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Mohamed Abd Elrahman

a,b,

, Bernd Hillemeier

a

a

Institute of Civil Engineering, TU Berlin, Germany

b

Structural Engineering Department, Mansoura University, Egypt

h i g h l i g h t s

HPC with superior properties has been optimized using 312 kg/m

3

binder.

Fine FA is more effective than normal FA on improving concrete properties.

Total porosity is reduced to 3% by combination of ne FA and SF.

The optimized HPC has a chloride diffusion coefcient of 1.4 10

13

m

2

/s.

a r t i c l e i n f o

Article history:

Received 16 October 2013

Received in revised form 5 February 2014

Accepted 8 February 2014

Available online 13 March 2014

Keywords:

Packing density

Ideal Fuller curve

Fine y ash

Porosity

Durability

a b s t r a c t

High performance concrete often contains large amount of cement which makes ecological, economical

and technical problems. This study provides a new approach to optimize high performance concrete with

low cementitious materials content. The ideal grading curve according to Fuller has been used in concrete

mix design to ensure high packing density of concrete mixtures and to reduce the required binder con-

tent. Several systems comprising various pozzolanic materials (silica fume, y ash and ne y ash) have

been prepared and tested. The role of ne y ash on concrete performance has been estimated by mea-

suring the concrete mechanical properties, porosity and durability. The mechanical properties were

assessed from compressive strength and modulus of elasticity, whilst the durability characteristics were

investigated in terms of water permeability, water absorption and chloride diffusion. The results showed

that ne y ash performed better than normal y ash for the strength development and durability

aspects. The ternary system containing slag cement, ne y ash and silica fume with low w/b ratio per-

formed the best amongst all the systems regarding concrete mechanical properties and durability. Com-

bination of ne y ash and silica fume with OPC or with slag cement resulted in a signicant reduction in

concrete porosity. All mixes containing ne y ash exhibited high performance concrete with excellent

durability properties.

2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction

Nowadays, progress in science and technology in the eld of

construction industries and usage of new materials have resulted

in the use of reinforced concrete in special structures such as

sewage systems, nuclear power containments, cooling towers of

power plants, high way bridges and tunnels. In such aggressive

environments, high durability, stability and resistance to chemical

attack are of more concern. High performance concrete (HPC)

provides an attractive option for such conditions. According to

Mehta and Monteiro [1], three main characteristics make the

concrete with high performance: high workability, high strength

and high durability. Because of the various requirements including

workability, durability, strength and dimensional stability, the mix

design of HPC is a challenging task. Unlike normal concrete, it is no

longer sufcient to base the mix composition on the principle of

compressive strength and w/c ratio relationship. HPC is produced

using carefully selected ingredients and low water/binder (w/b) ra-

tio. In addition, it requires high amount of cementitious materials

(400550 kg/m

3

) and also high dosage of superplasticizer [2].

However, the use of high amount of cement can lead to environ-

mental, economic and technical problems. For example, using high

cement content increases the hydration heat and shrinkage which

are critical issues for concrete [3]. To cope with these problems,

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.conbuildmat.2014.02.024

0950-0618/ 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Tel.: +49 30 314 72 109.

E-mail address: mohattia76@gmail.com (M. Abd Elrahman).

Construction and Building Materials 58 (2014) 225233

Contents lists available at ScienceDirect

Construction and Building Materials

j our nal homepage: www. el sevi er . com/ l ocat e/ conbui l dmat

more optimization is needed to minimize the cement content in

order to reduce the ecological and economic impact of HPC. One

possibility of optimizing the HPC mixture is the selection of con-

crete constituents in such a way that the packing density of the

whole granulometric assemblage is maximized. Basically, increas-

ing the packing density of aggregate would decrease the volume of

paste needed to ll up the voids and increase the amount of addi-

tional paste that could be utilized to improve the workability.

Additionally, the concrete will have less durability problems such

as permeability, shrinkage, and thermal degradation.

2. Particle packing optimization

The packing density can be dened as the ratio of volume frac-

tion occupied by the solids to the volume of the surrounding con-

tainer. It is a matter of interest in many elds of material science

such as packed beds, ceramics, asphalts and concrete [4]. The opti-

mum packing density of the system could be attained only if

spheres with smaller sizes are added to the assemblage. The small

size spheres can ll the voids between the large spheres, and there-

by the packing density is signicantly increased. In 1961, McGeary

reported that it is possible to achieve a packing density of 95.1

using four sizes of spheres with diameter ratios of 1, 7, 38 and

316 with fraction volumes of 6.1%, 10.2%, 23% and 60.7% respec-

tively. However, the maximum density of innite differences in

sizes can be attained is 97.5% [5]. For concrete, the situation is

more complex since the system is composed of various particle

sizes with different shapes and sizes. Effective packing can be at-

tained by selecting proper proportions and sizes of small particles

to ll in the voids between the bigger particles. The important ef-

fects of aggregate grading on the properties of concrete have been

emphasized in very early reports [6]. In 1892, Feret concluded that

the maximum strength can be attained when the voids in the mix-

ture is minimum [7]. Fuller reported that the best grading curve of

aggregate to get the maximum density is a parabolic shape [8].

