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Paper No.




Concrete is the most widely used material of construction. Concrete gained in popularity as a construction material due to the easy availability of its component materials, the easy formability, strength and rigidity upon setting and curing. Concrete is used in construction without or with the aid of tensile reinforcement. In some structures, concrete is prestressed with high tensile steel wires or strands. The properties of concrete are occasionally enhanced with fibres of steel or other materials. Though concrete structures, built during the first half of the last century, generally proved to be durable, with useful life spans of over sixty years, such concrete structures, built since the 1970s or 1980s, and in some cases since the 1960s, started showing signs of distress early in several cases within five or ten years of construction. The writer had earlier identified stress concentration and stress corrosion in high strength rebars with surface deformations to be among the principal reasons behind the falling life span of most concrete structures. Certain characteristics of modern day cement, which too can adversely affect the durability of concrete structures, particularly those in India, are identified in this Paper.


Cementitious concrete, the most popular construction material, has Portland cement as the principal binder. There is ordinary Portland cement (OPC). There are also blended cements, e.g., Portland slag cement (PSC) and Portland pozzolana cement (PPC). In the making of PSC, ground granulated blast furnace slag is blended with OPC or OPC clinker, whereas in the making of PPC, pozzolanic materials, most often fly ash or pulverized fly ash, are blended with OPC or OPC clinker. Compared to its ability to resist compression (generally 20-80 Mpa and in special cases up to 280 Mpa), concrete is weak in its resistance to tension forces, flexural tension, shear and torque. Even the so called compression failure of cube/cylinder specimens are initiated by tensile cracks due to Poissons effect in lateral directions. Properties, like strength, rigidity and easy formability, coupled with the easy availability of the component materials, have made concrete the material of choice for architects, engineers, builders and project owners to build grand concrete (plain, reinforced and prestressed) structures as shown in Photos 1 & 2. Familiarity, however, can breed contempt, and greed may know no bounds. The good performance of concrete

Photo 1. Sydney Opera House, Australia a concrete masterpiece

structures over the decades, preceding 1970 or thereabout, was taken for granted, and new materials were introduced often without adequate consideration. As a result, the health of newly constructed concrete structures suffered a serious setback.

The Central Public Works Department, Government of India1 reported in its Technical Circular 1/99 that while

* Chairman and Managing Director, Engineering Services International Pvt. Ltd., Kolkata 700 064, E-mail : Written comments on this Paper of topical interest are invited and will be received upto 30th September, 2007.



Photo 2. Hoover Dam, the USA a grand concrete structure

work as old as 50 years provided adequate service, the recent constructions in concrete were showing signs of distress within a couple of years of their completion. Viswanatha2 drew a line of distinction between the performances of coastal concrete structures and those of structures away from the coasts : It generally takes about 4-5 years for the formation of hair cracks in locations away from the coastal belt. But another 5 years is sufficient enough to render the structure unserviceable. In coastal belts, the corresponding figures are 1-2 years and 4-5 years respectively. In keeping with these observations, flyovers, constructed in the coastal city of Mumbai during the last ten years, are showing severe signs of distress (in Photo 3). Many other grand concrete structures of recent construction are destined to reach conditions of distress and failure early in life. The same awaits the fate of ordinary concrete structures. The problem of early decay and distress is not limited to concrete structures in India. The problem is widespread and common to concrete structures, more specifically reinforced concrete structures, in all countries. In a Paper in 1991, Papadakis, et al4 observed : The last two decades have seen a disconcerting increase in examples of the unsatisfactory durability of concrete structures, specially reinforced concrete ones. Though the above observations relate mainly to the plight of reinforced concrete structures, there are numerous reports of early distress in prestressed concrete structures too5.

Photo 3. Jay Coach flyover (built in 1999) at Jogeshwari in Mumbai under repair in September 2006. (The Times of India, Mumbai 15, Sept., 2006)

Obviously something has gone wrong with concrete construction (Photos. 3 to 6) that has led to the results, referred to by CPWD 1, Viswanatha2 as well as the disconcerting developments, referred to by Papadakis, et al4 and IRC5. It is recognized here that in most cases of concrete structures, referred to in Refs. 1, 2, 4 and 5 and as shown in Photos. 4-6, it is corrosion in rebars and prestressing elements inside concrete structures that is the cause of deterioration and distress in such structures. The corrodibility of rebars and prestressing elements is thus of primary significance in the context of early deterioration and distress in concrete structures in most cases. The writer3 , 6-11 has explained why high strength rebars with surface deformations (HSD) are highly prone to early corrosion and thus primarily responsible for the early decay and distress in reinforced concrete structures in many cases. The writer3,6-11 has also explained why among HSD rebars, Cold twisted deformed (CTD) bars, with built-in stresses beyond yield, are most highly prone to early corrosion. Topping the list of factors, which make reinforced concrete structures with HSD rebars predisposed to early decay and distress, are the phenomena of stress concentration and stress corrosion, according to which the presence of surface deformations in the form of protrusions or lugs on the surface of a rebar make local stresses much higher than the average or nominal stresses



Photo 4. Distress in underside of deck slab of bridge (Bankim Setu) prior to repair and surface protection at Howrah, near Calcutta in the year 2005

Photo 6. Distress in unprotected prestressed concrete bridge girder with very little concrete around metal sheaths for prestressing tendons

across the cross-section of a similarly placed plain round bar, and should these higher stresses reach yield, the rebar will corrode faster. In the case of the CTD bars, the cold twisting beyond yield, as a part of the manufacturing process, guarantees very early corrosion in the steel rebars. Reference 5 records many factors which lead to early corrosion in high strength prestressing elements. It also cites the cases of many prestressed concrete bridges which reached conditions of distress early in life.

