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Cite this article Research Article Keywords: concrete technology &

Menon SU, Anand KB and Sharma AK (2018) Paper 1700033 manufacture/environment/pollution


Performance evaluation of alkali-activated coal-ash aggregate in concrete. Received 28/07/2017;
Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers – Waste and Resource Management 171(1): Accepted 31/01/2018
4–13, https://doi.org/10.1680/jwarm.17.00033 Published online 15/03/2018

ICE Publishing: All rights reserved

Waste and Resource Management

Performance evaluation of alkali-activated


coal-ash aggregate in concrete
&
1 Sreekesh U. Menon MTech &
3 Anil Kumar Sharma PhD
Postgraduate student, Department of Civil Engineering, Amrita School Assistant Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, Amrita School of
of Engineering, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India; Amrita Vishwa Engineering, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India; Amrita Vishwa
Vidyapeetham, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India Vidyapeetham, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India
&
2 Kalpathy Balakrishnan Anand PhD (Orcid:0000-0001-9809-4700)
Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, Amrita School of
Engineering, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India; Amrita Vishwa
Vidyapeetham, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India (corresponding author:
kb_anand@amrita.edu) (Orcid:0000-0001-8359-653X)

1 2 3

This paper discusses the utilisation of coal-ash (CA) mixtures (bottom ash (BA) and fly ash (FA)) as aggregates for
concrete. An optimised mix of BA to FA of 60:40 could produce a basic dense mix of CA suited for aggregates. The
aggregates were prepared by pelletisation followed by cold bonding, using the optimised mix blended with cement
as a binder. The influence of chemical activators – namely, sodium sulfate and calcium hydroxide – for enhancing,
respectively, the reactivity of the CA mix and the pelletisation efficiency was explored in the study. For comparison,
two types of aggregates were produced with a higher proportion of either BA or FA. Aggregates were tested for
physical and mechanical properties; microstructural and mineralogical aspects were explained through scanning
electron microscopy and X-ray diffraction analysis. The performance of CA aggregate concrete and normal concrete
were investigated using compressive strength testing. The curing sensitivity of CA aggregate concrete was assessed
under different curing regimes – namely, water, air and sealed.

1. Introduction either on FA usage or utilisation of the raw coarse fraction


Coal-based power plants have been a major source of power of BA as an aggregate. This work attempts to convert the
generation and also a cause for pollution of the environment. fine fraction of BA in combination with FA into coarse aggre-
Annual power generation is on the rise year after year, which gates and use them in concrete. The paper first discusses
may generate an excessive amount of coal ash (CA). Fly ash the properties of the coarse aggregates produced from the
(FA) and bottom ash (BA) are the major forms of CA wastes optimum blend of BA and FA through an alkali-activation
being generated in thermal plants. When pulverised coal is process, and later highlights the efficiency of these manufac-
burnt, it will produce around 80% of FA and 20% of BA. tured aggregates for incorporation in concrete for normal
These ashes should be effectively utilised in order to reduce the applications.
landfill area and the health hazard caused by their disposal.
To maintain a cleaner environment, it is crucial to utilise CA 2. Background
and increase the acceptability of CA-based products and con- The concept of consuming waste material for building
struction methods. The recycling of these high-volume CA (FA applications has an extensive and successful history, including
and BA) mixtures through less energy-consuming processes by FA applications to enhance properties of cement and
converting into value-added products is a noble approach. concrete. Studies on FA incorporation resulting in property
modifications such as increased strength for mortar and con-
The production and use of coarse artificial aggregates is a crete (Singh and Garg, 1999), increased chloride resistance
promising method in the present scenario when there is con- (McCarthy and Dhir, 2005), early strength and corrosion resist-
tinuous depletion of natural resources. Earlier studies on pro- ance (Maslehuddin et al., 1989) have been reported. Studies on
duction of artificial lightweight CA aggregates mainly focused the use of FA in fibre-reinforced cementitious composites have

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Waste and Resource Management Performance evaluation of
Volume 171 Issue WR1 alkali-activated coal-ash aggregate
in concrete
Menon, Anand and Sharma

