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HW # 1

21 JANUARY 2015

Concrete is an engineering material that simulates the properties of rock and is a
combination of particles closely bound together. It is composed of three basic
components: aggregates (rock, sand, or gravel), cement, and water. The ratio is typically
1 part (by weight) of cement to 2 parts coarse aggregate to 2 parts fine aggregate.
Aggregates are inert granular materials such as sand, gravel or crushed stone that
are an end product in their own right. They are also the raw materials that are an essential
ingredient in concrete. For a good concrete mix, aggregates need to be clean, hard,
strong particles free of absorbed chemicals or coatings of clay and other fine materials
that could cause the deterioration of concrete.
Coarse Aggregates. Coarse aggregates are particles greater than 4.75mm, but
generally range between 9.5mm to 37.5mm in diameter. They can either be from primary,
secondary or recycled sources. Primary, or 'virgin', aggregates are either land- or marinewon. Gravel is a coarse marine-won aggregate; land-won coarse aggregates include
gravel and crushed rock. Gravels constitute the majority of coarse aggregate used in
concrete with crushed stone making up most of the remainder.
Secondary aggregates are materials which are the by-products of extractive
operations and are derived from a very wide range of materials
Recycled concrete is a viable source of aggregate and has been satisfactorily used
in granular sub-bases, soil-cement, and in new concrete. Recycled aggregates are
classified in one of two ways, as: recycled aggregate (RA), or as recycled concrete
aggregate (RCA).
Fine Aggregate. Fine aggregates are basically sands won from the land or the
marine environment. Fine aggregates generally consist of natural sand or crushed stone
with most particles passing through a 9.5mm sieve. As with coarse aggregates these can
be from primary, secondary or recycled sources.
Lightweight Aggregate. Lightweight aggregates are manufactured from natural
materials or from the manufacture or processing of industrial by-products. The required
properties of the lightweight concrete will have a bearing on the best type of lightweight
aggregate to use.

Cement, most commonly Portland cement, is a hydraulic binder, a finely ground
inorganic material which, when mixed with water forms a paste which sets and hardens
by means of hydration reactions and processes and which, after hardening, retains its
strength and stability even under water. Other cementitious materials such as fly ash and
slag cement, are sometimes added to Portland cement and become a part of the binder
for the aggregate.
Water is mixed with the dry composite, which produces a semi-liquid that workers
can shape, typically with the use of a form. The concrete solidifies and hardens through
hydration. The water reacts with the cement, which bonds the other components together,
creating a robust stone-like material.
The amount of water in concrete controls many fresh and hardened properties of
concrete including workability, compressive strengths, permeability and water-tightness,
durability and weathering, drying shrinkage and potential for cracking. For these reasons,
limiting and controlling the amount of water in concrete is important for both
constructability and service life.


Water-Cement (W/C) Ratio
The single most important indicator of strength is the ratio of the water used
compared to the amount of cement. Basically, the lower this ratio is, the higher the final
concrete strength will be. A minimum w/c ratio of about 0.3 by weight is necessary to
ensure that the water comes into contact with all cement particles, thus assuring complete
hydration. Typical values range from 0.4 to 0.6.
Advantages of low w/c ratio:
o Increased strength
o Lower permeability
o Increased resistance to weathering
o Better bond between concrete and reinforcement
o Reduced drying shrinkage and cracking
o Less volume change from wetting and drying
Curing is the maintenance of a satisfactory moisture content and temperature in
concrete for a suitable period of time immediately following placing and finishing so that
the desired properties may develop. It is affected by time, temperature and moisture.

Concrete strength gain versus time for concrete exposed to outdoor conditions.
Concrete continues to gain strength for many years when moisture is provided by rainfall
and other environmental sources.
Strength and Durability
Concrete is used in the majority of buildings, bridges, tunnels and dams for its
strength. It gains strength over time and is not weakened by moisture, mold or pests.
Concrete structures can withstand natural disasters such as earthquakes and hurricanes.
Compressive Strength
Compressive strength is the measured maximum resistance of a concrete or
mortar specimen to an axial load, usually expressed in psi (pounds per square inch) at
an age of 28-days. During the first week to 10 days of curing it is important that the
concrete not be permitted to freeze or dry out. In practical terms, about 90% of its strength
is gained in the first 28 days. Concrete compressive strength depends upon the following
quality and proportions of the ingredients
the curing environment
The weight characteristic of concrete is also of primary requirement for the
Fire Resistance
Being naturally fire-resistant, concrete forms a highly effective barrier to fire
Thermal Mass
Concrete walls and floors slow the passage of heat moving through, reducing
temperature swings. This reduces energy needs from heating or air-conditioning, offering
year-round energy savings over the life-time of the building.
Consolidation is the mixing together of the components of concrete. Good
consolidation is needed to achieve a dense and durable concrete. Poor consolidation, on
the other hand, can result in early corrosion of reinforcing steel and low compressive


