours, and then cooled


Autoclaving is reported to reduce the drying shrinkage significantly and is essential if

aerated concrete products are required with acceptable levels of strength and shrinkage [The

construction press, 1977].

Chapter 2: Literature review

For cast-in-place foam concrete, plastic shrinkage due to abnormal initial drying

conditions must be avoided to prevent cracking. A fog sprayer may be used to reduce plastic

shrinkage cracks [American Concrete Institute, 1993].


Properties of fresh/plastic foam concrete


Wet density

“Wet density” refers to the density of the fresh foam concrete mixture.

The freshly

mixed density is used as an indicator for quality control by field personnel.

Legatski [1978]

noted that mixes designed often gave wet densities of about 50 kg/m 3 below the target density.

The actual wet density may be different from the designed wet density due to the following

possible reasons:

i) When mixing the base mortar, some accidental air bubbles may be trapped into the

mortar mixture, which causes the mortar to have a lower density compared with the theoretical

density calculated for the particular mortar mix design being used.

It is thus important to

check the density of the base mortar to ensure its quality [E-A-B Associates Bayley-Edge


ii) The quantity of foam is normally measured by volume.

According to ASTM C796

[American Society for Testing and Materials, 1993], the foam-generating time required per

cubic meter of foam is calculated first. The required volume of foam can then be obtained by

controlling the length of foam-generating time.

This method will not be suitable for small-

scale production of foam concrete since the length of foam-generating time will be only a few

seconds. Therefore the quantity of foam added by this way is not accurate.

iii) Foam bubbles in the fresh foam concrete mixture may collapse during the process of

mixing especially when the mixing duration is too long. This will result in a higher actual wet

density of the foam concrete [Welker et al., 2000].

iv) When the base mortar is too dry, coarse air bubbles tend to be trapped during the

mixing of the fresh foam concrete mixture.

In this case, the actual wet density of the foam

concrete will be lower than the designed wet density [Lim, 1984].

Chapter 2: Literature review

2.4.2 Workability













superplasticizer, content of foam, etc.

It ranges from almost self-levelling to plastic.


average workability is comparable to yogurt [Deijk, 1991].

There is no guideline on which test shall be used to quantitatively measure the

workability of foam concrete. However, because the workability of the premixed paste or

mortar is critical for the introduction of foam, measuring the workability of the premixed paste

or mortar before the introduction of foam has been reported. Fujiwara [1995] reported using

JISR5201 to measure the diameter of the paste after it had been spread by the operation of

flow table. The value was defined as flow value and a higher value indicated a higher


2.5 Properties of hardened foam concrete

Compared with normal weight concrete, foam concrete generally has lower density,

lower strength, higher porosity and higher thermal insulating property. The microstructure of

foam concrete includes the structure of the paste and the structure of the pores, which affect its

apparent properties.

2.5.1 Density

The density of foam concrete lies between 200 to 2080 kg/m 3 [Neville, 1995].

Considerable care is required in specifying density as a requirement because this is greatly

affected by the moisture condition of the concrete.

The actual air-dry density of foam

concrete is dependent on the conditions in service, which may be different from case to case.

Approximately, the air-dry density is 80 kg/m 3 lower than the as-placed density. The Standard

European practice is to use the density after drying at 105°C for 24 hours (or to constant

weight) as a basis for evaluating other properties. The oven-dry density can be calculated on

the assumption that the mass of a unit volume of foam concrete is the sum of the mass of the

Chapter 2: Literature review

aggregate (if any), the mass of the cement, and the mass of water chemically combined with

the cement, assumed to represent 20 percent of the mass of the cement [Neville, 1995].

Many physical properties of foam concrete depend on the density.

Foam concretes

with various densities can be manufactured by varying the composition, which in turn affects

the pore structures, size and distribution [Narayanan and Ramamurthy, 2000].

2.5.2 Compressive strength

Values of compressive strength of moist-air-cured conventional foam concrete were

reported, by ACI committee 523 [1992, 1993], Deijk [1991], British Cement Association

[1991], McCormick [1967] and Legatski [1978], to vary with density, from 1MPa to 24 MPa.

According to their description, the values of compressive strength of foam concretes with

same density were generally in the same range.