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shown improved strength (Kayali, 2004) and enhanced tensile normal aggregate replaced with ash aggregate (Park et al.,
strain capacity (Wishwesh and Anand, 2017). 2009). In cold-bonded FA aggregates with high water-absorp-
tion capacity, moisture migration from the aggregate to the
Studies reported that CA – mainly FA – can be utilised in the cement paste phase in concrete assists in the formation of
production of lightweight aggregates as well as lightweight hydrated products even in the absence of normal water curing
concrete (Baykal and Döven, 2000; Bijen, 1986). The pelletisa- (Joseph and Ramamurthy, 2010). The use of BA fine aggre-
tion process adopted for producing lightweight coarse aggre- gates (produced by cold bonding) for high-strength mortar
gate involves agglomeration of moisturised fines in a rotating also exhibited internal curing efficiency (Kim et al., 2016).
drum or disc (Bijen, 1986; Harikrishnan and Ramamurthy,
2006). Pelletisation is generally followed by any of the 3. Materials and methodology
following three types of hardening processes: cold bonding, In the following sections, the evaluation of materials has been
autoclaving and sintering. Autoclaved and steam-cured FA carried out as per codes of practice and specifications from
aggregates showed inferior properties (water absorption, 10% both Indian Standards (IS) and British Standards (BS).
fines value) as compared with normal water-cured aggregates
(Manikandan and Ramamurthy, 2008).
3.1 Material characteristics
Pelletised aggregates using FA of higher specific surface, Coal ash. BA and FA, the two types of CA used in the study,
lower calcium oxide (CaO) content and lower specific gravity were procured from a nearby lignite coal-based thermal power
show enhanced engineering properties (Gesoğlu et al., 2007). plant. The specific gravity of BA was 2·42, and that of FA was
Pelletisation has also been carried out with the inclusion of a 2·61. The chemical compositions of the two types of CA are
binder to improve the property of aggregates. The binders used shown in Table 1.
in several studies include lime and cement (Baykal and Döven,
2000), bentonite (Manikandan and Ramamurthy, 2009) and Cement. Locally available 53 grade ordinary Portland cement
also kaolinite (Manikandan and Ramamurthy, 2007). The conforming to IS 12269 (BIS, 2013) was used in small
influence of these binders on the properties of the aggregates amounts as an activator to enhance the pozzolanic reaction.
depended on the blend quantity during pelletisation as well as
the hardening process adopted. The addition of cement and Chemical additives. Laboratory-grade calcium hydroxide and
lime significantly improved the strength of FA aggregates sodium sulfate were used as chemical additives in CA mixtures
(Baykal and Döven, 2000). for property enhancement.

Coarse BA has been utilised as a coarse aggregate in concrete 3.2 Experimental programme
(Park et al., 2009). It is reported that such coarse aggregates sat- Trials were conducted on mixtures with the aim of utilising
isfied the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) larger proportions of low-value BA along with FA having
requirements for soundness and abrasion resistance. BA in fine binding properties. After optimising the mixture, the effects of
particle form has been used to prepare cold-bonded aggregates binder and chemicals on the mix for property enhancement
(Geetha and Ramamurthy, 2010a). The geo-polymerisation were studied. The pelletisation process was used for the
method of low-calcium BA aggregate preparation has also been
reported; it involves activating in an alkaline medium and curing
Table 1. Chemical composition of CA
at moderate temperatures (Geetha and Ramamurthy, 2013).
Ash type
In the pelletisation process, chemical additives such as calcium
BA FA
chloride, sodium sulfate and calcium sulfate are incorporated
Oxide (proportion in %) (proportion in %)
in order to enhance the strength of the aggregates. The
addition of sodium sulfate increases the reactivity of BA to Aluminium oxide 22·20 25·16
produce the hydrated product ettringite, thereby enhancing Silicon dioxide 51·20 21·23
Sulfur trioxide 0·23 9·28
the aggregate’s strength (Geetha and Ramamurthy, 2010a). In Calcium oxide 1·20 32·86
the preparation of BA aggregates, a dosage of 2% calcium Ferric oxide 20·30 4·86
hydroxide along with the mixing water increased pelletisation Magnesium oxide 0·80 4·95
efficiency and decreased the binder requirement (Geetha and Sodium oxide 0·25 0·43
Ramamurthy, 2010b). Phosphorus pentoxide 0·35 0·58
Potassium oxide 2·26 Nil
Titanium dioxide 1·10 0·62
Studies on concrete using BA aggregate showed a reduction in Loss on ignition 0·11 0·03
the compressive strength with the increasing amount of

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Waste and Resource Management Performance evaluation of
Volume 171 Issue WR1 alkali-activated coal-ash aggregate
in concrete
Menon, Anand and Sharma

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preparation of aggregates, which were tested for physical and 4.2 Influence of chemical additives
mechanical properties. Later, CA aggregate concrete was pre- The two aspects that were considered for the preparation of
pared and its properties were assessed at different ages and aggregates are: (a) the aggregate strength and (b) the efficiency
with different methods of curing. of pelletisation. Chemical additives were incorporated to acti-
vate the reaction.

