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DEVELOPMENT OF STRUCTURAL LIGHTWEIGHT FOAMED

CONCRETE USING POLYMER FOAM AGENT

K.-J. Byun, H.-W. Song* and S.-S. Park


Department of Civil Engineering, Yonsei Univ., Seoul 120-749, Korea
Y.-C. Song
Korea Electric Power Co., Daejeon, Korea

ABSTRACT
Lightweight foamed concrete is a concrete made by cement slurry mixed with prefoamed
foams so that foam concrete is lighter than conventional concrete. The objectives of this
study is to develop optimal prefoamed lightweight foamed concrete possessing improved
lightness, flowability and strength by using polymer foam agent, admixtures and industrial
by-products such as styrofoam, silica-fume and fly-ash. In this paper, extensive test data
on lightweight foamed concrete are presented. This paper also presents the mechanical
characteristics of developed lightweight foamed concrete including long-term behaviors and
their improvement. It is expected that this study provides an important guide to manufacture
structural lightweight foamed concrete using polymer foam agent.

1. INTRODUCTION
Lightweight foamed concrete is a kind of lightweight concrete, which is lighter than
normal concrete by mixing foams into cement slurry [1]. According to foaming type,
lightweight foamed concrete is classified as pre-foaming type foamed concrete which is
mixed by prefoamed foams in cement slurry, after-foaming type foamed concrete which
is mixed with foaming agents such as aluminum powder and zinc powder, and
mixed-foaming type foamed concrete which is mixed with surface active agent into cement
slurry during mixing [2]. In this study, lightweight foamed concrete is manufactured by
the pre-foaming type because of its advantages for controlling the quantity of the foam
and easiness of placing during construction. The foam agent is the most important factor
for the foamed concrete and foam agents are classified as polymer foam agent, protein
foam agent and surface active agent. Protein foam agent compounded of animal blood and
gelatin is made of several kinds of amino acid and makes about 0.20.8mm size of a
pore in the cream at the time of foaming. Surface active agent is made of alkyl benzene
sulfonate and is hard to obtain stable foams in cement slurry at the time of foaming. In
this study, polymer
------------------------------------------------------------------------* Correspondence to : H.-W.Song, Dept. of Civil Eng., Yonsei Univ., Seoul 120-749, Korea
song@bubble.yonsei.ac.kr

foam agent is used since the polymer foam agent does not have the defect due to corrosion
and bad smells due to chloride and zinc, and also the polymer foam agent develops stable
pores films surrounding the foam. As a polymer compounded of water repelling hydrocarbon
and water attaching hydrocarbon, the polymer foam agent has neutral PH and makes about
0.10.4mm size of a pore in the state of white cream at the time of foaming. In order
to use industrial by-product for the partial substitution of the foam, expanded polystyrene
bead (so-called styrofoams) is also used. Styrofoams, which is used to have brown color
and round shape, are normally manufactured by expanding petroleum, coal-tar and
polystyrene in heat. Styrofoams do not absorb water because it is consist of about million
closed cellulars. In manufacturing processes of the foamed concrete as shown in Fig.1,
the foams are made by compressed air in pre-foaming method. Dilute water and foam
agent with ratio of 50:1 are used to make foams at foaming instrument. Omnimixer which
has 250l capacity is used for mixing, and only vibrated compaction is performed to minimize
antifoaming. Curing is performed in curing room at the normal temperature for at least
48 hours and then continued in curing tank at 202 for 28 days. In this study, we
define the optimal lightweight foamed concrete as a foamed concrete which has more than
180mm flow value, more than 30kg/cm2 compressive strength, and about 0.5t/m3 unit volume
weight.

