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INTERNATIONALJOURNALOFCIVILANDSTRUCTURALENGINEERING

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Researcharticle

ISSN0976 4399

Aparametricstudyforassessingtheeffectsofcoarsenessfactorand
workabilityfactoron concretecompressivestrength
WardaBintAshraf1, MunazAhmedNoor2
1Lecturer,DepartmentofCivilEngineering,Bangladesh University of Engineering
andTechnology(BUET),Dhaka1000,Bangladesh
2Professor,DepartmentofCivilEngineering,BangladeshUniversityofEngineering
andTechnology(BUET),Dhaka1000,Bangladesh
warda03@gmail.com
ABSTRACT
Aggregate as the main constituent of concrete (about 60 to 70% by volume) highly
affectsbothfreshandhardenedconcreteproperties.Thustominimizeconcretecostand
improve its quality it is necessary to achieve optimum aggregate gradation. Coarseness
Factor chart is one of the recent popular methods for achieving an optimum aggregate
gradation,whichrepresentstherelationshipbetweenCoarsenessFactorandWorkability
Factorof a mix. This paper utilizes several trial mix data to explorethe relationship of
Coarseness Factor and Workability Factor with different fresh and hardened concrete
properties.
Keywords:Aggregate,Gradation,Concrete,CoarsenessFactor,Compressivestrength
1.Introduction
Concreteconsistoftwosegments1)Aggregate,2)Paste(Abrams,1918),andthe main
vulnerable part is the paste portion. Minimum paste will mean less quantity of cement,
less quantity of water, which will further mean increased economy, higher strength,
lowershrinkage and greaterdurability (Shetty, 2002). All these properties of concrete
can be improved by having well graded aggregates. Thus, the importance of optimum
aggregate gradation arises. The most suitable aggregate gradation for a concrete mix,
however,willdependupontheactualgrading,particleshapesandsurfacetexture.
The optimization of aggregate gradation is advantageous for economical and technical
reasons.Therearevariousmethodsproposedbymanyresearchersforachievingoptimum
aggregate gradation. One way to achieve optimum gradation is to achieve maximum
density.But itwasalso foundthataggregatewith very highdensitywillresult in harsh
mix (Talbot et al. 1923 Walsh, 1933 Besson, 1935). Another method of achieving
optimumaggregategradationistheuseCoarsenessFactorchartsimultaneouslywith8
18 band gradation. Coarseness Factor chart was first introduced by Shilstone (1990).
Coarseness Factor chart mainly graphically characterizes the relationship between
Coarseness Factor and Workability Factor of a mix. However, still the relationships
between various properties of concrete with Coarseness Factor and Workability Factor
areunclear.Ithasbeenobservedinsomeresearchthattheseaggregatepropertiesdonot
haveanycleareffectsonhardenedconcreteproperties(McCalletal.2005).
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In this paper, to observe the effect of Coarseness Factor and Workability Factor on
concrete properties, eight concrete mix results are discussed. These mixes were so
designed that the water to cementitious material ratio (w/c ratio) and aggregate to
cementitious material ratio (a/c ratio) for all mixes were same, only the aggregate
gradationswerekeptvariable.Thusonlytheaggregategradationrelatedpropertieswere
varied(i.e.CoarsenessFactor,WorkabilityFactor,fineaggregatetototalaggregateratio
etc),whereotherimportantparameterremainingthesame(i.e.w/cratio, a/cratioetc).
1.1. CoarsenessFactor
CoarsenessFactorwasderivedfromtheaggregategradationtopredicttheworkabilityof
the concrete mix (Shilstone, 1990). Coarseness Factor is the proportion of plus 3/8"
coarse particles in relation to the total coarse particles, expressed as a percent. Total
aggregate gradation can be divided into three fractions (i) Coarse Fraction (Q):
Materials retained on 3/8" sieve, (ii) Intermediate Fractions (I): Passing 3/8" sieve and
retainedon#8,and(iii)FineFraction(W):Passing#8andretainedon#200(Shilstone,
1990).
ThusCoarsenessFactorexpressedas,
Q
CF =
100 %
Q + I

