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Strength is the property of the concrete that is most valued by designers and quality control engineers as it

quantifies the amount of loads that can be carried by the structural elements before it fails. These structural

elements, which are mostly made of concrete, must be able to attain a reasonable strength in terms of flexure,

tension and compression. The flexural and tensile strength of concrete is relatively very low as compared to its

compressive strength that provision of steel reinforcement must be used to handle these kinds of strength. The

high compressive strength of concrete makes it ideal for columns and foundation use (Domone & Illston, 2010). In

this exercise, the compressive strength of concrete specimen were tested in accordance to the standard ASTM C39

in order to check if the specimen complies with its designed compressive strength.

II. Materials and Method

A. Materials

The primary materials that was used in this exercise was the cylindrical concrete specimen, which has a 6

inches and 12 inches diameter and height, respectively. These specimens were subjected to a uniformly distributed

load, with the help of a metal cap, produced by the Universal Testing Machine as shown in Figure 9 1. Additionally,

the dimensions of the specimens was pre-measured before the actual testing.

Figure 9.1. Materials and Equipments utililzed for the determination of Compressive Strength.
B. Methods

Before the actual testing, the necessary dimensions of cylindrical concrete namely the diameter and height was

measured to know if it has complied with the specified standards. The metal cap was provided on both ends of the

cylinder for a uniform load distribution when testing. The concrete cylinder was then subjected to the universal

testing machine and was loaded at a certain rate until it exhibits complete failure. The types of break, which are

shown in Figure 9-1, was also identified. The Universal Testing Machine recorded the load by which the concrete

failed. This load was used to calculate the compressive strength of the specimen as shown in equation 9-1. These

methods were done with concrete specimen of different test age 7, 14 and 28 days.

Compressive Load at Failure

Compressive Strength=
Average crosssectional areaof the specimen

Figure 9 -2. Concrete Break Patterns

III. Results and Discussion

The compressive strength of the concrete specimens can be affected by three main factors. These are the

characteristics and proportions of materials, curing conditions and the quality of the testing parameters. In this

exercise, concrete specimens with different strengths and hardened age was tested using the Universal Testing

machines. The result of this exercise is shown and summarized on the table below.
Table 9-1. Summary of Results for Compressive Strength of Different Test Age and Designed Strength.

Concrete Specimen 3000 psi 4000 psi 5000 psi

Age at test days 7 14 28 7 14 28 7 14 28
Compressive Strength (psi) 2047.6 2226.4 2855.8 3173.9 3769.0 4364.1 - 4969. 5724.4

2 5 9 4 5 6 3 2

The concrete mix design of the concrete greatly affects the compressive strength of the concrete specimens.

In Figure 9 3, it was illustrated that in all test ages, the concrete with mix design proportion of 3,000 psi has the

least strength and the 5,000 psi mix design has the greatest compressive strength. A primary reason is the value of

the water to cement ratio. The 3,000 psi mix design has a non air-entrained water to cement (w/c) ratio of 0.68,

while the 5,000 psi mix design has 0.48 w/c ratio. This implies that increasing the water to cement ratio will result

to a lower compressive strength (Nilson, Darwin, & Dolan, 2010).


5000.0 4969.3
Compressive Strength, psi


3173.9 3,000 ps i
3000.0 4,000 ps i
5,000 ps i
2000.0 2047.6

5 10 15 20 25 30
Test Age, days

Figure 9 3. Plot of Compressive Strength vs. Test age at a given Designed Compressive Strength.

Another factor could be the type of the hydraulic cement used and aggregate phase. For this exercise, a Type

I Portland cement was used which means that the concrete mix reach the design strength after 28 days (Nilson et

al., 2010). The aggregates that acts as fillers also contributes to the compressive strength of the hardened concrete.

It is important to make sure that the aggregates are well graded or dense graded in order to prevent porous and
weak concrete. To determine this, the fineness modulus of the sand was determined before mixing. For better

interlocking effects and greater contact area, rough- textured and angular shaped aggregates are desired like the

gravel that was used during the exercise.

