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Construction and Building Materials 39 (2013) 7176

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Assessment of high volume replacement y ash concrete Concept of

performance index
Obada Kayali a,, M. Sharfuddin Ahmed b

School of Engineering and Information Technology, University of New South Wales, Australian Defence Force Academy, Canberra, Australia
Roads ACT, Territory and Municipal Directorate, Canberra, Australia

h i g h l i g h t s
" 50% y ash replacement may signicantly reduce strength and E-modulus.
" Total chloride and RCPT values in 50% y ash concrete are larger than their values in OPC concrete.
" 38 MPa 50% y ash concrete may be obtained with industry practices using 225 kg Portland cement.
" 50% y ash concrete was superior to 450 kg OPC concrete in resistance to chloride caused corrosion.
" Performance index concept is suggested assigning numerical values for strength and durability.

a r t i c l e

i n f o

Article history:
Available online 31 May 2012
Fly ash
Performance index

a b s t r a c t
This paper examines the practicality and suitability of high proportion replacement of cement by class F
y ash. Binary and ternary blends of y ash/Portland cement and y ash/silica fume/Portland cement,
were tested. The investigation focussed on the realistic conditions of concrete making on site and the
effects on the mechanical aspects as well as the consequences on corrosion of reinforcement.
It has been found that class F y ash may replace 50% of the Portland cement and at the same time
result in improving resistance to chloride initiated corrosion. Such replacement however, may signicantly reduce the values of the mechanical properties. Nevertheless, such concrete is considered a high
performance concrete. The authors therefore suggest that the mechanical and durability characteristics
of concretes may be assigned numerical Performance Index values. These values may provide the means
for making informed decisions on the extent of cement replacement by other cementitious materials.
2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction
Several researchers have advocated the use of high volume y
ash in high-performance high-strength concrete [14]. Those
researchers have generally used large cement quantities together
with 28 day curing in laboratory conditions to achieve the required
high strength [5,6]. Papayianni and Anastasiou [3] reported high
volume replacement by high calcium y ash up to 50% of the cement. They obtained strength value similar to that of plain OPC
concrete. However, the curing was also for 28 days [3]. Durn-Herrera et al. studied the replacement effect but also with normal curing all the time [7]. Yazici examined ultrastrength concrete with
large replacement up to 60%, and with very high cement content
[8]. He achieved strength above 120 MPa, but the total cementitious content was 850 kg/m3 and the curing was either standard,

Corresponding author. Tel.: +61 2 62688329; fax: +61 2 62688337.

E-mail address: (O. Kayali).
0950-0618/$ - see front matter 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

where strength exceeded 120 MPa or autoclaved, where strength

exceeded 170 MPa.
It is of paramount importance when advocating high y ash concrete that conditions of making such concrete are similar to those
likely to be encountered in practice. Structural concrete design is
often based on the strength of 28 day laboratory cured samples.
However, in actual structures, operators tend to avoid prolonged
curing, mainly for cost reasons [9]. Anecdotal evidence suggests
that proper curing is hardly applied even for a minimum of 7 days.
In a report by the Cement Concrete and Aggregates of Australia [10],
concrete cured for 7 days could in general achieve about 70% of its
potential compared to continuously cured concrete. Fly ash concrete needs rigorous curing much more than plain OPC concrete
[1113]. This means that translating results of 28 day laboratory
cured y ash concrete into actual practice is less credible and may
be more problematic than in the case of plain OPC concrete.
This paper examines the properties of high volume replacement
of y ash concrete which has been cured for only 7 days. This is the
minimum that can be expected from good concrete practice


O. Kayali, M. Sharfuddin Ahmed / Construction and Building Materials 39 (2013) 7176

[14,15]. The concrete samples are tested after 1 year in relatively

dry conditions. The properties include the mechanical characteristics as well as chloride permeability and corrosion behaviour. The
authors further assess these properties using a performance index
concept. This method allows assigning numerical values to the
investigated properties.
2. Experimental
2.1. Materials and testing
Crushed Dacite coarse aggregates of 9.5 mm maximum size, complying with
ASTM C 33, were used. The aggregates were washed and dried before casting.
Washed river bed sand was used as ne aggregates.


