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Bad placing of concrete can have dramatic and very expensive consequences
as illustrated above.

Formulation changes to concrete to avoid blocking between rebars involve
reducing the size of the maximum aggregates.
However, this must be accompanied by other measures to address the
following concerns:
- Less aggregates means more paste per unit volume and more self-heating
- Replace coarse aggregates by sand will bring the volume of sand
closer to its maximum packing fraction, which can be detrimental to placing

In conclusion, you must: Think, evaluate, test

The capacity of concrete to flow through rebars depends:

- Continuum properties
Yield stress has a big impact.
The capacity to self-level in a formwork is linked to the dimension
of the formwork and the yield stress
In a reinforced structure, the rebars can be seen as reducing the
characteristic size of the system,

- Finite size effects
Finite size effects occur if the size of the aggregates are too large with
respect to the gap.
Here the role of particle size distribution has also an important role.
However, as a rule of thumb, one states in general that the largest
aggregates should be at least 1/5 of the smallest gap in the
reinforcement. The 1/5 rule is more use for object dimensions, for
rebar spacing, one speaks of 1/3 of the spacing for rebars and even of
1x. There are specification in the Eurocode, but the details vary from
country to country. In reality blocking depends also on how many
aggregates must go though the given spacing.
The design of reinforcement should therefore be preferably by taking finite
size effect of concrete.

In any case the mix design of concrete should not be done overlooking the
spacing of rebars in the structure to be cast.

It is a present area of research to develop design tools that can assist in better
compatibility between rebars structure and concrete mix design
Slump = Setzmass
Slump flow = Setsfliesmass
Slump flow test = SeLzleversuch

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rheologlcal properues of concreLe.
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Lhrough rebars

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concreLe Lo ow Lhrough a secuon of square secuon. 1hls ume ls mosLly
relaLed Lo Lhe plasuc vlscoslLy of concreLe.

1he L-box conslsLs ln a verucal secuon aL Lhe bouom of whlch Lhere ls a Lrap.
1he Lrap communlcaLes Lo an open horlzonLal secuon aL Lhe beglnnlng of
whlch some rebars can be placed.
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measured ls he helghL dlerence from one slde Lo Lhe oLher of Lhe horlzonLal
In rheology we move from static deformations of basic mechanics to dynamic
We basically replace the notion of strain by strain rate.
A simple approximation to give an idea of a strain rate range is the average
velocity of a flow divided by its thickness.
Depending on processing conditions, strain rates vary as summarized by the
indicative values given in the table above
Most cementitious materials are well represented by flow curves of Bngham
Such fluid have a yield stress, which can be though of as a transition stress
between solid and fluid states.
Above the yield stress the resistance to flow (shear stress) increases linearly
with the shear rate.
The slope of this increase is defined as plastic viscosity

Another important notion is the one of apparent viscosity, which is the ratio of
shear stress to shear rate.
Yield stress fluids have infinite apparent viscosity at zero shear rates.
This explains why slow flows, in particular at stoppage, are mainly governed
by yield stress.
This graph shows in a very schematic way differences in flow curves between
different types of concrete.
It is in particular important to see the much lower yield stress of Self
compacting concrete (SCC)
Note also that higher plastic viscosity of the high strength concrete (C100).
This comes from the lower water content.

The mixing of cementitous systems has a big effect on its rheological
properties as well, sometimes, as its hydration kinetics.
The sketches above propose a very schematic view of how this may be
We imagine two hexagonal cement particles. If they re left to form hydrates
between them, this will strengthen their connection and penalized fluidity.
This would happen mostly for low intensity mixing.
If the particles were immediately separated and the first hydrates form without
being able to connect the particles, then the fluidity is improved. This would
happen mostly for high intensity mixing.
Depending on the mixing intensity and durations, cement particles will be
more ore less sticking to each other, meaning that different values of yield
stress would be measured (and plastic viscosity to a lesser extent).

The above graph shows schematically how flow curves would change in
successive measurements, if those measurements are short. Eventually, the
flow curves will remain constant beyond a certain number of cycles. This final
state may also be reached in much longer measurement protocols that would
allow the material to be irreversibly broken-down to the same extend.
On the previous slide, we mentioned how measurement protocols (duration
and shear levels) could affect flow curves. The above graph shows some
extreme cases that can be obtained.
From a practical point of view one must try to deagglomerate the system in
way that is representative of each application considered.
In particular, when mixing concrete, it is important to understand the the rigid
aggregates concentrate the strain gradient in the cement paste between them.
As a results the cement paste is submitted to much higher stresses that the
average mixing conditions might suggest.
When preparing cement pastes in the lab, it is therefore important to try and
mimic the situation experience by cement paste in concrete.
Williams et al (1999) examined the effect of mixing and preshear on cement

