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Fuel 84 (2005) 13981409

www.fuelfirst.com

Utilising unprocessed low-lime coal fly ash in foamed concrete


M.R. Jones*, A. McCarthy
Concrete Technology Unit, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Dundee, Dundee, Scotland DD1 4HN UK
Received 19 November 2003; received in revised form 21 September 2004; accepted 21 September 2004
Available online 15 December 2004

Abstract
This paper describes an extensive laboratory-based investigation into the use of unprocessed, run-of-station, low-lime fly ash in foamed
concrete, as a replacement for sand. Foamed concrete with plastic densities ranging between 1000 and 1400 kg/m3 and cube strengths from 1
to 10 N/mm2 were tested. It is shown that by using this type of fly ash in this way can significantly enhance many of the properties of foamed
concrete, including rheology and compressive strength development, whilst providing almost complete immunity to sulfate attack. Given the
high carbon content of this type of fly ash, however, it was found that there was a need to increase greatly the amount of foam required to
achieve the specified design plastic density. However, given the relatively low cost of foam production, this is not likely to have significant
implications for the use of material.
q 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Run-of-station; Low-lime fly ash; Foamed concrete; Filler/sand

1. Introduction
Low emission and flue gas desulfurisation systems
fitted to modern power stations have significantly
changed the characteristics of fly ash arising from coal
combustion. In particular, this has led to higher carbon
contents and a coarser particle size distribution and,
thereby, less pozzolanic reactivity when used in cement
and concrete, which remains one of the most important
end uses for the material. In response, extensive research
and development effort is being directed towards postproduction processing, such as carbon, coarse particles
and ammonia removal, activation etc to enhance the asproduced fly ash. However, these methodologies necessarily add embodied energy to the material and contribute
to greenhouse gas emission, let alone the additional cost
processing entails. Furthermore, there are at present
difficulties with storing and utilising the phases removed
during processing.
* Corresponding author. Tel.: C44 1382 344343; fax: C44 1382 344816.
E-mail addresses: m.r.jones@dundee.ac.uk (M.R. Jones),
a.z.mccarthy@dundee.ac.uk (A. McCarthy).
0016-2361/$ - see front matter q 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.fuel.2004.09.030

Against these background issues, this paper addresses the


use of unprocessed, run-of-station (low-lime) fly ash, arising
from bituminous coal combustion in foamed concrete.
Foamed concrete (sometimes referred to as aerated
concrete, but should not be confused with cellular concrete
blocks) is a mixture of cement, filler (typically a fine sand)
and preformed foam. This gives it unique properties, such as
low density 4001600 kg/m3, and a flowing and selfcompacting rheology. Although its relatively low strength,
typically 115 N/mm2 (although up to 30 N/mm2 is
possible) does not lend itself directly to highly-stressed
structural applications, the use of foamed concrete has
expanded rapidly worldwide. It is used in a wide range of
applications from house foundations and fire protection,
utilising its high thermal insulation capacity, to geotechnical, highway, bridge abutment and backfill uses.
The research work reported here specifically dealt with
the potential of using this type of fly ash as a replacement for
sand and how this affected the rheological, strength
development and permeation/durability properties. Not
only does this allow unprocessed ash to be used, it reduces
the dependence on primary aggregate resources and helps
develop a more sustainable approach to concrete.

