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Concrete Fundamentals

104. Concrete Fundamentals

104.1. Absolute Volume Method
In the past, the design of concrete mixes has been done by empirically based weight ratios of the primary constituents (a cementitious material such as Portland cement, water, and coarse and ne aggregates). The proportions were chosen based on experience and job-specic objectives and limitations. However, it is also possible to use a more methodical process such as the

absolute volume method as outlined in the book Design and Control of Concrete Mixtures [1]. In the methodology outlined in Chap. 9 (Designing and
Proportioning Normal Concrete Mixtures) of this book, the design of a concrete mix is done for a unit volume of concrete (1 m3 or 1 yd 3). The design steps in the method are outlined below. For the sake of brevity, a unit volume of 1 yd 3 has been used in the following discussion: 1. Based on the target compressive strength of the concrete, Table 9.3 gives the desirable water-cement (w/c) ratio. 2. The coarse aggregate size should be part of the specications for the concrete. The air content is determined based on the anticipated exposure of the concrete. Table 9.5 then gives the approximate mixing water (pounds of water per cubic yard of concrete). 3. Using the unit weight of water, the weight of water may be converted into the volume of water (cubic feet of water per cubic yard of concrete). 4. Knowing the w/c ratio and the weight of water, the weight of cement (pounds of cement per cubic yard of concrete) is calculated.

5. Using the unit weight of cement, the weight of cement may be converted into the volume of cement (cubic feet of cement per cubic yard of concrete). 6. The recommended bulk volume of coarse aggregate is given by Table 9.4. 7. The bulk volume of coarse aggregate is multiplied by the bulk density to obtain the weight of coarse aggregate (pounds of aggregate per cubic yard of concrete). 8. Using the unit weight of coarse aggregate, the weight of aggregate may be converted into the volume of aggregate (cubic feet of coarse aggregate per cubic yard of concrete). 9. The volume of air in the mix is obtained from the air content determined in step 2. 10. The volume of ne aggregate is obtained as the volume remaining by subtracting air, water, cement, and coarse aggregate volumes from 1 yd 3 (27 ft 3). 11. The weight of ne aggregate is calculated (pounds of aggregate per cubic yard of concrete) based on the known specic gravity. 12. Corrections are made to the mixing water for moisture contained within ne and coarse aggregates according to the following formula:

where W wet = weight of wet aggregate MC = moisture content of wet aggregate (%) MCSSD = moisture content of SSD aggregate (%) = % absorption The actual weight of mixing water in the concrete is then given by Weight of water available = Weight of added water + W water from coarse aggregate + W water from ne aggregate The weight of SSD (surface saturated dry) aggregate is obtained according to

(104.1) The volume of each component (SSD coarse aggregate, SSD ne aggregate, and cement) can be calculated as

(104.2a )

(104.2b )

(104.2c ) Water-cement ratio = W water/W cement (using total or adjusted weight of mixing water) Sometimes, in the eld, w/c ratio is expressed as gallons per sack instead of a dimensionless weight ratio. The decimal w/c ratio is multiplied by 11.27 to convert to gallons per sack. Example 104.1 Concrete Mix Design The following aggregates are used in a concrete mix: Coarse Aggregate: Moisture content of wet aggregate 2.8% Moisture content of SSD aggregate 0.6% Specic gravity of SSD aggregate 2.65 Fine Aggregate: Moisture content of wet aggregate 6.0%

Moisture content of SSD aggregate 1.4% Specic gravity of SSD aggregate 2.60 Cement: Specic gravity 3.15 Given the following characteristics of the bulk mix: Weight of wet coarse aggregate 135 lb Weight of wet ne aggregate 95 lb Weight of added water 21 lb Weight of cement 48 lb Volume of concrete 2.14 ft 3 Calculate (1) unit weight of the concrete, (2) volume of coarse aggregate, (3) volume of ne aggregate, and (4) water-cement ratio. Solution 1. Unit weight 2. Weight of SSD coarse aggregate Volume of SSD coarse aggregate 3. Weight of SSD ne aggregate Volume of SSD ne aggregate

4. Available water from coarse aggregate =

Available water from ne aggregate = Actual water weight Actual water-cement ratio = 28.01/48 = 0.584 = 6.58 gallons per sack

104.2. ACI Provisions

In the United States, design of reinforced concrete structures and structural elements is conducted according to the strength design approach, which superseded the allowable stress or working stress method. The current design specications are entitled ACI 318: Building Code Requirements for

Structural Concrete [2] and are updated every 3 years.

