Construction and Building

Construction and Building Materials 21 (2007) 1282–1287

MATERIALS
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Self-curing concrete: Water retention, hydration and moisture transport
A.S. El-Dieb
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Department of Structural Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Ain Shams University, 1 El-Sarayat St., Abbasia 11517, Cairo, Egypt Received 5 May 2005; received in revised form 7 February 2006; accepted 19 February 2006 Available online 1 September 2006

Abstract Water retention of concrete containing self-curing agents is investigated. Concrete weight loss, and internal relative humidity measurements with time were carried out, in order to evaluate the water retention of self-curing concrete. Non-evaporable water at different ages was measured to evaluate the hydration. Water transport through concrete is evaluated by measuring absorption%, permeable voids%, water sorptivity, and water permeability. The water transport through self-curing concrete is evaluated with age. The effect of the concrete mix proportions on the performance of self-curing concrete were investigated, such as, cement content and w/c ratio. Ó 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Self-curing concrete; Water retention; Relative humidity; Hydration; Absorption; Permeable pores; Sorptivity; Water permeability

1. Introduction Curing of concrete is maintaining satisfactory moisture content in concrete during its early stages in order to develop the desired properties. However, good curing is not always practical in many cases. Several investigators asked the question whether there will be self-curing concrete [1,2]. Therefore, the need to develop self-curing agents attracted several researchers [3]. The concept of self-curing agents is to reduce the water evaporation from concrete, and hence increase the water retention capacity of the concrete compared to conventional concrete [4,5]. It was found that water soluble polymers can be used as self-curing agents in concrete [5]. Concrete incorporating self-curing agents will represent a new trend in the concrete construction in the new millennium [3]. Curing of concrete plays a major role in developing the concrete microstructure and pore structure, and hence improves its durability and performance. The concept of self-curing agents is to reduce the water evaporation from concrete, and hence increase the water retention

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capacity of the concrete compared to conventional concrete [4,5]. The aim of the investigation is to evaluate the use of water-soluble polymeric glycol as self-curing agent. The use of self-curing admixtures is very important from the point of view that water resources are getting valuable every day (i.e., each 1 m3 of concrete requires about 3 m3 of water for construction most of which is for curing). The benefit of self-curing admixtures is more significant in desert areas where water is not adequately available. In this study water retention and hydration of concrete containing self-curing agents is investigated and compared to conventional concrete. Also, water transport through this concrete is evaluated and compared to conventional concrete continuously moist-cured and air-cured. Concrete weight loss and internal relative humidity measurements with time were carried out in order to evaluate the water retention ability. Non-evaporable water at different ages was measured to evaluate the hydration of self-curing concrete. The water transport, as durability index [6–10], is evaluated by measuring water absorption%, permeable voids%, water sorptivity and water permeability. Brief description of tests and specimens is given in Section 2.2. The parameters included in the study were mainly the cement content and the w/c ratio.

0950-0618/$ - see front matter Ó 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.conbuildmat.2006.02.007

