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You are on page 1of 4

By Neal Jablonski

components for a concrete masonry unit

(CMU) is an important

step in producing high-quality

units. A well-proportioned mix can

improve a units physical properties

(compressive strength, unit weight,

absorption) so they meet or exceed

ASTM C 90 Standard Specification

for Load-Bearing Concrete Masonry

Units. Additionally, the right mix

proportions can improve CMU

durability and appearance.

This article gives general guidelines for designing a concrete mix

with locally available aggregates,

and focuses on determining aggregate fineness modulus, proportioning aggregates, and choosing a cement-aggregate ratio.

The most commonly used

method for designing mixes for

concrete masonry is called the FM

method. FM stands for fineness

modulus, an index number roughly

proportional to the average size of

the particles in a given aggregate.

The coarser the aggregate, the

higher the FM.

While all block mixes require at

least one aggregate, a producer, for

a variety of reasons, might decide

to use as many as four aggregates

in a mix. Such reasons include lack

of well-graded aggregates nearby

(and increased cost to obtain such

aggregates) and the desire to produce a unit with better physical and

aesthetic properties.

However, because two-aggregate

mixes are the most common, that

combination is covered in this article. Manually calculating three- and

four-aggregate blends is laborious,

therefore spreadsheet software

should be used.

Following are the six steps involved in designing a mix using the

FM method:

Step 1: Determine the FM of each

aggregate.

To determine the FM of a single

aggregate, follow the procedure

outlined in ASTM C 136, Standard

Test Method for Sieve Analysis of

Fine and Coarse Aggregates. The

steps are as follows:

1a. Sieve approximately 500

grams of oven-dry aggregate

through 38 inch, No. 4, No. 8, No.

16, No. 30, No. 50, and No. 100

sieve sizes.

1b. Starting with the largest sieve,

add the percent retained on each

successive sieve to arrive at the cumulative percent retained up to and

including that sieve.

1c. Add the cumulative percent

retained on each sieve and divide

the sum by 100. Dont include the

pan in the sum. This will give you

the fineness modulus. [See the example below.]

Step 2: Proportion aggregates for

proper FM.

Aggregates are blended to obtain the desired FM for a specific

calculating fineness modulus

Using the sieve analysis result below, the fineness modulus can be calculated. The fineness modulus is the sum of the total percentage retained

on each of a specified series of sieves divided by 100.

A sample of fine aggregate weighing 508.5 grams is passed over the

sieves shown below and the weights retained on each sieve are as shown.

Sieve

Weight

Individual

retained, grams % retained

Cumulative

% retained

3

8

inch

No. 4

No. 8

No. 16

No. 30

No. 50

No. 100

Pan

0

9.2

67.6

101.2

104.2

122.5

95.3

8.5

0

2

13

20

20

24

19

2

0

2

15

35

55

79

98

(100)*

Total

508.5

100

Sum = 284

284

Fineness Modulus = --------- = 2.84

100

*Pan not included in fineness modulus

units and aggregates are: normalweight CMU, 3.70; medium-weight

CMU, 3.67; and lightweight CMU,

3.84. (Grading charts are shown in

Figure 1.)

Aggregate blends shouldnt contain excess fines or coarse particles.

Blends with excess fines require

more cement to coat the added surface area, while mixes with excess

coarse aggregate will contain large

interconnecting voids and be harsh.

Calculate the proportion of fine

and coarse aggregate for the desired unit using the following

equation:

X=

A-B

(_____

A - C)

where

X = percent of fine aggregate

Y = percent of coarse aggregate

A = FM of coarse aggregate

(determined per step 1)

B = FM of desired blended

aggregate for block class

C = FM of fine aggregate

(determined per step 1)

Step 3: Determine aggregate batch

proportions.

Calculate the batch weight of

each aggregate by multiplying the

total design batch weight (usually

dictated by mixer size) by the percent of fine and coarse aggregate

(per Step 2) in the mix.

100

in aggregate.

Most aggregate contains moisture

Y = 100 - X

weights are for dry aggregate, batch

weights must be increased to maintain the same dry cement-to-aggregate ratio. If aggregate batch weights

arent adjusted to account for the

moisture, youll get a lower yield

(fewer units per pound of cement)

and thus a less economical mix. To

adjust aggregate batch weights, the

moisture content of each aggregate

must first be determined.

4a. Weigh a representative sample of each aggregate (500 to 2,000

grams, depending on particle size)

and record the initial weights.

4b. Oven dry each sample to remove the moisture, then re-weigh

and record this final weight.

4c. Determine the moisture content of each aggregate. Subtract the

final (dry) weight of the aggregate

Following the steps outlined in the article, lets design a two-aggregate, normal-weight block mix with

an industry-recommended FM of 3.70. The mixer can

handle a total dry aggregate batch weight of 4,500

pounds.

sand is 5% and the gravel 2%. We determine the adjusted batch weights per Step 4d as follows:

(for sand) 2,430 lbs.

1.05 = 2,552 lbs.

(for gravel) 2,070 lbs.

1.02 = 2,111 lbs.

Step 1: Aggregate FMs. As indicated in the table below, our coarse aggregate (gravel) has an FM of 4.82

and our fine aggregate (sand) has an FM of 2.75.