Here,CF=CoarsenessFactor.
ACoarsenessFactor=100wouldrepresentagapgradedaggregatewheretherewasno
#8 to 3/8inch material. A Coarseness Factor = 0 would be an aggregate that has no
materialretainedonthe3/8inchsieve.
1.2.WorkabilityFactor
WorkabilityFactoristhepercentofthecombinedaggregatethatpassestheNo.8sieve.
The Coarseness Factor Chart is based upon 6.0 sacks (564 pounds) of cementitious
materials per cubic yard (335 kg/m3). Thus, Workability Factor needs to be adjusted in
ordertoaccountfordifferentcementitiousamounts.Whentheamountofcementexceeds
6.0 sacks, the Workability Factor is adjusted plus 2.5 percent per sack of cement
equivalent. When the amount of cement is below 6.0 sacks, the Workability Factor is
adjustedminus2.5percentpersackofcementequivalent.
WF =W +

2.5(C- 564)
94

Where,
WF=WorkabilityFactor

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W=%ofaggregatepassing#8sieve.
C=CementContentofthemixinkg/m3
Here,it is noteworthythatWorkability Factordoesnotcorrelatewithslump(Shilstone,
2002).
1.3. CoarsenessFactorChart
Inregard totheCoarsenessFactorchart,theXaxisrepresentstheCoarsenessFactor,and
theYaxisrepresentstheWorkabilityFactor.Figure1showstheCoarsenessFactorchart
with its different zones. The Coarseness Factor chart is a method of analyzing the size
anduniformityofthecombinedaggregatedistribution,balancedwithrespecttothefine
aggregatecontentofthemix.TheCoarsenessFactordefinestherelationshipbetweenthe
coarseandintermediateparticles.Therearefivezonesidentifyingregionsforacceptance
orrejection.Iftheplotof xand y fallswithintheoptimum zone,this indicatesthatthe
mix is acceptable but it does not tell exactly what to fix if it is not acceptable. This is
useful as a quick check and the plot can be changed with modifications in the fine
aggregate(Fricks,2007).ThediagonalbaristheTrendBarthatdividessandyfromrocky
mixtures. Zone I mixtures segregate during placement. Zone II is the desirable zone.
ZoneIIIisanextensionofZoneIIfor0.5in.(13mm)andfineraggregate.ZoneIVhas
toomuchfinemortarandcanbeexpectedtocrack,producelowstrength,andsegregate
duringvibration.ZoneV istoorocky(Shilstone,2002).Therectangularboxwithinthe
zoneIIrepresentsthe optimum zone. This optimum zone was first marked by Harrison
(2004).
50

WorkabilityFactors(WF)

45

ZoneIV,Sticky

ZoneII,
WellGraded

40

Optimum
ZoneI,
GapGraded

35

30

ZoneIII,WellGraded,1/2inchand
finer

ZoneV,Rocky

25

20
100

90

80

70

60

50

40

30

20

10

CoarsenessFactors(CF)
Figure1:Differentzonesincoarsenessfactorchart

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2.Experiment
To observe the effect of Coarseness Factor and Workability Factor of aggregate on
concrete,mixdesignwasdone forafixedw/cratio,whereonlythesizedistributionof
aggregate were varied. 4" X 8" concrete cylindersamples were prepared and tested
accordingtoASTMstandardsat7days,14daysand28days.Threesampleswerecastin
eachcase.ThetestsweredoneusinglocalmaterialsinDhaka,suchaslocalcementbrand
(ensuringCEMIIB/Mstandards),localsand(FM=1.13),Sylhetsand(FM=2.75)and
local coarseaggregate(stonechips).Totaleighttrial mixeswereprepared.Forallthese
trialmixesnominalmaximumsizeofaggregatewas19mm.
2.1.Mix Proportion
Asitismentionedearlier,forallthetrialmixesw/cratioanda/cratiowerekeptconstant.
Thus forallthe mixes,quantity(weightbasis)ofwater,aggregateandcementwerethe
same for a given moisture condition. Table 1 shows the mix proportions in saturated
surfacedry(SSD)conditionofaggregates.
Component
Water
Cement
Aggregate

Required(kg/m3)
195
440
1790

ByWeight(kg)
4.0
9.1
36.9

Table1:MixProportionsinSSDConditionofAggregates
2.2.AggregateProperties
Table2showsthecombinedaggregatepropertiesfordifferenttrialmixes,obtainedfrom
standardtests. The shaded areas representthe maximum value of particular parameters.
From Table 2 it was observed that % void for all type of gradation are nearly same,
irrespective of well graded or not well graded aggregate, as it was proved by many
researchers(Karthik,2008 AshrafandNoor,2011 ).
Table2:CombinedAggregateProperties
MixID
Mix1
Mix2
Mix3
Mix4
Mix5
Mix6
Mix7
Mix8

