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Shotcrete as Underground Support

Dr Manoj Verman

What is Shotcrete?
Shotcrete is concrete shot from a
hose for supporting underground
openings

Shotcrete is applied in thin layers


Shotcrete is usually reinforced by
wire-mesh or steel fibres
Shotcrete is being used widely
around the world as underground
support

What does Shotcrete Consist of?


1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

Cement
Basic
Sand
Shotcrete
Coarse Aggregates Mix
Water
To improve
Additives

Shotcrete properties

These are mixed in predetermined proportions to


produce a Dry-mix or a Wetmix shotcrete

Factors affecting Shotcrete Performance


Shotcrete application system
Dry-mix or Wet-mix
Shotcrete equipment
Shotcrete mix design

Additives
Shotcreting technique and
nozzlemans skill
Rebound and dust

Factors affecting Shotcrete Performance


Bond of shotcrete layer with rock
surface
Shotcrete reinforcement Wiremesh or steel fibres
Shotcrete properties

Shotcrete testing and quality


control

Why should Shotcrete Support be Used?


Much faster and economical than
conventional support
Provides immediate support after
excavation which:
Controls rock mass deformation
Prevents loosening of roof rock
Maintains existing stability by
preventing new fractures
Mobilises inherent rock mass
strength

How does Shotcrete Stabilise Rock Mass?


Maintenance of existing stability

Fines squeezed into cracks and joints


produce a wedge effect like mortar between
bricks in a wall
Transfer of load in a weak zone to adjacent
stable rock mass through shear or adhesion
Shotcrete layer acts as a membrane in
bending or tension

Prevention of exposure of rock to changes


of moisture, effect of air & temperature,
washing effect of running water

How does Shotcrete Work?


1. Shotcrete is sprayed on rock surface
with high velocity (20 to 100 m/s)
2. Phase I
A thin layer of cement and fine
sand particles (<0.2 mm) is
formed which:
Penetrates pores, cracks, joints
in rock mass
Provides a foundation for
further build-up
Nearly 100% of coarse aggregates
rebound

How does Shotcrete Work? Contd.


3. Phase II
As impact of spray continues,
fines are squeezed into
pores, cracks and joints

Shotcrete starts sticking on


thin layer of fines and
shotcrete layer builds up
Rebound reduces
substantially

How does Shotcrete Work? Contd.

STEP 1

PHASE I

PHASE II
STEP 2

Shotcrete Application Systems


1.

Dry-Mix Process

Cement, sand and aggregates are mixed


and conveyed to nozzle of hose by
compressed air

Water is introduced under pressure at


the nozzle

Nozzle Design for Dry Shotcrete Equipment

Shotcrete Application Systems - Contd.


1.

Dry-Mix Process (Contd.)

Actual mixing with water takes place


at the wall. This requires circular
movements of nozzle

Dry-mix method produces high


rebound and dust

Shotcrete Application Systems - Contd.


2. Wet-Mix Process

All ingredients, including water, are


mixed and conveyed to nozzle for
spraying
Much less rebound and dust but
reduction in strength

Nozzle Design for Wet Shotcrete Equipment

Dry Shotcrete System

SBS Dry Shotcreting Machine

Wet shotcreting Equipment

Universal Spraying Machine (ALIVA 285)

Dry or wet?
Factor

Dry-Mix

Equipment Lower investment


Simple maintenance
More wear
Higher air consumption

Wet-Mix
3 times more
Higher maintenance
Less wear
Lower air
consumption

Mixing

Possible at site
Economical for smaller
amounts
Performance impaired by
wet sand

At mixing plant
Uneconomical for
smaller amounts
Wet sand acceptable

Output

Lower output
Can be conveyed over
longer distances than wet

Higher output

Dry or wet? Contd.


Factor

Dry-Mix

Wet-Mix

Rebound

High rebound
Rebound pockets
Loss of aggregates
changes mix design

Low rebound
No rebound pockets
Little loss of
aggregates

Dust

High dust
Poor visibility

Very little dust


Better visibility

Quality

Higher strength
Less homogeneous

Lower strength
More homogeneous

Dry or wet? Contd.


