You are on page 1of 4

Cement:

standards and selection


1. Introduction
In 1996 South Africa adopted new specifications for
cement. These ready-to-use, portland-based, cements used
in building and construction are divided by the specifications
into two broad categories: common cements intended for
use in concrete (although some may be suitable for mortar
and plaster mixes), and masonry cements intended for
bedding mortars and plasters.

The aim of this leaflet is to inform users of the requirements


of these new standards and give guidelines on the selection
and use of cements covered by the standards. Common
cements and masonry cements are discussed in sections 2
and 3 respectively. South African cement standards are
mandatory and the sale of any cementitious product not
bearing the SABS mark is therefore illegal.

Table 1: Common cement types and composition: proportions by mass[1] (From ENV 197-1, abridged)

Cement
type

Description

Portland cement

Notation

Clinker

Silica
fume

Granulated
blastfurnace
slag
S

Fly ash

Limestone

Minor
additions &
constituents[2]

D[3]

Siliceous
V

Calcareous
W

95-100

0-5

ll/A-S

80-94

6-20

0-5

ll/B-S

65-79

21-35

0-5

ll/A-D

90-94

6-10

0-5

Il/A-V

80-94

6-20

0-5

ll/B-V

65-79

21-35

0-5

ll/A-W

80-94

6-20

0-5

ll/B-W

65-79

21-35

0-5

ll/A-L

80-94

6-20

0-5

ll/B-L

65-79

21-35

0-5

Portland slag cement


Portland silica
fume cement

II

Portland fly ash


cement

Portland limestone
cement
Portland composite
cement

III

IV

Blastfurnace cement

Pozzolanic cement

ll/A-M

80-94

6-20[4]

ll/B-M

65-79

21-35[4]

lll/A

35-64

36-65

0-5

Ill/B

20-34

66-80

0-5

lll/C

5-19

81-95

0-5

lV/A

65-89

11-35

0-5

lV/B

45-64

36-55

0-5

V/A

40-64

18-30

18-30

0-5

V/B

20-39

31-50

31-50

0-5

Composite cement

NOTES
[1] The values in the table refer to the cement nucleus, excluding calcium sulphate and any additives.
[2] Minor additional constituents may be filler or may be one or more of the main constituents unless these are included as main
constituents in the cement.
[3] The proportion of silica fume is limited to 10%.
[4] The proportion of filler is limited to 5%.

The leaflet deals only with cements covered by the new


standards, ie portland cement and factory-blended products.
Site blends fall outside the scope of this leaflet. Specialist
advice should be sought for all site blending.
The appendix covers the types of extenders and fillers, how
they are produced and their effect on various properties of
concrete.

Table 2: Compressive strength requirements


Compressive strength, MPa
Strength
class

Early strength

Standard strength

2 days

7 days

32,5 R

16,0

32,5 R

10,0

2. Common cements

42,5 R

10,0

These are cements formulated primarily for use in concrete,


although some may be suitable for sand-cement mixes.

42,5 R

20,0

52,5 R

20,0

52,5 R

30,0

Common cements consist of portland cement only, or a


blend of portland cement and extender or filler.
2.1 Standard
From July 1996, when the European standard was adopted,
the South African standard for common cements became
SABS ENV 197-1 Cement composition, specifications
and conformity criteria Part 1: Common cements. The
standard specifies a number of properties and performance
criteria. Composition and strength are required to be
displayed by the manufacturer on the packaging of each
cement produced.
2.1.1 Composition
The standard specifies composition of cements according
to the proportions of constituents, ie portland cement,
extenders and fillers, as shown in Table 1. (Only materials
available in South Africa are shown.)
2.1.2 Strength performance
The standard specifies strengths which are determined in
accordance with SABS EN 196-1 Methods of testing cement.
Part 1: Determination of strength; using a water:cement
ratio of 0,5. These are shown in Table 2. Note that strengths
must clear an early-age hurdle and fall within a window
at 28 days.

28 days
32,5

52,5

42,5

62,5

52,5

2.2 Selecting cements


As can be seen from Tables 1 and 2, the standard permits
many different combinations of composition and strength
class. In practice, however, the manufacturers are
constrained by what is technically and economically
feasible. The number of combinations that are currently
being produced in South Africa is fewer than the number
permitted by the standard.
Guidelines for selecting cements for different applications
are given in Table 3.

3. Masonry cements
These are cements formulated primarily to impart good workability to mixes for rendering, plastering and masonry work.
Masonry cements are normally a blend of portland cement
and finely ground limestone or hydrated lime; some masonry
cements include an air-entraining agent.
3.1 Standard
From July 1996, when the European standard was adopted,
the South African standard for masonry cements became
SABS ENV 413-1 Masonry cement. Part 1: Specification.