The situation is bad as it is; it has the potential of going from bad to worse with the increasing use of epoxy coated steel rebars12, fly ash based PPC13, quicker setting OPC with very small grain sizes, and cements (OPC or PPC or PSC) with very high contents (several times higher than those permitted in Indian and foreign standards) of Na2O, K2O, etc.11

Though in the 1990s there was a spate of technical articles in India advocating the superiority of PSC over OPC, and though there is hardly any mention of any PSC today in seminars and technical journals, there is a flood of lectures and articles advocating the supremacy of PPC over OPC. This stridency in the claims of superiority of PPC over OPC is lacking in other countries, particularly the USA. Though with the stated objective of building durable concrete structures, the Indian codes IS:456-197814 and IS:456-200015 permit the use of OPC, PSC and PPC, without any differentiation or preference in terms of performance, the writer3,6,11,13 explains how different types of cement can influence or affect the durability of reinforced and prestressed concrete structures differently. It is explained how OPC, among cements of different types, has the highest potential for the formation of Ca(OH)2 crystals and how Ca(OH)2 has the best potential to provide protection against carbonation and the other agents of corrosion, viz., water and oxygen.

Photo 5. Distress in staging of overhead water reservoir due to corrosion in rebar


KAR ON It is noted here that though the claims of superiority of PPC over OPC are generally made on the basis of performance of PPC concrete samples, cured wet for 90 days or longer in the laboratory, real structures with PPC concrete lack adequate curing, and it will be seen later in this paper that inadequately cured PPC concrete structures, compared to inadequately cured OPC concrete structures, can be very deficient in performance. Unfortunately, there are indications that OPC is being progressively withdrawn from the Indian market before adequately answering issues related to attainable durability of real concrete structures with blended cement. 3.1. Permissive Attitude by Codes As familiarity breeds contempt, the easy availability of the ingredients (irrespective of the quality) of concrete and the easy formability of such concrete has encouraged many to take liberty with the construction of concrete structures, more particularly with reinforced concrete structures. This carefree attitude is reflected in the relevant Indian code IS 456:197814 and its present version IS 456:2000 15 which demonstrate a casual approach in permitting the use of not only all conceivable types of steel elements as reinforcing elements but also of all types of cement : OPC, PSC and PPC14, 15, 18, as if any combination of different types of steel reinforcing elements and cement would yield concrete structures of equal capacity in terms of performance or durability. Thus, in this environment of a permissive attitude by IS:456-200015, where any rebar is a rebar, and any cement is cement, the satisfaction of the set requirements of compressive strength at the lowest cost is all that matters to many, and to most others, any binder material, stuffed in bags, is cement. In most cases, the performance of a controlled test sample, cured under water for 28 days, is considered as the performance of cured or uncured concrete at site. The indiscriminate use of materials and inadequate curing have led to many concrete structures reaching states of distress very early in life, more particularly in the case of concrete structures in coastal regions1,2 as well as those in hot and humid regions. The flyover in Photo 3 is a typical example. The problem of early distress in concrete structures is worldwide, and it has taken frightening dimensions in India because of the widespread use of CTD and TMT (thermomechanically

Thus, given the adverse consequences of using high strength rebars with surface deformations, and the less favourable or harmful aspects of some types of cement, available in the market, a situation has arisen which calls for answers to outstanding questions before going headlong with the use of the more recently introduced types of cement, i.e., blended cements of PSC and OPC. One of several such crucial but unanswered questions emanate from the fact that all reported durability studies on PPC concrete involve samples with 90 days wet curing in vats whereas in actual construction curing is at most for only a few says because of which the protective skin can hardly develop on the surface of concrete structures. Though adequately cured concrete structures, built with OPC and plain round bars of mild steel, had proved to be reasonably durable in the past, the situation has changed over the years as, (1) besides the substitution of high strength rebars, with surface deformations, for plain round bars of mild steel, (2) many concrete structures were built with PSC and PPC in India, (3) cement (of interest here) of all types have undergone significant changes over the years, and (4) the duration of moist curing of concrete has gone down from 28 days to as little as 7 days or less. Though proponents of PSC and PPC cite the solubility of Ca(OH)2, a product of hydration of OPC, as its weakness, the writer 3,6,11,13 has found virtue (passivation of rebars and prestressing elements) of alkalinity in this slow solubility of Ca(OH)2 and the availability and ability of Ca(OH)2 to resist best the carbonation front from penetrating fast and deep inside concrete structures. The confirmation of the much lower or shallower progress of the carbonation front in the case of OPC concrete, as compared to the rate of progress of the carbonation front inside adequately cured PSC and PPC concrete, can be found in the work of Bier16 and Roper, et al17. Also OPC concrete has the ability to seal cracks in concrete through autogenous healing13. The writer 13 has shown that even in cases of structures, not subjected to carbonation, it will in most cases be beneficial to use OPC rather than PPC, as besides providing the alkaline environment for the passivation and protection of rebars and prestressing elements inside concrete, Ca(OH)2 is in the forefront in providing resistance to external aggression. It was shown13 that most claims of superiority of PPC over OPC were merely myths.

HIGHLIGHTS OF EMENT AND CONCRETE STRUCTURES THE ILLS OF TODAYS CTHE 178TH COUNCIL MEETING treated) bars6-10, hasty developments involving cement, the principal binder in concrete, and a lowering of the period of curing. 3.2. Greater Carbonation in Blended Cement Concrete Blended Cement Concretes have very little Ca(OH)2 to inhibit carbonation, and to prevent the ingress of moisture and other harmful elements, into the structures6. Bier16 and toper, Because of the slower hydration rate of blended cements, the quality of blended cement concrete, vis--vis its carbonation and durability, compared to the rate of progression of the carbonation front in OPC concrete, is much more adversely affected by any shortfall in the duration of wet curing. The importance of proper and prolonged curing in the case of blended cement has been recognized by Mehta and Monteiro19 wherein it is stated that the use of ground granulated blast furnace slag in the concrete mix entails an even greater necessity for good curing. In consequence, poorly cured concrete containing blast furnace slag exhibits very high carbonation. Neville20 too has suggested that prolonged moist curing of concrete, containing ground granulated blast furnace slag cement, is particularly important because the initial low rate of hydration results in a system of capillary pores. 3.3. Early Distress in Blended Cement Concrete Structures It is recognized here that the reinforcing bars and prestressing elements are generally in the surface region of concrete structures which is the most adversely affected zone due to inadequate curing. Since corrosion in reinforcing bars and prestressing elements is an important aspect or phase in the process of distress in concrete structures, since the depassivating carbonation front travels several times faster and deeper inside blended cement concrete and since blended cement concrete, compared to OPC concrete, is much more adversely affected due to any lack of adequate curing, todays trend of shortening the period of curing makes reinforced and prestressed concrete structures with PSC and PPC highly vulnerable to early distress.