4. Preparation and evaluation of aggregates


4.2.1 Effect of calcium hydroxide on pelletisation
4.1 Mix optimisation
From the previous literature, it was found that calcium hy-
BA and FA were mixed in definite proportions in order to pre-
droxide helps in increasing the pelletisation efficiency, and 2%
pare the aggregate. The rolling efficiency, strength and water
(by weight) of total powder material was added to the mixing
absorption of the mix of suitable proportion were considered
water at the time of pelletisation. The effect of calcium hy-
for the optimisation. Three different proportions, namely, 80:20,
droxide on the pelletisation of the optimised CA mixture is
70:30, 60:40 of BA:FA, respectively, were considered. The
shown in Table 2.
rolling efficiency of the mix indicates the binding ability of the
mix to become a pellet, for the selected proportions. The water
The observations show that with the addition of calcium
consumed for preparing the mix was about 25% of the total
hydroxide, the duration of pelletisation was reduced and
powder material. As the strength of the mix was also a major
also the efficiency in pellet formation increased. Accordingly,
criterion, the same was assessed by preparing 50 mm cube
a dosage of 2% of calcium hydroxide was adopted for
specimens. Along with strength and rolling efficiency, the water
pelletisation.
absorption of the mix was also checked for all the proportions.

It was observed that, when the amount of BA was increased, 4.2.2 Effect of sodium sulfate on strength
the rolling efficiency gets reduced. For BA-to-FA proportions Sodium sulfate was trialled as a chemical activator to enhance
of 80:20 and 70:30, the efficiency to become a pellet was found the strength of the pellet, based on the approach of enhancing
to be lower compared with the proportion 60:40. It was also the pozzolanic reactivity of FA through chemical activation
observed that increasing the BA resulted in the pellets having and thus improving strength (Shi and Day, 1995). Sodium
a rough surface when compared to pellets with lower BA sulfate dosages of 2–4% by weight of CA was adopted. The
content. Hence, in terms of rolling efficiency, a BA:FA pro- effect of sodium sulfate was studied for the optimised mix of
portion of 60:40 was satisfactory. BA, FA and cement (60:30:10) and the results are shown in
Table 3.
When the strength result was analysed, the proportion
60:40 showed higher strength when compared with the 70:30 The results show that sodium sulfate helps in improving
and 80:20 proportions. Among the selected proportions of the strength of the optimised mix. Significant differences
CA, the variation in the water-absorption value was only in strength were not observed while using either 2 or 4% of
marginal. Considering the three aspects, the proportion of BA sodium sulfate. Hence, the lower dosage of 2% of sodium
and FA in the ratio of 60:40 was selected as the optimised mix sulfate was chosen.
and adopted for the next stage of the study on improving
aggregates’ properties through the binder and chemical The proportion 60:30:10 BA, FA and cement, respectively,
additives. with the incorporation of 2% each of calcium hydroxide and
sodium sulfate was selected for the preparation of aggregates.
The inclusion of cement as binder was done by replacing Concurrently, another mix was also selected for the prep-
a portion of FA from the optimised mix, as this study aration of aggregates, with the same proportion but of higher
mainly focused on the higher quantity utilisation of BA. FA content – that is, 60:30:10 FA, BA and cement, respect-
Consequently, the proportion 60:30:10 of BA:FA:cement was ively. The properties of aggregates prepared with both these
selected as the optimised mix for the preparation of aggregates. mixes are discussed in the next section.