Tables 1-1 and

1-2 list the 28-day

compressive strength values of foam concrete with and without sand

respectively, provided

by Deijk [1991]. A high-strength foam concrete with wet density of 1500 kg/m 3 having 28-day

compressive strength of around 50 MPa was reportedly produced by Fujiwara et al. [1995].

Kearsley and Visagie [1999] reported that the 56-day compressive strength of high-strength

foam concrete with wet density of 1500 kg/m 3 , could achieve 45 and 62 MPa, when cured

under 22 and 40 ˚ C, respectively.

Table 2-1: Properties of non-autoclaved foam concrete containing cement and fly ash and without sand

Wet density (kg/m 3 )


Modulus of

Thermal Conductivity at 50% R.H. (W/m·K)


elasticity (Gpa)


strength (MPa)


















Chapter 2: Literature review

Table 2-2: Properties of non-autoclaved foam concrete containing cement and sand

Wet density (kg/m 3 )


Modulus of

Thermal Conductivity at 50% R.H. (W/m·K)


elasticity (Gpa)


strength (MPa)


















The compressive strength of foam concrete may be affected by following factors

[Narayanan and Ramamurthy, 2000]:

i) Density

As stated earlier, the density of foam concrete will affect its properties including the

compressive strength. Because the density of foam concrete is determined by the void content,

Hoff [1972] suggested that the strength could be expressed as a function of void content, taken

as the sum of the induced voids and the volume of evaporable water.

ii) Pore structure

Pore structure of the air pores and mechanical condition of pore shells have a

significant influence on the compressive strength of foam concrete.

A stable and preferably

spherical cell structure is vital for optimum structural and functional properties [Narayanan

and Ramamurthy, 2000].

For foam concretes with same porosity, the one containing voids

that are more uniform in size has higher compressive strength [Kearsley and Visagie, 1999].

Development of larger macro-pores in the matrix is reported to reduce the density significantly

[Pospidil et al., 1992]. Guo et al. [1996] also pointed out that uniformly distributed close fine

pores would result in higher strength of cellular concrete.

iii) Characteristics and proportions of ingredient materials

Tables 1-1 and 1-2 show that by replacing the sand with fly ash as the constituent

material, the compressive strength of the resultant foam concrete having the same density will

be increased.

Chapter 2: Literature review

Fujiwara et al. considered that the compressive strength of foam concrete was

restricted by the strength of the base paste or mortar before the introduction of foam.


adopting Furnas’ finding that when mixing a powder containing particle sizes of 1:200, the














densification effect, Fujiwara et al. [1995] concluded that when using cement with mean

particle size of 20µm and silica fume with mean particle size of 0.1µm, ultra-fine silica stone

powder having a mean particle size of 2.4µm is suitable to be used together with them as the

binder material to produce a paste with higher strength.

They further reported that the

combination of 10% silica fume, 30% ultra-fine silica stone powder and 60% early strength

cement had given the highest strength among all the pastes.

Kamaya et al. [1996] pointed out that using mineral admixtures having specific

surface area less than 7500 cm 2 /g as partial replacement of cement in foam concrete will lead

to lower compressive strength.

Kearsley and Visagie [1999] reported that the use of 50%

cement replacement with unclassified fly ash, of which around 40% of the particles have

diameters exceeding 45 µm, had no reduction in 28day compressive strength.

According to Lim [1984], the strength of foam concrete is influenced both by the

water/cement ratio of the mix and by the volume of the induced voids.

He also noted that

when cement content of foam concrete is maintained the same and no disperse agent is added,

foam concrete with higher water/cement ratio has a higher compressive strength.



Autoclaving increases the compressive strength significantly, as high temperature and

pressure results in a product with stable form of tobermorite instead of C-S-H gel [Narayanan

and Ramamurthy, 2000]. However, the process must be accomplished in plant and therefore,

cannot be used on the job-site.

Kearsley and Vasagie [1999] reported that when 50% cement was replaced by

unclassified fly ash, 40˚C tended to be the optimal temperature for the highest ultimate


Chapter 2: Literature review

v) Age

According to Lim’s work [1984], the compressive strength of foam concrete increased

marginally after 28 days.

