types of concrete

Mix design concrete

Modern concrete mix designs can be complex. The design of a concrete, or the way the weights of the components of a concrete is determined, is specified by the requirements of the project and the various local building codes and regulations.

The design begins by determining the "durability" requirements of the concrete. These requirements take into consideration the weather conditions that the concrete will be exposed to in service, and the required design strength. The compressive strength of a concrete is determined by taking standard molded, standard-cured cylinder samples.

Many factors need to be taken into account, from the cost of the various additives and aggregates, to the trade offs between, the "slump" for easy mixing and placement and ultimate performance.

A mix is then designed using cement (Portland or other cementitious material), coarse and fine aggregates, water and chemical admixtures. The method of mixing will also be specified, as well as conditions that it may be used in.

This allows a user of the concrete to be confident that the structure will perform properly.

Various types of concrete have been developed for specialist application and have become known by these names.

Regular concrete

concrete mixRegular concrete is the lay term describing concrete that is produced by following the mixing instructions that are commonly published on packets of cement, typically using sand or other common material as the aggregate, and often mixed in improvised containers. This concrete can be produced to yield a varying strength from about 10 MPa (1450 psi) to about 40 MPa (5800 psi), depending on the purpose, ranging from blinding to structural concrete respectively. Many types of pre-mixed concrete are available which include powdered cement mixed with an aggregate, needing only water.

Typically, a batch of concrete can be made by using 1 part Portland cement, 2 parts dry sand, 3 parts dry stone, 1/2 part water. The parts are in terms of weight - not volume. For example, 1-cubic-foot (0.028 m3) of concrete would be made using 22 lb (10.0 kg) cement, 10 lb (4.5 kg) water, 41 lb (19 kg) dry sand, 70 lb (32 kg) dry stone (1/2" to 3/4" stone). This would make 1-cubic-foot (0.028 m3) of concrete and would weigh about 143 lb (65 kg). The sand should be mortar or brick sand (washed and filtered if possible) and the stone should be washed if possible. Organic materials (leaves, twigs, etc) should be removed from the sand and stone to ensure the highest strength.

High-strength concrete

High-strength concrete has a compressive strength generally greater than 6,000 pounds per square inch (40 MPa = 5800 psi). High-strength concrete is made by lowering the water-cement (W/C) ratio to 0.35 or lower. Often silica fume is added to prevent the formation of free calcium hydroxide crystals in the cement matrix, which might reduce the strength at the cement-aggregate bond.

Low W/C ratios and the use of silica fume make concrete mixes significantly less workable, which is particularly likely to be a problem in high-strength concrete applications where dense rebar cages are likely to be used. To compensate for the reduced workability, superplasticizers are commonly added to high-strength mixtures. Aggregate must be selected carefully for high-strength mixes, as weaker aggregates may not be strong enough to resist the loads imposed on the concrete and cause failure to start in the aggregate rather than in the matrix or at a void, as normally occurs in regular concrete.

In some applications of high-strength concrete the design criterion is the elastic modulus rather than the ultimate compressive strength.

Stamped concrete

Stamped concrete is an architectural concrete which has a superior surface finish. After a concrete floor has been laid, floor hardeners (can be pigmented) are impregnated on the surface and a mould which may be textured to replicate a stone / brick or even wood is stamped on to give a superior textured surface finish. After sufficient hardening the surface is cleaned and generally sealed to give a protection. The wear resistance of stamped concrete is generally excellent and hence found in applications like parking lots, pavements, walkways etc.

High-performance concrete

concrete aggregateHigh-performance concrete (HPC) and Ultra-high-performance concrete are relatively new terms used to describe concrete that conforms to a set of standards above those of the most common applications, but not limited to strength. While all high-strength concrete is also high-performance, not all high-performance concrete is high-strength. Notable concrete-mixtures are: Ductal, concrete mixed with titanium oxide, ... Some examples of such standards currently used in relation to HPC are:

    * Ease of placement

    * Compaction without segregation

    * Early age strength

    * Long-term mechanical properties

    * Permeability

    * Density

    * Heat of hydration

    * Toughness

    * Volume stability

    * Long life in severe environments

    * Depending on its implementation, environmental



Self-consolidating concretes

During the 1980s a number of countries including Japan, Sweden and France developed concretes that are self-compacting, known as self-consolidating concrete in the United States. This self-consolidating concrete (SCCs) is characterized by:

* extreme fluidity as measured by flow, typically between 650-750 mm on a flow table, rather than slump(height)

* no need for vibrators to compact the concrete

* placement being easier.

* no bleed water, or aggregate segregation

* Increased Liquid Head Pressure, Can be detrimental to Safety and workmanship

SCC can save up to 50% in labor costs due to 80% faster pouring and reduced wear and tear on formwork.

As of 2005, self-consolidating concretes account for 10-15% of concrete sales in some European countries. In the US precast concrete industry, SCC represents over 75% of concrete production. 38 departments of transportation in the US accept the use of SCC for road and bridge projects.

This emerging technology is made possible by the use of polycarboxylates plasticizer instead of older naphthalene based polymers, and viscosity modifiers to address aggregate segregation.

Vacuum concretes

The use of steam to produce a vacuum inside of concrete mixing truck to release air bubbles inside the concrete is being researched. The idea is the steam will remove the air that is trapped inside the concrete. The steam will condense into water and will create low pressure, pulling out air from the concrete. This will make the concrete stronger due to there being less air in the mixture.