M.R. Jones, A. McCarthy / Fuel 84 (2005) 13981409

1399

2.2. Test procedures

2. Experimental programme
2.1. Materials, mix proportions and specimen preparation
The constituent materials used in the laboratory to
produce foamed concrete comprised (i) Portland cement
(PC, conforming to BS 12 42.5N and CEM I to EN 197-1) at
a fixed content of 300 kg/m3, (ii) natural sand, fine
aggregate (conforming to BS 882 Grade F, with particles
greater than 2.36 mm removed by sieving), (iii) coarse fly
ash (designated here FAcoarse, with a 45 mm sieve retention
of 26.0% and conforming to BS 3892-2, BS EN 450 and
ASTM C 618-94a Class F) and (iv) free water to give a
water/cement ratio (w/c) of 0.50. The surfactant used for the
production of the preformed foam was of commercially
available synthetic type.
The mix proportions of the 1000, 1200 and 1400 kg/m3
plastic density foamed concretes, which are summarised in
Table 1, were calculated by equating the design plastic
density value to the sum of solids (cement and fine
aggregate) and water in the mix. However, when FAcoarse
was used as replacement of sand, this was considered within
the w/c ratio to ensure there was sufficient free water
available to wet the large surface area of the FAcoarse
particles [1].
The preformed foam (with a density of 50 kg/m3) was
prepared from a 6% aqueous surfactant solution in a dry
system generator, which is typical of the type used by
industry. The base mix, i.e. PC, water and filler, and
preformed foam were combined in a rotary drum (freefalling action) mixer, following the mixing sequence
reported by Kearsley [2] and Jones et al. [3]. Actual plastic
densities within G50 kg/m3 of the design value were
accepted. The mix was sampled in accordance with BS EN
12350-1 and placed in steel moulds lined with plastic,
kitchen-type cling film, to prevent interaction with mould
release oil. The specimens were then covered with cling film
for 24 h and, following demoulding, were sealed-cured (i.e.
wrapped in cling film and stored in sealed plastic bags at
20G2 8C) until testing.

Consistence measurements comprised assessment of


spreadability according to the Brewer test for controlled
low-strength material [4], BS 4551-1ast obtaining only the
initial spread, without vibration and slump flow (i.e. spread
of collapse slump in two directions [5]) test methods.
Flowability was assessed with a modified Marsh cone (in
terms of orifice diameter and volume of efflux), as described
by Jones et al. [3].
The components of the rheological behaviour of foamed
concretes were assessed with a RVT Brookfield laboratory
viscometer using T-bar spindles and a Helipath stand. This
enabled measurement of torque on fresh material each time,
since the trace of the rotating spindle was a helical path,
thereby avoiding the known channelling effect. Readings
on the torque dial were taken after the spindle had rotated
for a given time at each speed increment.
The mix stability and resistance to segregation of the
mixes in the fresh state was assessed (i) by comparing the
calculated and actual quantities of foam required to achieve
a plastic density within 50 kg/m3 of the design value and (ii)
visual observation during mixing and placement. The
additional amount of foam required was calculated from
Eq. (1). Given that the foam generator produces, for a given
volume of surfactant solution, foam with 25 times the
volume of the solution, the contribution of foam collapse to
additional water in the mix is as follows:
Vsolution Z Vadditional foam!1000=Vfoam produced by 1l of solution
(1)
where
VsolutionZ1.06!Vwater, given that 60 g surfactant are
diluted in 1l water
Vadditional foamZMadditional foam/Dfoam
DfoamZ50 kg/m3
Vfoam produced by 1l of solutionZ25l
Segregation measurements on hardened concrete were
made by quantifying the difference in oven-dry densities

Table 1
Mix proportions of the 1000, 1200 and 1400 kg/m3 foamed concretes used to prepare the test specimens
Design plastic
densitya, (kg/m3)

Cement type

1000

PC

1200

PC

1400

PC

Fine aggregate
type
Sand
FAcoarse
Sand
FAcoarse
Sand
FAcoarse

Mix proportions (kg/m3)


PC

Sand

FAcoarse

Waterb

Foam

300
300
300
300
300
300

550

750

950

367

500

633

150
333
150
400
150
467

24.9
18.5
21.1
12.8
17.7
7.2

These plastic densities were selected after consultation with industry colleagues and reflect typical range of values. Similarly, it was found that this PC
content was the minimum used by industry.
The FAcoarse was considered in the w/c ratio of 0.50 to ensure there was sufficient water to wet the large surface area of the fine (smaller than 125 mm) fly
ash particles compared to the relatively coarse sand, where this was not necessary.