Table 3: Guidelines for selecting cements for different applications (Other cements may be used with specialist advice)
Application

Strength class

Cement type

Comment

Conventional structural concrete in


non-aggressive environment

32,5 or
higher

As available

Reinforced concrete in marine


environment

32,5
or
higher

As available,
subject to
comment

Due consideration to be taken of


exposure conditions.
Specialist advice essential

Concrete made with alkali-reactive


aggregates

32,5
or
higher

As available,
subject to
comment

Total alkali content of concrete to be


limited.
Specialist advice essential

Floors, roads and paving


with sawn joints

32,5 R
or
higher

CEM l
CEM II/A
CEM II/B (slag)

Specialist advice recommended

Large placements where temperature rise


due to heat of reaction is to be controlled

CEM llI
CEM lI/B (fly ash)

Specialist advice essential

As available

High-strength concrete

42,5 or higher

As available

Concrete exposed to sulphate attack

As available

CEM II/B (fly ash)

Specialist advice essential

Mortars and plasters

12,5
or
higher

CEM I
CEM II/A
MC 22,5 X
MC 12,5 X

Other cements should only be used


with specialist advice

The standard defines masonry cement as: a factory made


finely powdered hydraulic binder which relies essentially
upon the presence of portland cement clinker to develop
strength. When mixed with sand and water only and without
the addition of further materials it produces a workable mortar
suitable for use in rendering, plastering and masonry work.
The standard specifies composition, strength performance,
fineness, setting times, soundness and the properties of
fresh mortar.
3.1.1 Composition
The standard specifies that masonry cement shall consist of
portland cement clinker, inorganic material, and where
appropriate, organic material, as shown in Table 4.

Table 4: Composition of masonry cements


Content, %
Type

Portland cement
clinker
25

MC 5
MC 12,5 MC 12,5X
MC 22,5X

Organic
material
1

40

3.1.2 Strength performance


Masonry cements are classed in the standard on the basis
of 28-day compressive strength determined in accordance
with SABS EN 196-1 Methods of testing cement. Part 1:
Determination of strength.
Table 5 gives strength requirements and specifies the
inclusion or omission of an air-entraining agent.

Table 5: Compressive strength and air entrainment


Type
MC 5
MC 12,5

7-day
strength
MPa

28-day
strength
MPa

15

12,5

32,5

MC 12,5X
MC 22,5X

10

22,5

42,5

Airentraining
agent
Required
Required
Not
permitted
Not
permitted

3.2 Use of masonry cement


As defined in the standard (see 3.1) masonry cement is
manufactured to impart special properties which make it
suitable for use in rendering, plastering and masonry work.
Masonry cement is especially advantageous when used
with sands that are poorly graded (ie single sized) or lack
fine material. Such sands tend to produce harsh mixtures if
used with ordinary cements. It should be noted that for the
best results good quality sands for mortars and plasters
should be used wherever possible (ie those that meet
SABS 1090 requirements).
Masonry cements should not be used in concrete
without specialist advice.

APPENDIX
Properties of portland cement,
cement extenders and fillers
In this section, only materials available in South Africa are
discussed.

A.1 Portland cement


The main raw materials used in the manufacture of portland
cement are limestone and shale which are blended in
specific proportions and fired at high temperatures to form
cement clinker. A small quantity of gypsum is added to the
cooled clinker which is then ground to a fine powder
portland cement.
When portland cement is mixed with water to form a paste,
a reaction called hydration takes place. As a result, the
paste gradually changes from a plastic state into a strong
rigid solid. The hardened cement paste acts as a binder in
concrete and mortar.
The hydration of portland cement (PC) produces two main
compounds: calcium silicate hydrate (CSH) and
calcium hydroxide (lime).
CSH provides most of the strength and impermeability of
the hardened cement paste. Lime does not contribute to
strength but its presence helps to maintain a pH of about
12,5 in the pore water, which helps to protect the reinforcing
steel against corrosion.

A.2 Extenders and fillers


It is important that, where extenders or fillers are to be site
blended with common cements, expert advice be sought
regarding appropriate cements and extender contents. This
will ensure that excessive amounts of extender, which may
result in unacceptable concrete performance, are not used.
A.2.1 Ground granulated blastfurnace slag
Ground granulated blastfurnace slag (GGBS) is a byproduct of the iron-making process. The slag is rapidly
chilled or quenched (causing it to become glassy) and
ground to a fine powder.
When mixed with water, GGBS hydrates to form cementing
compounds consisting of calcium silicate hydrate. The rate
of this hydration process is however too slow for practical
construction work unless activated by an alkaline (high pH)
environment.
When portland cement and water are mixed, the pH of the
water rapidly increases to about 12,5 which is sufficient
to activate the hydration of GGBS. Even when activated by
PC, GGBS hydrates more slowly than PC. GGBS should
not be used on its own as a binder for concrete.
The effect of GGBS on the properties of concrete depends
on the GGBS content of the binder and the fineness of the
GGBS. General trends are as follows:
Fresh concrete
Has relatively little effect on the workability of fresh
concrete although a slight improvement of workability
might be observed with some aggregates.

