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Concrete Repair, Rehabilitation and Retrofitting II – Alexander et al (eds)

© 2009 Taylor & Francis Group, London, ISBN 978-0-415-46850-3

Durability requirements in self-compacting concrete mix design

A. Ioani & J. Domsa

Technical University of Cluj-Napoca, Cluj-Napoca, Romania

C. Mircea & H. Szilagyi

National Institute for Research in Construction (INCERC), Cluj-Napoca Branch, Romania

ABSTRACT: The paper presents results furnished by a national research program developed at the Technical
University of Cluj-Napoca in cooperation with specialists from INCERC Cluj-Napoca Branch, in order to
implement self-compacting concrete in the Romanian precast concrete industry. Mixes for C50/60, C40/50
and C30/37 strength classes with cement CEM I 52.5R, cement and silica fume or cement and limestone filler
have been designed and tested, and properties in fresh and hardened state have been evaluated. Mix constituents
(sand, gravel) are materials currently in use in a local precast concrete plant and admixtures (HRWR) and addi-
tions (silica fume) are provided by Sika Romania Ltd. Mixture proportions and parameters such as cement type,
cement content, w/c ratio and concrete strength class are discussed with respect to the limit values specified in
the Romanian Standard SR EN 206-1: 2006, for durability reasons.

1 INTRODUCTION data (permeability, shrinkage, scaling resistance, air

void content and freeze-thaw) confirmed a very good
Starting from 1983, the problem of durability for response of SCC to durability requirements. Similar
concrete structures has been a major issue in Japan. results have been reported by Persson (2002), after an
Making durable structures involves appropriate and extensive and complex experimental program on SCC
sufficient mechanical compaction by skilled work- properties.
ers. The lack of such skilled workers in Japan led to The paper presents results obtained at The Tech-
a significant reduction in the quality of construction nical University of Cluj-Napoca, Romania, in the
works. The solution proposed by H. Okamura in 1986, design of SCC mixes for the precast/prestressed con-
focused on the achievement of durable concrete struc- crete industry. Performances in the fresh and hard-
tures independent of the classic mechanical vibration ened state of SCC are presented. The paper shows that
process, by means of a concrete which can be com- typical SCC compositions for the precast/prestressed
pacted by its own weight, without vibration devices applications satisfy the requirements for durability
(Okamura & Ouchi 2003). Practically, the potential regarding to different exposure classes (X0, XC, XD,
hazard of human errors is reduced by the use of SCC, XS, XA and XM) and the limit values of the concrete
errors which can generate incorrect and non-uniform composition and concrete properties specified in the
vibration. The result is a homogenous concrete struc- National Annex of the Romanian Standard SR EN
ture with improved durability and quality. The high 206-1: 2006 for durability reasons.
quality of demoulded surfaces decisively contrib-
utes to increase in durability, too. Nowadays SCC
has become a very attractive material for designers, 2 MIXTURE PROPORTIONING
clients, contractors or precasters due to its benefits: PARTICULARITIES
more innovative design of elements, more complex
shapes, faster construction, improved durability, 2.1 Objectives
reduced formwork, placement, finishing costs, less
manpower and a shorter production cycle. The research program was established in coopera-
Recently, Ramsburg et al. (2003), Schindler et al. tion with specialists from ASA CONS Romania Ltd.,
(2007) discussed the durability aspects of SCC designed the largest precast concrete plant from Transylvania,
for precast applications, and their experimental set of Romania.