cement

admixtures

styrofoam

Compressed
air

foaming
instrument

foam agent,
dilute water

water (3/4)

foam

water (1/4)

foamed concrete

Fig.1 Manufacturing process of foamed concrete

2. DEVELOPMENT OF OPTIMUM FOAMED CONCRETE


For the purpose of developing the optimum foamed concrete, influencing mixing factors
are analyzed and optimum mix proportions are obtained for required flowability, unit volume
weight and compressive strength. In this study, styrofoam is used as partial substitution
for the foam. The specific weight of styrofoam is 0.03 which is less than that of foam
(0.05). Fig.2 shows compressive strengths for different substitution ratios of styrofoam.
When the ratio of styrofoam B to foam F is 3:7, i.e. B:F=3:7, the compressive strength
[kg/cm2] is 36.6kg/cm2 which is larger than that of pure foamed concrete (24kg/cm2) for
the case of 0.55t/m3 of unit volume weight. Therefore, the optimum substitution ratio of
styrofoam is 30% of the foam. It is found that 5% of silica-fume replacement for cement
increases the strength of the foamed concrete most effectively for the case of 30% styrofoam
substitution. It is also found that fly-ash affects durability of the foamed concrete which
will be discussed later but it does not increase the strength of the foamed concrete. According
to test result, mixing ratio of fine aggregate does not affect to the strength of the foamed
concrete. When unit weight of cement is 450520 kg/cm2 and water cement ratio is 0.5,
foamed concrete is satisfied to required compressive strength and unit volume weight. Thus
optimum mix proportions are summarized at Tab.1.

Tab.1 Optimum mix proportions


factor
ratio
comment
factor
ratio
comment
water-cement ratio
0.5
fine aggregate
0
unit weight of
450520 460, if *B:F pore ratio (P)
0.550.6
cement C ()
5:5
amount of styrofoam
30
amount of silica-fume
5
20, if no styrofoam
is used
(P %)
(C %)
* B:F = the ratio between styrofoam (B) and foam (F)

Fig.3 shows compressive strength normalized by compressive strength without pore ( 0) for
different pore ratios P which can be expressed as eq.1 and eq.2 by regression analysis. These equations
are similar with those by Balshin and Ryshkewitch [3][4].
= 0(1-P)4
(1)
= 0e-6P
(2)
The pore ratio has also direct relationship with unit volume weight of the foamed
concrete. The relationship between pore ratio and unit volume weight con [t/m3] by
regression analysis is obtained as eq.3.
con = 2.1 - 2.3P
(3)
Flowability is estimated from flow values. The flow value 180 is regulated as standard
value to acquire sufficient flowability because it enables 500m pumping without material
segregation [5]. Foamed concrete with styrofoam is verified to have more than 180 flow
value when water-cement ratio is more than 0.5.

/0 10

Fig. 2 Compressive strength change


by substitution ratio of styrofoam

Eq. 1
Eq. 2

Fig. 3 Relationship between pore ratio and


compressive strength

3. MECHANICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF FOAMED CONCRETE


3.1 Compressive strength
From the experiments, the relationship between unit volume weight and compressive strength
ck of lightweight foamed concrete, when water-cement ratio is 0.5 and sand-cement ratio
is 0, is obtained as shown in Fig.4 and can be expressed as eq.4.
ck = 1.5 e5 con
(4)
Fig.5 shows the relationship between compressive strength at the age of 7 days (7 )
and compressive strength at the age of 28 days (28 ) of lightweight foamed concrete, which
can be also expressed as eq.5.
28 = 1.27 7 + 2.57
(5)