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M.R. Jones, A. McCarthy / Fuel 84 (2005) 13981409

Table 2
Summary of consistence indices for the 1000, 1200 and 1400 kg/m3 foamed concretes
Test mix

Spread (mm)
3

Flow time (s)

Plastic density, (kg/m )

Fine aggregate type

Brewer Test

BS 4551-1test

1000

Sand
FAcoarse
Sand
FAcoarse
Sand
FAcoarse

175
245
145
275
115
280

100
160
95
185
85
210

1200
1400
a

Slump flow
430
570
410
605
405
650

200
15
180
10
190
15

Initial spread, without vibration.

between two 25 mm slices taken from the top and


bottom of a standard 100 mm diameter and 300 mm length
cylinder.
100 mm cube (sealed-cured) strength was measured to
BS 1881-116 at 1, 7, 14, 28, 56 and 180 days, and an average
of two reported tested at each test age.
Water sorptivity was measured according to the method
developed by Hall [6]. The oven-dried 100 mm cube
specimens were placed on a 3 mm thick plastic mesh in a
container filled with water to a height of 5 mm above the
base of the specimen and their change in weight (% of initial
weight) measured at designated time intervals. Sorptivity
(S) was obtained as the slope of the line of the graph of
cumulative water absorption per unit area of the inflow
surface (i, measured in mm) against square root of time
(t, measured in minutes), where i was calculated from
Eq. (2).

iZ

Dw
;
Ar

(2)

where
DwZincrease in weight with time (g)
AZcross-sectional area (mm2)
rZdensity of water (i.e. 1000 kg/m3)
The performance of foamed concrete in aggressive
chemical environments was examined in terms of length
change and chemical analysis. The former was assessed
using 75!75!225 mm prisms with Demec studs at
150 mm apart, while the latter was carried out on 10 mm
ground slices of 40!40!200 mm prisms with XRD
equipment at 3608 2q, with a step size of 0.18 2q. Length
change measurements were made at designated time
intervals, while the XRD analyses were carried out after
6 months exposure. The Design Sulfate (DS) exposure
classes were as specified in BRE SD1-1 [7], with the
sulfate content achieved by a combination of gypsum
anhydrite with epsomite (50/50% at DS2 and 30/70% at
DS4, respectively).

3. Consistence
The consistence indices of the 1000, 1200 and
1400 kg/m3 foamed concretes, which comprised measurements of spreadability and flowability, are summarised
in Table 2, while the relationships between these are
examined in Figs. 1 and 2.
3.1. Spread
As can be seen in Table 2, the spread values ranged
between 115 and 280 mm, between 85 and 210 mm and
between 405 and 650 mm according to the Brewer, BS
4551-1 and slump flow methodologies, respectively. The
performance ranking of all density concretes remained
constant throughout all spread measurements (reflecting a
good relationship between the fundamental characteristics
measured by the different spread tests), with the minimum
and maximum values observed on the 1400 kg/m3 concretes
with sand and FAcoarse fine aggregates, respectively.
For a given plastic density, the spreads obtained on
FAcoarse concretes were up to 2.5 times greater than those
noted on the sand fine aggregate mixes. The enhanced
consistence of the FAcoarse concretes compared to sand is
likely to be due to a combination of factors, the ball-bearing
effect of FA particles due to their spherical morphology [8];
improved packing of the solid phase and adsorption of mix
water on to the FAcoarse particles reducing inter-particle
friction [1]. As regards the latter, an increase in the mix
water will reduce the yield stress value of concrete [9], and,
in turn, improve spread [5].
Given that the volume of air in the 10001400 kg/m3
density foamed concretes can account for up to half the total
unit volume, it would be expected to have a significant effect
on its fresh properties. From Table 2 it is apparent that, for a
given cement and water content (as is the case with the sand
foamed concretes), the spread value decreased with increasing density. As a result, in order for all sand foamed concretes
to achieve the 200 mm spread benchmark required for
flowing properties [4], higher quantities of mix water would
be necessary for 1400 kg/m3 mix compared to 1000 kg/m3
mix. However, the reverse trends were noted for the FAcoarse

M.R. Jones, A. McCarthy / Fuel 84 (2005) 13981409

1401

Fig. 1. Relationship between spread measurements according to Brewer [4], BS 4551-1 (initial spread, without vibration) and slump flow tests.

mixes, i.e. there were greater spreads at higher densities. The


decreasing consistence at lower densities is probably due to
the reduced self-weight and greater cohesion resulting from
the higher air contents [10].