Fineaggregateto
totalaggregate
ratio
0.47
0.48
0.35
0.54
0.54
0.38
0.33
0.49

FM

CF WF

2.82
2.57
2.37
3.28
3.59
3.15
2.83
2.81

71
57
55
52
45
56
65
59

47
45
35
45
42
34
31
44

Aggregate
Density
(kg/m3)
1664
1647
1701
1682
1664
1663
1666
1656

%Void
Content
36
37
35
35
36
36
36
36

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2.3. ConcreteProperties
Table3showsprimaryconcreteproperties,suchas,freshconcretedensity(kg/m3),
slump(mm)andcompressivestrength(MPa)forthetrialmixes.
Table3:ConcretePropertiesforDifferentMixes
MixID

Slump CompressiveStrength(MPa)
(mm)
7Days 14Days 28Days
32
18
26
30
65
21
29
31
0
38
39
46
0
38
45
47
6.5
35
42
51
3
33
38
50
25.5
28
33
37
32
29
31
40

FreshConcreteDensity
(kg/m3)

Mix1
Mix2
Mix3
Mix4
Mix5
Mix6
Mix7
Mix8

2302
2256
2204
2258
2284
2292
2290
2266

3.Discussion
3.1. PositionsinCoarsenessFactorChart
Figure2showsthepositionsofthetrialmixes intheCoarsenessFactorchart.Asitwas
mentioned earlier, cement contentofthese mixes was 195 kg/m3 (742lb/yd3) which was
greater than 6.0 sacks of cement (564lb/yd3). Therefore the Workability Factor was
adjustedfor thisincreasedcementcontentasfollowing

WF = W +

2.5(742- 564)
94

50

Mix1
Mix2
Mix8

WorkabilityFactors
(WF)

45

Mix4
Mix5

40

35

Mix3
Mix6
Mix7

30

25
78

68

58

48

38

CoarsenessFactors(CF)
Figure2:TrialmixpositionsonCoarsenessFactorchart.

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From the positions of the trial mixes in the Coarseness Factor chart it can be observed
that,onlytwomixes(mix3and mix6) fall inoptimum mixrange.Fromtable4 itcan
alsoberevealedthattheconcretepropertiesofthesemixes,beingobtainedfromstandard
tests,wereveryclosetoeachother.
Table4:ConcretePropertiesforOptimumzonemixes.
MixID Strength(MPa) Slump(mm) CF WF
Mix3
46
0
55 35
Mix6
50
3
56 34
Againconsideringanothergroupofmixes,thatis,mix2,4and8,itisclearfromFigure
2thatallthesemixesareinZoneIVofCoarsenessFactorchartforwhichtheproperties
areshownintable5.Fromthistableitisobservedthatalthoughthesemixesfallintothe
samezoneandalsotheCF,WFvaluesareveryclose,therearehardlyanysimilaritiesin
theirmajorconcreteproperties.
Table5:ConcretePropertiesforzoneIVmixes.
MixID Strength(MPa) Slump(mm) CF
Mix2
31
65
57
Mix4
47
0
52
Mix8
40
31.75
59

WF
45
45
44

AnotherobservationfromTable3isthatthemix5isabettermixthanmix3andmix6
(mixeswhichfallwithinoptimumzone)whencomparedonlyonthebasisofslumpand
28days compressive strength. Thus, it has the indication regarding a fact that any mix
withintheoptimumzonemaynotalwaysprovidebetterresultsforcompressivestrength
andworkabilitythananyothermixoutsidetheoptimumzone.
3.2.CoarsenessFactorandCompressiveStrength
Figure3showsthatthecompressivestrengthofconcretemixdecreaseswiththeincrease
of Coarseness Factor and viceversa. This is because an increase in Coarseness Factor
impliesadecreaseinintermediatesizeparticles,asdefinedinsection2.Thushigherthe
Coarseness Factor, the more the mix tends to be gapgraded, giving away a lower
compressivestrength.
Focusingonlyontheaggregatedensity, mix3wasthedensestand mix6wasthe most
gapgraded mix as featured in Table 2. But while only the Coarseness Factor (i.e. the
presence of intermediate particles) is under consideration, Table 2 clearly indicatesthat
mix1 was the most gapgraded and mix5 was the densest mix with sufficient
intermediate particles. Although the density of mix3 was maximum, butthere may not
be sufficient amount of intermediate particles, since its Coarseness Factor was higher

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thanmix5.Asaresultofthatthe28dayscompressivestrengthofmix5wasfoundtobe
higherthanthatof mix3(seeTable3).