Step 5: Cement content. We desire a moderate cement-to-aggregate ratio of 1:10 (per ratio listings on

page 368). For the required aggregate design batch

weight of 4,500 pounds the required cement is:

1 = 450 lbs.

___

cement weight = 4,500

10

Step 6: Water content. Our experience in producing similar units indicates that a good total water content to start with is about 5.5% of total batch weight

(4,500 pounds of aggregate + 450 pounds of cement)

or in this case 272 pounds of water. We know, per

Step 4c, that the sand contains 5% moisture (122

pounds) and the gravel contains 2% moisture (41

pounds). This 163 pounds of water already contained

in the aggregate is subtracted from the required

amount of water (272 pounds), leaving 109 pounds of

water to be batched. Since water weighs 8.34 pounds

per gallon, about 13 gallons of water will be used in

the first trial batch.

Total initial batch weights are as follows:

Cement

450 lbs.

Sand (5% moisture)

2,552 lbs.

Gravel (2% moisture) 2,111 lbs.

Added water

109 lbs. (about 13 gallons)

3

8

16 30

50 100 Pan FM

Fine

10

15 27

32

14

1 2.75

Coarse

- 24 48

21

1 4.82

Material

we can calculate the aggregate proportions for the mix:

4.82 - 3.70

1.12

X = __________ (100) = _____ (100) = 54%

4.82 - 2.75

2.07

X = 54% fine aggregate

Y = 46% coarse aggregate

Step 3: Batch proportions. Our dry aggregate design batch weight is 4,500 pounds, so we calculate:

4,500

54% = 2,430 lbs. of fine aggregate

4,500

46% = -------2,070 lbs. of coarse aggregate

4,500 total design batch weight

of aggregate

divide it by the final weight. This is

the moisture correction factor.

4d. Adjust the batch weight of

each aggregate to maintain the

proper mix proportions. Multiply

the design batch weight for each

aggregate (3a) by the moisture correction factor (4c) and add this

weight. Or simply multiply the design batch weight for each aggregate by one plus the moisture correction factor (found in 4c).

Step 5: Determine cement content.

Cement is the final component

needed to produce a high-quality

CMU. Cement binds aggregate particles and partially fills spaces between them.

5a. Choose the cement-to-aggregate ratio that will achieve the necessary CMU properties with aggregates being used in the mix. Below

are ranges of cement-to-aggregate

ratios that can be used for various

Normal-weight

Sieve size

3

8

"

4

8

16

30

50

100

Pan

Min.

Max.

0

20

10

10

10

10

0.5

0.2

5

30

23

20

20

20

15

10

Ideal

0

25

15

15

15

15

10

5

FM = 3.7

Medium-weight

Sieve size

Min.

Max.

Ideal

3

8

0

12

18

16

11

5

5

7

0.3

22

27.5

25

19

13

11

13

0

17

23

20

15

9

7

9

FM = 3.67

"

4

8

16

30

50

100

Pan

Lightweight

Sieve size

3

8

"

4

8

16

30

50

100

Pan

Min.

Max.

Ideal

0.5

17

21

13

7.5

5

5.3

0.7

5

28

30

21

15.8

13

10.5

13.1

0.5

21

25.5

17

11.5

9

6.5

9

FM = 3.84

are based on dry weight.

Type of

aggregate

Range of ratios

(cement:aggregate)

Limestone

Pumice

Cinders

Slag (expanded)

Slag (air cooled)

Clay (expanded)

1:8 to 1:12

1:7 to 1:12

1:4 to 1:6

1:6 to 1:8

1:5 to 1:7

1:8 to 1:12

1:6 to 1:9

aggregate design batch weight by

adding the design batch weight of

the fine and coarse aggregate as

found in Step 3.

5c. Determine how much cement

is required in the mix. Multiply the

weight determined in 5b by the desired cement-to-aggregate ratio.

Aggregate design batch weight

cement-to-aggregate ratio = cement

(in lbs.)

For example:

4,500 lbs.

1

= 450 lbs.

10

The total amount of mixing water

needed to make a high-quality unit

will vary depending upon the type

of aggregate used, cement content,

and desired appearance. The producer is left to determine this

amount through trial batches.

Just a start

The mix design techniques described above can be used to design mixes for normal-weight,

medium-weight, and lightweight

units. Extra care should be taken

medium-weight mixes. If a calculated blend contains too much or too

little lightweight or medium-weight

aggregate, the desired density

might not be achieved.

A well-designed mix helps producers meet the increasing demand

for high-quality low-cost CMUs.

The fineness modulus method provides a good starting point when

designing a mix for any type of

unit. However, whether producers

use the fineness modulus method

or any other, they need to know

that choosing the best mix design

usually requires a trial-and-error

approach in which mixes are tested

and adjusted until a desired result

is attained.

Neal Jablonski is a technical service specialist for Grace Construction Products

in Milwaukee.

References:

1. Grant, William, Manufacturer

of Concrete Masonry Units, second edition, Concrete Publishing

Corp., 1959

2. Besser Co., Concrete Masonry

Technology Blockmakers Workshop Series

3. Standard Test Method for

Sieve Analysis of Fine and

Coarse Aggregates, ASTM C

136-95, 1995

PUBLICATION #J960363

Copyright 1996, The Aberdeen Group

All rights reserved

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