Factor

Dry-Mix

Wet-Mix

Impact
Velocity

Higher velocity
better adhesion
easier to use overhead

Adequate velocity for


tunnel/mining work

Operation

High dust
Poor visibility

Very little dust


Better visibility

Quality

Manually possible
More suitable for prompt
construction cycle and
intermittent shotcreting

Robot essential
Not suitable for such
operations

Mix Design

Same mix design principles as for


concrete mix design

Prime factors controlling strength and


quality are water/cement ratio, air
content and degree of consolidation

There are a number of considerations


in mix design in which shotcrete
differs from conventional concrete
structure, such as:

Aggregate gradation
Cementitious content

Mix Design Contd.


Theoretical design, in which sand and
course aggregates are mixed in
proportions which provide minimum void
volume to be filled with water and cement,
is generally satisfactory for dry mix
machines
For pumping wet mixes, additional
amounts of finest size sand and cement
are required to lubricate flow and ensure
that water cannot migrate through mix.
But, if proportion of fine sizes is
excessive, blockage will occur, especially
in long pipes
Considerable experience and test work are
required

Mix Design Contd.


1.
2.

Base Mix
Additives

Base Mix

Usually consists of:


Cement
Coarse aggregates Sand
-

About 20 %
15 to 20 %
60 to 65 %

Gradation analysis is essential

Gradation Curve
For overhead application - Finer side of envelope
For vertical application
- Middle of envelope
For downward application - Coarser side
Material Passing (% by
weight)

100

100

90

100

90

90

80
73

72

70

60
50

55

50

40

37

30

26

20
10

12
4

0
0.125

22

11
0.25

0.5

ISO Sieve (mm)

16

32

64

Mix Design Contd.


Base Mix (Contd.)

As a base rule, largest aggregate >


16 mm

Rebound increases drastically


with aggregates > 8 mm

Approximately 60 to 70 % of
aggregates greater than 8 mm are
contained in rebound

Sufficient fine particles of cement


and sand (< 0.2 mm) required

Mix Design Contd.


Base Mix (Contd.)

For dry mixes, portland cement content


should be within following limits
Fine shotcrete 0-4mm:

450 600 kg/m3

Shotcrete 0-8mm:

350 450 kg/m3

Course shotcrete 0-15mm:450 600 kg/m3

Mix Design Contd.


Base Mix (Contd.)

Water/Cement ratio = 0.40 to 0.45 for


dry-mix

Accurate water control by nozzleman

Insufficient water causes excessive


dust. Too much water causes
shotcrete to flow off surface

Water/Cement ratio for wet-mix to


produce slump = 50 mm to 150-175 mm
If more, cohesion is lost.

Mix Design Contd.

Higher rebound of coarse aggregates


and sand particles than that of cement

Therefore, cement content of in-place


shotcrete always higher than that of
as-batched shotcrete (especially for
dry mix in overhead application)

Thus, composition of sprayed-on mix


differs from initial mix

This has to be taken into account


during mix design to achieve desired
quality of final shotcrete

Mix Design Contd.


Composition of sprayed concrete
depends on:
Composition of initial mix
Design of spray nozzle
Impact speed of sprayed
material
Capability of operator
Surface to be sprayed
Dosage and type of additives
Reinforcement
Distance of spray nozzle from
surface
Angle of spraying

Additives
Accelerators

Accelerating chemical admixtures are used to:

Cause shotcrete to gain strength


more quickly to support tunnel at an
early stage

Reduce rebound of aggregates

Enable thicker layers to be sprayed in


one pass without wasting time in
waiting for previous layers to set

Enable shotcrete application on wet


surface

Additives Contd.
Accelerators (Contd.)

Setting times of 3 minutes for intial set


and 10 minutes for final set, with
minimum 8-hour compressive strength
of 5 MPa are sometimes required in
tunnelling and mining

These and even more rapid flash-set


setting times can be achieved by careful
selection of suitable cement and
accelerometer combination

Preconstruction evaluation of cement


and accelerometer is strongly
recommended to rule out incompatibility

Additives Contd.
Accelerators (Contd.)