Fig. 4 Relationship between unit weight


and compressive strength

Fig. 5 Relationship between 7 and 28 days


strength by unit weight

3.2 Young's modulus and Poisson's ratio


In this study, secant slope which connects origin of stress-strain curve and point of 50% ultimate
strength is defined as Young's modulus E. Tab.2 shows the Young's modulus for different unit volume
weights.
Tab. 2 Unit weight, compressive strength, Young's modulus of foamed concrete
unit weight (t/m3) compressive strength (kg/cm2) Young's modulus(104kg/cm2)
0.39
7.38
0.4
0.49
15.4
0.8
0.55
36.6
1.6
0.64
47.0
2.3
It can be seen that Young's modulus of foamed concrete is about 0.33104 kg/cm2, which
is 115% of that of normal concrete. From the regression analysis, an equation to derive the Young's
modulus can be expressed as eq.6.
E = 6326 (con)1.5 ck
(6)
The average Poisson's ratio of lightweight foamed concrete is measured as 0.2.
3.3 Tensile strength
For 1020cm cylindrical specimens of foamed concrete with W/C=0.5, tensile strength
is obtained by splitting test method. Tensile strength of foamed concrete is about 1.4
8.1kg/cm2 when con = 0.380.75t/m3. Fig.6 shows relationship between compressive
strength and tensile strength t , which can be expressed as eq.7.
t = 1.03 ck
(7)
While the ratio of tensile strength to compressive strength is 0.080.11 in normal
concrete, the ratio in lightweight foamed concrete is 0.20.4.
3.4 Flexural strength
Flexural-strength tests of foamed concrete for W/C=0.5 are performed for 4416cm
beam specimens by three points bending test. Flexural strength b of foamed concrete is about
314kg/cm2. The ratio of the flexural strength to the compressive strength of foamed
concrete is about 0.30.6. Fig.7 shows relationship between compressive strength and
flexural strength, which can be expressed as eq.8.
b = 1.74 ck
(8)

Fig. 6 Relationship between compressive strength


and splitting tensile strength

Fig. 7 Relationship between compressive


strength and flexural strength

3.5 Pores of lightweight foamed concrete


Decrease of pore size of the foamed concrete generally increases strength. In general,
the pores are composed of macro pore and micro pore. Macro pore is measured by image
analysis and micro pore is measured by mercury inserting method [6]. For eight specimens
of the foamed concrete without styrofoams which have pore ratio of 0.76, 0.72, 0.69, 0.65,
0.61, 0.59, 0.58, 0.51 and 1010cm sectional area, image analyses are performed to measure
average size and distribution of macro pore. Average pore size is 250460. Fig.8 shows
relationship between average pore size D () and compressive strength, which can be
expressed as eq.9.
ck = 243e -0.01D
(9)
Fig.8 and Fig.9 show relationship between pore ratio and average pore size, which can be expressed
as eq.10. It shows that average pore size increases as pore ratio increases.
D = 663P2 - 113P
(10)

PORE SIZE () (D)

Fig. 8 Relationship between mean pore size


and compressive strength

Fig. 9 Relationship between mean pore ratio


and mean pore size

4. IMPROVEMENT OF MATERIAL PROPERTIES


4.1 Improvement of compressive strength
A method to improve the compressive strength, while maintaining the unit weight
constant, is to intensify strength of cement paste by replacing some portion of cement by
silica-fume. Fig.10 shows compressive strengths for different amount of silica-fume
replacements. Specimens of no.6 show that 86 kg/cm2 of compressive strength, when con
= 0.86t/, is obtained by replacing 30% of cement by silica-fume and maintaining W/C
= 0.2 by using super plasticizer. Fig. 11 shows that lightweight foamed concrete developed
in this study has maximum 4 times of improvement in compressive strength than

120
120
100
100

N o .1 : W /C 0 .2 5
S F 0%
N o .2 : W /C 0 .3 0
S F 15%
N o .3 : W /C 0 .3 5
S F 20 %
N o .4 : W /C 0 .3 5
S F 2 5%
N o .5 : W /C 0 .3 0
S F 3 0%
N o .6 : W /C 0 .2 0
S F 30%

80
80
60
60
40
40
20
00

No.1

No.2

No.3

No.4

No.5

COMPRESSIVE STRENGTH (/)

UNIT WEIGHT(t/) COMPRESSIVE STRENGTH(/)

conventional one.