furnace slag and fly ash, respectively, have found very substantial use in construction in place of OPC in India. Over the years, OPC itself has undergone significant changes in its constituents. In these changes, the emphasis has been on higher strength, higher early strength and marketing brownie points. Relative proportions of tricalcium silicate C 3S in OPC has increased from a mere 21 per cent in 1920 to about 47 per cent in 1960, 54 per cent in the late 1960s and to about 58 per cent in 1990 (in the USA). The share of dicalcium silicate C2S has decreased proportionately in the same period. Similar developments have taken place in India too, adversely affecting the performance of concrete structures (reinforced and prestressed) of recent times. [Note (1) C3S stands for 3CaO.SiO2; (2) C2S stands for 2CaO.SiO 2; (3) the percentage of C 3S, according to Bogues equation is given by C 3S = 4.07(CaO) 7.60(SiO2)- 6.72 (Al2O3) 1.43 (Fe2O3) 2.85 (SO3), in which the multipliers of the different oxides represent the percentage of the given oxide in the total mass of cement; (4) the percentage of C2S is given by C2S = 2.87 (SiO2) 0.75 (3 CaO.SiO2)] It is known that C3S, responsible for early strength of concrete, readily reacts with water, producing greater heat of hydration at the initial stages after concreting. Thus, the increase in C3S, though beneficial in cold countries, is generally harmful for concrete structures in most areas of India. C2S, compared to C3S, hydrates more slowly and it contributes to the later strength development of concrete. Cement, in association with water, undergoes a process of hydration. Besides calcium hydroxide, i.e. Ca(OH)2 or CH, calcium silicate hydrate (C-S-H) is the other principal product of hydration of cement. As C-S-H, formed out of C3S, is inferior to that of C-S-H, formed out of C2S, the dramatic increase in the C3S/C2S ratio over the years have meant a continual degradation in the health of concrete and concrete structures. In the same period, when the ratios of C3S and C2S changed, cement particles in OPC were made smaller and smaller, the characteristic surface increasing from about 150 sqm/kg to 300-450 sqm/kg. The greater surface area of finer particles of modern day OPC in a given volume of concrete means more reaction surface and correspondingly greater heat of hydration. The use of higher contents of cement in higher strength concrete of recent times too has meant higher heat of hydration in recent constructions with concrete.

It is not just that PSC and PPC, made with partial replacement of OPC with ground granulated blast


KAR ON structures highly absorbent, and such high alkali contents can also lead to destructive alkali-silica reaction in concrete and cement sand mortar under certain circumstances. In India today all types of cement, whether OPC, PSC or PPC, contain much higher quantities of water soluble alkalis (1.4 per cent to 2.4 per cent being more common), thereby practically ensuring that there will be alkali-aggregate reaction if the aggregates will be of the reactive type, the temperature will be between 10o to 38oC and there will be a supply of water. As stated in the preceding paragraph, the high contents of water soluble alkalis will readily make concrete absorb moisture or water from the surrounding environment. Cement manufacturers in India, aware of the very high content of water soluble alkalis in their cement (Table 1), suppress the information on soluble alkali contents in cement in their test certificates (Table 2), and not many engineers care to ask for this information. Table 2 is a verbatim copy of information from a typical test certificate on cement, as issued by a loading cement manufacturers. Information on total alkali as Na2O in Sl. No. 2.7 in the test certificate has been purposefully left blank by the manufacturer. The very significant increase in the quantities of water soluble alkalis in cement also means lower workability, more water requirement, greater slump loss, greater heat of hydration and increased possibility of thermal cracking, increases in air content in concrete and permeability, risk of alkali-silica (aggregate) reaction and higher early strength but lower long term or ultimate strength.

As if all the above changes were not enough, most or all cements, OPC, PSC and PPC in India today are manufactured with much higher quantities of water soluble alkalis, viz., K 2 O, Na 2 O, etc. This is a consequence of steps taken to increase the efficiency of hydration reactions in PSC and PPC and to achieve economy in the manufacture of cement and to assure greater heat in fresh concrete and high early strength in it. As a result, it is a frequent experience to see concrete structural members with cracks even before such members or structures are put to use. Table 1 provides data on water soluble alkalis in OPC, PSC and PPC of a well known brand in India. OPC has the highest amounts of water soluble alkalis. The reduction in the alkali contents in the case of PSC and PPC is due to the fact that PSC and PPC were made by partial replacement of the OPC in this table with about 50 per cent ground granulated blast furnace slag and 28 per cent to 30 per cent fly ash, respectively. The writer had tests conducted for CaO, K2O and Na2O contents in the popular brand of cements at Jadavpur university Kolkata after various adverse observations, viz., failure of OPC to pass autoclave tests for durability, development of thermal cracks in new reinforced and prestressed concrete elements, and cement blocks absorbing water as fast as blotting papers would do.
TABLE 1. CONTENTS OF CAO AND SOLUBLE ALKALIS IN TYPICAL CEMENTS IN INDIA, YEAR 2006 Chemical Content CaO (%) by weight of cement K2O (%) by weight of cement Alkali as (Na2O) (%) by weight of cement OPC 56.8 1.03 1.69 PSC 43.27 0.89 1.17 PPC 46.59 0.86 1.07

The equivalent oxide of sodium Na2Oeq is calculated from21 % Na2Oeq = % Na2O + 0.658 (% K2O) (Eqn. 1)

Alkali-silica reaction, also known as alkaliaggregate reaction, is a chemical reaction between the hydroxyl ions in the pore water within concrete and reactive silica in certain aggregates, which are widely distributed in India. The types of aggregates, which contain reactive constituents, include andesites, rhyolites, sandstones, siliceous limestone and traps. The reactive constituents may be in the form of chalcedony, cherts, opals, volcanic glass, zeolites, etc. In India, basalt rocks, available in the Deccan plateau, Hyderabad, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Punchan Hill in Jammu and Kashmir, limestone and dolomites containing chart located in

and different codes on cement have set the upper limit of per cent Na2Oeq at 0.4 to 0.8. Besides greater heat in fresh concrete and the consequent thermal cracks in concrete structures, the high contents of water soluble alkalis make concrete