Caution required in selecting accelerator


dosage as accelerators result in
strength reduction

Flash setting characteristics attained at


expense of drastic reduction in strength

Many modern accelerators have much


less detrimental effect on strength

Normal dosing of accelerators is around


2 % by wight of cement, but upto 7 %
used for extra rapid hardening

Additives Contd.
Accelerators (Contd.)
10
9

Time (Hours)

Effect of
caustic
accelerator
addition on
setting time
of dry-mix
shotcrete

Final Set

8
7
6
5
4
3

Initial Set

2
1
0
0

Accelerator (% by weight of cement)

Accelerators (Contd.)
35

Compressive strength
(MPa)

Influence of a
caustic
accelerator
dosage on
setting time
and
compressive
strength
development
of a plain drymix shotcrete

Additives Contd.

28 days

30
25

7
days

20
15

3
days
24
hours

10
5

0
0

Accelerator (% by weight of cement)

Additives Contd.
Accelerators (Contd.)

Use of accelerator dispensing


equipment results in uniformity of
dispersion of accelerator and less
variation in strengths

Excellent uniformity of accelerator


dispersion in dry-bagged premix
supply

Due to variation in rebounds, different


accelerator dosages required for
vertical and overhead applications
and for hard and soft surfaces

Other Additives
Silica Fume
By-product of silicon metal
production process
Fume is filtered from gases
escaping furnace and contains
very fine SiO2 particles
Light grey, extremely fine
powder

Other Additives Contd.


Silica Fume (Contd.)
Appreciation of silica fumes
fineness can be obtained from
values of specific surfaces:
Silica fume
20,000 m2/kg
Fly ash
400-700 m2/kg
Portland cement 300-400 m2/kg

Other Additives Contd.


Silica Fume (Contd.)
Dosage = 8 to 12 % by weight of
cement
Creates a very dense and sticky
mix by packing of ultra fine
particles between cement
particles

Other Additives Contd.


Silica Fume (Contd.)
Has high water demand due to
high specific surface water
demand of wet-mix shotcrete
increases from 160 to 220 l/m3
with 8-12 % silica fume
It is essential to use
superplasticizer to keep water
demand under control

Other Additives Contd.


Silica Fume (Contd.)
Increases adhesion very
useful in wet conditions

Reduces dust and rebound


Increases strength
Usually eliminates use of
accelerators

Other Additives Contd.


Silica Fume (Contd.)
Has a strong wash-out
resistance against water
Makes overhead application
of thick shotcrete layer
possible in a single pass

Silica Fume Chemical Action

Hydrated Cement

Pozzolana

Calcium Silicates

Silica Fume Dense Shotcrete

Other Additives Contd.


Water Reducing Agents (Plasticizers)

To reduce excess water contained in


wet-mix to prevent shrinkage cracks

Super Plasticizers

To improve workability of wet


shotcrete and to increase its
strength

Required for wet-mix silica fume


shotcrete to keep water demand
under control

Other Additives Contd.


Polymer Latex Additives

Could be added to dry-mix shotcrete for

Adhesion improvement
Permeability reduction
Resistance to chloride attack
Increased durability in freeze/thaw
Impact resistance
Steel protection
Strength improvement

Air-entraining Admixtures

For wet-mix subjected to freeze/thaw

Shotcreting Technique
Surface Preparation
Only a clean surface should be
sprayed

For more than one layer, each


layer surface should be cleaned
Surface is cleaned by using
spraying nozzle with compressed
air and water

Shotcreting Technique (Contd.)


Surface Preparation Contd.
Surface should be welldampened (but not having
flowing water)

Excessively dry surface will


draw too much water from
freshly sprayed shotcrete
If water is flowing on surface,
it will cause the shotcrete to
flow off the surface

Shotcreting Technique (Contd.)


Personnel

Skilled nozzleman and pump


operator are required

Nozzleman has to fight dust and


rebound while dry-spraying

Nozzleman has to hold heavy


hose filled with shotcrete while
wet-spraying

Pump operator is responsible for


providing constant flow of premixed shotcrete to nozzleman

Shotcreting Technique (Contd.)