3 0. The admixture dosage was kept constant for concrete mixes when self-curing agent was used. under drying condition). Measurement of the weight was carried-out till 28 days of age. Two specimens were used for each mix and the average values are used in the discussion. For each cement content and w/c ratio. For evaluating water transport. The cubes were cured in the moulds for 24 h.. The nonevaporable water was determined at several time intervals up to 28 days of age. Table 1 Concrete mixes Concrete mix type Cement content (kg/m ) w/c Ratio Mix I. Moist-curing 0. The sand used was natural sand with fineness modulus of 2. The initial slump for all the conventional concrete mixes was kept constant (about 90–120 mm) using variable dosage of high-range water reducer-retarding admixture (Type G). with internal diameter 120 mm and height 130 mm.3 Air-curing 0.D. The propan- Fig. Duplicate specimens were prepared for each mix and the average results are used in the discussions. The dosage was 0. The cement used was ordinary Portland cement. Table 1 gives the details for the mixes used in the study.58. The two coarse aggregate sizes were mixed with a 1:1 ratio. Specimens and testing Concrete weight loss was carried out by filling polypropylene containers of capacity 1.02% by weight of the cement. The dosage of the self-curing agent was kept constant for all the self-curing concrete mixes. After de-moulding a hole of diameter 20 mm and depth 100 mm was drilled in each cube from the top face of the cube.4 Self-curing Self-curing (no curing) 450 0. continuously moist-curing under water. The coarse aggregate was crushed stone with two sizes.A. A digital relative humidity probe was used to measure the relative humidity inside the cube at several time intervals up to 91 days of age.e.4 Conventional concrete 350 0. 2.e. the percentage of the sand was 32% of the total aggregate weight. A total of eight mixes were used in this investigation. two concrete mixes were cast.S. two curing regimes were used for conventional concrete mixes without self-curing agent. The hole was then cleaned using air jet to remove any loose particles. The non-evaporable water content was carried out on concrete specimens cast from the mixes. and aircuring. The hole was then sealed using a rubber stopper. The samples were kept in porpan-ol2 to stop hydration until testing.5 l. The holes were kept sealed using the solid rubber stopper when not being in use to measure the internal relative humidity. Materials and concrete mixes The main constituent variable parameters in this study were the cement content and the w/c ratio. The cube was then sealed from the surrounding environment using wax film. with concrete. The weight of the containers was measured after casting and at several intervals to determine the weight loss with time. Curing I. 1 shows the set-up for measuring the internal relative humidity. 1.3 0.5].1. At each age a concrete specimen from each mix was crushed and a cement paste sample was obtained for the test by sieving crushed concrete sample to remove aggregate particles. The probe was kept inside the whole for about 2–3 h before taking the measurements. Internal relative humidity set-up.4 450 0. The specimens were left in air (i. Experimental work 2. a one-hole rubber stopper was used to seal the humidity sensor into the concrete block.3 Conv. S1 (5– 20 mm particle size) and S2 (10–25 mm particle size). Fig. Measurement of the relative humidity took about 20–30 s to stabilize.D. El-Dieb / Construction and Building Materials 21 (2007) 1282–1287 1283 2. The self-curing agent used in the study was water soluble polymeric glycol (i. one which includes the self-curing agent and the other is conventional mix.4 . 3 Self-curing concrete 350 0.. A cube specimen of dimensions 158 · 158 · 158 mm was cast from each mix. polyethylene-glycol) [3. The containers were kept at constant temperature of about 25 °C and relative humidity environment of about 65%.2.

2. The specimens were oven dried at 110 °C for 24 h. the specimens were dried in a 105 °C oven).4 60 w/c = 0. El-Dieb / Construction and Building Materials 21 (2007) 1282–1287 ol2 was dried off before testing (i. The non-evaporable water was determined as the weight loss after burning in a muffle furnace at 1050 °C. The specimens were saturated using vacuum saturation before testing. The test was conducted on replicates and the average values are reported and used for discussion. The weight of the specimen was recorded at fixed time intervals with a total time of 25 min [11–13]. The sorptivity test was conducted at 28 days and 56 days of age on duplicate specimens for each mix. 70 60 Weight Loss (gm) 50 40 30 20 10 0 0 Cement Content = 350 kg/ m 3 w/c = 0. The water permeability coefficient (m/s) was measured at 7. 3. Fig.3 for both cement contents. 3 shows the weight loss with time for all the mixes. Water sorptivity test was carried out for measuring rate of absorption of hydraulic cement concretes [11]. 28 and 56 days of age for each mix on duplicate specimens fro each mix and for each age. the internal relative humidity for the self-curing 70 w/c = 0. Weight loss with time for self-curing and conventional mixes. The sides of the test specimens were sealed with electric vinyl tape to create unidirectional flow through the concrete specimen. 4 shows the internal relative humidity for the selfcuring and conventional concrete with time.S. The weight loss for the concrete mixes with w/c ratio 0.4 was greater than that for concrete mixes with w/c ratio 0.4 Fig. This indicates better water retention for self-curing mixes. 3.1. Test results and discussion 3. 14. A concrete disc of diameter 100 mm and height 50 mm was cut from a cylinder and used for testing. Fig. and then the specimens were left to cool in dry condition for the following 24 h. this confirms with the findings previously concluded for conventional concrete mixes [14. The water permeability test was conducted using constant water pressure head during a constant time period. The water inflow was measured and the water coefficient of permeability (m/s) was calculated. 2.15]. Water absorption and permeable pore tests were conducted at 28 day of age.4 w/c = 0.3 w/c = 0. the weight loss for the concrete mixes with cement content 450 kg/m3 was slightly higher than that for concrete mixes with cement content 350 kg/m3.1284 A. Also..e. . The specimens used were discs of diameter 100 mm and height 50 mm cut from a cylinder. The test was carried out by allowing one surface of the specimen to be in contact with water of 5 mm depth using a circular aluminum support as shown in Fig. Replicate samples were used for each mix and at each test age and the average values are used in discussions.3 Weight Loss (gm) w/c = 0. Water sorptivity set-up.3 w/c = 0. Using the supporting frame and keeping the outside water level at 1–3 mm above the aluminum support allows continuous contact between the specimen surface and the water without changing the water depth during the test time. The non-evaporable water was calculated as the sample weight loss to the sample weight (g/g). For the concrete mixes with cement content 350 kg/m3. The water permeability test was conducted on saturated concrete specimens of diameter 100 mm and height 50 mm cut from concrete cylinders. The cement content and the w/c ratio have a significant effect on the internal relative humidity of the concrete whether self-curing or conventional mixes.3 50 40 30 Self -Curing 20 Conventional Self-Curing Conventional 10 Cement Content 0 = 450 kg /m 3 8 16 24 Time (days) 32 40 0 8 16 24 Time (days) 32 40 Fig. Water retention The weight loss with time due to the moisture evaporation was found to be less for the self-curing mixes than that for the conventional mixes.4 w/c = 0. Water absorption% and permeable pores% tests were conducted according to ASTM C-642.