T E S T C E R T I FI CAT E (43 GRADE ORDINARY PORTLAND CEMENT) Week No. 20 of 2006 (14.05.06 to 20.05.06) SL NO. 1.0 1.1 1.2 UNIT CHARACTERISTICS PHYSICAL REQUIREMENT FINENESS Specific Surface SOUNDNESS a) b) 1.3 a) 1.4 Le Chat Expansion Auto Clave Initial Final COMPRESSIVE STRENGTH a) b) c) 1.5 1.6 1.7 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 2.9 72 +/- 1 Hr 168 +/- 2 Hr 672+/- 4 Hr ( C) (%) (%)

Issue date : 20.06.06


REQUIREMENT AS PER IS : 8112/1989 (Amendment No. 8) Min. Max.

m2/kg mm % Minutes

308 1.0 0.07 200 290

225 30 23 33 43 25 10 0.8 600 29 5


MPa 40 48 56 25-29 30 2.82

Temperature Standard consistency Performance improver (Fly Ash & Limestone) CHEMICAL REQUIREMENTS Lime Saturation Factor Alumina Iron Ratio Insoluble Residue Magnesia Suphuric Anhydride Total Loss on Ignition Total Alkali as Na2O Total Chlorides Tricalcium Aluminate

Ratio Ratio % % % % % % %

0.87 1.71 2.11 1.75 1.9 1.89 0.009

0.66 0.66 -

1.02 5.0 6.0 3.0 5.0 0.1

Bijawar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Assam and Punjab, and sandstones containing silica minerals as in chalcedony, crypto, microcrystalline quartz, opal, etc., spread over in Bengal, Bihar, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Kashmir, are susceptible to alkali-silica reaction. Alkali-silica reaction takes place only at high concentrations of OH-, say, at a pH of 13.5 and above. High contents of K2O and Na2O, as recorded in Table 1

for Indian cements, lead to such destructive levels of pH in the pore water in concrete. The high pH level, the high rate of absorption of water and the widespread prevalence of reactive materials in the warm climates (10OC to 38OC) of India can make many concrete structures in India very susceptible to alkali-silica reaction and the consequent destructive expansions.


KAR ON concrete will thus be stressed closer to its ultimate capacity, thereby shortening the life of the structure. Todays inadequately cured concrete will also lack sufficient Ca(OH) 2 and it will be more porous and permeable to the detriment of long term performance of concrete structures. The data in Table 3 are obtained from test certificates, issued by cement manufacturers, and from tests at Bengal Engineering and Science University. The data on compressive strength in Sl. No. 1 can be found in the manufacturers test certificate in Table 2.

The effect of all the changes in the constituents of OPC has meant faster hydration of cement and a faster gain in the strength of concrete at the initial stage, but very little increase in strengths beyond 28 days. The quick slow down in the rate of gain in strength of OPC concrete with time is seen in Table 3. In comparison, the initial (say 3 days) gain in strength of PSC concrete and PPC concrete is slow but the rise in strength with continued curing is steady and the rise in the compressive strength of concrete continues beyond 28 days with further curing. However, practically no one cures concrete for 28 days these days. The codes14,15 too call for only 7 to 10 or 14 days curing of concrete whereas codes abroad permit 3 days curing even though concrete with blended cements will remain unhydrated to a large extent at the end of such brief curing and even though cement and concrete will generally be qualified on the basis of tests on samples cured for 28 days under controlled conditions. All design parameters too are based on this 28-day compressive strength under laboratory conditions. Typically, beams and columns in framed structures are at the most given splashes of water for 7-12 days 2 times a day for a few minutes each time though it has been recognized by the code that PPC needs more careful and prolonged curing. The inadequately cured concrete is deficient in terms of the 28-day design strength. The inadequately cured
TABLE 3. GAIN Sl. No. 3 day 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 40 38 38 36 OPC 7 day 48 45 46 44 28 day 56 55 57 55 29 16 25.5 26.2 3 day

In the absence of any distinction having been made in IS:45614,15 on the relative merits of OPC and blended cements, cement manufacturers, particularly those in India, have launched an intense effort towards greater use of PPC, which, as a result of various price advantages, is the cheapest to manufacture and which costs the least to the seller. The writer6,13 has however, preferred OPC due to its ability to produce the greatest quantity of Ca(OH) 2 which protects 6,13 concrete structures against carbonation, and thereby against corrosion in rebars and prestressing elements and in many other ways. It is pertinent to note here that the durability of reinforced and prestressed concrete structures, made

COMPRESSIVE STRENGTH OF OPC, PSC AND PPC CONCRETE WITH CURING Compressive Strength, MPa PSC 7 day 28 day 3 day PPC 7 day 28 day

44 22 42.5 41.2

62 33 62.5 58.4 26 27 33 34 47 43

HIGHLIGHTS OF EMENT AND CONCRETE STRUCTURES THE ILLS OF TODAYS CTHE 178TH COUNCIL MEETING with PPC and inadequately cured, as is the norm at sites, is yet to be established. A moments reflection on the data in Table 3 would suggest that if durability of concrete structures would be a function of the level of hydration of cement or the compressive strength of concrete, the performance/ durability of PSC and PPC based concrete might be most adversely affected due to inadequate curing. This suggestion is made in consideration of the ratios of 3day and 7-day compressive strength to 28-day compressive strength of PSC and PPC concrete. The bad part of it is that, with all the negative attributes, like excessive contents of water soluble alkalis (Table 1), large C3S/C2S ratios, large specific surface, etc., todays OPC too, compared to OPC of earlier decades, cannot contribute in equal measure to the durability of concrete structures. Due to the presence of finely ground slag and fly ash, slower hydration and due to the smaller contents of water soluble alkalis, PSC concrete and PPC concrete, compared to OPC concrete, have smaller pore sizes in concrete, lower heat of hydration and other benefits. This should have gone in favour of PSC and PPC concrete structures. However, as the pozzolanic reaction in PPC concrete cannot start below a pH of 13.222, and as the pH of pore water in concrete due to Ca(OH)2 alone is about 12.4 (at 25oC)23, the pozzolanic reaction in PPC concrete requires the presence of water soluble alkalis in PPC or PPC concrete. OPC concrete does not have any such requirements. In other words, as the presence of water soluble alkalis have many harmful attributes, and as the functioning of PPC requires the presence of significant quantities of water soluble alkalis whereas the hydration of OPC does not require the presence of such alkalis, it should be possible to make OPC such that OPC concrete structures will be less adversely affected due to the presence of water soluble alkalis than it would be possible in the case of PPC concrete structures. The much acclaimed PPC has other disadvantages in respect of constructions for durability. Even though the pore sizes in adequately cured PPC concrete may be smaller than the pore sizes in OPC concrete, the speed and depth of penetration of harmful carbonation fronts in PPC concrete structures are several times greater than those in the case of OPC concrete