Given the wide range of different spread test methodologies available, the relationship between these on results
obtained on the foamed concretes was examined, as shown
in Fig. 1. Regression analysis of the data proved that good

Fig. 2. Relationship between spread and flow time measurements for the range of foamed concretes.

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M.R. Jones, A. McCarthy / Fuel 84 (2005) 13981409

correlation (R2Z0.97 and R2Z0.95) existed between all


spread values, and thus, the BS 4551-1 spread and slump
flow can be predicted accurately from the Brewer spread
measurement using Eqs. (3) and (4), respectively:
BS 45511 spread Z 42:757 e0:0054!Brewer spread ; mm

(3)

Slump flow spread Z 273:67e0:003!Brewer spread ; mm

(4)

In addition, it was found that the 200 mm spread requirement for flowing concrete according to the Brewer test
method corresponded to minimum spreads of 130 and
500 mm for the BS 4551-1 spread and slump flow test
methods, respectively.
3.2. Flowability out of a modified Marsh cone
The Marsh cone efflux times, which are an indication of
plastic viscosity [5], ranged between 10 and 200 s. As
expected from the spread measurements, enhanced consistence (i.e. lower flow time) was noted when sand was fully
replaced by FAcoarse. Indeed, the flow of the FAcoarse
concretes was rapid and continuous, with efflux times less
than 60 s, which, according to the Dundee ranking method,
is Class 1 [3]. There were significant differences in flow
times between the sand (180200 s) and FAcoarse (1015 s)
mixes, again due to the reduction in internal friction with the
replacement of sand by fly ash. The small variation of flow
times for the 1000, 1200 and 1400 kg/m3 concretes for a
given fine aggregate type, suggests that there is little effect
of plastic density itself on flow time.
A comparison of the Brewer spread and flow time is
given in Fig. 2. As expected, for the range of design plastic
densities considered, at a given cement content and w/c
ratio, greater spread values (hence lower yield stresses)
corresponded to shorter flow times (hence reduced plastic
viscosity), thereby indicating a relationship between these
two properties on foamed concrete. However, for the limited
number of concretes examined and the scatter in the data, no
correlation between plastic viscosity and yield stress could
be derived.

4. Rheology
Measurements of foamed concrete rheology were made
with a Brookfield RVT viscometer on the more fluid
FAcoarse concretes. As expected from the literature [11], the
shape of the speed-torque curve during increasing (upcurve)
and decreasing (downcurve) speed increments, when plotted
on a nonlogarithmic scale, demonstrated that foamed
concrete is thixotropic (due to the build up of a structure
within the material). For a given rotational speed, the torque
measurements differed for the two sections of the curves
(hysteresis effect), indicating that the viscosity at any