However, strength increases of 30~80% between 28 days and 6

months was also reported [Narayanan and Ramamurthy, 2000].

vi) Moisture content











equilibrium at normal atmosphere, there was an increase in strength, and an even larger

increase on complete drying out [Svanholm, 1983].

Hence tests are recommended on

materials that have attained equilibrium with the surroundings.

A correction factor has been

proposed to assess the increase in compressive strength from wet to dry state [Svanholm,



Specimen shape and size

Specimen for compressive-strength test can be cubical or cylindrical of various sizes.

It is generally accepted that, for specimens of different shape or different size, cast from the

same batch of concrete will exhibit different compressive strength results.

For normal

concrete and high performance concrete, the ratios of cube-strength to cylinder-strength have

been widely investigated.

However, papers on co-relationship of cube-strength to cylinder-

strength for foam concrete are scarce.

2.5.3 Flexural and tensile strength

The flexural strength of conventional foam concrete lies between 15 to 35% of its

compressive strength. For foam concrete with density lower than 300 kg/m 3 , the ratio of

flexural strength to compressive strength is almost zero [Narayanan and Ramamurthy, 2000].

The ratio of tensile strength to compressive strength is reported to be 10 to 12%


by Valore

ACI Committee 523 [1993] recommends the expression for splitting tensile strength

be taken from the method described by ASTM C496 [American Society for Testing and

Materials, 1994].

Chapter 2: Literature review

2.5.4 Modulus of elasticity

Reported values of the static modulus of elasticity for non-autoclaved conventional

foam concrete containing cement and fly ash, and without sand are given in Table 1-1 [Deijk,


Values for non-autoclaved foam concrete containing cement and sand are given in

Table 1-2 [Deijk, 1991].

ACI Committee 523 [1993] and Legatski [1978] suggested the use of an equation first

proposed by Pauw [1960] to relate the secant modulus of elasticity taken at one half of the

compressive strength, to its compressive strength.

2.5.5 Drying shrinkage

Moist-cured conventional foam concrete containing cement and sand shows drying

shrinkage value ranging from 0.06 to over 3% when dried at ordinary temperature, the lower

values being associated with higher densities and higher percentages of sand [Narayanan and

Ramamurthy, 2000].

The drying shrinkage of foam concrete is high due to the absence of restraining from

the coarse aggregates as in normal concrete. The presence of large volume of voids and high

specific surface of pores increase the loss of adsorbed water from material when concrete is

under drying [Ziembika, 1977].

It is reported that decrease in pore size along with a higher

percentage of pores of smaller size increase the shrinkage of foam concrete. Ziembika [1977]

has related shrinkage to the volume and specific surface of micro-pores of which the pore size

is from 75 to 7000 Å while Schubert [1983] attributes it to the distribution of pores.


structural model by Nielson [1983] described drying shrinkage as a compression due to

hydraulic vacuum in the pore water.

The capillary tension theory of drying shrinkage of

porous building materials states that the water in the pore exists in tension and this creates an

attractive force between the pore walls [Tada, 1992].

Additives like superplasticizer and silica fume were found to have little effect on

shrinkage, confirming that the drying shrinkage of foam concrete is dependent on the physical

structure of the gel rather than on its chemical composition [Narayanan, 2000].

Chapter 2: Literature review

Autoclaved foam concrete has lower drying shrinkage due to the fundamental changes,

that take place in the mineral constitution, which may reduce shrinkage to one-quarter or even

one-fifth of the moist-cured one with same mix proportion.

This is because autoclaving

change the gel structural C-S-H into the well-crystallized tobermorite, which has higher

rigidity and thus volume stability.

The time dependence of shrinkage is influenced by material properties, size of

specimen and shrinkage climate. This apart, the final value of shrinkage depends on the initial

and final moisture content.

The drying shrinkage, in most cases, increases if the relative

humidity decreases. In the range of higher moisture content (greater than 20% by volume), a

relatively small shrinkage occurs with loss of moisture, which can be attributed to the presence

of more number of large pores which do not contribute to shrinkage [Schubert, 1983].

