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by Shell S. Hodgson Civil and Environmental Engineering Department University of Wisconsin-Madison May 10, 2000
investigates the correlation between water/cement ratio and air entraining. This paper looks at those practices. 2000 Abstract This paper deals with the issues of air entraining and water/cement ratio in Portland Cement Concrete as related to its freeze thaw durability. Hodgson Civil and Environmental Engineering Department University of Wisconsin-Madison May 10.The Effects of Water/Cement Ratio and Air Entraining on Portland Cement Concrete Freeze/Thaw Durability to the Editors of Undergraduate Engineering Review 1999-2000 by Shell S. and presents conclusions and recommendations based on available data. Practices have been in place for nearly thirty years which demanded high early strengths in Portland Cement Concrete pavements. .
9 p. 2 p. 10 p. 6 p.Table of Contents Introduction Background Methods of Testing PCC Freeze-Thaw Durability Quantifying W/C and AE Effects Preventitive Measures and Good Practice Conclusion Recommendations Glossary Bibliography p. 11 p. 1 p. 5 p. 12 p. 13 .
It is strong when loaded in compression. in the seasonally variable climate of Wisconsin. PCC is a mix of many different materials and is inherently porous. . This then causes water to be drawn from the smallest pores until eventually. providing much greater visibility at night. highway bridges. which extends longevity of the road and its lighter color reflects light. It is used aesthetically and structurally all around us. ice will form from free water in the larger pores. rough surfaces we see and drive on which. and relatively inexpensive and easy to produce.Introduction Portland Cement Concrete (PCC) plays an important role in everyone’s life as the most largely used construction material in the world. not solid and impervious like a material such as steel. In hardened concrete. The ice crystals will grow by drawing water from the walls of the additional voids. as the ice crystals grow large enough to where the pressure build-up in dense pastes will result in rupture. The physical characteristics of PCC provide for greater weight transfer in loading. Pavements constructed using PCC are an important part of our nation’s infrastructure. makes up a large portion of the buildings we study in. These stresses cause many of the ugly. PCC is used to support most of the homes we live in. are an economic burden and social inconvenience. and in a large number of urban streets. These benefits. exposed PCC surfaces are subjected to stresses due to repetitive freezing and thawing. may be outweighed by high life cycle costs due to premature failure from poor freeze-thaw cycle durability when poor quality control exists and unsubstantiated mixed design criteria are followed. However. however. as well as many other applications in the construction industry. and serves as a quality paving material for the sidewalks we walk on and many of the roads we travel. It is used extensively in our interstate highway system.
40 range or higher. a hardened finished product.25 will satisfy the chemical need. and porous. In order for the mixed PCC to reach a manageable level of workability. The effect of these two highly variable factors. as well as in the field that greatly affect the freeze thaw durability of PCC.22 to . which is less dense. The excess water used in the mix migrates to the surface of the concrete and evaporates. The capillaries also provide the pathway for water to be absorbed. which allows it to flow into desired. Concrete achieves its strength through a chemical process called hydration. is the reaction between water and the cement dust in the mix. an explanation of freeze-thaw testing procedures.35 to . Hydration is a complex process but in simple terms. conclusions and recommendations. Background Water/Cement Ratio. Water-Cement (W/C) ratio and Air-Entraining (AE) are the basis of this paper. Freeze-thaw durability for PCC is the concrete’s ability to resist degradation due to exposure to repeated freeze-thaw cycles. However. This leaves a network of flow channels called capillaries and as a result. This is the ratio of the amount of water to the amount of cement used (by weight) in the cement paste. low W/C ratio mixes are very difficult to place. finish and work with. only a certain amount of water is needed for the reaction to reach completion. As in any chemical reaction. W/C ratio is a factor that affects freezethaw durability but also PCC’s. Higher W/C rations provide for more fluidity. and a summary of research data. . formed geometries more readily.There are two main factors which have variability in production. This paper will present pertinent background information for PCC. water cement ratios will be in the . In PCC a water cement ratio of .
This assumption has little supporting data.Excessive water added to the paste is problematic by reducing ultimate strengths achieved in the finished product. Air entraining provides an additional benefit to concrete mixes. Air Entraining. similar sandstone compared to limestone. It has been stated that PCC exposed to severe freeze-thaw cycles should have an air content of 5. will generate air bubbles through a foaming action during mixing. This is due to the fact that air entraining improves workability. added as an admixture to concrete in very small dosages (about 1 per cent or less by weight of the cement). reducing friction and interlocking. the bubbles are spaced about 0. This phenomenon is caused by the micro-bubbles acting as a kind of lubricant. This is because of the reduced density and increased porosity. by providing spaces for these developing pressures to disperse. An air-entraining agent is an organic material which. reducing disruptive damage.01 inch apart or less and are of about the same order of magnitude in maximum diameter. This incorporation of unfilled. Low W/C ratios have been considered to provide greater freeze-thaw durability properties due to high ultimate strengths. better described as behaving like miniature ball bearings where these well-dispersed bubbles act as air cushions between aggregate particles. limiting the ability of free water to penetrate. due to water crystal formation during freezing. and by reducing porosity. This is much like the development of bubbles in water when dish soap is mixed in vigorously. well-distributed voids in the cement paste prevents excessive pressures from developing. This allows for a .5 to 6. Air content quantities in PCC are controlled by the use of an air-entraining agent. This accounts for the remarkable effect that AE has on improving the freeze-thaw damage resistance of PCC.0 percent by volume [Mamlouk & Zaniewski. 1999]. Under optimum mixing conditions.