At this plant, currently the production structure of Table 1. Typical range of variation for SCC constituents.
conventional (vibrate) concrete is:
Constituents Domone (2006) EFNARC (2005)
− 20% prestressed elements of C50/60 concrete
strength class; Powder (kg) 445–505 380–600
− 40% prestressed elements of C40/50 concrete Paste (l) 300–420 300–380
strength class; Water (l) – 150–210
− 40% R/C precast elements of C30/37 strength Coarse aggregate (l) 280–380 270–360
Fine aggregate 38–54% of 48–55% of
class. (sand) mortar volume total aggregate
Thereby, the research program has focused on Max. Agg. Size (mm) 16–20 mm 12–20 mm
designing and testing SCC with these specified Cement type in general, all cement
non-Portland conf. EN 197-1
strength classes.
Similar to the case of conventional vibrated con-
crete, the primary specification for the hardened SCC
is to meet the exposure class (EN 206-1) and the
characteristic compressive strength at 28 days. When
SCC is used in precast applications, and particularly volume, higher powder contents, low water/powder
for prestressed members, the dominant requirement ratios, high HRWRA (high range water reducing
is a high early strength of concrete which enables admixtures) dosages and the use of VMA (viscosity
the workers to demould, to prestress or to move the modifying admixture) in some cases.
elements within a short production cycle (EFNARC
For prestressed applications, precasters required a 2.3 Mixture proportioning guidelines
cube compressive strength at transfer (24 to 36 hours) In the frame of the research program developed at
higher than 49 MPa for C50/60 mixes, and 42 MPa The Technical University of Cluj-Napoca, the authors
for C40/50 mixes. Durability aspects of the designed proposed a mixture proportioning procedure, aiming
SCC mixes are discussed in Section 4. At the same to fulfil the SCC requirements in fresh and hardened
time, in the SCC mix design, a balance between the state.
previously defined requirements in the hardened state The procedure is based on the following principles
and the necessary properties in the fresh state (flow- (Ioani & Szilagyi 2008):
ability, viscosity, passing ability and stability) should
be achieved. − Maximise the total aggregate volume in order to
Taking into account the characteristics of concrete obtain less paste. The largest possible volume of
members cast in the factory (shape, size, reinforce- aggregate is advantageous with regard to stiff-
ment, etc.), the following requirements for the fresh ness, permeability, creep and drying shrinkage and
SCC were established: finally, improves durability; shrinkage is a paste
property and the aggregate is the most impor-
− Slump-Flow class SF2, where 660 < SF < 750 mm; tant restraint on the change in volume within the
− Viscosity class VF2, where 9 < VF < 25 s; paste;
− Passing ability class PL2, where PL ≥ 0.8 with 3 − Reduce the powder content as much as possible
rebars; and use the possible lowest water/powder ratio.
− Segregation resistance class SR2, where SR < 15%. Less powder also means savings in the most
expensive constituents (cement, silica fume, filler)
2.2 Ranges of variation and contributes to reductions of shrinkage; in the
same time, a low water content is recommended to
In a recent study, Domone (2006) analysed 68 differ- increase the strength and durability of the concrete
ent SCC mixes and showed that mixture proportions and to mitigate high drying shrinkage (Ozyildirim &
vary widely, so that there is not a unique solution Lane 2003);
for any given application. However, the study shows − Select the optimal sand/aggregate ratio (S/Agg)
some distinctive variation ranges of the main con- which leads to a minimum volume of voids. This
stituents. In Table 1, these ranges are compared with is achieved by using more sand and less gravel
typical ranges of SCC constituents recommended by (S/Agg = 0.5–0.55), as it appears in the works of Su
EFNARC (2005). et al. (2001) and Brouwers & Radix (2005); a lower
The research report ICAR 108-2F (2007) shows coarse aggregate content (270-300 l) improves the
that, in general, the SCC mixture when compared paste rheology and gives the best results in the
to conventional vibrated concrete, is characterized filling height of the U-box type test (Okamura &
by: lower coarse aggregate contents, increased paste Ouchi 2003), as it is shown in Figure 1;