On the other hand.14 0.4.16 0. 450 kg/m 3 Self-Curing Conventional 1285 95 Self-Curing Conventional 95 90 w/c = 0.3 w/c = 0. the water sorptivity values at both ages were not significantly reduced when w/c ratio was reduced from 0.C.12 0.3 w/c = 0. This shows that the self-desiccation is more pronounced for the conventional mixes compared to the self-curing mixes which could have a direct impact on the hydration of the cement.3 w/c = 0.3. El-Dieb / Construction and Building Materials 21 (2007) 1282–1287 100 C. 7 shows the water sorptivity for the self-curing and the conventional concrete with its two curing regimes at 28 days and 56 days of age respectively.e.06 0 5 10 15 20 25 Conventional 30 35 40 Time (days) Fig. This indicates that self-curing concrete develops lower permeable pores% compared to the air-cured conventional concrete. It could be seen that self-curing concrete with its ability to retain water resulted in higher non-evaporable water which in turn imply higher degree of hydration. 350 kg/m 3 0.2. and below 85% for the conventional mixes.3 90 85 w/c = 0.3 for the continuously 0.16 Wn (gm/gm) 0.4 w/c = 0.4 C. the internal relative humidity was below 85% for the self-curing mixes while it was below 80% for conventional mixes. 6 shows water absorption% and permeable pores% for the self-curing and conventional concretes with different cement contents and w/c ratios. in order to study the effect of self-curing on the development of the capillary pores.C. 3. 4. 3. 5. 28 days and 56 days of age. For the concrete mixes with cement content 450 kg/m3. .S.08 0. 450 kg/m 3 0. the selfcuring concrete showed lower water absorption% and permeable pores% compared to air-cured conventional concrete.4 80 w/c = 0. 3.4 w/c = 0.06 0 5 10 15 20 Time (days) 25 30 35 40 Conventional w/c = 0.1 w/c = 0.4 w/c = 0. The effect is affected by the mix proportions as found from the results of the measurement of the weight loss and the internal relative humidity..4 w/c = 0.C.A.4 w/c = 0.4 to 0. The water absorption% and the permeable pores% were found to be slightly higher for self-curing concrete than those for continuously moistcured conventional concrete. mixes was slightly higher than 85% after 91 days. Non-evaporable water versus time for self-curing and conventional mixes. 5.08 0.4 85 w/c = 0. This could be attributed to the water retention of the self-curing concrete and the continuation of hydration compared to the air-cured conventional concrete.18 0. Hydration The non-evaporable water (Wn) measured on unsealed specimens (i.18 0.1 Self-Curing 0.3 Self -Curing 0.2 w/c = 0. Fig. Water absorption and permeable pores Fig. Internal relative humidity with time for self-curing and conventional mixes.12 0.3 Wn (gm/gm) 0.C. Water sorptivity The water sorptivity was measured at two ages.2 C. under drying condition) at different times for self-curing and conventional concrete mixes is shown in Fig. and the capillary water suction of the concrete.3 w/c = 0. For the 450 kg/m3 cement content conventional concrete mix.3 0 20 40 60 80 100 120 80 75 0 20 40 60 80 100 120 75 Time (days) Time (days) Fig. 350 kg /m 3 Relative Humidity (%) Relative Humidity (%) 100 C.14 0.