Robot

Manual shotcreting requires an


operator for each nozzle plus a work
platform for close access to profile

Manual operation does not always


produce shotcrete of best quality,
particularly over irregular surfaces

Manual operation is arduous for


shotcreters heavy protective gear,
fierce rebound, fighting against high
pressure

Shotcreting Technique (Contd.)


Robot (Contd.)

Wet-mix process with spray robots is


preferred to dry-mix process for large
amounts of spray, especially for large
diameter tunnels

Successful shotcrete requires high


capacity system with high pressure
delivery for good compaction
manual control of nozzle impossible

Demand for faster tunnel construction


requires shotcrete application of more
than 10 m3 per hour

Shotcreting Technique (Contd.)


Robot (Contd.)

All these required development of


automated systems with remotely
controlled nozzle

A robot or spray arm not only replaces


nozzle operator but also utilises full
capacity of machine

This means shotcreting time can be


halved while producing good quality

Sequence movements of spraying can


even be programmed

Shotcreting Technique (Contd.)


Robot (Contd.)

Shotcrete Robot

Shotcreting Technique (Contd.)


Nozzle Distance

Usually 0.60 1.80 m

It should be such as to give best results:

Highest degree of compaction


Lowest rebound

Optimum nozzle distance depends on:

Aggregate size of mix


Grading curve
Required surface finish
Air pressure and speed of conveyed
material

Shotcreting Technique (Contd.)


Spraying Angle
Nozzle should be perpendicular to
surface but never more than 45o
At too great an angle, shotcrete
rolls or folds over, creating an
uneven, wavy textured surface
which can trap rebound and
overspray
This is wasteful and may create
porous and non-uniform shotcrete

Shotcreting Technique (Contd.)


Spraying Angle (Contd.)

Shotcreting Technique (Contd.)


Bond

Good shotcrete bond is a must for


proper interaction with rock mass
Poor bond leads to creation of
voids
Adhesion is better on firm, clean,
dry surface
Spraying against running water
leaves permanent erosion path
with no bond

Shotcreting Technique (Contd.)


Bond (Contd.)

Adhesion to hard, dry rock is


much higher while it is almost
zero in soft, damp ground

Practice of shotcreting only


above springing level can
succeed in hard, dry rock only

In soft, damp ground shotcrete


must be built up from invert

Shrinkage cracks reduce bond


(better bond in SFRS)

Shotcreting Technique (Contd.)


Bond (Contd.)

Silica fume increases bond even on


poor surfaces

Wire-mesh negatively affects the bond

Wires act as obstacles for shotcrete


to reach surface

At places of overbreaks, thick


shotcrete breaks the bond due to its
weight and falls on wire-mesh

Shotcrete may build up on wires,


creating voids behind

Shotcreting Technique Contd.


Rebound

Phase I and Phase II rebound

These phases are repeated for second


layer

Wire mesh vibrates and causes further


rebound

Rebound on wires is highest creating


poor shotcrete quality behind wires

Rebound is much less in wet-mix than


dry-mix

Shotcreting Technique Contd.


To Reduce rebound and Spraying Mist
Use high grade nozzle with a
compact spray jet
Use steel fibres instead of wiremesh
Use semi-wet spraying instead of
dry spraying
Add silica fume to increase
stickiness

Shotcreting Technique Contd.


To Reduce Rebound and Spraying
Mist (Contd.)

Use higher cement content and


more fines
Use smaller maximum size
aggregates and a finer gradation
Use proper moisture content
Maintain proper spraying angle

Shotcrete Reinforcement

Plain unreinforced shotcrete is a


relatively brittle material with little
capacity to resist tensile stress without
cracking

Therefore, shotcrete needs to be


reinforced

Conventional form of reinforcement is


placing of wire-mesh between two
shotcrete layers

This has several disadvantages and the


emphasis now is on Steel Fibre
Reinforced Shotcrete (SFRS)