Silica fume%

Fly ash%

Na2O, K2O
Loss on ignition
Specic gravity
Fineness index (m2/kg)

0.05, 0.47

<0.4, <0.9

23, 500

0.5, 1.5

2.2. Concrete specimens

A reinforced concrete slab panel of size 500  500  60 mm was cast for each
mix. The concrete cover at the top and bottom were 30 and 15 mm, respectively.
The slabs were air dried in the laboratory for a period of 28 days after 1 week of
fog curing. On the 29th day, the slabs were ponded with 3% sodium chloride solution (chloride ion concentration of 18,198 ppm) placed on the top of the slab with
average depth of 10 mm. The slabs were placed in an internal enclosure where the
ambient temperature and RH were approximately 23 C and 40% respectively. Marine grade aluminium was used to enclose the sodium chloride solution on top of the
slabs. The sodium chloride solution was completely removed on weekly basis and
was replenished with freshly prepared solution. The solution was continually stirred to avoid stratication. The ponding period reported in this paper lasted for
2 years after which concrete powder specimens were extracted from the range of
525 mm which represents a case of shallow concrete cover, and the range of
2545 mm depth, which represents the reinforcement vicinity in a medium to thick
cover. The samples were analysed for acid soluble chlorides following the AASHTOT260 method [16]. Details of slab and reinforcement are shown in Fig. 1.

Table 1
Chemical composition of ordinary Portland cement, silica fume and y ash.
Chemical composition

Concrete mixes were cast with total cementitious materials content of 450 kg/
m3. The OPC was replaced with low, medium, and high percentage of y ash at the
replacement levels of 25%, 50%, and 70%. Silica fume was used at 10% replacement
of the total cementitious materials content in all the ternary mixes. The chemical
analysis of OPC, silica fume, and y ash used in this series is shown in Table 1.
A total of eight types of mixes were cast using a constant water to binder (w/b)
ratio of 0.38 and varying dosage of superplasticizer. The mixes cast and tested are
shown in Table 2. The mixes were named in Table 2 as follows: OPC is the control
plain ordinary Portland cement concrete. Mix S10 stands for the mix with 10% silica
fume as a weight for weight replacement of Portland cement. Mix F25 stands for the
mix with 25% y ash replacing Portland cement. Mix F25S10 stands for the concrete
with 25% y ash and 10% silica fume replacing Portland cement, and so on. A polycarboxylic ether hyperplasticizer usually used in producing high performance concrete was used in this series.

Table 2
Fresh and mature properties of the control, silica fume and y ash mixes; w/b: 0.38a.
Materials and properties

Cement (kg/m )
Silica fume (kg/m3)
Fly ash (kg/m3)
Total cementitious content (kg/m3)
Coarse aggregate (kg/m3)
Fine aggregate (kg/m3)
Superplasticizer L/100 kg binder
Water-effective (kg) (Free)
Slump (mm)
Air content (%)
Hardened concrete (kg/m3) 365 days






















Aggregate quantities are based on oven dry condition, while the water quantity recorded is the free water.

Fig. 1. Details of the reinforced concrete slab.

O. Kayali, M. Sharfuddin Ahmed / Construction and Building Materials 39 (2013) 7176


For each mix, cylindrical specimens of size 100 mm diameter by 200 mm length
were cast for the tests of compressive strength, modulus of elasticity, and tensile
strength. The plain and blended cylindrical concrete specimens were fog cured
for a period of 7 days then exposed to environmental room conditions maintained
at 23 C and 50% R.H. Mechanical properties of the concrete specimens were tested
after 365 days.

2.3. Rapid chloride permeability test (RCPT) specimens

For each mix, 8 disc specimens (with the exception of the control mix which
had 7 specimens) of 100 mm diameter and 50 mm thickness were cast. The specimens were demoulded 24 h after casting and were fog cured for a period of 7 days.
They were then exposed in an environmental room maintained at 23 C and 50% RH.
The test was performed after 350 days following the procedures outlined in the
AASHTO Standards [17].

2.4. Corrosion measurement

The corrosion evaluation was performed using GECOR6 corrosion rate metre
developed by GEOCISA in collaboration with two leading Spanish research centres.
The apparatus works on the principle of linear polarisation [18]. The apparatus allows the measurement of corrosion potentials values using copper/copper sulphate
half-cell electrode. The corrosion rate is measured in terms of the corrosion current
density, Icorr and is expressed as micro-ampere per square centimetre (lA/cm2).
Values between 0.1 and 1 lA/cm2 are the most frequently observed. A corrosion
current density less than 0.1 lA/cm2 is associated with passivity or negligible corrosion activity. Values between 0.5 and 1.0 lA/cm2 are considered in the range of
moderate corrosion activity. Values above 1.0 lA/cm2 are in the high range of corrosion activity [19]. The corrosion rate for all slab reinforcement was monitored for
the total reported period of 2 years. The results presented here are those recorded at
the conclusion of the 2 year testing period. Each result represents the average of 12
measured values.

Fig. 3. Tensile strength reduction as a result of y ash and/or silica fume

replacement in all mixes.