structures16,17. This is partly because PPC concrete, which is highly deficient in Ca(OH)2, will not have sufficient particles of CaCO3 formed to block the onward passage of the carbonation front6. Since PSC and PPC concrete, with their intrinsically slow rate of hydration, will not in real situations be cured to the desired extent even if the structures will be cured for durations specified in the IS codes14,15 or in other similar codes, the performance of PPC concrete structures, in terms of the speed and depth of penetration of the carbonation front, will be worse than that reported by Roper et al17 and by Bier16. The same can also be said of PSC concrete structures. Additionally, cracks on the surface of concrete elements, which would have otherwise let in harmful elements, may get sealed due to autogenous healing in the case of OPC concrete in a moist environment 13,20 and not in the case of PPC concrete as any available Ca(OH)2 would be neutralised in the process of pozzolanic reactions. PSC concrete, and more particularly PPC concrete, compared to OPC concrete, suffer also from a lack of reserve Ca(OH)2 in concrete3,6 calcium silicate hydrates without the protection of CH, can become unstable and an easy target of attack by the same external elements which CH has to fight against (and may be getting annihilated itself in the process) in protecting C-S-H and other elements in concrete and concrete structures. It has been suggested that the C-S-H gel is stable only when it is in contact with pore solution of high pH; otherwise, the decomposition of C-S-H gel occurs resulting in loss of building action of C-S-H gel and thereby the strength of cement composite itself24. Since the pH of CH solution is about 12.4 and since CH may be destroyed during the pozzolanic action of fly ash in PPC, C-S-H gel in PPC concrete and thus PPC concrete itself will be stable only if alkali from other sources, notably water soluble alkali in the form of Na2O and K2O will be available. It has already been mentioned that concrete and concrete structures may have to pay a high price for the presence of these alkalis in cement if the pH level will rise above 13.5 and if moisture could enter into the structure. Thus, even though some samples of OPC concrete, because of excessive (much beyond levels permitted in codes) contents of water soluble alkalis, may not measure up to PPC concrete in short term laboratory tests (e.g., autoclave expansion test) for durability, it is PPC concrete which will perform less satisfactorily than


KAR ON dosages of fly ash in cement or concrete will make concrete less porous and impermeable thereby saying good-bye to rebar corrosion and making concrete structures durable, even to the extent of endowing such structures with 500-1000 year lives. In the blame game, in which CH is made the fall guy, it is overlooked that if there would not have been any CH to fight attacking elements, C-S-H would have to shoulder the burden of guarding concrete. CH may be the weakling, but CH is the saviour of concrete and concrete structures. It has already been demonstrated that OPC, because of its higher CH contents, guards best against carbonation of concrete and corrosion in rebars and prestressing elements. 9.1. Non-representative Tests Laboratory tests, which form the basis of claims of superiority of PPC by cement manufacturers and their researchers, do not represent the field conditions where the curing period for concrete generally varies between 0-7 days, whereas the laboratory tests with PPC concrete are generally based on concrete samples cured for much longer periods. The data in Table 3 show that the strength of PPC at the end of short periods of curing is much less than the strength of OPC concrete at the end of curing for such short periods. It is further suggested that much of the claimed superiority of PPC concrete flows from better compaction or low permeability (in tests under a head of water) of PPC concrete, cured over many days, whereas the field conditions may not permit such compaction of concrete, unless the concrete will be of the self-compacting type. Though low permeability is good for concrete and concrete structures, the significance of particular or specific levels of permeability is unknown. It, however, is known that whatever may be the level of permeability, the carbonation front travels much faster and deeper into PPC concrete structures than in outwardly comparable OPC concrete structures. The laboratory tests do not address the important aspect of gas diffusion or carbonation and the long term effects of carbonation on corrosion in rebars and prestressing elements inside concrete structures even though the focus of interest, in the context of durability, is most often the performance of concrete structures over the years as may be affected by carbonation of concrete and the consequent corrosion in reinforcing bars and

concrete with quality OPC, i.e., OPC with low contents of Na 2O and K 2O. Unlike in PPC concrete, where Ca(OH)2 due to the OPC part of PPC is fully or partially depleted through participation in the pozzolanic reaction, there may be sufficient quantities of CH in PSC concrete to maintain steel rebars and prestressing elements in a state of passivation, and thus in a state of protection even as the quantity of CH in PSC concrete will be less than the quantity of CH in OPC concrete due to the partial replacement of OPC clinker with ground granulated blast furnace slag in the making of PSC. Table 1 shows data on CaO contents of different types of Cement. Though the lower Ca(OH)2 content in PSC concrete may be sufficient for the passivation of rebars, it is not sufficient for slowing down the carbonation front. Roper et al17 and Bier16 report several times faster (compared to the carbonation front penetrating OPC concrete) and deeper penetration of the carbonation front into reasonably cured PSC concrete. Mehta and Monteiro19 too had indicated that poorly cured concrete containing blast furnace slag exhibits very high carbonation. Inadequate curing, which is the norm today, will make PSC concrete structures even more vulnerable than the vulnerability which was reported by Roper et al. Furthermore, as carbonation transforms Ca(OH)2 into CaCO3 and H2O, the pore water in concrete loses its alkalinity, and as soon as the pH of pore water in concrete in the vicinity of steel rebars will drop below 11.5 due to carbonation or chloride attack, corrosion of steel will be initiated and at pH levels of 10.5 to 10, the rate of corrosion will accelerate.