particular rate of shear depended on the amount of previous


shearing (thinning and thickening) it had undergone.
For the three plastic densities considered, the relationship
between rotational speed and viscometer (torque) readings
on a loglog scale, obtained with the same T-spindle (C)
during decreasing (downcurve) rotational speed increments
is given in Fig. 3. The torque reading at 0 rpm is indicative
of the apparent yield value, which reflects the minimum
force required to initiate concrete movement. The apparent
plastic viscosity is a function of the reciprocal of the slope of
the rheology curve, which for thixotropic materials
approximates a line [12].
As can be seen in Fig. 3, the ranking of apparent yield
measurements was 1200, 1400 and 1000 kg/m3 density
foamed concretes in increasing order of values, which
broadly matched that of spread measurements discussed
above. Indeed, the 1000 kg/m3 mix, which exhibited the
highest apparent yield stress, also measured the smallest
spread, confirming the link between spreadability and yield
stress of concrete [13]. The greater resistance to initiation of
flow on the lower densities can also be attributed to the
reduced self-weight of the material, higher air content
(resulting in increased cohesion; [10]) and lower water
content, compared to the 1200 and 1400 kg/m3 concretes.
The differences in the slope of all three lines in Fig. 3 for
the range of foamed concrete densities were small,
indicating similar apparent plastic viscosities. This was
also reflected in the flow time measurements, which were
very short and approximately the same and are indicative of
mix viscosity trends [14].
The relationship between rotational speed and viscometer (torque) readings on sand concretes was examined
with the same T-bar spindle. This was not as linear as that of
the FAcoarse mixes, probably due to more work required to
complete the structural breakdown, hence never reaching
Bingham state by the time of the downcurve [11]. As a
result, analysis of the hysteresis loops was difficult and
determination of their apparent rheological parameters was
not carried out. However, it is expected, given the findings
of Dhir et al. [15] on 14001800 kg/m3 foamed concretes
with higher cement contents, that the sand foamed concretes
would exhibit higher yield values than those with FAcoarse
due to the much larger and more angular shaped sand
particles with smaller surface area.
Although the graphical method of rheological data
analysis enabled comparative rankings between apparent
yield values and apparent plastic viscosities of FAcoarse
foamed concretes, the T-bar spindles with the Helipath
stand do not have directly definable shear rate and shear
stress values [12] and, therefore, the actual yield values (t0)
and plastic viscosities (h) could not be established.
Rheological measurements were also attempted with
interrupted helical impellers, using scaled down sizes of the
ones successfully used by Domone et al. [16] with the twopoint workability test. However, these were not successful,
since the impellers appeared to cause a pronounced

M.R. Jones, A. McCarthy / Fuel 84 (2005) 13981409

1403

Fig. 3. Rheological parameters of FAcoarse fine aggregate concretes.

channelling effect, with foam bubbles rising to the surface


within the area of spindle rotation. The use of beakers with
diameter similar to that of the diameter of the helical
impellers might have minimised the channelling by
reducing the stationary region [17], although it is anticipated
that the bubble formation on the surface might still occur.
The use of dynamic test methods (oscillatory shear, which
modify the strain rate) may be more appropriate for
rheological measurements on foamed concrete, as these
provide considerable information about viscoelastic properties of (colloidal) suspensions [18].

5. Volumetric stabilityresistance to segregation


The mix stability and resistance to segregation of the
foamed concretes in the fresh state, assessed in terms of
foam loss during mixing, is examined in Table 3. Given that

no superplasticising, viscosity modifying or other chemical


admixture was used in the foamed concretes, the stability
and resistance to segregation depended solely on the mix
constituents, namely quantity of water and presence of fines.
The comparisons between calculated and actual
foam quantities required to achieve a plastic density
within G50 kg/m3 of the design value, indicated that the
mix proportioning method for foamed concrete developed at
Dundee University [15] accurately predicted the amount of
foam required with sand fine aggregate (actual/calculated
foam ratios were near 1.0). The good overall stability of the
sand mixes, also noted visually during mixing (good
cohesion, uniform incorporation of foam) and placement
(no bleeding), indicated that the corresponding sand base
mixes were sufficiently wet to provide a stable environment for the foam.
On the other hand, in the majority of cases with FAcoarse,
the actual amount of foam required was up to three times

Table 3
Comparison between calculated and actual foam quantities and effect on actual free water content
Plastic density
(kg/m3)

Fine aggregate
type

Calc. water
(kg/m3)

Calc. foam
(kg/m3)

Actual foam
(kg/m3)

Actual/calc.
foam

Actual watera,
(kg/m3)

Actual w/c ratio

1000

Sand
FAcoarse
Sand
FAcoarse
Sand
FAcoarse

150.0
332.5
150.0
405.4
150.0
471.0

23.5
18.5
20.8
12.3
18.7
6.8

23.2
20.9
29.5
30.8
20.4
21.9

0.987
1.130
1.418
2.504
1.091
3.221

149.8
334.3
156.6
419.8
151.3
482.4

0.50
0.50
0.52
0.53
0.50
0.52

1200
1400
a

Quantities calculated from Eq. (1).

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M.R. Jones, A. McCarthy / Fuel 84 (2005) 13981409

higher, due to significant foam collapse in the fresh state.