28DaysCompressiveStrength(MPa)

Table2featuresanotherimportantobservation,thatis,theaggregatedensityofbothmix
5andmix1wasthesame(1664kg/m3).Eventhoughthesetwomixespossessthesame
aggregatedensity,persistentdifferentiationisnoticeableinbetween.Thatis,the28days
compressivestrengthofmix5was51MPaandCoarsenessFactorwas45andwhereas
formix1,the28dayscompressivestrengthwas30MPaandCoarsenessFactorwas71.
Thus the presence of intermediate particles highly affects the compressive strengths of
concrete which is in turn gives way to a definite relationship between compressive
strengthofconcreteandtheCoarsenessFactor.
55

45

35

R =0.622
25

R =0.6412
2

R =0.593
15
45

50

55

60

65

70

75

CoarsenessFactor(CF)
Figure3:Compressivestrength(MPa)ofconcretevs.CoarsenessFactor.
3.3. WorkabilityFactorandCompressiveStrength
From Figure 4, it seems that the compressive strength of concrete increases with the
increase of Workability Factor up to a certain limit, after that the strength starts
decreasingreversibly.Thismaybeduetothefactthat,finerparticlesarerequiredtofill
uptheinterparticlevoidsofcoarseparticles.Butafteracertainlimit,whentheamount
of finer particles are higher than the required the mix will become more sandy. Hence,
there should be a suitable range of Workability Factor to get a higher strength, as
indicatedbyFigure4itcanbe0.30to0.37.Butthisrangeneedstobemorepreciseby
applyinglargescaledatasets.

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28DaysCompressiveStrength(Mpa)

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55

45

R =0.562

35

R =0.2841
25
2

R =0.493
15
30

35

40

45

50

WorkabilityFactor
Figure4:Compressivestrength(MPa)ofconcretevs.WorkabilityFactor
4.Conclusion
This paper is based on the small scale experimental research which was attempted to
quantitatively prove the impacts of some recent aggregate gradation parameters on
concreteproperties.Themainobjectivewasfocusedtoestablishanypossiblerelationship
of the Coarseness Factor as well as the Workability Factor with hardened concrete
properties. From this research, it has been found that both the Coarseness Factor and
WorkabilityFactormighthaverelationshipswithconcretecompressivestrength.Butthe
preciseformoftheserelationshipsmustbeestablishedthroughacomprehensiveresearch
withlargescaledatasets.
Acknowledgement
The Concrete Laboratory of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology
(BUET)aregratefullyacknowledgedhereforprovidingallexperimentalfacilities.
5.References
1. Abrams, D. A.,1918, Design of Concrete Mixtures, Bulletin 1,Structural
MaterialsResearchLaboratory,LewisInstitute,1918.
2. Ashraf, W. B. and Noor, M. A., PerformanceEvaluation Of Concrete
Properties For Different Combined Aggregate Gradation Approaches. The
Twelfth East AsiaPacific Conference on Structural Engineering &
Construction,Hongkong,2011(unpublished)

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3. Besson, F. S., 1935, Case against surface area and Fineness modulus,
EngineeringNewRecord,114(7)
4. Fricks, T., 2007, Concrete for Durable Floors: What you need to know about
concretemixes,ConcreteConstructionMagazine.
5. Harrison,P.J.,2004,ForIdealSlabonGroundMixture,ConcreteInternational
,26(3),pp4955.
6. Karthik H. Obla and Haejin Kim., 2008, On Aggregate GradingIs good
concrete performance dependent on meeting grading limits?,Concrete
Iinternational,pp4550.
7. McCall, C. King, M.E. and Whisonant, M., 2005, Effects of Aggregate
Grading on Drying Shrinkage of Florida Concretes, Concrete International,
27(3),pp4549.
8. Shilstone, J. M. Sr., 1990,Concrete Mixture Optimization, Concrete
International:DesignandConstruction,12(6),pp3339.
9. Shilstone, J. M. Sr., 2002, Performancebased concrete mixtures and
specificationsfortoday,ConcreteInternational.
10. Shetty,M.S.,(2002)ConcreteTechnology,5th edition.
11. Talbot, A. N. and F.E. Richart, 1923, The Strength of Concrete And Its
RelationtoTheCement,Aggregate,Water,BulletinNo.137,pp1116.
12. Walsh, H. N.,1933, Simplified Concrete Mix Design, American Concrete
InstituteJournal,5(2),pp110120.

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