3. Results and discussion

3.1. Mechanical properties
Replacing OPC with y ash has resulted in lower compressive
strength (Fig. 2), lower tensile strength (Fig. 3) and lower modulus
of elasticity (Fig. 4). It is noticed that the presence of silica fume as
a further 10% replacement of cement, did not signicantly improve
the mechanical properties.
Compressive strength of concrete where a portion of the cement
has been replaced by only y ash is shown to decrease as the ratio
of replacement increases, as apparent in the trend shown in Fig. 5.
The results for tensile strength show a similar trend (Fig. 6). Both
Figs. 5 and 6 may be useful for predicting strength values.
The effect of only y ash replacement on the modulus of elasticity could also be predicted from the trend shown in Fig. 7. The
authors however, emphasise that at this stage these trends can
only represent the case where the initial OPC content is 450 kg.
These trends might be signicantly different when the initial cement content changes.

Fig. 4. The reduction in modulus of elasticity with replacement of OPC by y ash

and/or silica fume.

Fig. 5. Trend of the compressive strength when only y ash replaces OPC.

3.2. Chloride resistance

Fig. 2. Effect on 1 year compressive strength of y ash and silica fume replacement
of Portland cement.

The effect of y ash and silica fume replacement on concretes

resistance to chloride ion penetration as tested according to the
standard RCPT is shown in Fig. 8. This gure shows that silica fume
reduced the permeability of chloride ions as indicated by the RCPT.
Silica fume concrete has been found to decrease chloride diffusion
[20]. This has been largely attributed to the lling of the pores with
hydration products, better packing of the ne particles and adsorption of chloride ions by silica fume [21]. Nevertheless, such apparently benecial effect seems to disappear when the y ash
proportion was increased and even it has reversed when the y
ash proportion exceeded 50%. This behaviour may be explained


O. Kayali, M. Sharfuddin Ahmed / Construction and Building Materials 39 (2013) 7176

Fig. 6. Trend of reduction in tensile strength with only y ash replacement.

Fig. 10. Chloride penetration in the layer between 25 and 45 mm after 2 years

Fig. 7. Trend of the elastic modulus variation as a result of replacing OPC with only
y ash.

Fig. 8. RCPT results for 1 year old y ash and/or silica fume concretes.

Fig. 9. Chloride penetration in the layer between 5 and 25 mm after 2 years


by the fact that silica fumes content, being limited to 10% of the
binding material, can only adsorb a certain quantity of chloride
ions. Thus its presence would be effective and apparent only when
the y ash proportion is low. As for the y ash, it has been shown
that y ash inclusion signicantly changes the electrical conductivity of concrete [22]. Some class F y ashes were demonstrated to
have caused an increase in electrical conductivity [22]. Hence,
when the y ash proportion is high, the effect of silica fume is possibly counter-balanced by an increase in electrical conductivity
caused by y ash. It is appropriate at this stage to draw attention
to the fact that the RCPT is mainly a measure of the ability to pass
a direct current charge [22,23]. For the determination of the chloride ion content as a result of exposure to chloride solution, the
AASHTO ponding test should be used [24].
The effect of y ash on the chloride ion permeability as revealed
by determination of the total chloride content, is shown in Figs. 9
and 10. These two gures show the total chloride contents in the
layer from 5 mm till 25 mm and from 25 mm till 45 mm respectively. These layers represent the proximity to steel reinforcements
in various values of depth of cover. It can be seen that at the shallow depth of 525 mm the chloride ion content was far more than
can be tolerated as a limit for chloride initiated corrosion [25].
Fig. 10 shows that, with the exception of the 70% y ash substitution level, the concentration of chloride ions within the 2545 mm
depth is quite similar in all the types of concretes. Furthermore, it
is seen that the level of chloride concentration in concretes when
the y ash proportion was 50% or less, was well below the critical
value needed for initiating corrosion [22,25].
3.3. Corrosion of reinforcement
The results of corrosion potentials and corrosion current in reinforcing steel placed with 30 mm cover, are presented in Figs. 11
and 12, respectively. These results are obtained after 2 years of
ponding under chloride solution. Fig. 11 shows that only the 70%
replacement level resulted in potentials that are considered conducive for the possibility of corrosion occurring. As it is well known, a
highly negative corrosion potential by itself is not sufcient to conclude that corrosion is active [18,26]. Thus corrosion current values
need to be known so as to determine whether there is active corrosion. The Fig. 12 shows that even the concretes with 70% y
ash replacement showed negligible corrosion activity where corrosion rate was less than 0.1 lA/cm2 [19]. Interestingly enough, the
highest value of corrosion activity was recorded for the concrete
with straight OPC. Concrete where the proportion of replacement
by y ash was 50% of cementitious materials had a current rate value less than 0.06 lA/cm2. This value is considered to be in the
range of minimal corrosion activity [19].