This can be attributed to adverse effects resulting from the
consistence of the base mix (i.e. too wet) and residual
carbon content [19] in the FAcoarse. This foam collapse
resulted in additional free water content (by up to
15 kg/m3), which corresponded to an increase in w/c ratio
by up to 0.03. A visual assessment of the FAcoarse mixes
concluded that these also exhibited limited amount of
bleeding, despite the presence of fines, which are often used
to offset the problem. However, these observations suggest
that, with fly ash, there is scope for reducing the w/c ratio of
the mixes (hence potentially achieving even greater
compressive strengths), without compromising their rheological attributes.
Segregation measurements carried out on hardened
foamed concrete, quantified as difference in oven-dry
densities between two 25 mm thick slices taken from the
top and bottom of a 300 mm length cylinder, indicated that
all sand and FAcoarse concretes were stable (i.e. density did
not vary more than G50 kg/m3 compared to the mean
value).

6. Compressive strength
The sealed-cured 100 mm cube compressive strengths
(up to 56 days) of the mixes are given in Fig. 4. Although the
early age strengths (1 day measurements) were very similar
(around 1.0 N/mm2) for both sand and FAcoarse concretes,
the 28 day values varied significantly with both density and
fine aggregate type. More specifically, the 28 day strengths
of the sand foamed concretes at 1000, 1200 and 1400 kg/m3
were 1.0, 1.5 and 2.0 N/mm2, respectively, while the
corresponding strengths of the FAcoarse concretes were
more than three times higher (i.e. 3.9, 5.3 and 7.3 N/mm2).

For either aggregate type, compressive strength increased


with increasing plastic densities, as expected, due to the
lower pore volume [2022].
The replacement of sand with FAcoarse had a significant
effect on compressive strength development. Indeed, the
strengths of FAcoarse concretes were up to six times higher
than those of corresponding sand specimens, with differences becoming increasingly larger with increasing test ages
due to the relatively slow nature of the pozzolanic activity of
the fly ash [20,21,23]. More specifically, while the strengths
of the sand mixes remained fairly constant beyond 28 days,
those of FAcoarse concretes at 56 and 180 days were up to 1.7
and 2.5 times higher than the 28 day values, respectively.
In addition, for a given foamed concrete density, the sand
mixes contain slightly higher quantities of air compared
with FAcoarse, due to differences in their bulk densities
(2630 kg/m3 for sand and 2270 kg/m3 for FAcoarse), which
would also contribute to comparatively lower strengths.
However, for a given PC content, there probably exists a
maximum FAcoarse content, beyond which there is no
particular advantage in increasing the proportion of fly ash,
due to the resulting reduction in the Ca/Si ratio and
insufficient Ca(OH)2 for cement hydration [24]. This also
has implications for an embedded carbon steel since it may
not be fully passivated in this type of concrete.

7. Sorptivity
The one-dimensional sorptivity of foamed concrete was
studied in order to determine its resistance to ingress of
water and any dissolved aggressive ions, if the material were
to be placed in the ground. The sorptivity indices calculated
for the range of foamed concretes examined are summarised

Fig. 4. Compressive strength development of PC foamed concretes at 1000, 1200 and 1400 kg/m3 plastic densities.

M.R. Jones, A. McCarthy / Fuel 84 (2005) 13981409


Table 4
Sorptivity indices of the 1000, 1200 and 1400 kg/m3 sand and FAcoarse
foamed concretes
Plastic density
(kg/m3)

Fine aggregate
type

Sorptivity
(mm/min1/2)

FAcoarse/sand
sorptivity ratio

1000

Sand
FAcoarse
Sand
FAcoarse
Sand
FAcoarse

0.101
0.332
0.075
0.281
0.074
0.501

3.3

1200
1400

3.7
6.8

in Table 4, while the influence of constituents and strength


on the values is examined in Fig. 5.
As can be seen in Table 4, for a given plastic density, the
FAcoarse concretes exhibited higher sorptivity than the sand
mixes, with the greatest differences between the two fine
aggregate type concretes noted at increasing densities. This
trend was observed since the only phase in the foamed
concrete matrix capable of sorbing water (assuming
discreet, unconnected bubbles, which would obstruct the
flow of water in the same way as coarse aggregate particles
[25]) is the paste, comprising PC, FAcoarse and water, and
the greater volumes of paste are present in the FAcoarse
concretes and at the higher densities. Indeed, there is a good
relationship (R2Z0.89) between the fines (PC, FAcoarse)
content in the paste and the calculated sorptivities, which is
demonstrated in Fig. 5 and Eq. (5).