− Select the proportions between the aggregate ingre- − Determine the cement amount in order to reach the
dients in order to maintain the aggregate grading required compressive strength and to satisfy the
curve in “the recommended range” (Fig. 2). Such limit values prescribed for the selected exposure
range proposed by Ioani & Szilagyi (2008) covers (durability) classes in the European Standard EN
all important grading curves proposed for SCC in 206-1: 2000 or in the Romanian Standard SR EN
the technical literature: Fuller n = 0.4 curve, modi- 206-1: 2006; durability requirements determine
fied Andreasen & Andersen curve (Dmax = 16 mm, limits for certain parameters of the concrete mixes,
q = 0.25) preferred in the works of Brouwers & such as: type of cement, w/c values, cement dos-
Radix (2005), Grace recommendation regarding ages, concrete strength classes).
the upper and lower limits for a blended gradation
(Grace TB-1503), 0.45-power curve presented in
the report ICAR 108-1 (2007); such curves repre- 3 EXPERIMENTAL PROGRAM
sent grading with high packing densities and they
are favourable in SCC mixes; 3.1 Materials
The mix design procedure was successfully tested on
more than 50 mixes for the precast concrete industry.
It involves four stages and 12 steps and is extensively
presented in a previous work (Ioani & Szilagyi 2008).
In the laboratory tests only local materials or materi-
als currently in use at the precast unit plant have been
selected: Portland cement CEM I 52.5R, limestone
filler, sand (0–4 mm) and river coarse aggregate
(4–8 mm, 8–16 mm).
Three different types of concrete were cast: SCC
made only with cement (as powder), SCC made with
cement and limestone filler, and SCC made with
cement and silica fume.
The key material for any type of SCC is repre-
Figure 1. Influence of coarse aggregate content on self- sented by the admixture. In the experimental program
compactibility (Okamura & Ouchi 2003).
a HRWR admixture of the polycarboxilic ether type
produced by Sika under the brand name Sika Visco-
Crete-20 Gold, was used. The selected pozzolanic
addition (SikaFume-HR/-TU) was compatible with
the Sika ViscoCrete-20 Gold admixture.

3.2 Selected mixtures and results

Representative SCC mix compositions are presented
in Table 2, where C50/60 and C40/50 mixes have been
designed for prestressed applications and C30/37 mix
for R/C precast elements.
The principal characteristics in fresh and hardened
state are shown in Table 3.
Regarding the compressive strength, all mixes have
a good evolution in time. Using the cube compressive
strength at 28 days (Table 3), the concrete character-
istic strength is evaluated and the results revealed that
mixes meet the strength requirements corresponding
to the designed concrete strength classes.
At one day, the compressive strength is slightly
inferior with respect to the target strength required at
transfer (fcm1 = 45 < 49 MPa at transfer for C50/60,
and fcm1 = 40 < 42 MPa at transfer for C40/50 mixes)
and consequently, the prestress transfer should be
done at 32–36 hours.
Figure 2. Aggregate grading ranges for SCC (Ioani & Mix SCC-50 designed for the concrete strength
Szilagyi 2008). class C30/37 could be classified after the results as

Table 2. SCC mix compositions. Table 4. Water sensitivity of mix SCC-46.

