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Volume 5, Issue 10, October
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ISSN 0976 - 6499 (Online)
Volume 5, Issue 10, October (2014), pp. 55-68
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IJARET
IAEME

STRENGTH AND DURABILITY STUDIES ON SILICA


FUME MODIFIED HIGH-VOLUME FLY ASH CONCRETE
M. Nazeer1,
1

P.S. Anupama2

Associate Professor, Dept. of Civil Engineering, TKM College of Engineering, Kollam 5.


2
Asst. Professor, Dept. of Civil Engineering, St. Josephs College of Engineering and
Technology, Palai

ABSTRACT
Portland cement, as an ingredient in concrete, is one of the widely used construction
materials, especially in developing countries. The CO2 emission during its production and the
utilisation of natural resources are important issues for the construction industry to participate in
sustainable development. These limitations led to the search for alternative binders or cement
substitutes. Approximately 100 million tonnes of fly ash is produced in India annually and this is
increasing rapidly due to the growth in demand for energy. Unused fly ash in large quantities leads to
environmental issues and its storage will be expensive. Fly ash improves the quality and durability of
concrete, leading to the increased service life of concrete structures. Concretes having large amounts
of fly ash (usually above 50% v/v) are termed as high-volume fly ash (HVFA) concrete. Due to the
slow strength development of fly ash concrete caused by the slow pozzolanic reaction of fly ash, the
early strength of fly ash concrete is significantly reduced. Silica fume, which is found to be more
reactive than the fly ash and which significantly, improves the mechanical properties of concrete. In
the present investigation an attempt is made to study the effect of variation of the cement
replacement by silica fume in high-volume fly ash concrete on the mechanical and durability
properties of concrete. The compressive strength development of silica fume modified high-volume
fly ash mixes immersed in water over a period of 90 days is reported. Other tests to evaluate the
penetration resistance of concrete to aggressive chemicals-such as Cl- and CO2 are also conducted at
laboratory conditions. The effect of oxide composition of the binder material used, on the strength
and durability properties of concrete is also investigated. Few correlations and mathematical models
are also developed and presented in this report.
Keywords: Fly Ash, Silica Fume, Strength, Durability, High-Volume Fly Ash Concrete,
Oxide Composition.

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International Journal of Advanced Research in Engineering and Technology (IJARET), ISSN 0976
6480(Print), ISSN 0976 6499(Online) Volume 5, Issue 10, October (2014), pp. 55-68 IAEME

I.

