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KSCE Journal of Civil Engineering (0000) 00(0):1-11

Copyright 2016 Korean Society of Civil Engineers

DOI 10.1007/s12205-016-0653-8

Structural Engineering

pISSN 1226-7988, eISSN 1976-3808


Flexural Behaviour of Reinforced Concrete Beams Made

with Fine Recycled Concrete Aggregates
L. Evangelista* and J. de Brito**
Received August 21, 2015/Revised February 26, 2016/Accepted March 4, 2016/Published Online May 16, 2016

Even though in several countries there are regulations allowing, even at a small scale, the use of recycled aggregates in concrete
production, practice shows that the cases in which this solution is implemented are still rare. However, in most of these countries the
use of the fine Fraction of the Recycled Aggregates (FRA) from general Construction and Demolition Waste (CDW) is restricted or
even banned. More recent studies have shown that the use of FRA is feasible and that the resulting mechanical performance is
perfectly acceptable. This paper presents the flexural tests performed on reinforced concrete beams made with replacement of natural
by recycled fine aggregates, comparing the results obtained in terms of ultimate load and deformation, ductility, bearing capacity and
cracking with those from a reference beam, made with conventional concrete.
Keywords: concrete, fine recycled aggregates, beam, flexure, ductility

1. Introduction
After the viability of using Coarse Recycled Aggregates (CRA)
in the production of structural concrete was established within the
scientific community, both through laboratorial works and the
application of this concrete in case studies (Limbachiya et al.,
2000; Sagoe-Crentsil et al., 2001; Xiao et al., 2005; Poon et al.,
2006; Etxeberria et al., 2007), there was a need to regulate the
use of CRA in concrete, establishing the criteria and limits of
their incorporation. To that end, the legislative bodies of various
countries established more or less severe limitations on the use of
Recycled Aggregates (RA) (Gonalves and de Brito, 2010). More
recently, a step-by-step design of recycled aggregate concrete
beams was performed according to Eurocode 2 (CEN, 2005a)
and it was concluded that the incorporation of RA had very little
effect on the required steel reinforcement, but needed a slightly
bigger concrete cover to achieve the same service life (Silva et
al., 2016).
Notwithstanding the significant environmental benefits of
allowing the use of CRA in concrete production, Fine Recycled
Aggregates (FRA) are still banned, regardless of their source.
These limitations are addressed in EN 206:2013 (CEN, 2013)
and not in EN 1992 (CEN, 2005a), which covers reinforced
concrete design, covered in this research paper. However, the use
of the latter should not be independent from the former, as they
are designed in a way that intrinsically binds them. Nevertheless,
the new EN 206:2013 standard sets no limitations on the use of
reclaimed concrete aggregates. Those are defined as recovered

from concrete never used, which is not within the scope of this
If one takes into account that around 40% to 50% of the final
material is smaller than 4 mm (Ulsen et al., 2010; Rodrigues et
al., 2013), it can be concluded that a significant fraction of the
material is still being dumped. This ban has to do with the FRA
being very heterogeneous, having high contaminants contents
and porosity, with obvious deleterious effects on concretes
performance (Nixon, 1978; Hansen, 1992).
However, more recent research work has been developed in
the analysis and characterization of FRA and of the performance
of concrete made with it, which has shown that the technical
reservations concerning their use may be surpassed, if additional
care is considered (Evangelista and de Brito, 2014). Although it
is common knowledge that the use of FRA will reduce
concretes performance, both in mechanical terms (to a lesser
extent) (Khatib, 2005; Solyman, 2005; Pereira et al., 2012a,
2012b) and durability related properties (to a wider extent) (Fumoto
and Yamada, 2006; Levy and Helne, 2007; Evangelista and de
Brito, 2010), it is also generally accepted by these authors that
the use of fine recycled aggregates should be accepted in
concrete production. In order to ensure that FRA can become a
reliable material for concrete production, it is imperative that
further testing is conducted, especially regarding the structural
performance of reinforced concrete elements. Of the known
researches conducted so far, most of them focus on the use
coarse recycled aggregates or both coarse and fine recycled
aggregates. Within a research project performed in the United

*Associate Professor, CERIS-ICIST, Universitetet i Stavanger, 4007 Stavanger, Norway (Corresponding Author, E-mail:
**Full Professor, CERIS-ICIST, Instituto Superior Tcnico, Universidade de Lisboa, 1049-001 Lisbon, Portugal (E-mail:

L. Evangelista and J. de Brito

Kingdom (Waleed and Canisius, 2007), it was found that the

flexural performance of Coarse Recycled Aggregates Concrete
(CRAC) beams is similar to that of performance of coarse
Natural Aggregates Concrete (CNAC) beams, leading to believe
that the design criteria of Eurocode 2 are valid. Kishore (2007)
tested various beams made with 100% CRA and 50% FRA,
observing that there was a maximum drop of 7% of the ultimate
capacity of the beams with RA relative to the reference beams.
Sato et al. (2007) also observed similar performances in the
CRAC beams they tested. Ajdukiewicz and Kliszczewicz
(2007) concluded that the failure of comparable structural
elements, in terms of geometry and reinforcement ratios, was
the same regardless of the RA content. However, the measured
strains were substantially different. Concerning the deformations,
the authors refer that the differences are substantial: the beams
with RA showed initial deformations up to 100% above those
with current concrete. Fathifazl et al. (2009) analysed various
beams with 100% RCA, with varying reinforcement ratios and
failure modes. They found that the failure mode is not affected
by CRA incorporation, with all beams tested showing a similar
cracks map coinciding with classical knowledge of the
reinforced concrete theory. Consequently, the beams response
both in serviceability and ultimate limit states conditions was
similar in all specimens, regardless of the concrete type.
Finally, Choi et al. (2012) studied the performance of beams
made with fine and/or coarse recycled aggregates and
compared it with the values predicted according to ACI 318
(ACI, 2005), having found that these beams present higher
crack width and deflection and lower overall strength. Considering
the long-term effects in concrete structures it is fundamental to
assess their life-cycle performance. To that extent, creep and
shrinkage of concrete made with FRA have major roles in the
overall performance. It seems consensual that creep of concrete
with FRA is significantly higher than that of conventional
concrete (Fraaij et al., 2002; Manzi et al., 2013). Cartuxo et
al. (2015) obtained creep deformations about 150% higher for
concrete made with 100% of FRA, compared to the same property
in standard concrete. Shrinkage, on the other hand, seems to offer
more conflicting results: Some researchers (Khatib, 2005; Kou
and Poon, 2009; Lima and Leite, 2012; Cartuxo et al., 2015)
have reached shrinkage values over 50% higher for concrete
made with FRA, while others (Ismail and Yaacob, 2010;
Jeong, 2011; Zega and Di Maio, 2011; Manzi et al., 2013)
have reached shrinkage increase values up to 30%.
This paper presents the results from flexural tests of reinforced
concrete beams made with Fine Recycled Aggregates Concrete
(FRAC), checking the bearing capacity, deformability and ductility,

as well as the cracking pattern up to failure, and comparing the

various parameters with those observed in reference beams,
made with conventional concrete. This work focus on filling a
gap existing in the analysis of performance of reinforced
concrete beams made with FRA, providing useful data on the
performance of this concrete, in which the fine aggregates only
are replaced, in real structures.

2. Description of the Experimental Program

The experimental program described here comprised a first
stage of production of a source concrete, with given composition
and characteristics, in order to better correlate the subsequent
results. The slump class was S3 (125 mm slump), according to
EN 206-1 (CEN, 2013), and its average 28-day compressive
strength was 28.7 MPa. The composition of this concrete can be
seen in Table 1, showing a typical composition of a commercially
produced concrete. The source concrete was cured using
environmental conditions, in order to replicate as closely as
possible the curing conditions of a conventional concrete
structure. It was crushed after 28 days using a jaw crusher from
the IST Construction Laboratory and then the resulting
aggregates were sieved into fine and coarse fractions. The aggregates
were then stored under normal environmental conditions and the
tests presented in this paper were made on aggregates about 3
years old.
Since the FRA products did not have an identical size distribution
to that of the natural counterparts, it was decided to separate
them in the various sizes that correspond to the basic series
sieves. This minimized the effect of the scatter in aggregates size
distribution in the various mixes, with different replacement
rations of Fine Natural Aggregates (FNA) with FRA.
The reinforced concrete beams were cast at the later stage of
the campaign, at which point the FRA were about three years
old. The FRA were then thoroughly analysed in physical,
mineralogical and microscopic terms and it was concluded that
Table 1. Composition for the Original Concrete
Quantity (/m3)