They applied different mixing conditions to cement paste. They also prepared
a zero fines concrete of which the paste could be collected after mixing by
simple sieving.
All pastes were measured in a rheometer. The preshear conditions were varied.
For each curve the so-called hysterisis loop was taken as a mesure of the
extend of remaining agglomeration in the mix.
As most important result, it can be seen that high mixing speeds are needed to
produce paste that have similar properties to the paste extracted from concrte.
The above calorimetry illustrates of hydration kinetics can change depending
on the mixing of cement paste.
Beyond the 24h of these data, it can be seen that the microstructure at 7 days
remains quite affected by the mixing conditions.
We can in particular not the apparently more inhomogeneous microstructure
for the hand-mixed case.
The yield stress of concrete comes from the existence of a network of attractive
forces among the fine particles in the system which in addition to cement can
include slag, fly-ash, slag, silica fume, limestone filler, etc.

The attractive forces give the system a cohesion. Under the effect of shear a
certain number of these bonds can be broken. Once enough of these bonds
are broken the system is capable of flow. Initially, there are groups of
particles that can still be sticking together without preventing the system from

Schematically, this describes a transition from a solid state to a liquid state.
Addition of water reduces both the yield stress (intercept) and the plastic
viscosity (slope)

Addition of superplasticizer only affect the yield stress.
The slump test is used around the world, basically on any job site using
When ordinary concrete is used, the height drop is measured. This is the
When SCC is used, the diameter of the spread sample is used. This is the
slump flow.

It was long realized that this test really only relates to the yield stress values.
Various empirical correlations have been proposed.
However, the problem has been recently solved and also modelled with
various fluid dynamics codes.
The main conclusions are presented in the following slides.
Iniitally, the materials is confined in the mould. It is at rest and the strain rate
is zero.
The material can be considered to be at its yield point.
After the cone is removed, the sample begins to slump.
The deformation rate is the highest and so is the shear stress which is related
to the sample height
As the sample height drops, the driving forces for deformation (shear stress)
decreases and so does the rate of deformation
The lower the sample goes the slower it gets
Eventually, the sample stops moving. At this point its rest shape is linked to
the yield stress.
The stress at the sample based du to gravity is equal to the material yield stress
The first analytical treatment of the slump test goes back to Murata in 1984.

He examined a 2D problem and exprssed the layers of the material would
flatten until the gravity load from the material above is equal to the yield
Spreading increases the surface of each layer so the the gravity resulting shear
stress eventually reduces to the yield stress.

With these argumentss, one can also directly relate the diameter at the base to
the yield stress.

As explained on the next slide, this treatment is not exact.
The slump and slump flow tests are best analysed by using cylindrical
This slide shows the strain rate tensor in cylindrical coordinates.
For the axisymmetric conditions of the slump and slump flow test, we can
introduce two important simplifications.
First the angular velocity is zero.
Second, the behavior is axi symmetric, so we can neglect all changes with
regard to theta.
As further simplifications for large spreads, we can consider that the radial
velocity is much larger than the axial.
However, owing to the differences in dimensions, we can also consider that
derivatives with respect to the z axis are much larger than those with respect to
the radial axis.
On a previous slide we found that in our problem the deviatoric stress tensor
was proportional to the Strain tensor and noted the proportionality constant
Developing the expression for the divergence operator we obtain the
expression above.
Considering all the zero terms in the strain tensor, we see that this simplifies
very much.
Recalling the argument that main changes are to be found vertically rather
radially, we can further reduce the divergence ot F to the above expression.
Using the result from the previous slide, we now write the Navier-Stokes
equation in vector form for cylindrical coordinates.
Note that the only body force acting is gravity and that its direction is opposite
to the z axis, which explains the negative sign in front of it.
This leads to the two equations at the bottom of the slide.
We must now solve both equations to relate spread to yield stress.
With the first equation we obtain an expreasion for the variation of pressure as
a function of height.
We replace the previous result in the second equation obtained from Navier-
This is then integrated over the sample height.
We state that at the bottom of the sample the stress is equal to the material
yield stress.
Integrating the previous equation gives a relation between sample height,
radius and yield stress.
For R=r we have h=0, which does not serve us much.
For r=0 we have a relation between yield stress and height. However, for large
spreads the height cannot be measured accurately.
We must therefore find another way to obtain yield stress from the spread test.
This other way is to integrate the equilibrium profile to obtain the sample
volume, which is known.
This eventually leads to an equation from which, knowing the sample volume,
it is possible to calculate yield stress.
Both analytical limits have been validated experimentally.
Between them, it is in principle necessry to resort to numerical modelling.
However, it is also possible to use a simple interpolation function that capture
the correct limits.
This serves as a useful way to estimate the yield stress over a broad range of