INTRODUCTION

Concrete is one of the most versatile and widely produced construction materials in the world
[1]. Fresh concrete is flowable like a liquid and hence can be poured into various formworks to form
different desired shapes and sizes on a construction site. The maintenance cost for concrete structures
is much lower than that for steel or wooden structures. Also, concrete can withstand high
temperatures much better than wood and steel. All these characteristics make concrete, the most
preferred structural material by civil engineers. The ever-increasing population, living standards, and
economic development lead to an increasing demand for infrastructure development and hence
concrete materials [2]. Compressive strength of concrete at the age of 28 days is the main parameter
used in the design of concrete structure and also in judging concrete quality. In the recent years, it
has been reported that gradual deterioration, caused by the lack of durability, makes concrete
structures fail earlier than their specified service lives in ever increasing numbers. With the focus on
increasing the service life of concrete structures, nowadays durability is also given importance in the
design of structures.
The deterioration of concrete may occur due to physical, chemical, and mechanical causes.
These factors may be acting alone or, in most cases, in a coupled manner. Physical causes may
include surface wear caused by abrasion, erosion, and cavitation, the effects of temperature changes
caused by alternating freezingthawing cycle and exposure to fire, and cracking, which is common
due to volume changes, normal temperature and humidity gradient. Chemical degradation is usually
the result of an internal or external attack on the cement matrix. The most common causes which
affect chemical durability of concrete are hydrolysis of the cement paste component, carbonation,
cation-exchange reaction and reaction leading to expansion (such as sulphate expansion, alkali
aggregate expansion, and steel corrosion). Mechanical causes include impact and overloading. The
permeability of hardened concrete can be reduced by making concrete with lower water cement ratio.
The incorporation of one or more supplementary cementing materials as a partial replacement of
cement also aids in improving the durability of concrete.
In recent years, many researchers have established that the use of supplementary cementitious
materials (SCM) like fly ash, blast furnace slag, silica fume, metakaolin, rice husk ash etc. in
concrete can improve its various properties in fresh and hardened states as well as curb the rise in
construction costs. In fresh concrete, these SCMs may improve workability and reduce the heat of
hydration and tendency of bleeding, whereas in hardened concrete they show improved strength and
reduced permeability by the pozzolanic reaction thereby increasing the durability. The performance
of these SCMs depends mainly on the level of incorporation of these materials in cement/concrete,
their oxide composition and may vary with the source.
The physical properties of a fly ash contribute to improvement of concrete quality. The
majority of fly ash particles are spherical in shape. Workability and pumpability of concrete is
improved with the addition of ash because of the increase in paste content, increase in the amount of
fines, and the spherical shape of the fly ash particles. The use of fly ash may retard the setting of
concrete. Fly ash concrete is less permeable because fly ashes reduces the amount of water needed to
produce a given slump, and through pozzolanic activity, creates more durable C-S-H as it fills
capillaries and bleed water channels occupied by water-soluble lime (calcium hydroxide).
Concrete having large amount of fly ash (usually above 50% of the total binder material) is
termed as high-volume fly ash (HVFA) concrete. Canada Centre for Mineral and Energy Technology
(CANMET) first developed high volume fly ash concrete for structural use by the late 1980s for
mass concrete applications to reduce the heat of hydration. High Volume Fly ash Concrete mix
contains lower quantities of cement and higher volumes of Fly Ash (above 50%). From the literature
available, it is found that the proportions of Fly Ash in Concrete can vary from 30% - 80% for
various grades of concrete [3]. High volume Fly Ash Concrete with larger replacement of Fly Ash in
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International Journal of Advanced Research in Engineering and Technology (IJARET), ISSN 0976
6480(Print), ISSN 0976 6499(Online) Volume 5, Issue 10, October (2014), pp. 55-68 IAEME

cement is a beneficial practice for sustainable, durable and economic concrete. HVFA concrete with
50% - 60% fly ash can be designed to meet the workability strength and durability requirements of
concrete. [4-9].
The main features of silica fume are a high silica content, high specific surface area and
amorphous structure. These characteristics account for the substantial pozzolanic activity of silica
fume, in terms of both its capacity of binding lime and rate of reaction. The effects of silica fume on
properties of the fresh concrete include improvement of the cohesiveness and reduction of bleeding.
The main contribution of the silica fume to the strength development in hardened concrete at normal
curing temperatures takes place from about 3 days onwards. At 28 days the strength of silica-fume
concrete is always higher than the strength of the comparable Portland cement concrete. As the
proportion of silica fume increases, the workability of concrete decreases nevertheless its short term
mechanical properties such as 28-day compressive strength improves [10-13].
II.

EXPERIMENTAL

Materials
Materials used in the present investigation was carefully selected and tested in the laboratory
to assess the quality and suitability in making concrete of required strength.
Cement: Ordinary Portland Cement (OPC) confirming to IS 12269 [14] (53 Grade) was used for the
present experimental work. The reason for selecting high grade cement is that the replacement of
cement with other supplementary cementitious materials should not cause undue reduction in
strength at early ages. The physical properties of cement used is presented in Table 1.
Table 1: Properties of Cement
Grade
OPC 53 Grade
Manufacturer

Coromandel King

Specific gravity

3.14

Fineness

Standard consistency

26.75%

Initial setting time

95 minutes

Final setting time

375 minutes

Density, g/cc

1.64

Fly Ash: Fly Ash used in the present study was obtained from Tuticorin Thermal Power Plant. From
the laboratory tests, the specific gravity was obtained as 1.84 and density as 1.23 gm/cc.
Silica Fume: Silica fume was supplied by ELKEM Materials. From the laboratory tests, the specific
gravity was obtained as 2.25 and density as 0.784 gm/cc.
The chemical composition of cement, fly ash and silicafume is presented in Table 2.
Fine aggregate: Locally available good quality river sand having specific gravity 2.50 and fineness
modulus 2.41 was used as fine aggregate. Fine aggregate used conforms to IS 383:1970 [15]
specifications (Zone II).