Strength classes SCC mix index 48 49 46 47*

C50/60 C40/50 C30/37 Water (l/m3) 185.5 185.5 190 198

Slump-flow (mm) 715 705 720 740
Mix index SCC 18 19" 31' 50 T500 Slump-flow (s) 5 5 3.5 2.5
V-funnel time (s) 17.5 19.5 11 10
Cement (kg) 510 481 410 350 Cube compressive
Limestone filler (kg) – – 95 155 strength (MPa) at
SikaFume (kg) – 25 – – – 1 day 37.1 37.0 35.8 33.6
Sand 0–4 mm (kg) 920 920 920 920 – 7 days 46.0 47.1 48.6 43.3
Gravel 4–8 mm (kg) 230 230 230 230 – 28 days 55.3 58.2 56.2 54.0
Gravel 8–16 mm (kg) 493 493 493 493
Water (l) 199 202 192 190 * VMA of 2.45 kg/m3 is added to avoid the bleeding and
water/cement 0.39 0.38 0.47 0.54 segregation tendency.
water/powder 0.39 0.40 0.38 0.37
Sand/Agg 0.56 0.56 0.56 0.56
Vagg (l) 620 620 620 620
Vpaste (l) 380 380 380 380 SCC sensitivity to small changes in material char-
ViscoCrete 20 Gold (kg) 6.12 6.32 6.5 5.5 acteristics (sand fineness, changes in moisture content
% of powder 1.20 1.25 1.30 1.58 of the materials or in aggregate gradation, etc.), has
been observed during the tests. The major variation in
the composition during production at the plant comes
Table 3. Test results on fresh and hardened state. for normal changes in the moisture content of the
sand and the coarse aggregate (ENC 179 VMA/2006).
Strength classes A well designed and robust SCC can accept a 5 to
10 l/m3 change in water content without falling out-
C50/60 C40/50 C30/37 side the specified classes of performance when fresh
(EFNARC 2005). For this reason the water sensitiv-
Mix index SCC 18 19" 31' 50 ity (tolerance) of mixes has been established. The
mix SCC 46—representative for the strength class
Slump-flow (mm) 680 635 683 670
T500 Slump-flow (s) 3 3.5 3.5 3 C30/37—can accept a water tolerance of (–4.5 l) to
V-funnel time (s) 9.2 10.5 11 12.0 (+8 l); in this range which is within the control capa-
L-box passing ratio 0.87 0.82 0.80 0.80 bilities of the concrete producer, small changes in
Segregation resistance (%) 6.0 5.2 7.2 4.75 the slump flow (–15 mm to +20 mm), in T500 values
Cube compressive strength (±1.5 s) and strength (±4%) are recorded (Table 4).
(MPa) at – 1 day 44.0 45.2 40.3 34.0
– 7 days 53.5 58.8 49.6 43.6
– 28 days 64.4 66.6 55.8 52.8

4.1 Exposure classes

C35/45, having comparable performances in fresh
and hardened state with SCC-mix C, developed by The Romanian Standards SR EN 206-1: 2006 shows,
Brouwers & Radix (2005). in correspondence with EN 206-1: 2000 that dura-
The slump-flow test shows a good total spread bility design is realised by defining the exposure
value (670 to 680 mm), a V-funnel time in the range classes (X) in relation to environmental conditions
of 9 to 12 sec and a very good passing ability meas- and mechanical actions. These actions have been
ured by L-box with passing ratios between 0.80 and associated to certain measures regarding the concrete
0.87 (Table 3). With respect to these experimental composition, minimum concrete cover, crack width,
results, the mixes meet the requirements in fresh state etc., and also to provisions regarding the execution,
of the specified classes: SF2, VF2, LP2 and SR2. quality control, inspections, verifications or special
The properties in fresh state are stable in time, measures (use of stainless steel, coatings, cathodic
small variations being recorded in terms of slump- protection).
flow (SF), V-funnel time and passing ability (PL). The exposure classes can be divided in exposure
For mix SCC -18 the following variation is classes with risk on concrete or/and on reinforcement
reported: steel, as in Table 5.
Exposure classes related to environmental condi-
− at 15 minutes: SF = 680 mm, VF = 9.2 s, PL = 0.87; tions and informative examples where these classes
− at 40 minutes: SF = 665 mm, VF = 13 s, PL = 0.83. may occur are presented in EN 206-1, Table 4.1.

