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Concrete deformation due to movement of water from or to the

ambient medium when no external stress is acting is termed shrinkage.

It is independent of stress and is caused by chemical reactions in the
hydrating cement paste and by the loss of water during the drying
process. Technically, shrinkage will continue for the life of the
concrete, but most shrinkage will occur within the first 90 days after
Shrinkage cracking is a major cause of concern for concrete
structures. In addition to weakening the structure, these shrinkage
cracks have the potential to allow infiltration of moisture and chloride
ions that accelerate the corrosion of steel reinforcement and reduce the
durability of concrete.
Plastic shrinkage is associated with moisture loss from freshly poured
concrete into the surrounding environment. Plastic shrinkage occurs
only in fresh concrete. The most common mechanism is the
evaporation of water from the surface of the plastic concrete.
However, the loss of water through the sub-base or formwork can
exacerbate the effects of surface evaporation. In the fresh concrete, the
particles are completely surrounded by water. If water is removed
from the system, menisci are formed between particles. These menisci
generate negative capillary pressure, which pulls the cement particles
By pulling on the particles, the capillary stresses tend to reduce the
volume of the cement paste. Capillary pressures continue to rise as
water is lost at the surface of the concrete. When the pressures reach a
critical value, the water that remains in the concrete rearranges to form
discrete zones with voids between them. Plastic shrinkage cracking
occurs at this point.
Autogenous shrinkage is the volume change of the cement paste due to
self- desiccation and chemical shrinkage after initial setting has
occurred. Autogenous shrinkage is a microscopic volume change
occurring after the initial setting in situations where the supply of
water from outside of concrete is not enough. As the hydration of
cementitious materials progresses, very fine pores are produced within
the hardened cement paste due to the formation of calcium silicate
hydrate (CSH) gel. As the hydration further progresses, capillary pore
water and gel water is consumed and menisci are produced in these
pores due to a lack of water supply from outside. As a result of
negative pressure in the pores, hardened paste shows shrinkage.
Autogenous shrinkage is the early shrinkage of concrete caused by the
loss of water from capillary pores due to the hydration of cementitious
materials, without the loss of water into the surrounding environment.
This phenomenon is known as self- desiccation of concrete. Self-
desiccation occurs in all concrete irrespectively of the water-cement
Drying shrinkage is different from autogenous shrinkage with regard
to the mechanism of a decrease in humidity. Drying shrinkage is
caused by the diffusion of water from concrete into the outer
surrounding environment.
Drying shrinkage refers to the reduction in concrete volume resulting
from the loss of capillary water by evaporation. This shrinkage causes
an increase in tensile stress of restrained concrete, which leads the
concrete to cracking, internal warping, and external deflection, even if
the concrete is not subjected to any kind of external loading.
The change in volume of drying concrete is not equal to the volume of
water removed. The reason is that the loss of water from large
capillaries may be considered as free water, and its removal does not
cause volume change.
The drying shrinkage of hydrated cement paste begins at the surface of
the concrete. Depending on the relative humidity of the ambient air
and the size of capillaries in the cement paste structure, drying
shrinkage progresses more or less rapidly through concrete.
In addition to shrinkage upon drying, concrete undergoes shrinkage
due to carbonation, and some of the experimental data on drying
shrinkage include the effects of carbonation. Drying shrinkage and
carbonation shrinkage are, however quite distinct in nature.
Carbonation shrinkage is caused by the chemical reactions of various
cement hydration products with carbon dioxide present in the air. This
type of shrinkage is usually limited to the surface of the concrete.
Because of carbon dioxide is fixed by the hydrated cement paste, the
mass of the latter increases. Consequently, the mass of concrete also
increases. When the concrete dries and carbonates simultaneously, the
increase in mass on carbonation may at some stage give the misleading
impression that the drying process has reached stage of constant mass,
i.e. equilibrium as shown in fig. below.
Fig. Loss of mass of concrete due to drying and carbonation
Carbonation shrinkage is probably caused by the dissolving of
crystals of Ca(OH)2 while under a compressive stress (imposed by
the drying shrinkage) and depositing of CaCO3 in spaces free from
stress; the compressibility of the hydrated cement paste is thus
temporarily increased. If carbonation proceeds to the stage of
dehydration of C-S-H, this also produces carbonation shrinkage
Generally, plastic shrinkage results from surface evaporation due to
environmental conditions, such as humidity, wind speed or ambient
temperature. ACI 305R, Hot Weather Concreting, provides guidance
for placement of concrete to minimize plastic shrinkage cracking.
Several factors which may be expected to influence the magnitude of
volume changes in mortars and concretes caused by variations in
moisture conditions, which take place with time and the simultaneous
hardening of the cement paste are:
1-Composition and fineness of the cement
6-Duration of tests
7-Moistureandandwater contentsconditions
3-Type andshape
8-Size and gradation of aggregate
of specimen
9Absorptiveness of forms
5-Age at firstand
10-Amount observation
distribution of reinforcement
 Shrinkage of concrete between movement joints causes joints to
open or makes it wider.
 Where other materials, such as ceramic tiles, are fixed on top of
concrete surface, shrinkage of the concrete causes relative
movement between the different materials.
 Shrinkage of the concrete causes the concrete to grip reinforcing
bars more tightly.
 The deflection of flexural members is increased by shrinkage. This
is because the lightly reinforced compression zone is free to shrink
more than heavily reinforced tension zone.
 Shrinkage causes a reduction in pre-stressing force. When
calculating pre-stressing forces, designers take into account to
ensure that residual stress is structurally adequate
Specific methods to properly control shrinkage cracking have been
developed and researched. Conventional methods, which include
proper material selection, mixture proportioning, and good
construction techniques, can be used to a certain extent to control and
limit the shrinkage cracking of concrete. Unfortunately, because these
methods are hard to control, and environmental conditions can vary
so much, the shrinkage cracking cannot be entirely prevented. For
example, concrete in hot, dry, and windy conditions can have much
higher rates of water evaporation, thus making them more susceptible
to shrinkage cracking. To control shrinkage cracking try to start the
curing soon after finishing.
Table Methods of controlling drying shrinkage
Methods Description
Conventional • Proper Material Selection
Cement type
• Mixture Proportioning
Cement Content
Innovative • Fiber Reinforcement
o Polypropylene

o Steel

• Shrinkage-Compensating Concrete
• Shrinkage-Reducing Admixtures
• Extensible Concrete
In order to avoid the negative impacts of long-term creep and shrinkage:
1. Good understanding of shrinkage behaviors.
2. Accurate estimation of shrinkage on structural concrete design.
3. Proper counter measures of shrinkage effects.
4. Implement simple structural details .