As cement is not an inert material, the nature of response of its principal products of hydration, viz., calcium silicate hydrate C-S-H or CSH, and calcium hydroxide Ca(OH)2, or CH, to internal and external stimuli influences the durability of concrete and concrete structures. As PPC, compared to OPC, finally yields more of CSH and less or none of CH, and as CH is more reactive, more easily soluble in water and structurally weaker than C-S-H, there is a tendency among proponents of PPC to blame CH, or for that reason OPC, which produces the maximum amount of CH in concrete, for all the ills of concrete and concrete structures. Proponents of PPC further claim that the use of high

HIGHLIGHTS OF EMENT AND CONCRETE STRUCTURES THE ILLS OF TODAYS CTHE 178TH COUNCIL MEETING prestressing elements. Similarly, no consideration is given to the effects of flexural and other surface cracks on the durability of PPC concrete structures, which, unlike OPC concrete structures, lack the property of autogenous healing or sealing of cracks and lessening of pore sizes. Proponents of PPC cite the greater electrical resistance of PPC concrete as a guard against any corrosion in rebars and prestressing elements. The simultaneous effects of carbonation of concrete and the presence of a moist environment around rebars and prestressing elements are not considered. Since the differences in the performances of OPC, SPC and PPC concrete arise to a large extent from the differences in the CaO/SiO2 ratios of cement and the Ca(OH) 2 contents, which will be available in the concrete at the end of hydration and pozzolanic reaction, it will be useful to have an understanding of the quantum of calcium hydroxide or CH in concrete and the properties of such CH. 9.2. Calcium Hydroxide Calcium hydroxide is to concrete what blood is to human body. When the conditions will be right, CH will form in or around every available space inside concrete. Portland cements are hydraulic cements, composed primarily of hydraulic calcium silicates and calcium aluminates. During hydration, the calcium silicates form crystals of CH, which is also known as portlandite, and a gel-like calcium silicate hydrate (C-S-H or CSH). Calcium hydroxide starts forming several hours after cement particles come in contact with water even when the conditions are favourable (e.g., adequate CaO contents in cement and cementitious materials, curing, etc.) The portlandite crystals range in size from 0.5 mm to about 100 mm. Older concrete, with long curing, as in the case of dams, can have exceptionally large crystals of Ca(OH)2. Portlandite crystals grow (initially at a rapid rate which slows down with time) everywhere preferentially on surfaces of solid objects (e.g., coarse and fine aggregates, filler materials, etc.), water filled areas and air voids. Though the crystals are generally plate like, superplasticisers, used in concrete, can make the CH more tortuous and occupying all available spaces. These physical properties of growth make portlandite a very powerful product of cement hydration


in making well-hydrated concrete structures less porous and more durable. Besides the CH crystals, which are formed early (portlandite), there are also delayed products of hydration (labile Ca(OH) 2), which are released from CSH and which fill voids within the C-SH clusters. This labile CH also has all the properties of portlandite, except that the crystals are more tortuous and massive. Calcium hydroxide is alleged to be weak and it is further alleged that concrete fails under load due to this allegedly weak portlandite. But there can also be a different interpretation about the role of the weak CH. According to this interpretation, it is suggested here that if there were no Ca(OH)2, concrete would have been weaker and more porous as there would not have been portlandite and labile CH or CSH, generated through pozzolanic reaction, to fill void spaces. Portlandite plays important roles not only in making concrete structures less porous by filling open spaces, protecting electrochemically rebars through surface passivation by ensuring an alkaline environment over prolonged periods of time, and in several other ways in the protection of concrete structures, but also as a catalyst for the hydration of GGBS or PSC and in the hydration (pozzolanic reaction) PPC in PPC concrete. The PPC concrete thus owes its existence to a copious supply of CH within the concrete mass. The pozzolanic reaction does not start until sometime after the mixing of concrete. In the case of Class F fly ash, this can be as long as one week or more after the mixing of concrete. Fraay et al22 suggest that the glass material in fly ash is broken down only when the pH value of the pore water will be at least 13.2. This high pH level is available mainly due to Ca(OH)2 from the hydration of OPC and partly from the concentration of Na+, K+ and OH ions as impurities or additions in concrete. It is seen in Fig. 1 that at a pH of 13.2, concrete is past its ideal level in providing electro-chemical protection to rebars in making concrete structures durable. It is known that as long as the pH level of the pore water in concrete will remain 11.5 or higher, a nanometer thick passivity layer of Fe2O3 on the surface of the rebar will protect steel against corrosion. Should the pH level of the pore water in concrete drop below 11.5 due to pozzolanic reaction or carbonation or chloride attack, rebar corrosion will be initiated3 if the rebar environment


KAR ON the uncertain mechanism of physico-mechanical blocking of water and air through the minimization of pore sizes in concrete.



Relative Corrosion Rate

It is unfortunate that in spite of the undisputed recognition of the protection, portlandite provides to steel rebars and prestressing elements against corrosion, and in spite of the observation that corrosion in such elements in most cases is the cause of early distress in concrete structures, this portlandite is sought to be destroyed, through pozzolanic reaction in PPC concrete. As for internal problems, like alkali-silica (A-S) reaction, though it is soluble alkali (Na2O and K2O) which creates the problem (as the A-S reaction cannot take place unless the pH of the pore solution will be at least 13.5 and the pH of the aqueous solution of portlandite is about 12.4), it is the good alkali Ca(OH)2 in OPC concrete that gets the blame. That the bad guy sticker on portlandite cannot be justified, finds expression in the most authoritative book on calcium hydroxide : Much of the poor durability of portland cement matrices, e.g., concrete, is in fact due to a combination of factors, all well-known and not associated with Ca(OH)2 content. (Calcium Hydroxide, The American Ceramic Society). Similarly, it is sheer ingratitude to blame soluble portlandite for the porosity in concrete as CH plugs what otherwise might have been open spaces nearest to the aggregates in the interfacial transition zones and elsewhere. In fact, even in concrete with an W/C ratio of 0.55, the pore structure in OPC concrete can become discontinuous when concrete will be cured over a long period. There are countless roof structures, which show no signs of water leakage, even though those were built with OPC concrete a few decades ago and even though the roofs were not provided with any waterproofing treatment. Instead, these roofs were cured for 28-30 days to generate as much of portlandite as possible.