Table 5. Exposure classes (SR EN 206-1: 2006). For each exposure class (X), the National Annex of
SR EN 206–1: 2006—Annex F gives recommendations
Exposure classes Observations for the selection of limit values for the concrete com-
position and concrete properties function of the speci-
X0 No risk of corrosion or On concrete and
attack reinforcement steel fied exposure class. These limit values are established
considering a service life of 50 years, compositions
XF Freeze/Thaw attack XF1, with CEM I 32.5 and aggregates ha-ving a maximum
XF2, XF3, XF4 size in the range of 20 to 32 mm (Tables 6–7).
XA Chemical attack XA1, Exposure classes
XA2, XA3 with risk on concrete
XM Mechanical actions XM1, 4.2 Exposure classes vs. SCC for prestressed
XM2, XM3 applications
XC Corrosion induced by SCC mixes for prestressed applications are charac-
carbonation XC1, XC2, terized by low water/cement ratios, high dosages of
XC3, XC4
XD Corrosion induced by Exposure classes with
cement and high concrete strength classes, (Table 2):
chlorides XD1, XD2, risk on reinforce
XD3 ment steel
− Water/cement ratios: 0.39 – 0.38 – 0.47;
XS Corrosion induced by − Cement content: 510 – 481 – 410 kg/m3;
chlorides from sea − Concrete strength classes: C50/60 – C40/50.
water XS1, XS2, XS3

Table 6. Limit values for the concrete composition and concrete properties for X0, XC, XS, and XD exposure classes.

Corrosion induced by chlorides

No risk Corrosion induced by carbonation from sea from other sources

Parameter X0 XC1 XC2 XC3 XC4 XS1 XS2 XS3 XD1 XD2 XD3

Max. w/c – 0.65 0.60 0.60 0.50 0.55 0.50 0.45 0.55 0.50 0.45
Min. strength
class C12/15 C16/20 C16/20 C20/25 C25/30 C30/37 C35/45 C35/45 C30/37 C35/45 C35/45
Min. cement
(kg/m3) – 260 260 280 300 300* 320** 320** 300 320* 320*
Min. air
content (%) – – – – – – – – – – –
conditions – – – – – – – – – – –
Cements resisting to airborne sea salt must be used.
Sea water resisting cement must be used.

Table 7. Limit values for the concrete composition and concrete properties for XF, XA and XM exposure classes.

Freeze/Thaw attack Chemical attack Mechanical attack

Parameter XF1 XF2 XF3 XF4 XA1 XA2 XA3 XM1 XM2 XM3

Max. w/c 0.50 0.55 0.50 0.55 0.50 0.50 0.55 0.50 0.45 0.55 0.55 0.45 0.45
Min. strength C25/30 C25/30 C35/45 C25/30 C35/45 C30/37 C25/30 C35/45 C35/45 C30/37 C30/37 C35/45 C35/45
Min. cement
(kg/m3) 300 300 320 300 320 340 300 320 360 300 300 320 320
Min. air
content (%) – a* – a* – a* – – – – – – –
Suppl. Aggregate with freeze/thaw resistance s** – Sulfate resist- – t*** – –
conditions (SR EN 12620: 2003) ing cement
The minimum air content will be established depending on the maximum size of aggregates; for Dmax = 16 mm, a > 5.5%.
For exposures in marine zones, sea water resisting cement must be used.
Concrete surface treatment is recommended (e.g. vacuum dewatering).