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International Journal of Advanced Research in Engineering and Technology (IJARET), ISSN 0976
6480(Print), ISSN 0976 6499(Online) Volume 5, Issue 10, October (2014), pp. 55-68 IAEME

Coarse aggregate: Crushed stone aggregate of size between 20mm and 4.75mm and specific gravity
2.62 and fineness modulus 6.56 was used as coarse aggregate.
Water: Clean drinking water available in the college water supply system was used for mixing and
curing of concrete.
Table 2: Chemical composition of Cement, Fly Ash, Silica Fume
Oxide

Cement

Fly Ash

Silica Fume

CaO

63.48

0.81

2.94

SiO2

19.13

62.27

84.28

Al2O3

4.26

30.79

1.54

Fe2O3

5.17

1.22

3.47

SO3

4.10

0.15

2.34

MgO

0.67

0.43

2.09

P2O5

0.62

0.51

0.60

TiO2

0.22

0.92

0.04

Na2O

0.60

1.75

1.23

K2O

1.75

1.15

1.47

Mix Proportion
The grade of concrete prepared for the experimental study was M30. The mix design was
done as per ACI 211 method [16]. The design basically involves the determination of water-binder
ratio for a given compressive strength. After selecting the suitable water content, the cement
requirement was determined. The coarse aggregate content was fixed depending on max aggregate
size and fineness modulus of fine aggregate. The fine aggregate content was calculated on the
absolute volume basis. In the design, the volume of entrapped air was assumed to be 2 percent. The
final proportion was 1:1.75: 2.54 (cement: fine aggregate: coarse aggregate) with w/b of 0.48. The
cement content in concrete was 400 kg/m3. Five different mixes were prepared: conventional
concrete mix, HVFA mix and three HVFA + SF mixes. In High Volume Fly Ash mixes, 50%
volume the cement is replaced by Fly Ash. In other mixes, the cement is further replaced by Silica
fume at 5, 10 and 15% by mass of total binder. The cementitious material content in different mixes
is shown in Table 3.
For all mixes other than conventional concrete, only the cementitious materials will change
and the quantity of fine aggregate, coarse aggregate, water content and water to binder ratio remains
constant. (Fine aggregate 700 kg/m3, Coarse aggregate 1016.4 kg/m3, Water 192 kg/m3)

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International Journal of Advanced Research in Engineering and Technology (IJARET), ISSN 0976
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Table 3: Binder Proportion for 1m3 Concrete


Mix designation Cement (kg) Fly Ash (kg) Silica fume (kg)
CONV

400

HVF

228

172

HVFS5

216.6

172

11.4

HVFS10

205.2

172

22.8

HVFS15

193.8

172

34.2

Methods
Compressive strength: Compressive strength of concrete is the mostly valued property, which is
used in both design and quality control. In the present study, compression tests were carried out on
100mm cube specimens immediately on removal from the curing water. The specimen was loaded at
the rate of 14 N/mm2 per minute. The test was conducted to determine the 3, 7, 28, 56 and 90 day
compressive strength of conventional mix, high volume fly ash mix and three mixes containing silica
fume as the third binder material. For each test-age of these mixes, three specimens were tested and
their average is reported.
Rapid chloride permeability test: The rapid chloride permeability test (RCPT) was conducted
according to ASTM C 1202 in order to determine the resistance of concrete to the penetration of
chloride ions [17]. The resistance to the chloride-ion penetration was measured at the ages of 56 and
90 days. 100 mm x 50 mm disc specimens were cast for conventional, high volume fly ash and all
silica fume replaced mixes. For the specimens to be tested at 90 days, steam curing was done for a
period of 2 hours and then immersed in curing tank till the test age is reached. Another set of normal
cured specimens were also tested at 90 days. For the specimens tested at 56 days, only normal curing
was done.
Bulk diffusion test: The depth of chloride ion penetration in concrete can be assessed by bulk
diffusion test. This test method was based on Italian Standard (UNI) in which a chemical manifests a
colour change boundary in response to the quantity of chloride ions present. For conducting the test,
100mm x 200mm cylinder specimens were cast from all mixes. Six specimens were cast for each
mix. The specimens were tested at ages of 56 days and 90 days. Three curing regimes were adopted:
 curing in water for 3 days and immersing in 5% sodium chloride solution till test age is
reached,
 steam curing for 2 hours and then curing in water for 3 days and dipping in 5% NaCl solution
till test age is reached, and,
 curing in water for 7 days and then dipping in 5% NaCl solution till test age is reached.
The specimens were taken out and split when test age is reached. To the split face is sprayed
with 0.1 M AgNO3 solution. A white precipitate formed on the edges of split cylinder indicates the
presence of chlorides. The depth of penetration is measured from the edges and the diffusion
coefficient is calculated by the formula [18];
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International Journal of Advanced Research in Engineering and Technology (IJARET), ISSN 0976
6480(Print), ISSN 0976 6499(Online) Volume 5, Issue 10, October (2014), pp. 55-68 IAEME