Table 2. Influence of calcium hydroxide on pelletisation


Trial Mix proportion Amount of Moisture required for Duration of Efficiency of
number (BA:FA:C) calcium hydroxide: % pelletisation: % pelletisation: min pelletisation: %

1 60:30:10 0 33 50 35
2 60:30:10 2 23 15 70

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Waste and Resource Management Performance evaluation of
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in concrete
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Table 3. Influence of sodium sulfate on optimised mix Table 4. Properties of aggregate


Amount of Property Type B Type F
Mix sodium sulfate: 3 d strength: 28 d strength:
proportion % by weight MPa MPa Specific gravity 1·84 1·75
Bulk density: kg/m3 1130 1206
60:30:10 0 5·14 9·65 Water absorption: %
60:30:10 2 8·97 11·76 24 h 18·81 23·44
60:30:10 4 9·62 10·40 30 min 17·93 22·86
Aggregate strength
Crushing strength: N 726 556
Pellet crushing value: MPa 3·55 2·72
4.3 Aggregate production and testing 10% fine value: t 2·11 1·96
Two types of aggregates were prepared using pelletisation, and
the moisture required at the time of pelletisation was about
25% of the total powder material. After the pelletisation pro- The specific gravity and bulk density of type B aggregates
cess, the aggregates were water-cured for 28 d (cold-bonding are found to be higher than those of type F aggregates. The
process) in order to achieve strength. The aggregate made with aggregates prepared using CA have bulk densities lower than
the proportion 60:30:10 (BA:FA:C) was designated as type B 1800 kg/m3 and hence can be categorised (Baykal and Döven,
and that made with the proportion 30:60:10 (BA:FA:C) was 2000) as lightweight aggregates. The water-absorption values
referred as type F. Aggregates were of size ranging from 4·75 of type F aggregates were higher than those of type B aggre-
to 20 mm and were well graded. Both types of aggregates were gates. Analysing the indicative strength tests, it is obvious that
rounded in shape. Type B had a rough surface texture whereas type B are superior to type F aggregates. The improved pro-
type F showed a smoother texture. The pellet with the higher perties of type B aggregates can be attributed to their hard and
proportion of BA (type B) was darker in colour compared rough surface compared with type F. The water absorption
with type F. and 10% fines values of aggregates are comparable with the
FA aggregates made through energy-intensive autoclaving
4.3.1 Physical and mechanical properties and steam-curing methods reported earlier (Manikandan and
The specific gravity of coarse aggregates was measured accord- Ramamurthy, 2008). Water curing may be chosen as the aggre-
ing to part III of IS 2386 (BIS, 1963b) and the bulk density gate curing method if space is not a constraint.
as per IS 383 (BIS, 1970). A 24 h water-absorption test
was conducted according to part III of IS 2386 (BIS, 1963b).
The 30 min water absorption was also tested for the prepared 4.5 Mineralogical and microstructure studies
aggregates. Sieve analysis of the prepared aggregates was con- on aggregates
ducted according to part I of IS 2386 (BIS, 1963a). 4.5.1 X-ray diffraction studies
X-ray diffraction (XRD) studies were carried out on the
The crushing strength of aggregates was determined according powdered aggregate sample obtained using Ultima IV X-ray
to the BS 812:110 (BSI, 1990) test method. The aggregate crush- diffractometer. XRD analysis was carried out using Philips
ing strength was obtained by applying load diametrically and X’Pert HighScore software. The XRD patterns of both the
crushing a single aggregate (of 10 mm size). In total, 20 aggre- types of aggregate samples – that is types B and F – are shown
gates were tested to obtain an average value of strength. An in Figure 1. Quartz and mullite are the main crystalline min-
alternate way of expressing this property is through the pellet erals observed in XRD patterns of coal combustion products
crushing value obtained by converting the crushing strength (Lav and Lav, 2000). XRD patterns also confirm the presence
using the empirical formula (Kockal and Ozturan, 2010). of hydration products such as calcium silicate hydrate (C–S–H)
and calcium aluminium silicate hydrate (C–A–S–H) (Dave
The 10% fines value test is normally recommended for aggre- et al., 2017; Rivera et al., 2014). Similar results were reported
gates that are not very strong. The load required to produce by other researchers for class C FA for CA as an artificial
10% fines is obtained and reported to the adjacent whole aggregate (Ramamurthy and Harikrishnan, 2006). A few peaks
number for loads of 10 t or more, and to the nearest 0·5 t for of ettringite are also identified in the XRD patterns of both
loads of less than 10 t. Testing of the CA aggregates was done the aggregate types. It appears that the presence of sulfate
as per provisions of part IV of IS 2386 (BIS, 1963c). might have promoted the formation of ettringite due to
the reaction between calcium and alumina (from CA), and
4.4 Aggregate properties sulfate (from sodium sulfate) (Taylor, 1997). However, the
The aggregate tests were conducted on prepared aggregates peaks are of very low intensity due to the smaller amount of
and the results are shown in Table 4. sulfate in the samples. It is observed that the peak intensities