Advantages of SFRS over Mesh Reinforced Shotcrete

Lower shotcrete consumption

Plain shotcrete

Rock

Welded wire mesh


Mesh pinned to
rock
Cover to mesh

Rock

Steel fibre
reinforced
shotcrete

Advantages of SFRS over Mesh Reinforced Shotcrete

Shotcrete builds up on wires of


mesh leaving voids behind and a
poor bond
Fixing of mesh is difficult and time
consuming
High rebound on wires

Big size aggregates hitting the


wires create vibrations resulting in
a poor bond

Advantages of SFRS over Mesh Reinforced Shotcrete

Thick shotcrete tends to fall


under its weight on the mesh,
breaking the bond

SFRS has better load carrying


capacity

Parameters Describing Fibres


Aspect Ratio (40 60)
Tensile Strength (>1000 MPa)
Geometrical Shape
(continuous deformation or
end deformation)

Aspect Ratio

Parameters Controlling Performance of Fibres in Shotcrete

Aspect Ratio

Volumetric Concentration

Geometrical Shape
The higher the aspect ratio and
volumetric concentration, the better
the SFRS performance w.r.t. flexural
strength, impact resistance,
toughness, ductility, crack
resistance

Parameters Controlling Performance of Fibres in Shotcrete

Unfortunately, the higher the aspect


ratio and volume concentration, the
more difficult the shotcrete becomes
to mix, convey and shoot

Thus, there are practical limits to the


amount of single fibre that can be
added to SFRS

Amount varies with different


geometrical characteristics of
several fibre types

Lose fibres with high l/d ratio are


difficult to add and spread evenly

Bundled and Separated Fibres

Separated fibres;
homogeneously reinforced
shotcrete mixture

Fibres glued in bundles


before mixing

Properties of Hardened SFRS Toughness

Main reason for adding fibres is to impart


ductility

Steel fibres improve energy absorption,


impact resistance and crack resistance of
shotcrete

Steel fibres enable shotcrete to continue to


carry load after cracking (post-crack
behaviour)

A variety of tests have been developed to


measure and quantify the improvements in
SFRS. Toughness test is one such test.

Properties of Hardened SFRS - Toughness

Load-deflection Curve of SFRS

Properties of Hardened SFRS Toughness


(Contd.)

Load-deflection Curve of Fully Elasto-plastic Material

Properties of Hardened SFRS Flexural Strength

Flexural strength improves with increasing


aspect ratio and fibre volume concentration

This improvement is, however, fairly small


for fibre types and dosages commonly
used in SFRS

High flexural strengths can be more readily


and economically produced by increasing
matrix flexural strength by using materials,
such as, silica fume and superplasticizers,
or ploymer latex addition

Therefore, simple improvement of flexural


strength alone is not a good reason for
adding steel fibres to shotcrete mix

Properties of Hardened SFRS Compressive Strength

Little influence of normal fibre dosages (30


to 80 kg/m3) on compressive strength

Compressive strength is mainly controled


by shotcrete mix design

For higher compressive strengths, addition


of silica fume is benefitial

Compressive strength of more than 70 MPa


can be easily achieved with appropriate
combinations of silica fume and additives

Such high strength shotcrete would be


quite brittle. Addition of fibres will change
the mode of failure from brittle to ductile

Properties of Hardened SFRS Compressive Strength

Compressive Toughness of SFRS

Properties of Hardened SFRS Compressive Strength


(Contd.)

Compressive Toughness
of SFRS

Properties of Hardened SFRS Shrinkage Crack


Resistance

Crack Width versus


Time for various
Volume Percentage of
Steel Fibres

Average Crack Width (mm)

Properties of Hardened SFRS Shrinkage Crack


Resistance (Contd.)