PH of Concrete Environment Fig. 1. Corrosion of iron in pH environment

will be moist and there will be oxygen. When the pH of the pore water drops below 10.0, corrosion is accelerated. Should the pH level drop below 9.0, concrete will lose all power of protecting steel rebars electrochemically. All of these suggest that if the essential pH level is to be maintained over long periods of time for the sake of durability of reinforced and prestressed concrete structures, there must be a continuous supply of CH. This will be possible only if there will not be any undue depletion of CH though human interference, through the introduction of pozzolanic materials, like fly ash, silica fume, etc., into the mass of concrete. There is a reduction in CH with the addition of silica fume. However, as the pozzolanic reaction is slow, short term tests may still indicate the pH of the pore water in concrete to be at 12.4 or above. Papadakis et. al.25 have found that at a pozzolana (e.g., fly ash) content of 30 per cent, blended cement (e.g., PPC) concrete loses all of its Ca(OH)2. When all of Ca(OH)2 is annihilated, the pH level of the pore water of concrete drops to about 8.3. At such low levels of alkalinity, concrete loses all its power to protect steel rebars and prestressing elements electrochemically as the passivity layer of Fe2O3 on the surface of the rebar is destroyed. Thus, though concrete would have been stronger in the transformation of weaker CH into stronger CSH crystals through prolonged curing and pozzolanic reaction, it would have no power to protect steel rebars or prestressing elements in the long run except through

Table 1 gives the K2O and Na2O contents in OPC, PSC and PPC of a well known brand in India. The alkali contents are much higher than what would be possible under the limits, set by codes. The soluble alkalis can act as poison to concrete in many different ways which have been explained earlier.

HIGHLIGHTS OF EMENT AND CONCRETE STRUCTURES THE ILLS OF TODAYS CTHE 178TH COUNCIL MEETING Manufacturers of cement have shown no interest in limiting the contents of water soluble alkalis because 1. without the presence of high alkali, it would not be possible to make PPC with partial replacement of OPC. 2. higher alkali contents give their cement higher early strength, which is a selling point in the prevailing environment where short term gain or convenience is given preference over long term benefits. 3. permitting higher alkali contents in cement help lower the cost of production and immediate environmental pollution by recirculating high alkali dust (dust recovery) through the initial raw mix as well as by using with cement recovered dust which is rich in water soluble alkali. When PPC sells at or just about the same rate as that of OPC, there is high profitability in the manufacture and sale of fly ash based PPC. This is due to savings in the cost of raw materials albeit a small percentage. There is, however, a 100 per cent saving in excise duty as there is a total relief in excise duty in India on all products containing over 20 per cent fly ash. Since less fuel need be used and there will be less emission of carbon dioxide in the manufacturing of fly ash cement, manufacturers of fly ash cement can save on the fuel bill and they can earn money through international carbon credit as well. The sum total of all the savings and earnings in the manufacturers and sale of PPC has created a situation where OPC is not available in many parts of India. PSC too has become scarce.


most of the polluting fly ash and by effecting a reduction in the discharge of CO2 in the atmosphere in the making of cement. It is claimed by cement manufacturers and their researchers that PPC and HVFA will make concrete structures durable. Mehta27 has even claimed 500-1000 year lives for HVFA concrete structures. In such claims of long lives for concrete structures, the quality of rebars or prestressing elements does not merit any consideration. It has, however, been explained earlier in this article and in Refs. 3, 6-11 that the corrodibility of rebars and prestressing elements can be the most important factor influencing the durability of concrete structures in many cases, and OPC, compared to PPC, is more likely to make concrete structures more durable, particularly when such structures may be subject to carbonation, as most concrete structures are. Thus, even if it will be true that the use of fly ash in PPC for concrete structures will help the environment get partly rid of a lot of fly ash, should it so happen that the use of PPC, lacking or deficient in Ca(OH)2, in construction will shorten the life spans of concrete structures, the environment will be burdened with refuse materials several times greater than the quantity of fly ash it would have gotten rid of in the first instance through the manufacture of PPC. The overall consumption of limestone and the release of CO2 into the atmosphere will consequently be greater on a long term basis if construction will be carried out with PPC instead of OPC, and PPC concrete structures will be less durable than OPC concrete structures, as explained in this Paper. In other words, OPC, which has the highest potential of making concrete structures more durable than PPC or PSC has, is the least polluting cement even if the production of a certain mass of OPC will require more energy and lead to a greater emission of CO2 than the production of an equal mass of PPC will entail.

The main claims in favour of fly ash based PPC are that the manufacture of PPC helps solve a major environmental problem with the removal of fly ash from the environment and that PPC concrete makes concrete structures durable. It is recognized that the making of cement is a highly polluting activity, no matter what may be the percentage addition of slag or fly ash in cement or concrete. Even though only five percent or less of fuel ash from fossil power plants may be usable as a component of cement, it is the claim of manufacturers and proponents of PPC and HVFA concrete26,27 that the use of such cements and concrete helps the environment

There are three basic types of cement for the construction of concrete structures. Though OPC still reigns supreme in the USA, it has gradually lost much of its share to PSC and PPC in India. It has been explained in this paper that, contrary to claims made by manufacturers of PSC and PPC and their researchers in India, OPC, with its excellent track record


KAR ON the period of curing of concrete have lowered the life span of concrete structures. A re-examination of the construction practices and a re-look at the materials of construction, viz., cement and rebar are urgently required to bring upon some improvements in the scene of an impending disaster, as structures are requiring major repair within a few years of their construction. The best solution to the problem of early distress in concrete structures ought to include taking a step backward and use plain round bars of mild steel as rebars and ordinary portland cement with properties matching those of OPC of periods prior to 1970, or even 1960 and cure concrete over longer periods of time as in the past. If this will not be done, the next best option will be to provide surface protection to concrete structures28, 29.

of durable concrete structures and the potential for the development of the greatest amount of Ca(OH)2 is the best among cements for the construction of durable concrete structures, both reinforced and prestressed. Thus, the large-scale replacement of OPC by PSC and PPC in the construction of new concrete structures in India forebodes a distressing future. It has been shown in the paper that all the three types of cement in India have excessive quantities of water soluble alkalis. This is particularly so in the case of OPC. As water soluble alkalis have many detrimental effects on the durability of concrete structures, the high contents of water soluble alkalis in Indian cements, particularly in OPC, forebodes ill for the future of concrete structures in India. The significant decrease in the size of OPC particles gives rise to high heat of hydration and thermal stresses and cracks in concrete structures to the detriment of long term performance of such structures. The significant increase in the C3S/C2S ratio in OPC gives high heat of hydration and high early strength in concrete, but poorer long term performance of such structures. In addition to all these ill omens, today concrete structures are seldom cured, thereby making such structures understrength, porous and permeable, lacking in durability.