however.has identified types of issues contributing to premature deterioration. Methods of Testing PCC Freeze-Thaw Durability There are several methods of laboratory testing of concrete specimen’s freeze. and there are potential benefits of each. including high water/cement ratios and low air contents. Reduced W/C ratios and adequate AE both contribute to better freeze thaw durability in concrete. there has been limited research as to the correlation of freeze-thaw durability as it relates to water-cement ratio. to be the first attempt at correlating air content and watercement ratio to freeze thaw durability. The benefits of air entraining have been relatively well researched and documented. That is reducing the amount of cement dust reduces the amount of water needed which could be the reason behind older pavements that are still functional [Shilstone. The W/C ratio and air content standards in the concrete paving industry are two main factors that affect concrete freeze/thaw durability. 1999]. The test is relatively simple and . The recently finished research by Walls and Cramer is what I believe. As stated above. Included in this paper is data supporting and/or contradicting standard practices concerning freeze-thaw durability and suggested alternatives to today’s practices that may result in extended concrete pavement surfaces’ life span. One is the Rate and degree of absorption. it had been much more difficult to qualify and quantify the benefits of reduced water-cement ratio with the lack of research material in this area. In fact.thaw durability. it has been suggested that water-cement ratio has less to do with durability than the amount of water alone. This has been used for many years as a means of predicting durability of concrete to frost damage. Long lasting concrete surfaces are a benefit economically.
The generally accepted method of testing is the direct freeze-thaw cycling of concrete specimens. however. Cramer and Richard A. Rate of deterioration is usually determined by measuring resonant frequencies from which the dynamic modulus can be calculated. This method is the method used by Walls and Cramer. Fortunately. Weight loss is another but less reliable measure.inexpensive but. Quantifying W/C and AE Effects The preliminary results obtained from research conducted by Steven M. whose paper provides the bulk of the evidence used in this paper. The freeze-thaw cycling test gives results that permit reasonably good assessment of the field performance that can be expected of a particular concrete mix. yields very poor correlation with field performance [Swenson. Cramer and Walls make use of this test to verify air contents found by testing the freshly mixed concrete with the simple air-meter measurement. Equipment is fairly expensive and there are not many agencies or institutions with such facilities. 1999]. Walls from the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at the University of WisconsinMadison has offered some very interesting and important data. the University of Wisconsin has the facilities needed for Professors Walls and Cramer to conduct their research. This test indicates whether or not enough air has been added. Another valuable test. It has. except that it is more rapid and gives results in reasonable time. but it does not indicate the size and distribution of bubbles in the set concrete. This test readily discovers whether the entrained air will provide adequate protection. several drawbacks. unfortunately. consists of determining by optical microscope the air bubble content and spacing in hardened cement paste or concrete. This is a simulation of natural freeze-thaw cycling. . known as the linear traverse method.
The variations were in the partial replacement of Portland cement with either fly ash or ground blast furnace slag.45 and volumes of air entrainment ranging from 1. Figure 1 on the following page shows the graphical relation relative modulus. clearly fail this criteria.It has been suggested that some evidence has been presented that durable PCC mixes can be obtained with minimal AE provided that low W/C are used. These variations are not important for the purposes of this paper. The samples. Walls and Cramer have reported in their paper that a relative modulus of 60% or less after exposure to 300 freeze-thaw cycles is considered failure in other literature and is implied in ASTM C666. of nine specimens with respect to the number of freeze-thaw cycles each were subjected to. These designs are variations of mix designs used by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation in paving applications. Figure 2.3 to . Studying the plotted data of their research on the pages to follow show that two mixes. The procedure for freeze-thaw testing of PCC in ASTM C666 does not explicitly define a point of failure. had w/c ratios from . All testing was conducted according guidelines set forth by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) [Walls and Cramer. Specimens were subjected to strength. shrinkage.8 percent to 8.3 percent. strength. Using the testing techniques and procedures described in the previous section. Walls and Cramer’s research focus was to examine the interrelationship between W/C ratio and AE freeze-thaw durability benefits. 2000]. permeability and accelerated freeze-thaw testing. However. immediately following portrays the same data with four individual specimen’s data removed to . FA-2 and S-2. as stated in the legend. the correlation between the controlling W/C and AE together for improved freeze-thaw durability is not well documented [Walls and Cramer. Walls and Cramer evaluated performances of various PCC mix designs. 2000]. Sufficient AE does greatly improve freeze-thaw durability and this is well documented in a variety of sources.
