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Variability of 4 x 8 in. Cylinder Tests

Variability of 4 x 8 in. Cylinder Tests

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Concrete international / may 2009
Concrete international / may 2009

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may 2009
By Rachel J. DetwileR, wenDy thomas, thoRlief stangeBye, anD michael URahn
 Vt f 4 x 8 .C Tt
ar r dr r r?
n November 2005, ACI Subcommittee 318-A voted toallow the use of 4 x 8 in. (100 x 200 mm) cylinders(commonly known as 4 x 8s) for acceptance testing ofconcrete in Section of ACI 318-08
as follows:A strength test shall be the average of the strengthsof at least two 6 by 12 in. [150 by 300 mm] cylindersor at least three 4 by 8 in. [100 by 200 mm] cylindersmade from the same sample of concrete andtested at 28 days or at test age designated fordetermination of
.The reason behind requiring at least three 4 x 8s insteadof two 6 x 12 in. (150 x 300 mm) cylinders (commonlyknown as 6 x 12s) is explained in the Commentary:Testing three 4 by 8 in. [100 by 200 mm] cylinderspreserves the confidence level of the average strengthbecause 4 by 8 in. [100 by 200 mm] cylinders tend tohave approximately 20 percent higher within-testvariability than 6 by 12 in. [150 by 300 mm] cylinders.In March 2006, we began asking Engineers of Recordto allow us to use 4 x 8s on a case-by-case basis. Wecontinued to use 6 x 12s on ongoing projects, on projectsin which the Engineer of Record declined to allow 4 x 8s,and whenever the nominal maximum aggregate sizeexceeded 1-1/4 in. (32 mm). In anticipation of the upcomingchange to ACI 318, we recommended to our clients thatwe use sets of three 4 x 8s for concrete in buildings andsets of two 4 x 8s where ACI 318 does not apply, such ashighway structures. We continued our practice of usingsets of two 6 x 12s.During 2006 and 2007, our metropolitan Minneapolis,MN, central laboratory tested more than 100,000 individualcylinders for compressive strength. These data representa wide range of field conditions and a consistent set oflaboratory conditions. That is, we used the same testingequipment and the same field and laboratory staff to castand test specimens of both sizes. Field conditions varywith the season and also from job to job. Thus, we believethese data can provide a useful basis for comparing theprecision of tests using the two cylinder sizes for acceptancetesting and for determining whether there is a need totest three replicate 4 x 8s.
PasT researCh
A study
conducted at the National Institute ofStandards and Technology (NIST) is referenced in theCommentary to ACI 318-08 as the basis for the statementthat 4 x 8s tend to have about 20% higher within-testvariability than 6 x 12s. The NIST study included acomprehensive literature review of the factorsaffecting the measurement of compressive strength.As part of the review, the researchers reported amedian coefficient of variation (COV) for 4 in. (100 mm)diameter cylinders that was about 20% greater than thatfor 6 in. (150 mm) diameter cylinders. The researchersthen performed a full-factorial study of test variableson the compressive strength of concrete, includingspecimen size. For both 4 x 8s and 6 x 12s, thespecimens were cast and rodded in three layers insteadof the two layers specified for 4 x 8s in the currentversion of ASTM C31/C31M. The specimens were thencured under water for 2 days, stripped, and returned tothe curing tanks. They found a slightly greater within-
may 2009
test dispersion for the 4 x 8s, but concluded that thedifference was not statistically significant.In a 1993 study,
compressive strength data from 3and 6 in. (75 and 150 mm) diameter cylinders cast underlaboratory conditions were analyzed. It was found that thewithin-test COV for the smaller cylinders was approximately6%, whereas it was 3 to 4% for the larger cylinders.In a later study,
compressive strength data for 3, 4,and 6 in. (75, 100, and 150 mm) diameter concretecylinders from 20 publications were analyzed. Eight ofthese publications also contained data pertaining to thewithin-laboratory standard deviations for differentcylinder sizes, comprising a total of 122 data points. Itwas found that “[t]he coefficient of variation for strengthfor 100-mm [4-in.] cylinders is equivalent to that for150-mm [6-in.] cylinders over a broad range thatencompasses normal, high, and very high-strengthconcrete.”
The study concluded, “Some specificationsrequire the testing of two 150-mm [6-in.] cylinders todetermine strength. Due to the equivalence of coefficientsof variation, there is little justification for futurespecifications to require the testing of 3 rather than 2cylinders when 100-mm [4-in.] plastic molds are used.”The majority of the data in the literature were obtainedfrom tests of concrete cylinders cast and cured underlaboratory conditions. For acceptance testing, however,it’s important to examine data based on cylinders castand cured initially under field conditions that prevail inactual acceptance testing. A previous round robin study
 evaluated the precision of tests using 4 x 8s cast andcured initially under field conditions. The COVs obtainedcompared favorably with published values in ASTM C39/C39M-05 for 6 x 12s cast and cured under field conditions.That study, however, did not make any direct comparisonsof the two cylinder sizes.
Field TesTing