In the strength design method, the strength of the concrete member under an ultimate limit state is compared to the demand created by the governing factored load combination. Unless otherwise specied, the unit weight of normal weight concrete is taken to be c = 150 lb/ft 3. Lightweight structural concrete has unit weight 90110 lb/ft 3. According to the ACI code, the modulus of elasticity is given by

(104.3) where f

= 28-day compressive strength (psi)

c = unit weight of the concrete (pcf)

E c = modulus of elasticity (psi)

The modulus of rupture (tensile strength) is denoted by f ACI as

and is given by

(104.4) In the United States, a standard bag of cement contains 94 lb. A concrete mix referred to as a 6-bag mix contains 6 standard (94 lb) bags of cement per cubic yard (564 lb cement per cubic yard concrete). Cements are designated as the following types: Type I Normal Type II Modied for hot weather or large structures Type III High early strength

Type IV Low heat (massive structures) Type V Sulphate resistant

104.3. Reinforcement
Reinforcement bars are available in various sizesin the U.S. system of nomenclature, these sizes are designated No. 3, No. 4, and so on, up to No. 18 bars. Nominal diameters and areas of these sizes are given in Table 104.1.

Table 104.1. Properties of Reinforcement Bars

104.4. Strength Design Approach

The nominal or theoretical strength (bending, axial, shear, etc.) is denoted

(nominal resistance). The design strength R

is less than the nominal

strength by a strength reduction factor , which is less than unity.

(104.5) The strength reduction factor is given by ACI according to Table 104.2.

Table 104.2. Strength Reduction Factor for Reinforced Concrete

Stress-State Tension-controlled sections (t > 0.005) For all beams (0.004 < t < 0.005) Compression-controlled sections (t 0.48 + 83 t 0.90

< 0.002) Members with spiral reinforcement Members with tied reinforcement Transition sections (0.002 < t < 0.005) Members with spiral reinforcement Members with tied reinforcement Shear and torsion Bearing on concrete 0.57 + 67 t 0.48 + 83 t 0.75 0.65
, American

0.70 0.65

Source ACI 318, 2005, Building Code Requirements for Reinforced Concrete
Concrete Institute, Detroit, Michigan.

The factored (ultimate) load U is calculated as

(104.6) where Q i = the i th service load level (e.g., dead load and live load). i = corresponding load factor. The load combination that produces the maximum load eect for the member is said to "govern."

104.5. Load Combinations (ASCE-7)

As updated in the ACI 318-02 specication, the factored load approach should be applied in accordance with Chap. 9 criteria. The load combinations adopted in Chap. 9 are those from ASCE-7. [3] The strength reduction factors given in Table 104.2 are also from Chap. 9 of ACI 318. The load combinations adopted from ASCE-7 into ACI 318 are shown below:

(104.7a )

(104.7b )

(104.7c )

(104.7d )

(104.7e )

(104.7f ) where D = dead load, F = uid pressure load, T = self-straining force, L = live load, W = wind load, E = earthquake load, L r = roof live load, S = snow load, R = rain load, H = earth pressure loads. Notes 1. The load factor on live load (L ) in load combinations in Eqs. (104.7c ), (104.7d ), and (104.7e ) may be reduced to 0.5 except for garages, places of public assembly, and all areas where L is greater than 100 psf. 2. Where the wind load (W ) has not been reduced by a directionality factor, it shall be permitted to use 1.3 W instead of 1.6 W in load combinations in Eqs. (104.7d ) and (104.7f ). 3. Where the earthquake load (E ) is based on service-level seismic forces, replace 1.0 E with 1.4 E in load combinations in Eqs. (104.7e ) and (104.7f ). However, when only dead and live loads are present, the factored load may be taken as

(104.8) This exception is noted in App. C of the specications. However, when using this factored load, the strength reduction factors must be taken as shown in Table 104.3.

Table 104.3. Strength Reduction Factor (ACI Appendix C)

Stress-State Tension-controlled sections (t > 0.005) Compression-controlled sections (t < 0.002) Members with spiral reinforcement Members with tied reinforcement Shear and torsion Bearing on concrete 0.75 0.70 0.85 0.70 0.90

Thus, the alternative approaches in chap. 9 and App. C of the ACI 318 specications result in signicantly dierent factored loads, but the nal result can be quite similar due to dierent strength-reduction factors. According to the current syllabus for the Structural Depth of the PE Civil exam, "Appendix C does not apply to the Civil Structural examination."


Kosmatka, B. Kerkho, W . Panarese. Design and Control of Concrete

Mixtures, 14th Edition, Portland Cement Association, Skokie, IL, 2008.


318, 2005, Building Code Requirements for Reinforced Concrete ,

American Concrete Institute, Detroit, Michigan.


Design Loads for Buildings and Other Structures


05, American Society of Civil Engineers, 2006.


Indranil Goswami: Civil Engineering All-In-One PE Exam Guide: Breadth and Depth, Second Edition. Concrete Fundamentals, Chapter (McGraw-Hill Professional, 2012), AccessEngineering

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