1405

approximated (R2Z0.83) using Eq. (6).


Sorptivity Z 0:0595 !28 Day Cube Strength
C 0:0001; mm=min1=2

(6)

Although the sorptivities of the sand fine aggregate


concretes were very similar at all plastic densities (due to
the constant volume of paste in the matrix), sorptivities of
the FAcoarse concretes tended to increase with density, in
line with observations of lightweight mortars [26]. In
addition, the greater volume of sorbing paste at the higher
densities would be expected to lead to higher sorptivity.
In order to assess whether the sorptivity calculations,
reported as increase in mass per unit of dry mass, were
sensitive to differences in plastic density (unlike normal
weight concrete, where densities are very similar), the
results were also expressed as increase in mass per unit
volume of concrete. However, the result trends remained the
same, in contrast to observations of Kearsley and Wainwright [25] on water absorption of foamed concretes, where
the amount of water absorbed was very similar at all
densities. However, this may be attributed to differences in
the permeation mechanisms.
Overall, liquid transport through porous media is
complex and differentiating between permeation mechanisms is difficult, given also the evolving concrete pore
structure with time, particularly with the fly ash mixes [27].

8. Resistance to aggressive chemical environments


SorptivityZ 0:0006 !Fines content K 0:1023; mm=min1=2
(5)
Given the higher compressive strengths resulting from the
greater volume of reactive/binding material with FAcoarse,
the relationship between sorptivity and compressive
strength (sealed-cured 100 mm cube) at 28 days was
examined. As can be seen in Fig. 5, there is a clear
relationship between the two properties, which can be

Given that foamed concrete is frequently used in backfill,


foundations and other groundworks often in brownfield
sites, its resistance to aggressive chemical environments
was investigated. Linear expansion strains were measured
on 1000 and 1400 kg/m3 concretes exposed to Design
Sulfate Class 2 (DS2) and Class 4 (DS4) chemical solutions
with pHO5.5 and these are compared with expansions of
specimens stored in water in Fig. 6. In addition, XRD

Fig. 5. Influence of fines content and 28 day sealed-cured 100 mm cube compressive strength on sorptivity.

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M.R. Jones, A. McCarthy / Fuel 84 (2005) 13981409

Fig. 6. Resistance of 1000 and 1400 kg/m3 foamed concretes to aggressive chemical environments.

analyses of the concretes after 6 months exposure in DS4


solution are compared with those of prisms stored in water
in Fig. 7.
As can be seen in Fig. 6, linear expansion increased with
time, however, the measurements during one year exposure
appeared erratic and the performance ranking of the
different fine aggregate type concretes did not remain
constant throughout the testing period. More specifically,
the 1000 and 1400 kg/m3 PC foamed concretes with sand
fine aggregate exhibited the greatest expansion at the early
stages (within 4 weeks of exposure) in all solutions, but the
rate of length increase with time levelled off thereafter,
while that of the FAcoarse fine aggregate mixes continued to
increase, achieving the highest values (up to 600 mstrain) by
the end of the exposure period reported. Although the
differences between sand and fly ash concrete for a given
chemical environment did not exceed 300 mstrain, these
trends tend to reflect the relative sorption rates. In some
cases, the expansion recorded after 50 weeks exposure
exceeded 500 mstrain, beyond which some visual damage
from sulfate reactions would be anticipated [28,29].