No.6

-20
0.2
-40
0.4
-60
0.6
-80
0.8
-100
1.0
1.2
-120

80

60

40

20

0
1 OS
J EW

Fig 10 Compressive strength


and unit weight per mixing

2 M AL
3
N OR
COPPER
FOAM CO N C. CO M

5
EN T
M O N O4CRETE IM PR OVEM
STR EN G TH

Fig 11 Comparison of compressive strength


of foamed concrete

4.2 Properties of foamed concrete with flash-setting agent


For the practical use of lightweight foamed concrete, it is sometimes necessary to obtain required strength
in early age [7]. In this study, time to reach 8cm of critical flow value in flow test of fresh concrete
by using different mixing ratio of flash-setting agent are compared for the cases of both pure foamed
concrete and styrofoam-mixed concrete. As shown at Fig.12(a),(b), setting time becomes shorter when
mixing ratio of flash-setting agent becomes higher. When mixing ratio of flash-setting agent is 10%, setting
time is shortened to 7080%. Adding styrofoam also makes the setting time shorter, but it leads to decrease
of flowability. So, it is desirable to increase styrofoam replacing ratio and flash-setting agent mixing ratio
only for urgent construction. Fig.13 shows change of compressive strength with respect to the age of normal
foamed concrete and 8% flash-setting agent mixed foamed concrete. Normal foamed concrete shows 40%
of strength increase within 3 days, but foamed concrete with flash-setting agent shows 70% of increase.
20

Flash-setting agent 0%
Flash-setting agent 6%
Flash-setting agent 8%
Flash-setting agent 10%

14

12

14

12

10

10

100

200

300

400

500

600

700

MIN.

Flash- setting agent 0%


Flash- setting agent 6%
Flash- setting agent 8%
Flash- setting agent 10%

16

FLOW (cm)

FLOW (cm)

16

18

800

COMPRESSIVE STRENGTH (/)

18

100

200

300

400

500

600

700

12

Normal foam concrete


Flash- setting agent
mixing rate (8%)

800

MIN.

(a) pure foamed concrete

16

10

15

20

25

30

AGE (day)

(b) foamed concrete with styrofoam

Fig. 12 Flow change as adding


flash-setting agent

Fig. 13 Change of compressive


strength as aging

4.3 Improvement of strength by fiber reinforcement


To improve the flexural strength and the tensile strength of lightweight foamed concrete, vynylon
fibers are mixed with cement paste as fiber reinforcer. For 28 days tensile strength, we obtained
1.97 times improvement effect of tensile strength with 19mm vynylon fiber and 2.04 times with
30mm vynylon fiber. We obtained 1.44 times improvement of tensile strength with 30mm vynylon
fiber in splitting test. For flexural strength, we obtained 1.3 times of improvement with 30mm vynylon
fibers.
4.4 Impact behavior
Resistance to impact are estimated with impact hammer and F.F.T. analyzer to study dynamic
properties of lightweight foamed concrete. As seen in Tab.3, natural frequency and damping time
of each specimen are compared by estimating properties of acceleration and transmission function
of acceleration at each frequency.

Tab. 3 Dynamic properties of lightweight foamed concrete specimens


type
no. 1
no. 2
no. 3
no. 4
pore ratio 0.71 pore ratio 0.63 pore ratio 0.55 pore ratio 0.47
dynamic properties
198
194

194
278

192
326

174
365

0.13

0.097

0.055

0.032

natural frequency ()
damping time (10-3sec)
impact coefficient (i)

Damping effect decreases as pore ratio decreases due to increase of the damping time. And
impact coefficient which is obtained by static amplitude to dynamic amplitude ratio at the time
of impact decreases as pore ratio decreases. Thus it is founded that more pore ratio of foamed
concrete decrease, more resistance of impact increase and absortion of impact decrease. Fig.14 and
Fig.15 compare transmission function of acceleration and acceleration element for specimen 1 and
4.
2.5
104

ACCELERATION ()

ACCELERATION ()

No.4 specimen

No.1 specimen
No.4 specimen

2.0

1.5

1.0

0.5

82

60

No.1 specimen
22

00

0.0
0

100

200

300

0.50

400

Fig. 14 Transmission function of acceleration


of foamed concrete

0.55

TIME ( 10- 3 sec)

FREQUENCY (Hz)