Cement II A-L 42.5R
Fly ash
Fine gravel
Medium gravel
Coarse gravel

Table 2. Main Physical Properties of the Fine Aggregates



Density (g/cm3)
Saturated surface dry



Water absorption (%)

Sand equivalent (SE)


KSCE Journal of Civil Engineering

Flexural Behaviour of Reinforced Concrete Beams Made with Fine Recycled Concrete Aggregates

Table 3. Composition and Main Mechanical Characteristics of the Concrete Tested

Replacement ratio (%)
Cement (kg/m3)
Water (l/m3)
Ratio (w/c)ef
Fine sand (kg/m3)
Coarse sand (kg/m3)
FRA (kg/m3)
Gravel 1 (kg/m3)
Gravel 2 (kg/m3)
Compressive strength in cylinders, fcm,28 (MPa)
Variation of fcm,28 relative to RC (%)
Tensile strength, fctm,28 (MPa)
Variation of fctm,28 relative to RC (%)
Modulus of elasticity, Ecm,28 (GPa)
Variation of Ecm,28 relative to RC (%)



FRA have high mortar content (especially for smaller fractions),

are highly carbonated and contained no anhydrous cement
particles (Evangelista et al., 2015). The main physical properties
of FRA and those of their natural counterparts are presented in
Table 2. It shows that the FRA have lower density and higher
water absorption than the FNA as a consequence of the mortar
attached to the FRA particles. The fines content test also showed
that FRA have an higher content of particles sized below 63 m,
leading to an increased water demand during mixing. This higher
fines content is directly related to the more brittle nature of FRA
that leads to particles fragmentation during use. Also, the
irregular shape of FRA makes it easier for smaller particles to
accumulate at the surface of larger particles, as seen in the
scanning electron images collected.
The mixes with FRA were designed according to the Faurys
method (Faury and Caquot, 1958), with volumetric replacement
ratios of FNA with FRA of 10%, 30%, 50% and 100%. Besides
the FRA two natural sands, two limestone gravels, type I 42.5R
cement and tap water were used. Table 3 presents a summary of
the mixes analysed, including the effective water/cement ratios.
(Evangelista et al., 2015). As seen in Table 3 there is a slight
increase in the effective water cement ratio, that corroborates the
previous statements regarding the increasing water demand of
these fine aggregates. The water content presented in Table 3
does not take into account the water added to the mix that was
used to compensate for the water absorption of the FRA
according to the water absorption curve previously established
(Evangelista et al., 2015). The moisture condition of the aggregates
was measured before mixing and the water required to achieve
hydrostatic equilibrium was added to the mixer. This mixing
method has been tested by other authors (Ferreira et al., 2011)
and has been proven to be reliable and to lead to the best
mechanical results, when compared to mixing techniques in
which the recycled aggregates are used in saturated surface dried
conditions or in oven dried conditions.
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Fig. 1. Loading and Monitoring Scheme of the Reinforced Concrete Beams

The mechanical performance parameters of the mixes tested at

28 days are also presented. There is a slight decrease of the
compressive strength of concrete (lower than 10%) for a full
replacement of FNA by FRA. This same performance has
already been observed before (Solyman, 2005; Evangelista and
de Brito, 2007; Pereira et al., 2012a) and is related to the better
bond created between the new cement paste and the FRA, as the
new hydration products tend to migrate inside the FRAs pores.
Also, the presence of anhydrous fly ash in the FRA (Evangelista
et al., 2015) leads to the formation of secondary reactions
between CH and the fly ash, creating a denser C-S-H matrix
(Dinakar et al., 2008; Lima et al., 2013; Turk et al., 2013), which
may compensate the weaker mechanical strength of FRA. The
tensile strength of concrete made with FRA seems to be more
affected than the remaining mechanical properties. This has also
been stated before and is directly related with the lower
mechanical strength of FRA and the fact that tensile fracture
benefits less from the previously related effects (Evangelista and
de Brito, 2007). Finally, the modulus of elasticity is mildly
affected by the presence of FRA, with a maximum loss of about
11.6%, when compared to the modulus of elasticity of the
reference concrete. This results are directly related to the lower
stiffness that FRA have, when compared to the FNA (Corinaldesi,
2010; Pereira et al., 2012b).