The slump flow test has been state to have limits I the region of large flows
(>700 mm) because the sample thickness start to become thinner than that of
the aggregates.
In order to remedy this problem, a new test called the LCPC box was
One way of getting a feel for this aggregate size issue is to look at the sample
height at R/2. The material beyond that point represents about 62% of the
tested volume and is has a thickness lower that value given in the above
In the above graph the red curve represents the value of H(R/2) versus the
flow spread. The blue lines (continuous and discontinuous) represent
respectively height s of 16 and 32.
Most formulations of SCC will not go above 16 mm aggregates. The above
plot shows that H(R/2) reaches 16 mm for total spreads for about 670mm. We
may therefore assumed that if spreads remain in that range the problem of
insufficient thickness may remain limited.
For larger aggregate sizes, formulating a non segregating SCC becomes more
delicate. Assuming this can be done, one would however run into the question
of the reliability of the slump flow much earlier (about 460 mm according to
the graph above).
In support of the argument that the slump flow looses its reliability, at large
spreads, the above plot was shown. It contains data of yield stress measured in
a concrete rhoemeter plotted versus the slump flow. It can be seen that a wide
range of yield stress values are found for a same range of spreads.
The solution proposed to overcome the finite thickness issue is to poor
concrete into a long channel called the LCPC box.
It is proposed to pour 6 liters of concrete slowly at one end of the channel of
which the dimensions are given above.
The flow profile in the LCPC box has been solved for analytically.
In contrast to the slump flow, it is however not possible to get an explicit
solution for yield stress as a function of spread length.
Nevertheless, it is straight forward to solve for it numerically using the above
An important aspect in this test is to avoid slippage at the bottom of the
For this the surface must be roughened.
The LCPC box must not be confused with the L-box
The L-box is one of the most wide spread tests for controlling SCC, partly for
historical reasons.
In this text a vertical section with a lift able trap is filled. In front of the trap
rebars can be placed at different separations.
The trap is lifted and the height differences are observed at the end of the flow.

This test has a couple major drawbacks that are still insufficiently recognized
in practice.
First, the role of inertia is not negligible so that the reate of lifting the trap can
affect the result.
Second, if passing the rebars is not an issue, then the test informs about yield
stress. However, it does so in a less accurate way than either the slump flow or
the LCPC box.
What the L-box does do, is to give an indication on the passing ability of the
aggregates between rebars at the selected spacing.
The picture above shows an extreme case of the inertia role in the L-box.
The plot shows that in absence of blockage the height difference is essentially
related to yield stress and not much affected by the presence of rebars.
This equation indicates the maximum size of aggregates that are stable in a
paste of defined yield stress. Single aggregates larger than this size will
segregate. However, if the amount of these aggregates is very much increased
then the segregation may be avoided. This is discussed two slides from here.

For example, a calcareous sample (density = 2.64) in a paste of W/C = 0.45
(density = 1.88) requires a yield stress of at least 6-7 Pa in order not to
The particles do not come closer than a minimal separation distance. The
Bingham fluid can no more be be squeezed out. This can be used to derive the
above equation (Roussel, 2006).
It expresses the minimum number volume fraction of particles that are needed
to hinder segregation in a system where the paste yield stress is too low.
Pastes and fine mortars are often tested with a Marsh cone. In this test a cone
terminated by a cylinder section is filled with the material to test.
After letting the material start to flow out, the time needed for a given volume
to flow is measured and taken as an indication of viscosity.
This wide spread test can also be quantified.
Here we only present a simplified but sufficiently accurate treatment of the
This consists in considering that all the resistance to flow comes from the
cylindrical section and can be expressed as a Poiseuille flow.
The general expression for the Poiseuille flow, including the role of gravity is
given above.
This expresses the volumetric flow of the material Q.
This flow rate can also be related to the change in height of material inside the
conical part with basic geometric arguments.
For convnience we neglect the volume of the cone tip below Ho.
The two equations form the previous slide make it possible to calculated the
time corresponding to a specific height drop.
Assuming that both H0 and H are much larger than h, this can be further
simplified as shown above.
It is also possible to look at the Marsh cone as a rheometer.
Here again we consider that all the resistance comes from the cylindrical
We use established relations for shear rate and shear stress in such sections.
The flow rate needed for the shear rate is obtained by the variation of mass
over time.
The pressure difference can be obtained from the mass that has exited at a
given time in order to back calculate the hydrostatic pressure.
The V-Channel can be dealt with similarly as for the Marsh cone, adjuting the