Fig. 15 Acceleration element of


foamed concrete

5. PROPERTIES OF LONG TERM BEHAVIORS


For the improvement of durability, fly-ash is used as partial replacement of cement.
5.1 Shrinkage
Fig.16 shows shrinkage properties of lightweight foamed concrete with different mixing
factors. It can be seen that styrofoam and fly-ash (FA) reduce shrinkage and shrinkage
strain more than 50%.
5.2 Heat of hydration
Temperature due to heat of hydration in the center of lightweight foamed concrete in
the field, rises up to 95 at highest and kept over 60 after 150 hours by thermal insulator
effect of foamed concrete. But, few cracks by temperature occurs due to relax confinement
of foams.
5.3 Freezing and thawing
Properties of freezing and thawing of lightweight foamed concrete are obtained by quick
test in water. Tab.4 shows weight change, relative dynamic-elastic coefficient and durability
index. Durability index of lightweight foamed concrete to freezing and thawing are about
524, and it shows that lightweight foamed concrete does not have enough resistance
to freezing and thawing. From the Tab.4, it can be seen that the resistance to freezing
and thawing is improved by using styrofoam and fly-ash.

no.

note

1-1
1-2
2-1
2-2
3-1
3-2
4-1
4-2

B:F=3:7

Tab. 4 Freezing and thawing test results


weight change (%)
relative dynamic
durability index
elastic coefficient (%)
(DF)
109.36
110.37
118.48
122.14
115.58
118.34
98.87
112.33

B:F=3:7
FA=10%
B:F=1:9
B:F=2:8

89.30
92.75
87.64
96.29
95.44
85.91
96.38
81.85

16.07
22.06
21.03
23.11
5.09
4.58
5.14
20.06

5.4 Permeability
From permeability test, permeability coefficients are obtained as 9.510-87.210-4
cm/sec, the range is similar to that of coarse-grained silt and coarse-grained clay, and it
is more than 50 times larger than that of normal concrete. Fig. 17 shows that the permeability
coefficient of lightweight foamed concrete is proportional to unit weight and inversely
proportional to pore ratio.

SHRINKAGE STRAIN ( )

1500

1000

500
Styrofoam
Styrofoam
Styrofoam + fly ash
Styrofoam + fly ash
O n ly foam
O n ly foam

-500
10

20

30

40

50

60

AG E (day)

Fig. 16 Shrinkage strain as mixing factors

PERMEABILITY COEFFICIENT (cm/sec)

10 -3
2000

10 -4

10 -5

10 -6

10 -7
0.60

0.65

0.70

0.75

PO R E R ATE

Fig. 17 Change of permeability


coefficient as pore ratio

6. CONCLUSIONS
By using the polymer foam agent, we develop a lightweight foamed concrete which has
more than 180 flow value and increased compressive strength than conventional one.
Compressive strength of the developed lightweight foamed concrete is 36.6/ when unit
volume weight is 0.55t/ and 86/ for 0.86t/. From the experiments for different
mixing factors, optimum mix proportion of lightweight foamed concrete is presented and
the mechanical characteristics including long term behavior and the durability of developed
foamed concrete with different mix proportions are also presented.

REFERENCES
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Relationship between Compressive Strength and Density of Autoclaved Aerated Concrete
made from Slate Powder and Portland Cement", Silicates Industrials, Vol. 43, 1978, pp.
57-64.
[2] Short, A. and Kinniburgh, W., "Lightweight Concrete", 3rd Ed., Applied Science
Publishers Ltd., London, 1978, pp. 1-14.
[3] Watson, K. L., "Autoclaved Aerated Concrete from Slate Waste, Part 2 : Some

Property/Porosity Relationships", The International Journal of Lightweight Concrete, Vol.


3, No. 2, 1980, pp. 121-123.
[4] Edan, N. B., Manthorpe, A. R., Miell, S. A., Szymanek, P. H. and Watson, K.
L.,"Autoclaved Aerated Concrete from Slate Waste, Part 1 : Some Property/Density
Relationships", The International Journal of Lightweight Concrete, Vol. 2, No. 2, 1980,
pp. 95-100.
[5] Zhang, M. H. and Gjorv, O. E., "Permeability of High-Strength Lightweight Concrete",
ACI Material Journal, Vol. 88, No. 5, 1991, pp. 463-469.
[6] Neville, A. M., "Properties of Concrete", Pitman, 3rd Ed., pp. 605-629.
[7] John, S. L. and Edward, K. R., "Comparing Quick-Set and Regular CLSM", Concrete
International, Vol. 19, 1997, pp. 34-39.