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Concrete compressive

strengths in 5 hours
Will this new method eliminate the 28-day wait for acceptance test results?



After curing, cooling and demolding, a 3- by 6-inch(8)

cylinder is load tested in the same apparatus.

Freshly molded concrete cylinders encased in their molds are

loaded to 1500 psi(9) in the curing and testing apparatus. As
soon as they have been loaded electrical resistance heaters are
activated to cure the specimens under pressure at 298° F.

s an acceptance test the standard 28-day com- Is 5 hours fast enough?

A pressive strength test (ASTM C 39) is wanting.

It gives its verdict long after that verdict is first
needed and at a time when frequently the de-
signer, contractor and owner might almost prefer not to
know the result. Robert Philleo, of the Corps of Engi-
A new test has been developed that gives strength re-
sults 5 hours after the test cylinders are made. Such
strength test data also must be adjusted to provide an es-
timate of standard ASTM C 39 strength results. Even 5
hours may be longer than ideally one might want to
neers, has pointed out(1)* the absurdity and inconve- wait. Ne ve rt h e l e s s, it is early enough to make it much
nience of depending on this test for acceptance, citing easier to solve the problem of any strengths that are be-
among several examples a 15-story hotel in which all low specification. The developer of the test, K.W. Nass-
concrete floors were cast before the first 28-day cylinder er, Professor of Civil Engineering, University of
test result was available. The structure was almost com- Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada lists the following ad-
plete before any of the concrete had been accepted. vantages to the contractor:
• If the 5-hour test indicates that the concrete is sound,
the contractor can have confidence in stripping his FASTEST EXISTING TESTS NOT FAST ENOUGH
forms on schedule. Two things are needed in concrete testing: a
strength test that gives reliable results quickly and de-
• If the test shows the concrete is of low quality he can sign practices that permit acceptance of concrete on
promptly take any remedial action needed, including, the basis of such a test.
if necessary, removal of the concrete while such work The first requirement is met, though not as early as
can still be done fairly easily. some might wish, by the three alternative procedures
• If the concrete is well above the required strength the given in ASTM C 684, “Standard Method of Making,
concrete supplier can be asked to modify the mix to Accelerated Curing, and Testing of Concrete Com-
reduce the cost. pression Test Specimens”: the warm water, boiling
water and autogenous methods.
Method and equipment The first requires curing 6- by 12-inch(5) cylinders in
Essentially the method involves making three 3- by 6- water at 95 degrees F(6) and gives results in 24 hours. In
inch(8) cylinders in special heavy-duty molds, curing the the second method the cylinders are cured at 70 de-
concrete under pressure at high temperatures for 3 grees F(7) for a day and in boiling water for 31⁄2 hours
hours and breaking the cylinders after they have cooled and then tested. In the third method, the cylinders are
for 2 hours. stored in a properly insulated container and tested at
The test equipment is small enough to be carried in an age of 2 days. Data from each of the three types of
the trunk of a car and can be used wherever there is ac- tests must be correlated with data obtained from the
cess to a 110-volt electric outlet. It is said to take about same materials in the standard 28-day compressive
half an hour to set up for testing. strength test.
The molds in which the cylinders are cast are On some jobs such accelerated tests have been re-
equipped with electrical resistance heating elements lied on as the basis for acceptance. (Regular 28-day
and thermal insulation. Pre s s u re during the curing tests have also been required sometimes for later ver-
period is supplied by a hydraulically operated press. ification.) The autogenous method was used for
This is also used later to test the cured cylinders in acceptance testing in construction of the Canadian
compression. National Tower in Toronto in 1975.(2) That testing pro-
gram is further described in a symposium volume(3)
Test details that also documents
Concrete is molded in three lifts per mold, rodding • use of the autogenous method on the Angostura Hy-
each lift 25 times, as in making standard 6- by 12-inch(5) droelectric Plant in Mexico, 1973 to 1975
cylinders. Each end of the mold has a removable closure
with a piston that is sealed against the inner walls of the • control of concrete mix proportions by the autoge-
cylinder with an O-ring. After the three molds have been nous method in Tunnel Emisor Central, Mexico City,
filled the piston-closures are put in place and the molds 1971 to 1975
stacked on top of the hydraulic jack in the press. An as-
• control of concrete mix proportions with a modi-
bestos plate is placed beneath the bottom cylinder and
fied boiling water method by a ready mixed concrete
above the top cylinder to avoid heat loss. A ball bearing
producer in Montreal
ensures proper alignment of the closures with the cylin-
ders. The hydraulic jack is then pumped to force the Further indication of the demand for rapid testing
containers upward against the frame head. The contain- and earlier acceptance is the announcement(4) that ac-
ers are sufficiently full of concrete so that this operation celerated strength testing is now to be used both for
applies pressure directly to the concrete. A pressure of control and for prediction of later-age strength by the
1500 psi(9) is applied, and this load is maintained by an Corps of Engineers in major civil works projects.
accumulator throughout the curing period. Heat is im- Test results on these projects were obtained much
mediately introduced by plugging in the heating ele- earlier than the standard 28-day test results. Ne ve r-
ments, which raise the concrete temperature to 298 de- theless, by the time the results were obtained the con-
grees F. (10) crete had already hardened to substantial degree in
After 3 hours of heating is completed, the cured spec- the structure. It would have done no harm to have
imens are allowed to cool 2 hours to about 150 degrees had a faster reliable test.
F(11) before the pressure of the jack is released and the
molds are removed. The cured specimens are ejected
using other special components. No capping of speci-
from the molds with special components of the appara-
mens with sulfur or other capping materials is needed.
tus. Each separated specimen is then tested either in a
conventional testing machine or in the same apparatus How reliable is the test?
* Numbers in parentheses refer to references and metric equivalents listed with this article.
The chart shown gives the equivalent strength at 3, 7,
+ 15 percent. Although he found that the different vari-
ables in the mix did not seem to affect the linear rela-
tionship between this test and that of ASTM C 39, he
does advise that comparisons be established for use with
local materials. A research paper on the subject, “A New
Method and Apparatus for Accelerated Strength Testing
of Concrete,” has been included in the ACI symposium
volume cited.(3)

(1) “Lunatics, Liars and Liability,” Journal of the American Concrete
Institute, April 1976, page 181.
(2) “The Sky’s the Limit,” Concrete Construction, April 1975, page

(3) Accelerated Strength Testing, Publication SP-56, American Con-

crete Institute, Detroit, Michigan, 1978.

(4) Lamond, Joseph F., “Accelerated Strength Testing by the Warm

Water Method,” Journal of the American Concrete Institute, April
1979, page 499.

Metric equivalents
Conversion chart for estimated ASTM C 94 compressive
(5) 152- by 305-millimeter (9) 10.3 megapascals
strengths at four ages from 5-hour accelerated strengths of
(6) 35 degrees C (10) 148 degrees C
concrete made with Type I portland cement.
(7) 21 degrees C (11) 65 degrees C
(8) 76- by 152-millimeter

28 and 90 days that could be expected from the ASTM C

39 test. This chart is based on results of 300 tests with a PUBLICATION#C790607
variety of cements and aggregates, and according to Copyright © 1979, The Aberdeen Group
Nasser it predicts ASTM C 39 results with an accuracy of All rights reserved