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Waste and Resource Management Performance evaluation of
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in concrete
Menon, Anand and Sharma

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A: Quartz
B: Ettringite
C: Calcium silicate hydate
D: Calcium aluminium silicate hydrate
E: Mullite
Intensity: counts

A E
A B
D
C A
Type B B D B E E

Type F 2 µm EHT = 5·00 kV Signal A = SE1


WD = 11·0 mm Mag = 5·00 K ×

10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80
(a)
Position: 2θ

Figure 1. XRD patterns of types B and F aggregates

of hydration products for type B aggregates have a higher


value when compared with those of type F aggregates. The
XRD results are in agreement with the strength properties
where type B aggregates have higher strength than type F.

4.5.2 Scanning electron microscope studies


The powdered sample of aggregates was kept in an oven for
24 h at 105 ± 5°C to remove the moisture content, tied to stubs
and then polished with a conducting layer of palladium 2 µm EHT = 5·00 kV Signal A = SE1
coating before performing the electron microscopic study. WD = 11·0 mm Mag = 5·00 K ×

(b)
The sample was subjected to an electron beam from a Zeiss
EVO 18 scanning electron microscope. SEM images from
Figure 2. SEM image of (a) type B aggregate, (b) type F
samples of types B and F aggregates are shown in Figures 2(a) aggregate
and 2(b), respectively. The micrographs were captured to include
the pores inherently present in the aggregate and also the for-
mation of hydration products (Bae et al., 2014; Xu and Sarkar,
1994). The SEM image of type B aggregate indicates the rela-
bulk density compared with the normal aggregates. The CA
tively larger share of distributed smaller pores, whereas in type F aggregate concretes prepared with aggregate types B and F have
aggregate, larger pores predominate. The larger pore size of
been referred as BC and FC, respectively. Normal aggregate
type F aggregate leads to a higher rate of water absorption when
concrete (NC) consisting of natural granite coarse aggregate
compared with type B. Also, a better-interconnected matrix is and sand as fine aggregate was also prepared. The nominal
seen in the case of type B, which results in better mechanical
size (20 mm) of coarse aggregate was adopted for all mixes.
properties (Ghosh and Subbarao, 2001). In case of type F aggre-
gates, there is a lack of bonding which may be the reason for The main aim at this stage was to prepare moderate-strength
their lower strength. The inference made from the SEM analysis
concrete using the low-density CA aggregate and compare its
supports the properties observed in the two aggregate types.
strength with similarly proportioned concrete using normal
aggregate. Curing sensitivity of CA aggregate concrete was
5. Concrete with CA aggregates analysed under different curing regimes to assess the self-
Due to the lower specific gravity of CA aggregates, the con- curing efficiency. Water sorptivity of CA aggregate concrete
crete made by using CA aggregates will have a lower value of was also checked for all the selected curing regimes.

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Volume 171 Issue WR1 alkali-activated coal-ash aggregate
in concrete
Menon, Anand and Sharma