2.5.6 Shrinkage cracking

The importance of shrinkage in structures is largely related to cracking.




cracking tendency due to shrinkage that is of more concern because the advent or absence of

cracking depends not only on the potential contraction but also on the extensibility of concrete,

its strength, and its degree of restraint to the deformation that may lead to cracking [Neville,



Conclusively, factors influencing shrinkage cracking were reported [Neville, 1995] as



One of the most important factors in cracking is the water/cement ratio of the mix

because its increase tends to increase shrinkage and reduce the strength of the concrete at the

same time.

ii) An increase in the cement content also increases shrinkage and thus the cracking

tendency,. But as its effect on strength is positive, the resistance to cracking may therefore be


iii) The use of admixtures may influence the cracking tendency through interplay of

effects of hardening, shrinkage, and creep.


Chapter 2: Literature review

iv) The use of fibre reinforcement has been reported to reduce the cracking in the

hardened concrete.

Still there are other factors to be considered.

responsible for cracking of concrete.

It is rare that a single adverse factor is

There is so far no standard test to assess cracking due to restrained shrinkage [Neville,

1995]. Grzybowski and Shah [1990] reported the use of a ring-shaped concrete specimen

restrained by an internal steel ring, which is useful in providing information with respect to the

comparative resistance of different concretes to cracking.

The internal steel ring had an

external diameter of 152mm and an internal diameter of 127mm.

The width of the ring-

shaped specimen was 35mm and the thickness of the specimen was 140mm.

Because the

thickness of the specimen was four times the width of the specimen, uniform shrinkage along

the width of the specimen can be assumed.

The outer mould was stripped off 1 day after

casting. Then the specimen was cured for 4 days at 20°C, 100% relative humidity. After that,

the upper side of the concrete ring was sealed off using silicon-rubber sealer, so that drying

would be allowed only from the outer circumferential surface.

The specimen was then

exposed to drying at 20°C, 40% relative humidity.

For specimen of early-age test, the outer

mould was stripped off after 2.5 hours.

The specimen was then immediately exposed to

drying. The results of the test showed that fibres provide resistance to crack widening.

Carlson and Reading [1988] also reported the using of ring-shaped specimens to

assess the crack resistance of concrete. The concrete rings were 25mm in radial thickness and

38 wide. The steel rings had an internal diameter of 125 mm and an external diameter of 175




According to Beres [1968], creep is proportional to the applied stress when the change

in stress is small.

However, with large changes in stress level, creep is not proportional.


Chapter 2: Literature review

Beres observed creep strains at 3 years ranges from 700 to 4400 (× 10 -6 m/m) for 100 × 100 ×

400 mm specimens of compressive strength 5.5 MPa, at 80-100% R.H. and 9.5-12.5 ºC.

Lim [1984] reported that for conventional foam concrete specimens loaded at the

stress/strength ratio of 0.2, creep strain at six months was about 350 to 605 (×10 -6 m/m). This

range was approximately similar at each density level. However, he also noted a clear trend of

a higher long-term creep with a higher initial nominal applied stress.

2.5.8 Thermal conductivity

Thermal conductivity measures the ability of the material to conduct heat, which is

defined as the ratio of the flux of heat of temperature gradient [Neville, 1995]. Thermal

conductivity of foam concrete is influenced by its density, moisture content and constituents

of the material [Narayanan, 2000].

Typical values of thermal conductivity versus density for conventional foam concrete

were reported by Narayanan and Ramamurthy [2000], ACI committee 523 [1992, 1993],

Deijk [1991].

Tables 1-1 and 1-2 provide the values of thermal conductivity for foam

concrete with and without sand, as reported by Deijk [1991].

It shows that foam concrete

without sand has lower thermal conductivity, which suggests its better insulating property than

that with sand.

As thermal conductivity is largely a function of density, it does not really matter

whether the product is moist cured or autoclaved as far as thermal conductivity is concerned.

The amount of pores and their distribution are also critical for thermal insulation.

pores better the insulation [Bave, 1980].

Finer the

ASTM C177 [American Society for Testing and Materials, 1990] provides the method

for the determination of thermal conductivity of the concrete at its oven dry density.

According to ACI 523.3R-93 [American Concrete Institute, 1993], thermal conductivity

values are commonly specified in oven dry condition. However, values reported in oven dry

condition was considered not appropriate by Narayanan

and Ramamurthy [2000] as they


Chapter 2: Literature review

pointed out that the thermal conductivity was influenced by the moisture content for instance a

1% increase in moisture by mass increase thermal conductivity by 42%.