1. Central Public Works Department, Government of India, Technical Circular 1/99, Memo No. CDO/ DE(D)/G-291/57 dated 18/02/1999, issued by Chief Engineer (Designs), Nirman Bhawan, New Delhi 110 011. 2. Viswanatha, C. S., Corrosion in R C members, Abstract of Lecture at The Institution of Engineers (India), West Bengal State Centre, Calcutta, 9 June, 1993. 3. Kar, A. K., Concrete Jungle Calamity may be waiting to happen, The Statesman, Kolkata, 4 August, 2000. 4. Papadakis, V. G., Vayenas, C. G., and Fardis, M. N., Physical and chemical characteristics affecting the durability of concrete, ACI Materials Journal, American Concrete Institute, March - April, 1991. 5. State of the Art : Corrosion and Corrosion Protection of Prestressed Concrete Bridges in marine Environment, IRC Highway Research Board, New Delhi, 1996. 6. Kar, A.K., Concrete structures the pH potential of cement and deformed reinforcing bars, Journal of The Institution of Engineers (India), Civil Engineering Division, Volume 82, Kolkata, June 2001, pp. 1-13.

Many grand concrete (reinforced and prestressed) structures, built more than forty years ago, proved to be durable. However, many of the concrete structures, built during the last three or four decades, have been characterized by a lack of durability. The problem has much to do with the use of high strength rebars with surface deformations. Cement and concreting practices also have undergone very significant changes over the years, adversely affecting the durability of concrete structures. The use of portland slag cement and fly ash based portland pozzolana cement, instead of ordinary portland cement, the making of the grain sizes of ordinary portland cement too fine, making such cements gain strength too early, the permitting of excessive quantities of water soluble alkalis in cement and the lowering of

HIGHLIGHTS OF EMENT AND CONCRETE STRUCTURES THE ILLS OF TODAYS CTHE 178TH COUNCIL MEETING 7. Kar, A. K., Deformed reinforcing bars and early distress in concrete structures, Highway Research Bulletin, Highway Research Board, Indian Roads Congress, Number 65, December 2001, pp. 103-114. 8. Kar, A. K., Reinforcing bars the good and the bad, Steel Scenario, Vol. 14/Q1, July-September 2004, pp. 40 47. 9. Kar, A. K., Reinforcing bars in the context of durability of concrete infrastructures, All India Seminar on Utilisation of skyways and subways in the cities in India, American Society of Civil Engineers India Section and Institution of Engineers, UK, Eastern Region, India, 9th and 10th December, 2005. 10. Kar, A. K., Deformed rebars in concrete construction, New Building Materials & Construction World, Vol. 12, Issue 6, December 2006, pp. 82-101. 11. Kar, A. K., Concrete structures we make today, New Building Materials & Construction World, Vol. 12, Issue 8, February 2007. 12. Kar, A. K., FBEC rebars must not be used, The Indian Concrete Journal, Vol. 78, No. 1, January 2004, pp. 56-62. 13. Kar, A. K., Concrete in the context of durability. RITES Journal, RITES Ltd., Vol. 8, Issue 1, April, 2006. 14. IS:456-1978, Indian Standard Code of Practice for Plain and Reinforced Concrete, Third Edition, Bureau of Indian Standards, New Delhi. 15. IS:456-2000, Indian Standard, Plain and Reinforced Concrete Code of Practice (Fourth Revision), July 2000. 16. Bier, Th. A., Influence of type of cement and curing on carbonation progress and pore structure of hydrated cement paste, Materials Research Society Symposium, 85, pp. 123-134, 1987. 17. Roper, H., Kirby, G., and Baweja, D., Long-term durability of blended cement concretes in structures, ACI SP 91-22, pp. 463-481. 18. IS:1489 (Part 1), Indian Standards for Portland Pozzolana Cement (fly ash based), Bureau of Indian Standards, New Delhi.


19. Mehta, P.K., and Monteiro, P.J.M., Concrete Microstructure, Properties, and Materials, Indian Concrete Institute, Chennai, 1997. 20. Neville, A., Properties of Concrete, Fourth Edition, Addison Wesley Longman Limited, 1996. 21. Johansen, V.C., Taylor, P.C., and Tennis, P.D., Effect of Cement Characteristics on Concrete Properties, Portland Cement Association, Skokie, Illinois, 2005. 22. Fraay, A. L. A., et al, The reaction of fly ash in concrete : a critical examination, Cement and Concrete Research, Vol. 19, No. 2, pp. 235-246, 1989. 23. The Merck Index, An Encyclopedia of Chemicals and Drugs, Merck & Co., Inc., USA, ninth edition, 1976. 24. Rajamane, N.P. et al. Alkalinity of water for use in cement concrete in accordance with IS : 456-2000 a technical view , New Building Materials & Construction World, Vol. 9, Issue-10, April 2006. 25. Papadakis, V. G., Fardis, M. N., and Vayenas, C. G., Effect of composition, environment factors and Cement-lime mortar coating on concrete carbonation, Materials and Structures, Vol. 25, No. 149, 1992. 26. Malhotra, V. M., and Mehta, P. K., High Performance, High-Volume Fly Ash Concrete : Materials, Mixture Proportioning, Properties, Construction Practice, and Case Histories, Supplementary Cementing Materials for Sustainable Development Inc., Ottawa, Canada, 2002. 27. Mehta, P. K., Durability of concrete The zigzag course of progress, The Indian Concrete Journal, Vol. 80, No. 8, August 2006. 28. Kar, A. K., Protection of structures as a means to a long life for bridges, Indian Highways, Vol. 28, No. 7; The Indian Roads Congress, New Delhi, July 2000. 29. Kar, A. K., Waterproofing of structures : Challenges and solutions, New Building Materials & Construction World, Vol. II, Issue-10, April 2006.