L. Evangelista and J. de Brito

Table 4. Mechanical Properties for the Reinforcement Steel

Yielding strength - Re [MPa]
Tensile strength - Rm [MPa]
Agt (%)

6 Rebar

10 Rebar

Two beams per concrete mix were tested, with total length of
2.00 m and cross-section of 12 20 cm2. The tensile reinforcement
was 3f10 and the compressive reinforcement was 26. The
geometrical reinforcement ratio () was 1.13%. The class of all
reinforcement bars was S500, and their concrete cover was 1.5
cm thick. The average main properties of the reinforcement steel
are presented in Table 4 for each of the diameters used, where Re
and Rm are the yielding and tensile strengths, respectively, and
Agt is the elongation at maximum strength, in accordance to EN
10080 (2005b). The transversal reinforcement consisted of 6//
0.10 m closed stirrups. The loading and beams support scheme is
presented in Fig. 2. Each beam was tested using a four-point
bending scheme, which leads to a no-shear, constant curvature,
region between the two applied loads.
The load was applied monotonically at a rate of around 0.20
kN/s using a servo-controlled hydraulic jack, with stops at every
10 kN of load, in order to map the visible cracks and measure the
width of the reference crack, located closest to the centre span.
The test proceeded until the course of the installed LVDT
(deflectometers) was totally run, or until the flexural ultimate
limit state of any cross-section in between the load application
points was reached.
The deformations were read in three points, using three
deflectometers (LVDT1 to LVDT3), with 50 mm maximum
course. In order to determine the reinforcement stress, electric
extensometers were positioned in the most stressed crosssection, glued to the rebars surface. The choice of these three
points corresponds to the maximum deflection point in the beam
and to the limit points in which the theoretical curvature could be
assumed constant.
In order to facilitate the analysis of the beams ductility in the
plastic stage, it was necessary to establish a failure criterion
coherent for all the beams. In this study, it was assumed that the
ultimate displacement corresponded to the of 85% of the postpeak load, in agreement with various other authors (Rashid and
Mansur, 2005; Li and Li, 2012). Since load application was not
displacement controlled, the value of ultimate displacement
recorded is not a property of the structural element but rather a
function of the specific testing conditions. Therefore, the ductility
analysis should be considered with some caution.
Another essential parameter to determine the beams ductility is
the yielding deformation, corresponding to the yielding of the
tensioned reinforcement. This displacement is difficult to measure,
since in the actual load-displacement curves the transition between
the elastic and plastic phases is gradual, due to the non-linearity
of the materials, the stiffness loss due to multiple cracking,

among other reasons (Park, 1988, 1989). Of the options available,

the yielding displacement (dy) was chosen as corresponding to
the maximum load, measured in the straight line that links the
origin of the graph axes with the point in the actual curve
corresponding to 0.75 Pmax.
The theoretical cracking and yielding moments were determined
considering valid the Bernoulli hypotheses, the hypothesis that
concrete has no tensile strength and the hypothesis that the steelconcrete bond is perfect. It is known that the use of recycled
aggregates will affect the bond strength between steel and
concrete (Butler et al., 2011; Krishnakumar et al., 2013). That
has implications on the service performance of the reinforced
concrete elements and should be considered in detailing and
bond length design. For Ultimate Limit State design such
differences are negligible, hence the assumption of perfect steelconcrete bond. Based on these criteria, the cracking moment was
easily determined by equalling the most tensioned fibre of the
homogeneous cross-section to the average tensile strength of
concrete. Since the position of the neutral axis in stage II,
corresponding to the crack formation and propagation stage in
bending (xII) remains unchanged (Bhatt et al., 2006), it is
possible to establish a set of equations that relate the various
parameters to be determined with xII. Barros et al. (2012) present
the equations required to determine the neutral axis position in
rectangular cross-sections with compressive and tensile
reinforcement, subjected to simple flexure.
For the theoretical calculations, the concrete and steel
characteristics considered were the compressive and tensile
strength and the modulus of elasticity of concrete and the
mechanical behaviour parameters of steel (0.2% proof stress and
corresponding strain), obtained experimentally.