350 kg /m 56 .4.1 0.4 0. but lower than those of air-cured conventional mixes. 0.C.C. 450 kg /m w/c = 0. .25 0. reducing the w/c ratio resulted in a water sorptivity value very close to that of similar conventional moistcured mix with cement content 450 kg/m3 and w/c of 0.2 0. 350 kg/m w/c = 0. Water absorption% and permeable pores%.Day Sorptivity (mm/min ) 1/2 3 C. For the continuously moist-cured conventional concrete mix with 350 kg/m3 cement content.C.C. Coeff. the reduction for the moist-curing mixes was higher than 9E-12 8E-12 Perm.1 0.Curing 0. (m/s) 7E-12 6E-12 5E-12 4E-12 3E-12 2E-12 1E-12 C.3 0 14 28 56 7 Age (days) Self-Curing 14 28 56 7 14 28 56 7 Age (days) 14 28 56 Moist-Curing Air -Curing Moist -Curing Self -Curing Air.Curing 0.3 28 .Curing Fig. This trend was found at both ages.D Pores % 14 12 10 8 6 4 2 0 0.4 Absorption % A. The water sorptivity values for the self-curing concrete were higher than 5E-11 Perm.Curing 0.C. (m/s) those for moist-cured conventional mixes. The sorptivity values were found to decrease with time for both self-curing and the moist-curing concrete mixes.4 0.3 Air -Curing 2 1 0 0.4 0.DAbsor. 7. This confirms with the results obtained in the water absorption% and permeable pores%. 450 kg /m 3 C. 450 kg /m 3 14 12 10 8 6 4 2 0 Moist -Curing Fig.3 0. 6. 8.05 0 0.C. moist-cured regime.3 C.S.25 0. % 6 5 4 3 8 7 Absorption % 20 Pores % 18 16 28 .4 3 4E-11 3E-11 2E-11 1E-11 0 7 w/c = 0. Water permeability coefficient with time for self-curing and conventional mixes.4 Air.3 w/c = 0.3 w/c Ratio Moist -Curing Self -Curing Air.D Pores % 3 C.3 0.05 0 0. Water sorptivity at 28 days and 56 days of age for self-curing and conventional mixes.2 0.4 3 C.C. 350 kg /m 3 C.3 Fig.C. 450 kg/m 0.15 0.1286 8 7 28 . Coeff.4 0.15 0.3 w/c Ratio Moist -Curing Self -Curing Air.Day Sorptivity (mm/min ) 1/2 3 C.D Pores % 6 5 4 3 2 1 0 0.4 0. 350 kg/m 56 .4 w/c Rati o Self -Curing 0.3 0.3 Moist -Curing w/c Ratio Self -Curin g 0. El-Dieb / Construction and Building Materials 21 (2007) 1282–1287 20 Pores % 18 16 28 .

