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Concrete Mix Design

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MAIN REFERENCES

1. Teychene D C et al "Design of Normal Concrete Mixes" Department of

Environment, Building Research Establishment, 1992

2. Neville A et al "Concrete Technology", revised reprint 1990, Longman Scientific

and Technical. (Chapter 19 Mix Design and Chapter 17 Compliance with

specifications are particularly relevant to the topic. Since design of concrete mix

involved a wide range of knowledge of the constituent materials and testing

methods and their influence on fresh and hardened concrete, other chapters may

also referenced, particularly Chapters 2, 3, 5, 6,10, 16)

INTRODUCTION

In this lecture, design of concrete mixes is discussed based on the approach proposed

by the Department of Environment, Building Research Establishment of United

Kingdom, which sometimes is referred to as DOE approach. Students are therefore

recommended to refer Building Research Report, BR 106 "Design of Normal

Concrete Mixes", for more details. Concrete mix design involves a wide range of

knowledge concerning the properties and interactive influences of constituent

materials, influence of ambient conditions and concrete technology. Students are

recommended to read Neville's "Concrete Technology" when needed.

Concrete mix design is to select suitable constituent materials and determine

proportions of the materials to meet specifications for that concrete. The

specifications normally include requirement on strength, durability of hardened

concrete and workability of fresh concrete.

Many factors affect the properties of concrete. It is not necessary, and indeed it is not

possible, to include all of them in a mix design. The design method introduced in this

lecture considers a few factors that possess relatively significant influences, namely

water/cement ration, water content, types of cement, size, grading and density of

aggregates. These factors are briefly discussed in the following sections. Relations of

these factors are reflected in figures and tables attached.

It should be noted that the figures and tables are for UK materials, practice and

conditions and may not directly applicable to the Hong Kong concrete. For example,

the compressive strengths at early ages may higher than those given in the design

table for concrete mix design due to higher temperature here. The principle of the

design approach, however, equally applies to local concrete.

Mix - 1

a. Variation and probability of concrete strength

Table a is a collection, or a sample, of testing records of concrete cube tests for a

construction project. Fig. 1 shows the histogram of the sample. It is now generally

accepted that the strength of concrete follows normal distribution. The standard

deviation of the sample, s, may be calculated using equation (1).

Table a Compressive strength of 60 cubes from a construction site

24.1

19.6

26.7

30.0

23.2

32.4

20.8

28.8

35.7

38.4

19.7

22.9

21.1

23.5

21.6

18.5

26.1

20.9

14.6

19.1

26.0

31.1

12.7

31.8

x m

20.6

28.9

31.6

22.3

27.4

21.6

22.0

31.5

15.4

23.8

25.0

14.2

28.1

24.4

26.9

18.6

27.4

25.9

17.1

28.3

22.8

25.5

39.2

22.3

22.1

32.6

27.0

17.5

34.0

19.8

26.4

17.2

15.1

12.8

17.0

23.3

(1)

n 1

n = the number of results

m = the mean of the n results.

m of the sample in Table a is 24.08 N/mm2, and s is 6.13 N/mm2.

in Table a

Normal distribution is expressed as follows.

p(m, s)

1

s 2

x m 2

2s 2

(2)

Mix - 2

Normal distribution curve with m and s obtained from data I Table a is plotted in Fig.

a for comparison with the histogram.

Fig b shows the normal distribution curve based on the data in Table a. The shaded

area beneath the curve equals one, and the proportion of results less than some

specified value is represented by the area beneath the curve to the left-hand side of a

vertical line drawn through the specified value. The proportion below a specified

value, normally expressed as the mean minus a constant times the standard deviation,

can be determined through integration of Equation (2) or using mathematics

handbook. Some typical values are given below.