3. Presentation and Discussion of the Results

From the flexural tests performed, it was found that in general
the beams showed a similar behaviour, with failure by concrete
crushing, including in some cases buckling of the compressed
rebars (Fig. 2), and high strains of the tensioned rebars, reaching
in all cases, the yielding of tension steel reinforcement. Nevertheless,

Fig. 2. Ultimate Limit State for Beam by Concrete Failure

KSCE Journal of Civil Engineering

Flexural Behaviour of Reinforced Concrete Beams Made with Fine Recycled Concrete Aggregates

Fig. 3. Load-displacement Diagrams of the Reinforced Concrete

Beams Subjected to Flexure

considering that all force-displacement curves were drawn using

the ultimate displacement criterion define in the previous section,
the collapse of the compression block is only visible in one of the
BR test specimens. The load-displacement curves at mid-span
(measured at the location of LVDT2), from the start of the test
until the ultimate displacement, are shown in Fig. 3. It is clear that
the curves present similar developments at the initial stage of the
test, and start diverging as the load increases, especially after the
first cracks occur, which can be detected by the variation of the
slope of the F-d curve. The FRAC beams with lower replacement
ratios reach higher load peaks, even though there is a trend
towards lower ultimate displacement values in these mixes. Even
though there is no apparent plateau corresponding to the crack
formation stage in any of the tested beams, there is a slight
change of stiffness visible for all test subjects at around 10 kN.
To better perceive the evolution of each of these curves, Table
4 presents the maximum load (Fmax) values for each beam tested,
the average values of the same load per concrete type (Fm), as
well as the corresponding standard deviations () and variation
coefficients (CV). For each beam the mid-span displacement (d)
corresponding to the maximum load, the yielding displacement
(dy), the ultimate displacement (du) and the ductility coefficient
(du/dy) are also presented. The percent variations of the maximum
load relative to the reference concrete (RC) are also presented.
It is found that the variation coefficients of the beams analysed
are very low, between 0.1% and 3.6%, indicating a very high
reliability of the obtained results. The average value of the
ultimate load varied between 73.6 kN and 64.9 kN, corresponding to
the Reference Concrete (RC) and the one with 100% incorporation
of FRA, respectively.
There was a reduction of around 11.8% of the maximum load
of the mix C100R relative to the RC and this variation is found to
be linearly proportional to the FRA incorporation ratio.
Considering the failure mode that was registered in all cases
(consisting of yielding of tension reinforcements and crushing of
the compressive concrete block), it can be concluded that the loss
of bearing moment is directly related to the reduction of leverarm between tension and compression forces within the section,
as a result of the increase of the neutral axis depth for FRAC
beams. This increase results from the loss of compressive
strength measured for FRAC.
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Analysing previous works it is found that the trends observed

now agree with those previously established. Ajdukiewicz and
Kliszczewicz (2007) observed strength losses up to 3.5% in
reinforced concrete beams with 100% recycled aggregates, while
Waleed and Canisius (2007) notice no differences of performance,
in terms of bearing capacity, for beams with 100% CRA. On the
other hand, Fathifazl et al. (2009) obtained bearing capacity
gains in reinforced concrete beams with 70% replacement of
Coarse Natural Aggregates (CNA) with CRA.
The ductility of a beam may be quantified through the ratio
between the yielding and the ultimate deformation, usually
called ductility coefficient (Rao et al., 2007; Journal, 2012;
Youcef and Chemrouk, 2012). As seen in Table 4 the ductility
coefficient remains approximately constant for the mixes up to
30% replacement (ranging from 3.7 to 3.9), increasing significantly
in the remaining mixes with 50% and 100% replacement, leading
to believe that these mixes show greater plastic deformation.
Comparing this performance with the one observed by other
authors, it is found that the researches made with CRA mixes
tend to have scattered trends concerning the ductility coefficient:
while Sato et al. (2007) did not find significant changes in the
ductility of CRAC beams, Gonzlez-Fonteboa et al. (2009) and
Xiao et al. (2012) presented decreases of the du/dy ratio in RCA
mixes. On the other hand, Xiao et al. (2012a) reported works
developed by Yang and Han (2006) and Shi et al. (2010) in
which reinforced concrete columns jacketed with metal profiles
consistently showed greater ductility for higher replacement
ratios. As suggested to justify the better performance in the
mechanical fracture tests, a possible explanation for the results
obtained is the improvement of the interfacial transition zone
paste-aggregate, which leads to a greater propagation of the
micro cracks in the paste and consequently an increase of
dissipated energy.
In order to check the adequacy of the general reinforced
concrete elements design regulations for FRAC, the resistant
moments (MR) were determined, considering the average
characteristics obtained in the previous sections. An elastoplastic
diagram was assumed for the reinforcement, with the yielding
stress (fy) obtained experimentally and a parable-rectangle
diagram for concrete under compression, corresponding to a
simplification of the actual - concrete diagram (fib, 2013),
whose maximum stress ( fc) was obtained experimentally in
cylindrical specimens. Since the yielding and ultimate strains of
concrete were not determined, it was assumed that they are
similar to those of conventional concrete, for which the values
are de c = 2 and cu = 3.5 , respectively. These values may not
correspond exactly to FRACs behaviour, since it is known there
are differences in these parameters values for concrete with
recycled aggregates, even though there is no consensus on
whether their plastic ductility is higher or smaller (Kerkhoff and
Siebel, 2001; Gonzlez-Fonteboa et al., 2009; Du et al., 2010;
Jianzhuang Xiao et al., 2012b). Gonzlez-Fonteboa et al. (2011)
established stress-strain laws for coarse recycled aggregate
concrete that give similar concrete yelding strain but smaller