The aggregate component is crucial for the development of strength of the concrete since the interfacial

transition zone is located between this and the cement paste matrix. Because the cement paste does not react with

the aggregates, the portion between them creates a weaker link. Even before the application of load, the concrete

already has micro cracks and failure occurs when the microcracks bridges with the other microcracks particularly

at the interfacial transition zone (Domone & Illston, 2010).

In Figure 9 4 , it could be said that the strength of the concrete increase with the test age. The highest

compressive strength occurred at the 28th day while the lowest compressive strength occurred at the 7 th day.

Actual Compressive Strength, psi

5000.0 4969.3
3500.0 7 days
14 days
3000.0 28 days
2500.0 2226.5

2500 3000 3500 4000 4500 5000 5500
Design Compressive Strength, psi

Figure 9 4. Plot of Actual Compressive Strength vs Designed Compressive Strength at a given Test Age.

To avoid bleeding, early-hardened concretes were subjected to curing. This procedure prevents cracking

due to plastic shrinkage and promotes hydration for unreacted cement that will further increase the strength of the

concrete. In the exercise, the samples were cured based on their test age. For instance, the 7 day old concrete was

cured for seven days and was tested a few minutes after being removed from the curing room (McCormac & Brown,

2014). The graph shown at Figure 9 4 illustrated the relationship of the test age and curing age to the

compressive strength of the concrete.

Moreover, errors in the determination of compressive strength may occur if the loading of the specimen is

not on the center of the cross-sectional area. Also, errors in the preparation of the fresh concrete may occur due to

miscalculation of the proportioning. For instance, the 28th day compressive strength of the 3,000 psi concrete is less

than its designed strength. This could have been avoided through proper compaction and vibration of the fresh

concrete while in the mold.

IV. Summary and Conclusion

The high compressive strength of the concrete is a vital characteristic of the concrete that is necessary for

all construction activities. To improve the compressive strength of a concrete, proper proportioning of materials

and careful selection of materials must be observed. After the concrete hardens, it has to be cured for further

hydration of the cement that has not yet reacted. Lastly, in testing the compressive strength, the concrete specimen

must have the standard dimensions (h/D = 2) and must be in SSD condition. It was evident in the data gathered

that the strength increases as the concrete age increases and the concrete mix design generally dictates the

compressive strength of the hardened concrete.

V. Recommendations

To ensure that the concrete will have yield at a higher strength, the casting room must have a low

temperature. The use of air conditioner is highly recommended. The curing storage must have a heater to assure a

higher temperature. Lastly, to avoid waiting for a long time, the use of admixtures could be applied. It will also be

helpful if the mixing water is not tap water but pure (distilled) water.
VI. Appendixes

Concrete Specimen 3,000 4,000 5,000

Age at test days 7 14 28 7 14 28 7 14 28
Diameter (mm) 152.4 152.4 152.4 152.4 152.4 152.4 152.4 152.4 152.4
18241. 18241. 18241. 18241.
Area (mm2) 18241.5 18241.5 18241.5 18241.5 18241.5
5 5 5 5
258054. 280592. 359918. 40000. 47500. 55000. 626262. 721428.
Load at Failure (N) 0.0
0 0 0 0 0 0 5 0
Compressive Strength (Mpa) 14.1 15.4 19.7 21.9 26.0 30.2 0.0 34.3 39.5
Compressive Strength (psi) 2047.6 2226.5 2855.9 3173.9 3769.1 4364.2 0.0 4969.3 5724.4

Sample Calculations:

Compressive Force at Failure ( N )

Compressive Strength (MPa)=
CrossSectional AreaContact (mm2 )


25.4 mm


721,428 N
Compressive Strength ( MPa )=

25.4 mm

Compressive Strength ( MPa )=39.5

( kgm
s )


VII. References
Domone, P., & Illston, J. (2010). Construction Materials: Their Nature and Behaviour (4th ed.). New York City, USA:

Spon Press.

McCormac, J., & Brown, R. (2014). Design of Reinforced Concrete (Ninth ed.). United States of America: John Wiley

& Sons, Inc.

Nilson, A. H., Darwin, D., & Dolan, C. W. (2010). Design of concrete structures. Retrieved from