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5.1 Mix proportioning expressed as a percentage of the oven-dried mass of the aggre-
The concrete mix was proportioned according to IS 10262 gate. The aggregates were extracted from 15 mm below the
(BIS, 2009) for M20 grade with a slump of 100 mm. As the outside layer of concrete because these aggregates were not in
CA aggregates were round in shape, water correction was contact with the outside atmospheric conditions. About 100 g
applied as per standards. In the case of CA aggregates, the of aggregates was extracted from samples of each curing
initial water absorption was high, as observed in Table 4, and regime at different ages of curing. Compressive strength results
this is bound to affect the concrete workability unless precau- and moisture migration from aggregates under different curing
tions are taken in mix proportioning. To avoid the water cor- regimes were considered together for assessing the self-curing
rection, the aggregates were presoaked in water for 30 min and capacity of CA aggregate concretes.
the excess water allowed to drain for 10 min before mixing.
The CA concrete was mixed in two stages, in order to obtain 5.2.3 Sorptivity
good homogeneity and blend between mortar and aggregate. Properties like sorptivity and absorption influence the dura-
Cement, water and fine aggregates were initially mixed for bility of concrete. As building materials are rarely saturated
2 min and after addition to CA aggregate for another 3 min. during use, sorptivity is the more appropriate parameter to
Normal aggregate concrete (NC) was also proportioned in the explain moisture movement. The water sorptivity test helps to
same ratio. Trial batches were prepared in order to arrive at determine water absorption of the concrete by measuring the
the desired workability. The workability of both the CA aggre- water entering concrete through capillary suction at different
gate concretes was checked in terms of slump and compaction intervals of time. The test was conducted according to the pro-
factor test. Since types B and F aggregates were round in shape vision of ASTM C1585 (ASTM, 2004). Sorptivity, expressed
in contrast to normal angular aggregates, BC and FC had in terms of absorption, I, is the change in mass divided by the
workability higher than NC. product of the cross-sectional area of the test specimen and
the density of water. The initial rate of water absorption is the
5.2 Tests on concrete slope of the best-fit line of I plotted against the square root of
time. The water sorptivity test was conducted at 28 d of curing
5.2.1 Strength
for all the three curing regimes for both types of concrete, BC
The compressive strength was determined by tests according to
and FC.
IS 516 (BIS, 1959) after 7, 28 and 56 d of curing. The test
specimens of concretes BC, FC and NC were cast and cured
5.3 Results and discussion
in water.
5.3.1 Strength comparison
5.2.2 Effect of curing regimes on strength Compressive strength after curing of 7, 28 and 56 d is sum-
The CA aggregates showed higher values of water absorption marised in Figure 3. The density of CA aggregate concrete
than normal aggregates. This may help types B and F aggre- was found to be lower than that of normal concrete. The
gates to release the moisture held in their pores to the cement strength value of BC was higher than that of FC. An increase
matrix during the hydration process. To assess the hydration in strength of concrete is also observed as the age of curing
reaction capacity of CA aggregates the concrete specimens increases. BC and FC had compressive strength lower
were exposed to different curing regimes. Three curing regimes by 17 and 26%, respectively, when compared with NC after
were selected: water curing, sealed curing and air curing. 28 d of water curing. There was an increase in strength of
The strength variation of concretes under different regimes and about 5–15% for all concretes at 56 d compared with 28 d
also the curing sensitivity of the cold-bonded aggregates were curing.
evaluated. The test specimens were cured under the three
regimes and tested for compressive strength after curing for By analysing the tested concrete specimens, it was found
7, 28 and 56 d. By assessing the strength variation of BC and that the aggregate phase of concrete, rather than the cement
FC under different regimes, the curing sensitivity was ident- paste interfacial zone, was the predominant cause of failure.
ified. The self-curing efficiency was assessed by studying Hence, the strength of the concretes was governed by the type
the moisture movement from aggregates at different stages of aggregates utilised. The compressive strength of BC was
of curing. found to be higher than FC due to the higher strength of type
B aggregates when compared with type F aggregates.
5.2.2.1 MOISTURE MOVEMENT FROM AGGREGATE
This test was done by extracting the aggregate from the interior 5.3.2 Influence of curing regimes on strength
of concrete at different ages of curing. The residual moisture The compressive strength variation of CA aggregate
was estimated as the change in mass among as-extracted aggre- concretes BC and FC under three curing regimes is shown in
gates and the mass after 24 h oven drying at 100 ± 5°C, Figures 4(a) and 4(b), respectively. In the case of BC it was

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Waste and Resource Management Performance evaluation of
Volume 171 Issue WR1 alkali-activated coal-ash aggregate
in concrete
Menon, Anand and Sharma

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30 25
7d 7d
28 d
28 d 56 d
25
20
56 d

Compressive strength: MPa


Compressive strength: MPa

20
15

15
10

10
5

0
Water cured Air cured Sealed cured
0
NC BC FC (a)
25
Figure 3. Comparison of compressive strength
7d
20 28 d
56 d
Compressive strength: MPa

seen that the 7 d strength for air-cured concrete was similar


to that for sealed-cured concrete. This is due to the presence
of saturated aggregates, which supply the requisite quantity of 15
moisture to make up for the loss under air curing and thereby
aid the hydration process during the early days of curing.
However, while analysing 28 d strength, sealed curing showed 10
higher strength compared with air-cured samples due to the
continuous moisture availability from the aggregates for the
hydration process. The strength increment from 7 to 28 d was
5
observed as about 10–20% for concretes under all curing
regimes. There was not much increase in strength from 28 to
56 d of curing. Due to reduced moisture availability for the
0
hydration process, only a negligible strength increment was
Water cured Air cured Sealed cured
noticed with respect to air curing.
(b)