L. Evangelista and J. de Brito

Table 5. Experimental Results of the Reinforced Concrete Beams








Fmax (kN)
d (mm)
dy (mm)
du (mm)
Fm (kN)
CV (%)
RC (%)
Fmax - Maximum load; d - Displacement for Fmax; dy - Yielding displacement; du - Ultimate displacement; (du/dy) - Ductility coefficient; Fm - Average load.

ultimate strain than natural aggregate concrete. Even though

some conclusions could the considered in this research, the fact
that it relates to coarse recycled aggregates rather then fine ones
makes it inadequate for this particular research.
Assuming that the ultimate limit state is reached by concrete
failure, corresponding to the experimental experience, it was
possible to determine the resistant moment, MR (and the
corresponding load - FR), as presented in Table 5. The resistant
moments varied between 19.73 kN.m and 19.59 kN.m, for mixes
RC and C100R, respectively, corresponding to a strength loss of
0.7%. This reduction is insignificant, when compared with the
compressive strength variation of the FRAC, highlighting the
relative importance that the reinforcement has in the global
performance of reinforced concrete cross-sections.
Comparing the experimental with the theoretical values, it is
found that the beams reached a higher load capacity than the
design one, with a variation between 31% and 16%, for the RC
and the one with integral replacement of FNA with FRA, as
observed in other studies (Sato et al., 2007). The option of an
elastoplastic diagram for the reinforcement does not take into
account an important tensile strength increase of the steel, which
partially justifies the difference between the theoretical and
experimental load values.




Table 6. Theoretical Resistant Moments

fc (MPa)
fy (MPa)
MR - Theoretical resistant moment; FR - Theoretical resistant load.

The theoretical values of the cracking moment (Mcr), the

position of the neutral axis of the homogeneous/state I crosssection (xI) and of the cracked/state II cross-section (xII) are
given in Table 6.
The results show a slight variation of the neutral axis, both in
the elastic and the cracked state, due to the increase of the ratio
between the modulus of elasticity of steel and that of concrete, as
the FRA incorporation ratio increases. The theoretical cracking
moment decreases with the replacement ratio from 3.04 kN.m
for RC to 2.57 kN.m for C100R, corresponding to a reduction of
around 15.4%. This reduction is caused mostly by the lower
tensile strength of the FRAC mixes, associated to a lesser degree

Fig. 4. Cracking Pattern of the RC-1 and RC-2 Beams


KSCE Journal of Civil Engineering

Flexural Behaviour of Reinforced Concrete Beams Made with Fine Recycled Concrete Aggregates

Fig. 5. Cracking Pattern of the C10R-1 and C10R-2 Beams

Fig. 6. Cracking Pattern of the C30R-1 and C30R-2 Beams

Fig. 7. Cracking Pattern of the C50R-1 and C50R-2 Beams

to a lower flexural module of the cross-sections of the FRAC

Analysing the cracking patterns of the beams tested it is found
that they are very similar, regardless of the FRA incorporation
ratio, as seen in Figs. 4 to 8, corresponding to mixes RC to
C100R. The main central cracks, located between the two load
application points, have an approximately vertical configuration,
with visible development in height, less than the difference
between the cross-section height and the position of the neutral
axis. The remaining cracks, corresponding to biaxial stress states,
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show less steep slopes, as they get closer to the supports, since
the tangent stresses progressively gain preponderance in the
installed stress states.
The average distance between cracks was measured
experimentally, after the elements cracking process stabilized.
Table 7 presents the average value of the distance between cracks
(srm), as well as the corresponding standard deviation () and
variation coefficient (CV). It is clear that the distance between
cracks in each beam has a significant scatter, as seen by the high
variation coefficients (between 20% and 44%). The average