Slightly retards the setting of fresh concrete.

Hardened concrete
Reduces the rate of hardening and strength gain
particularly at low temperatures.

Reduces the rate at which heat is generated by the


cementing reactions.

Exhibits improved resistance to sulphate attack with


adequate GGBS content. Specialist advice is
recommended.

Chemically binds chlorides and so reduces the amount


of chloride available to cause corrosion of embedded
steel.

Can prevent or retard the reaction between alkalis and


alkali-reactive aggregates in concrete if used in
sufficient quantities, ie 40 %.

Results in a finer pore structure and lower permeability


if well cured. To achieve good durability all concretes
should be well cured.

A.2.2 Fly ash


Fly ash (FA) is collected from the exhaust flow of plant
burning finely-ground coal. The finer fractions are used as a
cement extender. FA reacts with calcium hydroxide, in the
presence of water, to form cementing compounds consisting
of calcium silicate hydrate. This reaction is called pozzolanic
and FA may be described as a synthetic pozzolan.
The hydration of portland cement produces significant
amounts of calcium hydroxide which does not contribute to the
strength of the hardened cement paste (see section A.1). The
combination of FA and PC is a practical means of using FA and
converting calcium hydroxide to a cementing compound.
FA should not be used on its own as the binder for concrete.
The effect of FA on the properties of concrete depends on the
FA content of the binder. General trends are as follows:
Fresh concrete
Improves the workability of fresh concrete, ie FA tends
to reduce water requirement for a given slump.

Slightly retards the setting of fresh concrete.


Hardened concrete
Reduces the rate of hardening and strength gain
particularly at low temperatures.

Reduces the rate at which heat is generated by the


reactions of PC and FA.

Improves the sulphate resistance of concrete with


adequate FA content. Specialist advice is recommended.

Reduces the rate of chloride diffusion through concrete.

Results in a finer pore structure and lower permeability


if well cured. To achieve good durability all concrete
should be well cured.

Can prevent or retard the reaction between alkalis and


alkali-reactive aggregates in concrete if used in
sufficient quantities, ie 20 %.

A.2.3 Condensed silica fume


Condensed silica fume (CSF) is the condensed vapour byproduct of the ferro-silicon smelting process. CSF reacts
with calcium hydroxide, in the presence of water, to form

cementing compounds consisting of calcium silicate


hydrate. This reaction is called pozzolanic and CSF may be
described as a synthetic pozzolan. Because the hydration
of PC produces calcium hydroxide (see section A.1), the
combination of CSF and PC is a practical means of using
CSF and improving the cementing efficiency of PC.
In addition to the chemical role of CSF, it is also a fine
filler. The extremely small CSF particles in the mixing water
act as nuclei for the formation of calcium silicate hydrate
which would otherwise form only on the cement grains.
CSF will also change the microstructure of the interfacial
zone. The result is a more homogeneous microstructure
that has greater strength and lower permeability. (To ensure
thorough dispersion and effective use of the CSF, the use of
plasticizing admixtures is recommended.) CSF should not
be used on its own as the binder for concrete.
CSF affects the properties of concrete as follows:
Fresh concrete
Reduces the workability of fresh concrete, ie CSF tends
to increase the water requirement for a given slump.

Increases cohesion.

Reduces the permeability of concrete.

Significantly reduces the bleeding of fresh concrete.


Hardened concrete
Marginally retards strength development at one day.
Reduces the rate of chloride diffusion through concrete.
Increases the strength of concrete.

A.2.4 Limestone
When mixed with portland cement and water, finely ground
limestone is chemically virtually inert (although there may
be some minor reactions). Depending on its fineness,
limestone may however act as a fine filler in fresh paste.
This phenomenon is described in section A.2.3.
Limestone may be used as a filler in common cement or as
a workability improver in masonry cement.
The effect of limestone on the properties of concrete or mortar depends on the specific limestone, whether a grinding aid
is used in production, and the fineness of the limestone.
General trends are as follows:
Fresh concrete or mortar
Has no significant effect on water requirement.

Prolongs the bleeding period but reduces the amount of


bleed water.

Limestone may improve the workability of mortar.


Hardened concrete or mortar
Concretes have lower long-term compressive strength
development (ie beyond 28 days) than concretes made
with other cements.
A.2.5 Hydrated lime
In South Africa, hydrated limes have no cementing action.
They may be used as a workability improver in masonry
cements.

Cement & Concrete Institute


PO Box 168, Halfway House, 1685
Tel (011) 315-0300 Fax (011) 315-0584
Published by the Cement & Concrete Institute, Midrand, 1996, repr 1998, 1999.
Cement & Concrete Institute