Specified value fc

fc = m - 1.28s

fc = m - 1.64s

fc = m - 1.96s

fc = m - 2.33s

10%

5%

2.5%

1%

For example, from the theoretical distribution obtained from Table a, there are 10% of

the concrete below 24.08 - 1.28 6.13 = 16.2 N/mm2.

b. Characteristic strength

Probability and statistics have been widely adopted in engineering to describe

structure failure and material properties. In the old practice, concrete strength is

specified using "minimum strength". From the probability theory adopted today, there

is always a posibility, however remote, that the strength of concrete falls below a

specified strength. Therefore concrete strength is specified in term of "Characteristic

Strength". The characteristic strength is the strength below which a specified

proportion of test results, often called "defectives", may be expected to fall. The

characteristic strength may be defined to have any proportion of defectives, BS 5328

"Concrete" and BS8110 "Structure use of concrete" adopt 5% defectives level for the

determination of characteristic strength.

Mix - 3

Example: Based on the test results in Table a, the characteristic strength of that

concrete is 24.08 - 1.64 6.08 = 14.1 N/mm2.

c. Target strength for mix design

As a results of variability of concrete it is necessary to design the mix to have a mean

strength greater than the specified characteristic strength by an amount termed the

margin. Thus the target strength, fm, is

fm = fc + ks

(3)

where

fc = specified characteristic strength

s = standard deviation

k = constant depending on the defective level associated with the

specified strength.

ks is termed the margin.

For example, for a specified characteristic strength of 40 N/mm2 in a design comply to

BS8110 (5% defective level), and standard deviation is 7 N/mm2, the target mean

strength is

fm = fc + ks = 40 + 1.64 7 = 51.5 N/mm2,

Standard deviation should be based on previous record of the concrete produced by

the concerned concrete plant or supplier. In the absence of such record, DOE

recommended to use the value from the attached Fig. 3.

DURABILITY REQUIREMENT

Durability requirement specified by, for example, minimum cement content and

maximum water/cement ratio, etc. The durability requirement specified in BS8110 for

structural concrete is exacted as an example.

Durability requirement for concrete cover (extracted from BS8110)

Conditions of exposure

Nominal cover

mm mm mm mm Mm

Mild

25

20

20

20

20

Moderate

35

30

25

20

Severe

40

30

25

Very severe

50

40

30

Extreme

60

50

Max Free water/cement ratio

0.65 0.6

0.55 0.5

0.45

Min cement content (kg/m3)

275

300

325

350

400

Lowest grade of concrete

C30 C35 C40 C45 C50

Mix - 4

DOE mix design generally involves the following stages.

Determine the water/cement (W/C) ratio according to the target strength, types of

cement and aggregate.

Determine the water content , W, from required workability, size and type of

aggregate.

Determine cement content, C, from W/C ratio and water content.

Estimate the density of wet fresh concrete, D, based on relative density of

combined aggregate and water content.

Determine the total aggregate content from D, C, and W.

Determine the proportion of fine aggregate according to the fineness of fine

aggregate, maximum aggregate size, slump/Vebe time and W/C.

Note: For course aggregate using combined 10mm, 20mm and 40mm size, DOE

recommendation is as forllows.

1:2 for combination of 10mm and 20mm material

1:1.5:3 for combination of 10mm, 20mm and 40mm material

DOE design a "Concrete mix design form" to facilitate the design. The procedure is

illustrated in Figure 2 of reference [1].

EXAMPLES

Refer to reference [1] Examples 1 and 2.

TRIAL MIXES

The design gives only an estimated proportion of the mix for the expected properties.

Since there are many factors that affect the performance of concrete and not include in

the design consideration. Trial mixes have to be produced to verify the designed mix.

The mix design approach is based on the aggregate in a saturated and surface-try

condition (SSD). If the aggregate used for the trial mixes is not in such condition,

adjustment to the proportion of the mix must be made.