L. Evangelista and J. de Brito

Fig. 8. Cracking Pattern of the C100R-1 and C100R-2 Beams

Table 7. State I and State II Properties of the Cross-sections
Mcr (kN.m)
0.10235 0.10231 0.10252 0.10265
xI (m)
0.05036 0.05013 0.05165 0.05252
xII (m)
Mcr - Theoretical cracking moment; xI - Position of the neutral axis in
state I; xII - Position of the neutral axis in state II.

distance varied between 59 mm and 104 mm, and in nine of the

ten beams tested between 59 mm and 84 mm. Correlating the
values obtained with the replacement ratio of FNA with FRA, no
clear trend was detected, allowing to conclude that the average
distance between cracks remains approximately constant, regardless
of the recycled aggregates incorporation ratio.
On the one hand, it was expected that the distance between
cracks would be lower in the mixes with greater incorporation.
This results from their tensile strength being lower and therefore
a lower distance would be needed to mobilize the cracking
stresses given the same bond strength, as stated in many classical
references of reinforced concrete structures design (Montoya et
al., 2001; Mosley et al., 2007). However, it is plausible that the
bond between steel and FRAC is lower than between steel and
the RC (Xiao and Falkner, 2007; Butler et al., 2011), which
would lead, therefore, to a greater distance between cracks to
mobilize the same stress in concrete. As a result, the two effects
seem to offset each other.
The width of the first flexural crack was controlled throughout
the test using a crack magnifying glass. The variation after each
load increment of around 10 kN is shown in Fig. 9.
It shows that the width of the cracks in the mixes with greater

Fig. 9. Main Crack Width versus Applied Load

FRA incorporation ratios is higher, reaching maximums near

0.25 mm, in one of the C100R beams, substantially higher than
the width of the cracks in one of the C10R beams, that peaked at
around 0.08 mm. Since the cracks width is directly proportional
to the distance between cracks (srm) and to average strain
between cracks (sm-cm), as stated in Eurocode 2, it results that
the average strain between cracks is presumably higher in the
FRAC than in the RC. This occurs because the FRAC stiffness
is lower than that of the RC contributing less to restrict the
reinforcement elongation (Gilbert, 2001).

4. Conclusions
The analysis of reinforced concrete elements allowed establishing
the global mechanical performance of Fine Recycled Aggregates
Concrete (FRAC), taking into account a series of properties

Table 8. Average Distance between Cracks


srm (mm)
CV (%)
srm - Average distance between cracks; - Standard deviation; CV - Variation coefficient.





KSCE Journal of Civil Engineering

Flexural Behaviour of Reinforced Concrete Beams Made with Fine Recycled Concrete Aggregates

previously analysed individually, in order to check their joint

effect in an near-full scale prototype. The analysis of the
maximum load in the plastic zone of the diagrams allowed
concluding that there is a loss of residual strength of around 12%
in the beams made with 100% FRA. The strength variation
seems to be linearly correlated with the FRA incorporation ratio,
as was the concretes compressive strength.
The ultimate displacements are substantially higher in the
FRAC than in the Reference Concrete (RC), which is caused
both by the higher deformability of the former and by their
higher plastic deformation capacity for a small reduction of
bearing capacity. The theoretical determination of the cracking
and resistant moments led to lower values than the experimental
The determination of the average distance between cracks did
not yield meaningful variations of that parameter as a function of
the FRA incorporation ratio.
Based on these results, it is possible to state that the use of
FRA in structural elements does not significantly affect their
flexural performance, even though the bearing capacity is slightly
below that of conventional concrete. On the other hand, the
incorporation of these materials increases the elements ductility,
leading to greater dissipation capacity of energy at the plastic

The authors gratefully acknowledge the support of the CERISICIST Research Institute, (IST, University of Lisbon) and of
FCT (Foundation for Science and Technology).

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KSCE Journal of Civil Engineering

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