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Father of the Lightweight Concrete Industry

Father of the Lightweight Concrete Industry

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Concrete international / august 2009
Concrete international / august 2009

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august 2009
By t.W. Bremner and John ries
Stephe J. He:Fthe f theLihtweiht CceteIst
F     bck cll pl, lw  w vlp
uilders have long recognized the importance ofreducing the density of concrete while maintaining itsdurability and strength. The Romans used natural depositsof vesicular aggregates such as pumice and scoria as theaggregates of choice for their structures—even whennormal density sand and river gravel were readily avail-able. Examples still in place today include the piers at thePort of Cosa, built on the west coast of Italy shortly after273 BCE,
and the 50 m (164 ft) diameter dome of thePantheon, built in 128 CE by Hadrian. In the Pantheon, theintrinsic variability of natural vesicular aggregates wascircumvented by hand-sorting them according to density,allowing the density of the concrete to be reduced as theheight of the dome increased and stresses decreased.
The variability of natural deposits of volcanic aggregates,however, remained a challenge for almost 2000 years until itwas solved by Stephen J. Hayde (Fig. 1), the American-bornson of Irish immigrants from Tipparary. His parents, PatrickJoseph Hayde and his wife Bridget, arrived in New York withtheir young family, possessing a letter from Ireland statingPatrick had “credentials,” which no doubt advanced hiscause for he readily found work with the government as acontractor/civil engineer repairing buildings and bridges inthe West.
Stephen Hayde was born in 1861 at Keokuk, IA, andworked with his father from boyhood in Kansas City, MO.After a few years spent in San Francisco, CA, Hayde returnedhome where he became well known as a brick maker andbuilding contractor, constructing such impressive brickbuildings as the Missouri Building at the Chicago Exposi-tion and the Loretta Academy.
Fig. 1: The inventor 
august 2009
ProduCIng brICk 
Using the down-draft beehive kilns of that time, brickmaking was a rather inefficient process, as the temperaturevaried greatly within the kiln. After a particular load was“burned,” the product had to be hand sorted. “Hard-burned” bricks were suitable for exterior use because oftheir resistance to rain penetration as well as the effects of
The Oak Tower Building in Kansas City, MO, was constructedfor the Southwestern Bell Telephone Company in twophases—the lower 14 floors were completed in 1919 and theupper 14 floors were constructed in 1928-29. When informedthat the foundations had the capacity for eight additionalfloors using normalweight concrete or 14 additional floorsusing lightweight concrete, the owner opted for the latter.The resulting 28-story skyscraper served (and continues toserve) as a demonstration of the feasibility and benefits of using Hayde’s material for high-rise construction
freezing and thawing. “Salmon” bricks (so-called because oftheir pink color) were not thoroughly burned but weresuitable for interior use.A third category, “bloaters,” went into a cull pile andrepresented a significant financial loss to the producer.These were bricks located close to the heat source in thekiln that were heated too rapidly for the evolved gaseswithin the clay to dissipate, and thus expanded by morethan a third of their original size. Bricks produced withcertain clay deposits retained this distended shape uponcooling, resulting in a vesicular internal structure withessentially unconnected voids surrounded by a hard,impermeable ceramic-like matrix.Stephen Hayde had an inventive and resourceful mind. Hesaw value in crushing the cull pile to size and incorporating itin a concrete mixture. This, he felt, could provide a consistentway to produce a lightweight concrete of substantial strengthand durability. In a letter to his nephew George datedOctober 7, 1914, he recounted how he had “burned” somematerial at the Ocean Shore Iron Works in San Francisco. Hespecifically mentioned that “some of the material is so light itfloats in water.” He also mentioned that his final productdidn’t have planes of weakness. Along with the letter, he sentsamples of the material he’d prepared.
ProduCIng aggrEgaTE
Hayde was so sure of the virtues of his new material thathe engaged a patent attorney on January 29, 1914. U.S. PatentNo. 1,255,878 was subsequently issued in Hayde’s name onFebruary 18, 1918.
The patent covered argillaceous materialand specifically mentioned “special clay, slate, and shalerock,” implying that not all argillaceous material is suitable,and that the product must be heated to a temperature of1220
C (2228
F) for about 2 hours. In the text of the patent,Hayde stated, “my invention relates to the manufacture ofbrick, tile, terra cotta, and like molded articles.”
Afterreturning from San Francisco to Kansas City, Hayde tookcharge of the Flannigan-Zeller Brick Company, where he hadaccess to brick kilns as well as access to rejects from thebrick making process (bloaters) to crush to a size suitable fordoing research on low-density concrete.In a conversation with Warren Allen, Hayde’s assistantLou Harris explained how they had experimented withballs of clay that were placed at various locations inthe brick kiln. Their goal was to identify the correct time-temperature regime to achieve properties in aggregatesthat could be used in a concrete mixture to produceoptimum properties in concrete. In 1917, his tests showedthat a rotary kiln could be used to economically produceexpanded shale, clay, and slate in large quantities withproperties identical to those being produced today.