In the case of FC at the age of 7 d, all concretes showed


similar compressive strength irrespective of curing regimes. Figure 4. Strength under different curing regimes (a) for BC, and
(b) for FC
While considering 28 and 56 d strength, the water-cured
samples have higher values compared with other curing
regimes. At 56 d, water curing showed 16% higher strength
over sealed-cured concrete. The air-cured concrete showed only of curing regimes, indicating that the sensitivity of strength to
a marginal strength improvement for different curing durations curing is less for BC compared with FC.
because the water available in the aggregates was mainly
needed to compensate for the moisture loss due to exposure. In 5.3.2.1 RESIDUAL MOISTURE CONTENT IN AGGREGATES
the case of FC, the strength increment from 7 to 28 d curing The residual moisture content of the extracted aggregates
was about 25, 3·5 and 15% for water, air and sealed curing, from concrete is shown in Figures 5(a) and 5(b), respectively,
respectively. The strength increment from 28 to 56 d for BC and FC. A considerable decrease in residual moisture
curing was 2–12% for the different concretes. BC showed content was seen at early ages of curing for both sealed-
almost the same value of compressive strength irrespective and air-cured concretes. These are reflected in the strength

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Waste and Resource Management Performance evaluation of
Volume 171 Issue WR1 alkali-activated coal-ash aggregate
in concrete
Menon, Anand and Sharma

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24 0·04
Water cured
22 Air cured
20 Sealed cured
Residual moisture content: %

18 0·03 BC FC

Water sorptivity: mm/S1/2


16
14
12 0·02
10
8
6
0·01
4
2
0
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 0
Air cured Sealed cured Water cured
Age of concrete: d
(a)
Figure 6. Initial water sorptivity for BC and FC
24
22
20 with water-cured samples. This indicates higher self-curing
Residual moisture content: %

18 efficiency of BC when compared with FC.


16
14 5.3.4 Sorptivity characteristics
12 As presented in Table 4, the CA aggregate types B and F have
10
higher water absorption relative to the normal type of aggre-
gates. The water sorptivity of concrete was assessed after 28 d
8
of curing under all the three curing regimes. The values for
6 Water cured
initial sorptivity of water-cured concrete were less than other
4 Air cured
Sealed cured
curing regimes for both types of concrete, as shown
2 in Figure 6.
0
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 The air-cured samples had the highest value for both
Age of concrete: d types of concrete. This was due to the higher moisture loss
(b) from the concrete at all ages of curing. A slightly higher value
of sorptivity was observed for FC over that of BC, which may
Figure 5. Residual moisture content in aggregates (a) BC, (b) FC be due to the higher water-absorption property of type F
aggregates when compared with type B aggregates. The sealed-
cured concrete showed an intermediate value of sorptivity for
both types of concrete. Hence, the sealed curing method can
attained under sealed- and air-cured conditions (shown in be of utility for the production of precast products using CA
Figure 4). Both BC and FC air-cured samples showed con- aggregates.
siderable reduction in residual moisture content at all curing
ages. 6. Conclusion
This work mainly focused on the conversion of low-value BA,
The moisture migration continues after 7 d of curing for both by combining with FA having binding properties, into value-
sealed- and air-cured samples of BC and FC. The percentage added product (lightweight aggregate) through low-energy-
reduction of residual moisture content was marginal from 28 consuming processes, and its utilisation in concrete. The CA
to 56 d of curing, thus supporting the lower strength gain aggregates made through cold bonding and water curing had
during this period as shown in Figure 4 for BC and FC. comparable properties with aggregates made through energy-
Through utilisation of moisture migrated from the aggregates, intensive methods reported in the literature. The following con-
sealed- and air-cured BC develops strength that is comparable clusions are drawn from this study.

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Waste and Resource Management Performance evaluation of
Volume 171 Issue WR1 alkali-activated coal-ash aggregate
in concrete
Menon, Anand and Sharma

Offprint provided courtesy of www.icevirtuallibrary.com


Author copy for personal use, not for distribution

(a) CA proportion 60:40 of BA and FA, respectively, through chemical activation. Journal of Cleaner Production 18(15):
produces a denser mixture suitable for coarse 1563–1569.
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