Figure 2 also depicts a range of one standard deviation for each specimen’s trend line. 2000). Plotted results for nine specimen’s relative strength through an exaggerated number of freeze-thaw cycles (Walls and Cramer.more clearly show the trend in the research results. Figure 1. It should be noted that even considering the possible deviations that the results are unmistakable. .
.Figure 2. It can be seen that mixes possessing W/C ratios as low as 0. regardless of W/C ratios. Air entrainment should be a requirement for all exposed concrete. Five specimen’s results form Figure 1. the specimens with little AE had disintegrated to pieces of paste and aggregate. As seen in the above data.” Preventive Measures and Good Practice The moisture content of concrete is the most critical factor of frost damage for those elements subject to freeze-thaw cycling.30 performed poorly. mixes containing little AE. Walls and Cramer report that “By 400 cycles. The range for a standard deviation of one is represented on each trend line (Walls and Cramer. 2000). Adequate drainage to provide rapid water run-off is thus a most important design feature. performed unsatisfactorily.
Conclusions I have more than fifteen years of experience in the construction industry. which is dependent on the water content. Ensuring that adequate durability is provided in northern climates would benefit all of us who use and depend on an efficient infrastructure system. eight of which were directly involved in concrete production. Over-vibration and excessive trowelling also affect the entrained air adversely. With the limited research material available. Very wet or very dry mixes do not entrain air in proper size and distribution. or placement and finishing. leads to the question of whether or not the high early strengths are even necessary. Vibration is a technique used to consolidate low water cement ratio mixes with low workability and trowelling is the method of finishing the concrete surface to a desired smoothness.It should be noted that air entrainment is achieved only in a limited range of plastic consistency of the concrete. I feel that this research raises questions as to the effectiveness of the practices in the PCC paving industry today. testing. Evidence that many older concrete pavements are still performing well while newer surfaces are not. Poor quality control issues in the concrete industry have always been apparent. Over finishing or vibrating can eliminate the durability that was intended in the mix design. it seems evident that high early strengths alone do not provide for long term durability. The elimination or reduction of preventable premature failures would greatly reduce the amount of lost time of users . It has been shown in this study that low water/cement ratios are no substitute for adequate air entraining concerning PCC freeze/thaw durability. The quality of work and durability of the finished products of projects I have been involved with in any capacity has been my primary focus.
. Recommendations It is evident that more research must be done in the correlation between air-entraining and water/cement ratio. many older pavements have outperformed many newer pavements. For this reason the needed ultimate strength of concrete used in pavements should also be investigated. I feel that the industry must look at the possibility of increasing air contents in PCC pavements. Walls and Cramer’s research has exemplified the importance of air entraining. The tax dollars saved would be available for infrastructure expansion projects like the much needed north corridor beltline needed around Madison. As Shilstone had pointed out.caused by construction zone delays. sacrificing high early strengths to a small degree. and delaying opening of pavements to traffic in order to reach the desired strengths.
PCC Portland Cement Concrete. W/C Water/cement ratio. Fly Ash Ash material removed from emmissions of coal burning power plants. Trowelling The method of finishing the surface of freshly placed concrete.Glossary Admixture A chemical additive that enhances the properties of PCC. The ratio of weight of water to the weight of cement dust in a given PCC mix. Air entraining The introduction of micro air bubbles into a PCC mix. A method of increasing freeze-thaw durability. Enhances hydration process of Portland Cement. Hydration The chemical reaction between water and Portland Cement. Blast furnace slag Residual mineral waste from coal power generation. ASTM American Society of Testing and Materials. .
2. Inc.: Transportation Research Board. Sr. pp. 71. Materials Journal. Freezing and Thawing: Comparison Between Non Air-Entrained and Air-Entrained High Strength Concrete. . July-August.. 2000). Vol. Effects of Water-Cementitious Materials Ratio and Air Content on the Freeze-Thaw Durability of Portland Cement Concrete-Preliminary Findings. R.C. Shilstone.A. ACI International Conference. Proceedings. Materials for Civil and Construction Engineers. Y. Michael S. 1992.M. 406-415. . J. Transportation Research Board 00-1403 (Washington. Mamlouk. 1994. SP-149. May 3.Bibliography Cohen. No. Menlo Park. and Zaniewski. No. 89. and Cramer.1999. D.. State of Wisconsin Department of Transportation.. pp. 242. “Go Back to Old Ways of Mixing. Standard Specifications for Highway and Structure Construction. CA 1999. 545-561. S. Wisconsin Department of Transportation.I. Walls. pp. Jr. 1996. Li. Vol. “Non-Air-Entrained High Strength Concrete-Is it Frost Resistant?” A.” Engineering News Record.C. Singapore. 17.M. Addison Wesley Longman. John P.
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