Hayde’s ability to efficiently produce large quantities
august 2009
of lightweight aggregate ideally suited to making high-strength, durable, and low-permeability concrete wastimely, as it was met with urgency in the marine shippingindustry brought about by the submarine warfare of WorldWar I. As a construction material for boats, portlandcement concrete probably dates from 1848, when Jean-Louis Lambot built a rowboat for use in a pond on hisestate in Miraval, France.
With a hull thickness of 30 to40 mm (1.2 to 1.5 in.), a length of 3.6 m (11.8 ft), and abeam of 1.35 m (4.4 ft), the boat was a success. Other thana hole in the bottom that caused it to sink, it was found ingood condition some 100 years later when it was excavatedfrom the mud and exhibited at a concrete conference inParis. The first ocean-going concrete ship was constructedin 1917. With a displacement of 400 tonnes (440 tons) anda length of 26 m (85 ft), the Norwegian ship
 showed marine designers the possibilities and limitationsof using normalweight concrete as a material.
Although vesicular volcanic aggregates had been triedand found capable of reducing the dead weight of ships tomanageable levels, the intrinsic variability of the depositsof aggregate were such that the required high strengthcould not be obtained on a consistent basis. Hayde was apatriotic individual, and with the recognition that hissoon-to-be-patented product could help in the war effort,he offered it free of charge to the government for theduration of the war, provided that the Haydite, the namegiven to his lightweight aggregate product, was manufacturedby the government and not an independent contractor.
His offer was made in a letter dated February 18, 1918,to the Director of the Department of Concrete ShipConstruction, U.S. Emergency Fleet Corporation, Washing-ton, DC. The response was provided on March 6, in a lettersigned by R.G.J. Wig as Chief Engineer and initialed byC.W.B. (Carl W. Boynton). The letter expressed interest inthe “burnt clay as a concrete aggregate in concrete withboat construction and anticipated that the material can bedeveloped to a point where it will give us the requiredstrength, and at the same time reduce the weight of theconcrete materially.” Subsequent testing verified thatHaydite could be used to produce 28 MPa (4000 psi)concrete with a density of 1697 kg/m
(106 lb/ft
 ).With Hayde’s experience making a high-quality light-weight aggregate using a rotary kiln, it was surprisingthat the first ship built by the Department of EmergencyShip Construction was constructed using aggregate fromthe much less efficient down-draft beehive kilns inBirmingham, AL. Sufficient material was produced tosupply concrete for the 272 tonnes (300 ton)
,launched in December 1918. The second concrete shipwas the
, with a length of 132 m (434 ft), a beam of13 m (43 ft), and a full-cargo draft of 8 m (26 ft). The ship’shull was 127 mm (5 in.) thick on the bottom and 100 mm(4 in.) thick on the sides. Cover over the reinforcementwas only about 16 mm (5/8 in.). The aggregates used toconstruct the
were made by the Atlas CementCompany in Hannibal, MO, using the rotary kiln method. Atotal of 6670 tonnes (7350 tons) of expanded aggregateswere shipped to the Fred T. Ley Company, the operator ofthe government shipyard in Mobile, AL.The good performance of rotary-kiln-produced light-weight aggregate when used for concrete ship constructionwas not missed by government employee Carl Boynton,who proceeded to arrange for a patent to cover what wasessentially covered in Hayde’s patent. This is especiallysurprising in that Boynton had expressed to Appo, one ofHayde’s associates in the Haydite company, that “theprocess…was entirely outside his knowledge of burningmaterials and burning processes.”On May 7, 1928, at the Court of Appeals of the District ofColumbia, a decision was rendered that the court was“convinced that Boynton derived his knowledge of theinvention from Hayde, and that Hayde is entitled to theaward of priority.” A key piece of evidence in the case wasthe letter Hayde had written to his nephew George. Apetition for a rehearing was denied on June 1, 1928.Unfortunately, that victory came some 16 days after Haydedied when traveling by rail from Montreal to Kansas City.
ProduCIng a LEgaCy 
Hayde’s research, which began about 1897, had estab-lished by 1917 the basic parameters for aggregate productionthat led to our modern lightweight concrete industry. Thetemperature regime and degree of expansion of theaggregates has remained unchanged over the years. It is agreat benefit to modern designers that they can look backwith confidence at a track record of nine decades of goodperformance with this essentially unchanged product,invented and brought into commercial production by
lays a wreck in pieces at Crystal Beachon the southern tip of Cape May, NJ. One of theauthors visited the wreck about 1980 and foundthe concrete of very poor quality. The
wasscuttled decades ago off the coast of Galveston, TX.One of the authors visited the
in 1985 andobserved that the concrete was generally in excellentcondition, and the imprint of the form boards couldstill be clearly seen—even at the water line. As is thecase of the concrete ships from World War II, themain deck shows distress mainly due to improperconcreting practice. Nevertheless, the concrete wasin generally good condition and shows what can beexpected of concrete made with rotary-kiln-producedlightweight aggregate.

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