For example, if water absorption of the aggregate is 2%, the moisture content of the

aggregate on the basis of dry aggregate is 8% and the amount of aggregate for one

cubic meter of concrete is 540kg. The actual water added to the mix should be

reduced by

540 (0.08-0.02) = 32.4 kg

Accordingly the actual amount of aggregate added to the mix should be

Mix - 5

M wet

M SSD

540

574kg

1 ( M A) 1 (0.08 0.02)

where

Mwet = mass of wet aggregate with a moisture content of M

MSSD = mass of aggregate at SSD condition

M = moisture content

A = water absorption of the aggregate.

Water absorption of a aggregate in defined as the ratio of water required to bring an

aggregate from dry condition to SSD condition to the mass of dry aggregate.

QUESTIONS

1. Discuss the influence the following factors on the workability of a normal

concrete mix.

Shape of aggregate

Maximum size of aggregate

Grading of course aggregate

Grading of fine aggregate

2. The following is results from a sieve analysis test,

(a) calculate the per cent passing 600m sieve, and

(b) draw grading chart (size distribution chart) of the aggregate.

Sieve Size

(mm or m)

Mass Retained (g)

5

mm

11

2.36

mm

110

1.18

mm

230

600

m

273

300

m

286

150

m

69

75

m

7

Receiver

2

construction site. Determine the mean, standard deviation and characteristic

strength of the concrete at 2.5% defective level.

Results cube compressive strength on 150150 mm cubes (N/mm2)

19.6

20.8

26.5

23.4

31.2

29.5

31.5

32.4

22.9

23.5

20.9

22.2

23.2

18.3

25.3

29.5

21.5

24.4

17.5

22.1

26.2

13.9

19.2

25.4

34.1

21.1

18.5

24.7

23.5

19.0

16.0

30.1

20.8

25.6

25.4

29.8

21.7

27.0

22.0

23.4

20.5

29.9

26.8

31.9

23.2

26.6

24.2

30.6

22.1

25.0

20.8

26.0

30.5

21.6

27.8

25.9

27.9

30.9

19.9

18.6

40N/mm2, what should be the target mean strength when design a concrete mix.

5. How crushed and uncrushed coarse aggregate affect the strength of concrete?

Explain why.

6. Define the term Saturated and surface-dry condition.

7. Define the term "aggregate absorption".

8. Define the term "Free water" in the context of concrete mix proportions. Why use

free water instead of total water when design a concrete mix?

9. What is "relative density" of an aggregate? What is "bulk density of an aggregate?

What is "percentage void of an aggregate?

Mix - 6

10. If water absorption of course aggregate is 2 per cent; moisture content of the

aggregate is 4 percent; the water absorption of the fine aggregate is 3% and

moisture content of the fine is 6%. The designed mix proportion of the concrete is

given in the following table, calculate the amount of water that should be added

for one cubic meter of concrete. (Answer 94.2kg)

Proportion of a concrete mix (Per cubic meter)

Cement (kg)

350

Fine Aggregate (kg)

720

Course Aggregate (kg)

980 (20mm granite)

Superplasticiser (l)

7

Water (kg)

135.4

11. For the materials in Question 9, how other materials shall be adjusted in order to

achieve the required proportions?

12. If water absorption of course aggregate is 2 per cent, moisture content of the

aggregate is 0.5 percent, the water absorption of the fine aggregate is 3% and

moisture content of the fine is 1%. How the proportions of each material should

be adjusted in order to achieve the proportion of the mix in Question 9.

13. When mix concrete using dry aggregate, BS1881:Part 125 recommends that about

half of the total water be added first and mix a certain period of time before

adding the cement. What is the consideration?

14. In a trial mix, the cement content has reached the maximum specified quantity. To

achieve the specified concrete strength, the water/cement ration has to be kept

low, but the water added can not achieve the specified workability. What measures

you may taken so that both strength and workability requirement be satisfied.

15. Proportions of a concrete mix is shown in the following Table.

Proportions of a concrete mix (for 1 cubic meter)

Crushed

Crushed

Crushed

River

Cement

20mmAgg 10mmAgg. fine

Sand

400kg

700

350

420

280

Estimate the density of fresh concrete.

Mix - 7

Water

210

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