where D is the coefficient of diffusion, Xd is the depth of penetration in meter and t is the time of
exposure in seconds.
Carbonation: For conducting the test, 100mm x 200 mm cylinders were cast for all the mixes and
exposed to atmosphere till the test age is reached. Three specimens were cast from each mix and
testing was done at ages of 56 and 90 days. On reaching the test age, the specimens were split in a
compression testing machine and a 10% solution of phenolphthalein was sprayed to the freshly
broken surfaces. The indicator changes colour at a pH of approximately 9. Below this figure it
remains colourless but above pH 9 it turns purple, i.e. the carbonated region will remain colourless
where as the uncarbonated region will turn purple. The depth of colourless portion from the sides of
split specimen can be measured to obtain the carbonation depth.
III.

RESULTS AND DISCUSSIONS

The strength and durability studies were conducted on silica fume added high volume fly ash
mixes according to the procedures described in the previous session. The results obtained were
tabulated and a detailed analysis and discussion on the results is presented in this session.
Compressive strength test: Compressive strength study was carried out on 100mm cube specimens
at the ages of 3, 7, 28, 56 and 90 days. Test was carried out on specimens prepared from
conventional mix, high volume fly ash mix and silica fume replaced mixes. Three specimens were
tested at specified ages for all mixes. The development of compressive strength with age for all
mixes investigated is presented in Fig. 1.

Fig. 1: Development of Compressive Strength of Moist Cured Concrete


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International Journal of Advanced Research in Engineering and Technology (IJARET), ISSN 0976
6480(Print), ISSN 0976 6499(Online) Volume 5, Issue 10, October (2014), pp. 55-68 IAEME

From the plot, it is clear that the conventional mix attains higher compressive strength values
than other mixes at all ages. It is observed that the silica fume modified mixes show better strength
than high volume fly ash mix after an age of 28 days. Maximum compressive strength is observed
for high volume fly ash concrete with 10% replacement of cement with silica fume from the age of
28 days. It may also be observed that the rate of strength development is more for conventional, high
volume fly ash and 5% silica fume added mixes when compared to the other mixes after 28 days.
This could be due to the reduced workability of concrete containing higher percentage of silica fume.
The strength-age envelops of all mixes follow a linear logarithmic equation in the form:

Where fcu cube compressive strength at the age of t days in MPa, and A and B are constants.
An attempt is also made to express the above constants in terms of the percentage silica fume
content (Sf) in the high volume fly ash concrete mixes. Thus the equation may be modified as under:

Using the derived equation, compressive strength values of silica fume replaced mixes are
calculated. The calculated values are very close to the actual values obtained and a plot showing
actual values vs calculated values is shown in Fig. 2.

Fig. 2: Compressive strength actual vs model

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International Journal of Advanced Research in Engineering and Technology (IJARET), ISSN 0976
6480(Print), ISSN 0976 6499(Online) Volume 5, Issue 10, October (2014), pp. 55-68 IAEME

In the plot, the equality line indicates the case of calculated strength value equal to the
average compressive strength measured in the laboratory. The points appearing above the equality
line corresponds to the condition that, the suggested model under-estimate the strength.
Rapid Chloride Permeability Test (RCPT): The RCPT was conducted on 100mm x 50 mm disc
specimens at the age of 56 days and 90 days as explained in the previous session. The charge passed
in 6 hours is calculated from the experimental data and is plotted against silica fume content in the
mix (Fig. 3).
The charge passed decreases as the test age increases which indicate better resistance to the
penetration of chloride ions. Maximum resistance to chloride ion penetration was reported for steam
cured specimens. It may also be observed that the charge passed decreases continuously with
increase in silica fume content irrespective of testing/curing conditions. In both test ages of 56 and
90 days, addition of 5% silica fume resulted in a decrease in the charge passed. But as the
replacement level reaches 10%, a slight increase in the charge passed is noticed. With further
increase in silica fume content, again a decreasing trend is seen.