Experimental
results

Average Crack Width


versus Fibre Volume
Results from
theoretical analysis

Fibre Volume (%)

Properties of Hardened SFRS Fatigue Resistance


Improved fatigue resistance
Ability to carry large number of
repetitive load cycles at a
higher stress level than a plain
shotcrete, without suffering
distress
SFRS has been used to a good
advantage for repair of bridge
structures for this reason

Properties of Hardened SFRS Impact Resistance


Improved impact resistance

Resistance to absorb impact


or blasting forces

SFRS with accelerators


particularly useful for lining
tunnels immediately behind
excavated tunnel face and
subjected to blasting
stresses hours after
shotcrete placement

Properties of Hardened SFRS Durability


Corrosion resistance of SFRS is
governed by the same factors
that influence corrosion
resistance of conventional RCC
In uncracked SFRS, steel fibres
in immediate surface layer
corrode to depth of carbonation

Interior fibres remain totally


protected

Properties of Hardened SFRS Durability

In cracked SFRS, fibres do corrode but


much of the composite strength may be
retained as fibres can tolerate
considerable reduction in diameter by
corrosion before failing and permitting
unrestricted crack opening

In severe exposure conditions, stainless


steel or galvanized steel fibres may be
used

Fibres in SFRS are non-continuous and,


hence, do not allow any mechanism for
propagation of corrosion, unlike wiremesh

Quality Control of SFRS


Control of all factors affecting
SFRS performance
Testing of SFRS

Thickness and Profile Control


Curing

Testing of SFRS
Spraying of test panels
Compressive strength

28-day strength
Early strength

Flexural strength and


toughness indices
Bond Strength
Modulus of Elasticity
Permeability
Fibre Content

Field Studies
First Three Trials
Total quantity
Cement
Sand
Aggregates
Steel fibres

:
:
:
:
:

1710 kg
300
1043
367
30

Last Trial
Total quantity
Cement
Sand
Aggregates
Steel fibres

:
:
:
:
:

855 kg
150
564
141
15

Field Studies Contd.


Parameters Studied
Overall rebound
Fibre rebound
Coarse aggregate rebound

Influence of aggregate
gradation
Influence of nozzlemans skill

Recommended and Used Gradation

Material Passing (% by
weight)

100
90
80

Upper bound of
recommended range

Coarser gradation

(first three trials)

70
60

Finer gradation

50

(last trial)

40
30

Lower bound of
recommended range

20
10
0
0.125

0.25

0.5

ISO Sieve (mm)

16

32

64

Overall Rebound during SFRS Trials

Overall Rebound, %

80

Poor nozzlemanship
No accelerator

70

Poor nozzlemanship
Accelerator used

60

50
40

ROOF
WALL

30

WALL
(skilled
nozzleman)

WALL
(unskilled
nozzleman)

20
10

Coarser

Coarser

Coarser

Finer

0
First trial

Second trial

third trial

Fourth trial

Fibre Rebound during SFRS Trials

Coarser gradation

Fibre Rebound %

54
52

Finer gradation

50
48
46

44
42
40
Third trial

Fourth trial

Decreasing Fibre Rebound with Increasing Fine


Aggregates

Fibre Rebound, %

90

80
70

60
50

40
30
1250

1255

1260

1265

1270

1275

Fine aggregates, kg

1280

1285

1290

Shotcrete Simulator
One of the major reasons for poor quality and high

rebound of shotcrete is scarcity of trained nozzlemen


While other factors governing shotcrete
performance, such as, mix design, laboratory testing
etc., can be controlled, a lot of uncertainty results
from variability of shotcrete spray due to different,
and often inadequate, levels of skills of nozzlemen
It is, therefore, very useful to train the nozzlemen
using shotcrete simulator

Shotcrete Simulator
Shotcrete simulator is a computer control virtual

training device that offers hands-on training to


nozzlemen by creating 7 different types of tunnel
environments, which are based on 3D scans of real
tunnels, and through 17 assignments.
Shotcrete simulator is displayed using 3D technology,
which gives the nozzlemen depth perception in the
tunnel in order to be able to sense that they have the
right angle and distance from nozzle to rock surface.

Shotcrete Simulator

Assignments
Assignment 1:
Assignment 2:
Assignment 3:

Assignment 4:

spraying

Control and robot booms


Angle and distance- Horizontal
spraying
Angle and distance- Vertical
spraying
Both vertical and horizontal

Assignments
Assignment 5:
Assignment 6:
Assignment 7:
Assignment 8:
Assignment 9:
Assignment 10:
Assignment 11:

Thickness
Area thickness
Cover area
Cover area with certain thickness
Cover area with multiple
thicknesses
Efficient spraying
Corner spraying Etc

Environments