However, there was no such evidence. This may be due to


the fact that the approximate net expansion caused by the
chemical environment (and not due to swelling from
immersion in water) was less than 300 mstrain. This,
combined with lack of visual evidence of chemical attack,
suggests that the expansions noted on the 1000 and
1400 kg/m3 concretes during the first 12 months of exposure
are not due to sulfate and/or acid reactions. Therefore,
foamed concrete has a good resistance to aggressive
chemical attack at least up to 12 months.
When comparing the performance in terms of plastic
densities, the 1000 kg/m3 foamed concretes exhibited
slightly greater length expansion (up to 200 mstrain
difference at the end of the test period) than the
corresponding 1400 kg/m3 specimens. These differences in
length with changes in density may be attributed to larger
pores and more interconnected microstructure of the lower
density mixes, allowing the ingress of greater quantities of
solution in these specimens, when totally immersed.
In addition to length measurements, specimens were
taken for XRD analyses to detect mainly the presence of

M.R. Jones, A. McCarthy / Fuel 84 (2005) 13981409

1407

Fig. 7. XRD patterns of 1000 and 1400 kg/m3 foamed concretes subjected to DS4 exposure with pHO5.5 and reference (H2O) solution
(E, Ettringite; G, Gypsum; MS, Monosulfate; P, Portlandite; Q, Quartz; L, Larnite; M, Mullite).

 2 ),
sulfate products, i.e. gypsum (calcium sulfateCSH

ettringite (calcium sulfo-aluminate hydrateC6 AS 3 H32 )
and monosulfate (calcium aluminum sulfate hydrate
 11 ). The XRD patterns obtained are given in
C4 ASH

Fig. 7. As expected, the intensity of the majority of peaks


was greater on the DS4 specimens than those in water. All
concretes exhibited traces of gypsum (G, mainly at 20.88
2q), while the majority showed minimal traces of ettringite

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M.R. Jones, A. McCarthy / Fuel 84 (2005) 13981409

(E, principally at 9.08 2q). The significantly greater intensity


in peaks of gypsum compared with those of ettringite,
suggest that the dominant chemical reactions in the foamed
concrete specimens took place between magnesium sulfate,
calcium silicate hydrates and crystalline Ca(OH)2 in the
hydrated cement and calcium aluminate hydrates resulting
in the formation of gypsum, rather than reaction between
calcium sulfate and calcium aluminate hydrates producing
ettringite [30].
These observations support the high resistance to attack
noted in the limited expansion tests, but it is recognised that
further longer-term testing is necessary before crucial
conclusions can be drawn. One interesting point was that
there was little or no Portlandite (P, commonly known as
Ca(OH)2) in the FAcoarse concretes, indicating that all was
consumed by the pozzolanic reactions.

9. Conclusions
Overall, the replacement of sand with unprocessed runof-station fly ash had a significant beneficial effect on fresh
foamed concrete properties. Indeed, the FAcoarse mixes
exhibited enhanced consistence (greater spreadability and
flowability out of a modified Marsh cone) and rheology
(reduced apparent yield) compared with the sand concretes,
due to differences in the fine aggregate particle shape and
size. However, the FAcoarse concretes required up to three
times more foam than the calculated quantity to achieve the
design plastic density. This was due to foam instability,
possibly due to the highly fluid consistency of the base mix
and the adverse effects of the high residual carbon in the ash.
However, the slightly lower mix stability of the FAcoarse
concretes could potentially be overcome by using lower w/c
ratios than the sand mixes.
The use of fly ash in foamed concrete also significantly
benefited compressive strength development, particularly
after 28 days. At a given age, the FAcoarse concretes were up
to 6 times stronger than those of equivalent sand concretes.
From 28 days to 180 days, the fly ash mixes increased in
sealed-cured compressive strength by up to 2.5 times.
Although the FAcoarse concretes exhibited slightly higher
sorptivities than those of the corresponding sand mixes (due
to the higher volumes of sorbing paste in the former).
However, this did not have an adverse effect on its
performance in aggressive chemical solutions, and the
early indications are that this type of concrete could be
almost immune from attack.

Acknowledgements
The Authors would like to acknowledge the support, in
undertaking this projects of the following organisations:
Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions,
Eastern Electricity Ltd, Foamcrete Ltd, MBT Admixtures,

Propump Engineering Ltd, Ready-mixed Concrete Bureau


and Scottish Power Ash Sales.

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