O. Kayali, M. Sharfuddin Ahmed / Construction and Building Materials 39 (2013) 7176

becomes of more interest when it is found that such a concrete

possesses the values 1.14 and 1.9 when it comes to corrosion of
reinforcement as measured by corrosion potentials and current
values respectively. That is; it performs either slightly better
(based on potential values) or nearly twice as good (based on corrosion current values) as straight OPC concrete that contains twice
the amount of cement.
However, it should always be acknowledged that there is not
one factor that determines the performance. For example, Table 3
shows that the tensile strength of such concrete is only 0.65 as
good as the totally OPC concrete. It also shows that the modulus
of elasticity of this concrete is 0.7 of its value when the OPC is
twice as much as the quantity of the y ash. This only means that
the requirement of the concrete structural element is what determines whether a replacement on large magnitude is the wise decision. Indeed, consideration of the performance using this index or
similar yardstick may allow using large volume of y ash provided
that engineering measures are taken to compensate for losses such
as those experienced in compressive strength, tensile strength or
modulus of elasticity. One of such methods is to include bre reinforcement [29].

Fig. 11. Corrosion potentials after 2 years ponding.

4. Conclusions

Fig. 12. Corrosion current after 2 years ponding.

3.4. The concept of performance index

Rather than using qualitative terms to describe the performance
of high y ash replacement in concrete, a quantitative value can be
assigned instead. Considering the performance of OPC concrete as
1.0 for any mechanical and durability property of interest, the performance of y ash concrete may be expressed as either a value
less than 1.0, which means its performance is relatively inferior
to OPC concrete, or as a value greater than 1.0, which means that
the concrete in question is performing better than OPC concrete
in relation to the particular property or functionality in question.
Applying this concept of performance index, the performance of
three concretes used in this research was determined and shown in
Table 3. The y ash concrete shown in this table is that of the 50%
replacement level. This concrete used only 225 kg of cement when
there was no silica fume addition. It used 180 kg of cement when
silica fume was used. The results show that using silica fume
may not be justied especially when considering that silica fume
is sometimes several folds more expensive than OPC [27,28].
Replacing OPC by 50% y ash in a typical concrete whose OPC content is 225 kg in the cubic metre has resulted in a practical and satisfactory compressive strength of 38 MPa. This value is adequate
for normal strength concrete. But perhaps the performance index

1. The majority of reports on high strength high volume y ash

concretes were based on either very large quantity of binders
or 28 day curing or both. It is believed that such concretes do
not represent the reality of practice. The industry, understandably, is keen on reducing expensive ingredients and costly practices. Curing for more than 7 days is rarely applied. The strength
and performance of high volume y ash concrete should reect
this reality.
2. Replacing Portland cement with y ash while applying the
expected curing practices may result in steady reduction in certain mechanical values. For example, a 50% y ash replacement
may reduce compressive strength, tensile strength and the Emodulus by approximately 50%, 35% and 30% respectively,
when compared with 100% Portland cement concrete.
3. The values of the total chloride content and the conducted electrical charge in high volume y ash concrete are larger than
their values in plain Portland cement concrete. However, the
values of corrosion potentials and corrosion currents are less
in high volume y ash concrete up to 50% replacement. These
results indicate better performance from the corrosion resistance aspect.
4. A medium and practical strength concrete with 38 MPa compressive strength may be obtained with normal industry practices using 225 kg Portland cement and an equal quantity of
class F y ash. Such a concrete is superior to a 450 kg Portland
cement concrete in as far as resistance to chloride initiated corrosion is concerned.

Table 3
Performance index values.
Concrete type





penetration at
525 mm

penetration at
2545 mm

Corrosion potentials at
2 year aggressive

Corrosion current at
2 year aggressive

OPC + 50% y ash
OPC + 50% y
ash + 10%
silica fume










O. Kayali, M. Sharfuddin Ahmed / Construction and Building Materials 39 (2013) 7176

5. A concept of performance index is suggested. This concept

allows assigning a numerical value for certain mechanical and
durability characteristics. Such means of evaluation may help
practitioners making an informed decision based upon priorities of the job.
6. Although silica fume inclusion may yield desirable results for
mechanical as well as durability properties, these results diminish greatly with the increase of y ash content. In the ternary
blends reported here, there was no appreciable benet of silica
fume addition. In view of the current excessively high price of
silica fume, such addition is not justied.

The authors acknowledge the nancial support that this research has received from the University of New South Wales at
the Australian Defence Force Academy, Canberra, Australia.
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