Hardness is the resistance of a metal or steel to penetration.
Steel has to contain imperfections which take the form of very small cracks. If the
steel is insufficiently tough, the 'crack' can propagate rapidly, without plastic deformation
and result in a 'brittle fracture'. The risk of brittle fracture increases with thickness, tensile
stress, and stress raisers and at colder temperatures. The toughness of steel and its
ability to resist brittle fracture are dependent on a number of factors that should be
considered at the specification stage.
Fatigue Resistance
Steel has to withstand a certain level of stress when it is subjected to an infinitely
large number of repeated alternating stresses.
Ductility is a measure of the degree to which a material can strain or elongate
between the onset of yield and eventual fracture under tensile. The designer relies on
ductility for a number of aspects of design, including redistribution of stress at the ultimate
limit state, bolt group design, reduced risk of fatigue crack propagation and in the
fabrication processes of welding, bending and straightening. Tensile strength is a
requirement for steel in order to resist force that tends to pull it apart.
Yield Strength
Yield strength is the most common property that a designer will need as it is the
basis used for most of the rules given in design codes. For example, in European
Standards for structural carbon steels, the primary designation relates to the yield
strength, e.g. S355 steel is a structural steel with a specified minimum yield strength of
355 N/mm.
Steel is a long lasting material which makes it ideal for buildings, rail lines and
bridges. It is also resistant to wear.


Advantages of Concrete
Concrete buildings offer many safety advantages over steel skeleton structures.
Compared to steel, concrete can endure very high temperatures for long periods and
offers excellent protection from explosions.
Reinforced concrete is resistant to explosion and impact.
temperature from fire for a long time without loss of structural integrity.

It resists high

For concrete, the design possibilities are almost limitless. It can take on many
unique shapes and forms.
Aside from their varied design possibilities, concrete construction gives more
rentable space because of lower floor-to-floor heights. Steel framing details typically
involve decking that rests on joists, joists on beams, then beams on girders. This can
mean a very thick floor. Concrete requires only 8 inches where utilities can run.
Building with concrete is also very fast. When time means money this makes it a
particularly attractive option.
Efficiency within concrete construction is being improved by the adoption of hybrid
solutions and innovations in formwork such as self-climbing forms. Unlike steel, it is also
possible for large sections to be pre-fabricated off site. This again speeds up construction
meaning less time developing and more time using the structure.
Sacrificial probes can be integrated within concrete to provide strength
determination at an early age and this is likely to help further improve construction
Companies also offer concrete repairs which tend to be a lot quicker, simpler and
cheaper than other repairs on steel structures.
Concrete waste materials can also be included within the mix such as GGBS
(Ground Granulated Blast-Furnace Slag) and PFA (Pulverized Fuel Ash).
Disadvantages of Concrete
Concrete, on its own, has one major downfall and that is that it is extremely strong
in compression but has little to no strength when there is tension.
A concrete superstructure may consume over three times as much energy as a
steel one.

It may also consume up to six times as much natural resources, four times solid
wastes and more produce more toxic wastes compared to a steel structure.
Concrete structures can pollute the air five times higher and water three times, and
may contribute to global warming seven times more than steel structures.

Advantages of Steel
Steel, in terms of cost, is generally a cheaper option. It is also easier to recycle
and can produce more useful secondary product.
Steel has a high strength/weight ratio. Thus, the dead weight of steel structures
is relatively small. This property makes steel a very attractive structural material for
a. High-rise buildings
b. Long-span bridges
c. Structures located on soft ground
d. Structures located in highly seismic areas where forces acting on the structure due to
an earthquake are in general proportional to the weight of the structure.
Considering ductility, steel can undergo large plastic deformation before failure,
thus providing a large reserve strength. Properly designed steel structures can have high
ductility, which is an important characteristic for resisting shock loading such as blasts or
earthquakes. A ductile structure has energy-absorbing capacity and will not incur sudden
failure. It usually shows large visible deflections before failure or collapse. Moreover, steel
structures have good fatigue strength
Properties of steel can be predicted with a high degree of certainty. Steel in fact
shows elastic behavior up to a relatively high and usually well-defined stress level. Also,
in contrast to reinforced concrete, steel properties do not change considerably with time.
Steel, while having a high lead time, is known for its fast erection on site.
Prefabrication of steel can allow thin film intumescent coatings to be applied offsite. Steel
structures can also be built with high-quality workmanship and narrow tolerances. Steel
structures in general can be repaired quickly and easily.
Steel buildings can be easily expanded by adding new bays or wings. Steel bridges
may be widened.
Steel offers architects a far greater array of options when it comes to building
design. The strength-to-weight ratio of steel is higher than any other (affordable)
construction material. Steel offers aesthetics that concrete may never be able to.
Steel, being fast to erect, can allow the building to be occupied sooner. In addition,
reduced labor costs are possible through dryness of form in comparison with concrete.

The construction of a steel framework is comparatively lightweight, as much as

sixty percent lighter than a comparable reinforced concrete frame solution which might
allow for a less expensive foundation system. In addition, modification to the building can
sometimes be facilitated by simple removal of a structural steel member.
Disadvantages of Steel
Steel, as mentioned has a high lead time.
Steel needs fire protection whereas within concrete, this is inherent. The strength
of steel is reduced substantially when heated at temperatures commonly observed in
building fires. Also, steel conducts and transmits heat from a burning portion of the
building quite fast. Consequently, steel frames in buildings must have adequate
Steel structures exposed to air and water, such as bridges, are susceptible to
corrosion and should be painted regularly. Application of weathering and corrosionresistant steels may eliminate this problem.
Due to high strength/weight ratio, steel compression members are in general more
slender and consequently more susceptible to buckling than, say, reinforced concrete
compression members. As a result, considerable materials may have to be used just to
improve the buckling resistance of slender steel compression members.
In terms of production, steel structures are likely to produce non-fatal injuries and
illnesses higher than concrete structures.

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