Fig. 3: Total Charge Passed vs Silica fume Content


Referring to Fig. 3, it may be concluded that the variation of total charge passed can be
expressed as a function of silica fume content in high volume fly ash mixes. A more realistic model
may be developed considering the variation as a parabolic equation. The equation may be written as
follows:

where QHV is the total charge passed through high volume fly ash concrete (without silica fume) and
Sf is the silica fume content.
For specimen initially steam cured and then water cured and tested at 90 days, the variation
of total charge can also be related to the silica fume content in the mix. For this condition, the
equation is:
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International Journal of Advanced Research in Engineering and Technology (IJARET), ISSN 0976
6480(Print), ISSN 0976 6499(Online) Volume 5, Issue 10, October (2014), pp. 55-68 IAEME

While investigating the effect of oxide composition of binders present in each mix on the
durability of concrete, it was observed that the oxides such as CaO, SiO2, Al2O3 and Fe2O3 have
marked influence on the RCPT values. Thus an attempt is made to develop a multiple linear
regression model to predict the charge passed knowing the percentage of CaO, Al2O3 and the silica
ratio (SR) of the total binder. The predicted values appear much closer to the experimental values.
The mathematical model is as indicated below:

Where SR is the silica ratio defined as below [19]:

As per the recommendations of ASTM C1202-97 the concrete mixes investigated in this
study may be categorized based on the chloride ion permeability as indicated in Table 4.
Table 4: Chloride permeability rating of different concrete mixes
Mix
Total charge passed,
ASTM C1202
designation
Coulombs
classification
CONV

4400

High

HVF

850

Very low

HVFS5

575

Very low

HVFS10

680

Very low

HVFS15

440

Very low

One of the disadvantages of RCPT is the longer test duration. An attempt has been made here
to correlate the total charge passed through the specimen for 6 hours with the initial current observed
at the commencement of test. A graph showing the variation of total charge passed in 6 hours with
initial current for various mixes at the ages of 56 days and 90 days (normal cured and steam cured
specimens) is shown in Fig. 4. It may be observed that a linear relationship exists between the charge
passed and initial current. However a plot of variation of total charge passed with initial current
value, without considering the curing conditions given to concrete, is shown in Fig. 5. From this
graph, the total charge passed in 6 hours can be expressed as a function of initial current as;

where Q6 is the total charge passed (C) in 6 hours and I0 is the initial current (mA).

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International Journal of Advanced Research in Engineering and Technology (IJARET), ISSN 0976
6480(Print), ISSN 0976 6499(Online) Volume 5, Issue 10, October (2014), pp. 55-68 IAEME

Fig. 4: Total Charge vs Initial Current for different test ages

Fig. 5: Total Charge vs Initial Current


Bulk Diffusion Test: The chloride penetration depth observed based on the method outlined in the
previous session was used to calculate the diffusion coefficients. The results obtained are presented
in Fig. 6.

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International Journal of Advanced Research in Engineering and Technology (IJARET), ISSN 0976
6480(Print), ISSN 0976 6499(Online) Volume 5, Issue 10, October (2014), pp. 55-68 IAEME

Fig. 6: Diffusion Coefficients


It may be noted that the diffusion coefficient is maximum for conventional concrete at all test
ages and curing conditions adopted. In most cases, the conventional concrete mixes yield the
diffusion coefficient value greater than 5 x 10-12 m2/s which means the concrete is highly permeable.
The diffusion coefficient values of most of the other mixes at all ages lies between 1 x 10-12 m2/s and
5 x 10-12 m2/s which indicates that the addition of supplementary cementitious materials has reduced
the permeability of concrete from high to the average permeability range. In mixes with minimum
cement content, steam cured specimens and specimens immersed in solution after water curing for 7
days, when tested at the age of 56 days gave diffusion coefficient values less than 1 x 10-12 m2/s
which indicates that its permeability is low.
While investigating the effect of oxide composition of binders present in each mix on the
durability of concrete, it was observed that the oxides such as CaO, SiO2, Al2O3 and Fe2O3 have
marked influence on the diffusion coefficient values. Thus an attempt was made to develop a
multiple linear regression model to predict the diffusion coefficient knowing the percentage of CaO,
Al2O3 and the silica ratio (SR) of the total binder. The predicted values appear much closer to the
experimental values. The mathematical model is presented below:

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International Journal of Advanced Research in Engineering and Technology (IJARET), ISSN 0976
6480(Print), ISSN 0976 6499(Online) Volume 5, Issue 10, October (2014), pp. 55-68 IAEME

Carbonation test: The depth of carbonation measured was plotted against silica fume replacement
level as shown in Fig. 7. From the plot, it may be observed that the depth of carbonation goes on
increasing with increase in silica fume content until the percentage of silica fume replacement
reaches 10%.

Fig. 7: Carbonation Depth vs Silica fume Content in HVFAC


With further increase in silica fume content, the depth of carbonation decreases. This trend
was seen for both test ages of 56 and 90 days, but can be clearly noticed in the curve for 90 days.
The minimum depth of carbonation was noted for conventional mix followed by high volume fly ash
mix. There exists a polynomial relation connecting the carbonation depth (mm) with the percentage
of silica fume content in the HVFA mix. In these equations CHV indicate the carbonation depth
observed in the HVF mix at the designated ages.

While investigating the effect of oxide composition of binders present in each mix on the
durability of concrete, it was observed that the oxides such as CaO, SiO2, Al2O3 and Fe2O3 have
marked influence on the carbonation depth values. Thus an attempt was made to develop a multiple
linear regression model to predict the carbonation depth knowing the percentage of CaO, Al2O3 and

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International Journal of Advanced Research in Engineering and Technology (IJARET), ISSN 0976
6480(Print), ISSN 0976 6499(Online) Volume 5, Issue 10, October (2014), pp. 55-68 IAEME

the silica ratio (SR) of the total binder. The predicted values appear much closer to the experimental
values. The mathematical model is as follows:

IV.

CONCLUSIONS

From the present investigation, the performance of High Volume Fly Ash and its
modification by partial replacement of cement with Silica fume was studied and they were compared
to the performance of ordinary concrete. The strength and Durability properties of concrete were also
examined in this study.
Following conclusions are drawn from the present investigation based on the limited
observations made during the study period.
 Silica fume added mixes shows higher strength values compared to their high volume fly ash
counterparts at later ages (after 28 days).
 A linear logarithmic relation was developed for co-relating the compressive strength with age
and silica fume content in various mixes. Using this correlation equation compressive
strength values for various mixes are calculated and compared with the experimental results
obtained.
 The addition of supplementary cementitious materials improves the resistance of concrete to
chloride penetration.
 Mathematical models for predicting the diffusion coefficient, total charge passed in 6 hours
and carbonation depth by knowing the oxide composition of the binder material for various
mixes were developed and compared with the experimental values. The models gave
satisfactory results.
 Equation for predicting the total charge passed in 6 hours knowing the initial current during
the beginning of RCPT is formulated to overcome the disadvantage of longer test duration.
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Engineering & Technology (IJCIET), Volume 3, Issue 2, 2012, pp. 60 - 69, ISSN Print:
0976 6308, ISSN Online: 0976 6316.
[21]. Dr. D. V. Prasada Rao and G. V. Sai Sireesha, A Study on the Effect of Addition of Silica
Fume on Strength Properties of Partially used Recycled Coarse Aggregate Concrete,
International Journal of Civil Engineering & Technology (IJCIET), Volume 4, Issue 6, 2013,
pp. 193 - 201, ISSN Print: 0976 6308, ISSN Online: 0976 6316.
[22]. P.S.Joanna, Jessy Rooby, Angeline Prabhavathy, R.Preetha and C.Sivathanu Pillai,
Behaviour Of Reinforced Concrete Beams With 50 Percentage Fly Ash International
Journal of Civil Engineering & Technology (IJCIET), Volume 4, Issue 2, 2013, pp. 36 - 48,
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[23]. Aravindkumar.B.Harwalkar and Dr.S.S.Awanti, Fatigue Behavior of High Volume Fly Ash
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