Concr Int 2005. Nucl Instrum Meth Phys Res Sec A 2005. Water permeability The water permeability was measured at different ages up to 56 days of age.27(2). This could be attributed to the continuation of hydration in both mixes but the effect in the case of self-curing mixes is not significant in reducing the large pores volume (i. Effect of sorptivity test time on the variation of test results. ASTM manual.5. [6] Basheer L. – Self-curing concrete resulted in better hydration with time under drying condition compared to conventional concrete. University of Toronto. This indicates the continuation of hydration and the development of the pore structure of the concrete. University of Toronto. [13] El-Dieb AS. as found by the weight loss with time. [9] Zhu W. Mechanism of water retention in cement pastes containing a self-curing agent. – Water transport through self-curing concrete is lower than air-cured conventional concrete. Mag Concr Res 1989. and supplementary cementing materials (SCM). In the case of air-cured conventional concrete mixes. This could be attributed to the slower rate of hydration.41(147):51–61. Measurement of rate of absorption of water by hydraulic cement concretes. An investigation into the feasibility of formulating ‘self-curing’ concrete. – Durability of self-curing concrete to sulphate salts and chloride induced corrosion is needed to be evaluated. 8 shows the water permeability coefficient with time for both self-curing and conventional mixes for cement contents 350 kg/m3 and 450 kg/m3. Fig.e. . the following conclusions could be considered for further research: – Performance of the self-curing agent is affected by the mix proportions. Le Roux JJ. Permeation properties of self-compacting concrete. PhD thesis. Cement Concr Res 2003. the reduction in the water permeability coefficient with time was not significant indicating slower rate of cement hydration and high-permeable pores%. El-Dieb / Construction and Building Materials 21 (2007) 1282–1287 1287 that of the self-curing mixes. – Effect of the self-curing agent on the microstructure and the pore size distribution of the self-curing concrete require additional study. [8] De Beer FC. – Water sorptivity and water permeability values for selfcuring concrete decreased with age indicating lower permeable pores% as a result of the continuation of the cement hydration.S. Permeation of fluids through high performance concrete. Self-Desiccation in concrete. and that the permeability coefficient values decreased with time. Roberts JW. [15] McGrath PF. Ain Shams Univ Faculty Eng Sci Bull 1999. Lura P. [3] Dhir RK. Dyre TD.33(6):921–6. Membrane curing of concrete. [2] Bentz DP. Mater Lett 2003. different cement types. [4] Wang J. Also.24(8):1463–74. 3. [7] Turkmen I.23(1):46–7. [11] ASTM C-1585-04. [10] A. MASc thesis. Testing the durability of concrete with neutron radiography. [12] Hall C. Kearsley EP. Why not? Concr Int 2001. the reduction in the water sorptivity value with age is marginal for both cement contents. Lota JS.A. Hewlett PC. Cleland DJ. such as silica fume fly ash and ground granulated blast slag on water retention. the effect of moistcuring is significant on reducing the water permeability values due to the better reduction in the larger pores volume compared to the self-curing concrete. Levitt M. This confirms with the results obtained in the water sorptivity test. Kropp L.27:606–15. – Self-curing concrete suffered less self-desiccation under sealed conditions compared to conventional concrete. mainly the cement content and the w/c ratio. 1994. vol.. Cement Concr Res 1994. Mixture proportioning for internal curing. Internal self-desiccation of silica fume concrete. Civil Engineering Department. References [1] Mather B. Water sorptivity of mortars and concretes: A review. respectively. Constr Building Mater 2001. nevertheless. Self-curing concrete.542:226–31.02. It was noticed that for the air-cured concrete mixes.50(1):85–90. capillary pores). 1989. 4. Hewlett PC. [14] Mjornell K. Dyre TD. Mag Concr Res 1998. 4. Conclusions The following could be concluded from the results obtained in this study in spite of the scattering of test results: – Water retention for the concrete mixes incorporating self-curing agent is higher compared to conventional concrete mixes. hydration and moisture transport of the self-curing concrete needs further investigation.2(556):94.15(2-3):93–103. – The effect of using higher w/c ratios.34(2):41–51.S. For both cement contents it was noticed that self-curing resulted in water permeability higher than that of moist-cured conventional mixes. Dhir RK.57(29):4560–9. [5] Dhir PK. Civil Engineering Department. Assessment of the durability of concrete from its permeation properties: A review. Influence of different curing conditions on the physical ¨ and mechanical properties of concretes with admixtures of silica fume and blast furnace slag. El-Dieb. Bartos PJM. Mater Struct 1994. Chalmers University of ¨ Technology 1994.

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