Although we do test cylinders at other ages, the majorityof our cylinders are broken at 28 days, and these are theonly tests included in our analysis. The cylinders are castand cured in the field in accordance with the requirementsfor standard curing in ASTM C31/C31M, stored in thelaboratory until age 28 days, and tested in accordancewith ASTM C39/C39M.Temperatures in the Minneapolis area vary from anaverage low of 4 °F (–16 °C) in January to an average highof 83 °F (28 °C) in July. Because of the wide range ofambient temperatures, proper field curing of the cylindershas always been one of the most challenging aspects ofASTM C31/C31M to meet consistently and in a cost-effectivemanner. While it’s fairly easy to control field curingtemperatures where dedicated curing containers areavailable and properly set up, it’s not always practical toprovide such curing containers for every concrete placement.On large or long-term projects we have both the leadtime and the resources to provide dedicated curingcontainers. For winter construction we use temperature-controlled enclosures or “hot boxes” to maintaintemperatures. These insulated containers are equippedwith thermostatically controlled electric heaters tomaintain the appropriate curing temperature.When temperatures rise to about 75 °F (24 °C), wenormally begin using water troughs or stock tanks.During warmer weather the curing temperatures aremaintained through the exchange or addition of coolwater, ice, or both to the tank.On shorter or smaller projects, such as residentialcurbing or small foundations, we typically don’t haveaccess to power for heating curing containers, nor is itpractical to deliver hot boxes or stock tanks to the site.For these projects we rely on a number of methods tomaintain proper temperatures. In late fall and earlyspring, when temperatures can drop near freezing, weuse insulated containers. Depending on the anticipatedtemperatures, we may provide additional insulation orput cylinder molds filled with hot water (which is generallyavailable from the concrete truck) in with the specimensfor additional warmth.During warm weather, we’ve had good success withwater-filled ice chests. When temperatures approach90 °F (32 °C) or above, we may also add to the ice chestsone or more 4 x 8 molds (marked for that use) filled withice. We monitor curing temperatures using digitalthermometers, predominately waterproof models, aswater is often used during field curing. These thermometersrecord the minimum and maximum temperaturesreached inside the curing container. We log these datainto our Laboratory Information Management System.
laboraTory TesTing
The Braun Intertec Materials Laboratory has beenaccredited by AASHTO Materials Reference Laboratorysince 1990. Our concrete laboratory technicians arerequired to maintain ACI certification for concretestrength testing.Cylinders arriving at the laboratory are matched tolabels generated by computer based on the data enteredby the technician in the field. The cylinders are strippedfrom the molds and labeled with sample identificationinformation, test date, and an “X” to indicate when
isgreater than or equal to 6000 psi (41.5 MPa). The cylindersare then transferred to the moist room, where 100%relative humidity is maintained. The ends of cylinderswith a specified strength of 6000 psi (41.5 MPa) or greaterand those not meeting the criteria of Section 9.5 (finishing)of ASTM C31/C31M or Section 6.2 (perpendicularity) ofASTM C39/C39M are cut off before testing. Cylinders witha specified strength of 6000 psi (41.5 MPa) or greater
may 2009
receive sulfur caps. All others are tested using neoprenecaps having the appropriate strength rating. Companion28-day cylinders are tested by the same operator usingthe same testing machine. Results are recorded on thedaily break list and transferred to the LaboratoryInformation Management System for review by the seniorconcrete technician.
sTaTisTiCal analysis oF daTa 
Except for the following cases, our analysis includes allsets of two or three 4 x 8s and two 6 x 12s received in2006 and 2007 by our central laboratory for testing at anage of 28 days. Results where the technician noted somephysical defect that invalidated the test (11 tests) or thecylinders were cast by the Client or the Contractor (708tests) were not included. In these cases, we have no wayof knowing whether the cylinders were cast, cured, andhandled in accordance with ASTM C31/C31M. In addition,all sets of three 4 x 8s in which four or fewer cylinderswere cast (50 tests) were removed because we could notconsistently account for the reason behind testing threereplicates when only two replicates were originallyplanned. All tests of three or more replicate 6 x 12s (226tests) were also removed. Because only two replicatesare required for 6 x 12s, tests of three replicates areanomalous and may indicate there was a problem—whether specifically recorded or not—with one of thefirst two replicates tested. The remaining data weredivided into groups of tests with
5000 psi (34.5 MPa)and
5000 psi (34.5 MPa). The distribution of the24,750 strength test results used in the analysis is shownin Table 1.
Table 1:
psi (MP)Cyindr siz, in.(mm)Spcifid strngthrng, psi (MP)2-cyindr tsts*3-cyindr tsts*Numr of tsts avrgCOV, %Numr of tsts avrgCOV, %
5000(34.5)4 x 8(100 x 200)1500  5000(10  34.5)80682.134312.56 x 12(150 x 300)1000  5000(7  34.5)10,2462.40
5000(34.5)4 x 8(100 x 200)5500  9000(38  62)21572.16512.66 x 12(150 x 300)5500  9500(38  65.5)1972.50t20,6684082
* Each strength test involves the testing of two or three individual cylinders.
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