The most restrictive value for water/cement ratio cement are highly recommended (CEM II/B-S,
(Tables 6–7) is w/c = 0.45, and is required only by CEM III/A). ACI 201.2R-01 shows that some
certain exposure classes (XS3, XD3, XA3, XM2, pozzolans and GGBF slag used either in blended
XM3); consequently, all SCC compositions satisfy cement or added separately to the concrete in
the limit values given in Tables 6–7 with respect to mixer, increase the life expectancy of concrete in
the magnitude of water/cement ratio, with the follow- sulfate exposure, considerably. In very severe sul-
ing specifications: fate attack conditions even Type V cement (sulfate
resisting) in combination with pozzolan or GGBF
− For elements exposed to corrosion induced by chlo-
slag is recommended. Because SCC mixes are cur-
rides from sea XS3 (parts of massive structures in
rently made with moderate to high amounts of poz-
tidal, splash and spray zones) or from other sources
zolanic or latent hydraulic powders additions, SCC
XD3 (parts of bridges exposed to spray containing
is particularly indicated for elements exposed to
chlorides, pavements, car park slabs), and for ele-
chemical attack.
ments placed in highly aggressive chemical envi-
ronments XA3 (soil and ground water), when the
maximum accepted value for w/c is 0.45, only SCC
4.3 Exposure classes vs. SCC for R/C precast
mixes of C50/60 strength class having lower w/c
ratios (0.38–0.39) are recommended.
SCC mixtures developed in the research program for
The cement content in the proposed mixes var-
R/C precast elements are characterized by a moderate
ies from 510 to 410 kg/m3; these values are greater
water/cement ratios (w/c = 0.54), moderate dosages
than the most restrictive limit (360 kg/m3) and con-
of cement (350 kg/m3) and a concrete strength class
sequently all SCC compositions satisfy the limit val-
C30/37 (Table 2).
ues given in Tables 6–7 with respect to the minimum
Having these characteristics, mix SCC-50 meets
cement content.
the durability requirements corresponding to the fol-
Typical concrete strength classes for prestressed
lowing exposure classes (Table 6–7):
applications are C50/60 and C40/50; these classes
are greater than the highest strength class (C35/45) − XC1, XC2 and XC3, elements subjected to risk of
required by Tables 6–7. Consequently, all SCC com- corrosion induced by carbonation;
positions satisfy the limit values given in Tables − XS1 and XD1, elements subjected to risk of corro-
6–7 with respect to the concrete strength class sion induced by chlorides from sea water or from
parameter. other sources;
Accordingly to SR EN 206-1: 2006—National − XF2 and XF3, elements exposed to freeze/thaw
Annex F.3.3—the cement type used in all SCC mixes attack when air entraining admixtures are used in
(CEM I 52.5R) is accepted for all exposure classes compositions to produce air content in concrete
and it was primarily selected in precast/prestressed greater than 5.5%;
applications for its capacity to produce concrete with − XA1, concrete subjected to slightly aggressive
high early strength. chemical environment (soils and ground water);
It can be concluded that the proposed mixes for − XM1, concrete subjected to mechanical attack
prestressed application satisfy entirely the recom- (abrasion) which produces a moderate wear on
mended limit values given in Tables 6–7 and conse- industrial floors, slabs and platforms due to pneu-
quently they are suitable for all exposure classes. matic wheel vehicular traffic.
In addition, for the particular situations revealed in
Tables 6–7, special measures should be taken: The proposed mixture (SCC–50) for R/C precast
elements does not meet the requirements of certain
− For elements exposed to the chloride attack, spe-
exposure classes (XC4, XS2, XS3, XD2, XD3, XF1,
cial type of cement resistant to the sea water action
XF4, XA2, XA3, XM2 and XM3) with respect to the
should be used;
water/cement parameter.
− For elements exposed to freeze/thaw attack in the
XF4-exposure class, supplementary air entrain-
ing admixture should be used in order to reach an
air content greater than 5.5% (for SCC made with 5 CONCLUSIONS
aggregate having a maximum size of 16 mm); SCC
mixtures with 5 to 7% air content are currently The results obtained in the experimental program
reported in literature (Ramsburg et al. 2003, Zia confirm the possibility to produce with local mate-
et al. 2005, Schindler et al. 2007); rials, SCC with remarkable properties in fresh state
− For elements exposed to chemical attack XA2, and hardened state and an impeccable surface after
XA3 (acid or sulfate) the use of sulfate resisting removal from the mould (Fig. 3).

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Romania Ltd, for the partial financial support of this stressed concrete girder. In H. G. Russel (ed), The 7th
study and for providing admixtures and additions for International Symposium of High Strength/High Per-
the experimental program. formance Concrete. SP-228, American Concrete Insti-
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