Both Feret and Fuller conrmed that concrete properties can be

signicantly improved by using continuous grading [7]. In 1923,

Talbot developed the well-known equation [9]:

P d=D

q

1

where P is the total percent passing through a sieve, d is the diam-

eter of the current sieve, D is the maximum aggregate size and q is

the gradation ratio. The maximum packing density can be achieved

when q = 0.5, which is close to the Fuller curve [10,11], but the

resulting concrete is harsh and unsuitable. In 1930, Andreasen tried

to improve the Fuller curve. He suggested using the exponent q in

the range of 0.330.5, because ne particles are not able to pack

similar to bigger particles [12].

3. The work of Fuller and Thompson

Fuller and Thompson studied the grading analysis for a wide

variety of aggregate types and mixtures to achieve the maximum

packing density. They found that the best density of aggregate

can be attained when the particle size distribution of aggregate is

continuously graded and the grading curve takes a parabolic shape

(Fig. 1). This curve is known as Fuller parabola and can be applied

for calculating the optimum grading of aggregate only (not for a

mixture of aggregate and binder) as Fuller mentioned later [8]. This

is because the mixture of aggregate which gives the maximum

density in the dry state does not necessarily achieve the greatest

density when combined with cement and water. The very low void

content between the aggregate prevent the cement and water to t

in perfectly [8]. In addition, Fuller parabola leads to low powder

content, whereas, more nes are needed to maintain good cohe-

sion and to prevent segregation.

In 1903, Fuller and Thompson began an intensive work to

achieve the greatest packing density for mixtures of aggregate

and ne materials with maximum size of 2.25 inch. The ideal grad-

ing curve has been obtained by trial mixes without referring to

mathematical basis. To get this curve, at least 7% of the solid mate-

rials should be ner than the No. 200 sieve. It composed basically

of an ellipse at the lower part and merging into a straight line tan-

gent to the elliptical part [11]. The ellipse begins from 0.0029 inch

(sieve No. 200) and runs to a value of x equals to one-tenth the

maximum grain size (Fig. 1). At this point, the straight line begins

and continues to y = 100% and x = D (where D is the maximum

grain size). After nding the ideal curve, equation was tted to this

curve. The equation covering this ideal grading curve is divided

into two parts:

For the elliptical part:

y 7

2

b

2

x a

2

a

2

1 2

For the straight line part:

y

100 y

1

D x

1

x

0

x

1

y

1

3

where a and b are the axis of the ellipse and their values depend

mainly on the shape of the particles and the maximum aggregate

size [11], x

0

= D/10 to D, y

1

= y of the ellipse at D/10 and x

1

= D/10

[13].

In 1992, Puntke reviewed Fuller work and redraw the ideal

curve in a semi-logarithmic scale for the sake of simplicity

(Fig. 2) [13]. This curve has been used for designing concrete mixes

for several applications, particularly those, which need high den-

sity and high resistance to acid attack. For example, in 2000, the

highest cooling tower in the world (200 m, Niederauem, Ger-

many) has been constructed of acid resistant concrete. The used

concrete has been designed on the basis of the ideal Fuller curve.

By applying this concrete in the cooling tower, the tank did not

need any internal protective layer (as normal) because the used

concrete has high density as well as high resistance to acid attack

[14,15].

4. Mix design

In this investigation, the concrete mixture proportioning is

based on the granular optimization of all concrete constituents

according to the ideal Fuller curve. The maximum grain size of

coarse aggregate was 16 mm. For this size and according to the

ideal Fuller curve (Fig. 2), the required aggregate volume

(d > 125 lm) is 85.13%, while the binder volume (d < 125 lm) is

14.87%. According to this calculation, the required amount of

cementitious materials and aggregates are 312 and 1984 kg/m

3

respectively. On the other hand, to obtain a good size distribution,

the skeleton of aggregate size fractions should be viewed as a

whole rather than two separate entities; coarse and ne aggregate.

Aggregate as they come from the quarry do not normally have size

distributions that t the dense packing curve as can be seen in

Fig. 2. There are some deviations between the non-optimized mix-

ture and the ideal Fuller curve. The mixture has more materials in

the range of 0.52 mm. Therefore, sieve analysis of aggregate is

necessary to be done and the required amount of each size is taken.

On the contrary, the mixture has low ne materials in the size

range 0.0630.25 mm. Thus, quartz sand and quartz powder are

added to ll this gap and to densify the matrix.

226 M. Abd Elrahman, B. Hillemeier / Construction and Building Materials 58 (2014) 225233

5. Experimental details

5.1. Materials

Natural quartzite aggregates with maximum size of 16 mm has been used in

this investigation. CEM I 32.5 R and CEM III B 32.5 N-LH/HS/NA with slag content

of about 68% according to DIN EN 197 have been implemented. Normal y ash

(FA), ne y ash (M20) according to DIN EN 450-1, and silica fume (SF) comply-

ing with DIN EN 13263-1 have been also used as cement supplementary materi-

als. Quartz sand (QS) and quartz powder (QP) were used as correcting aggregate

to adjust the mixture with ideal grading curve. Fig. 3 shows the particle size dis-

tribution (PSD) of all nes measured with laser diffraction spectrometry. Physical

properties and chemical composition of the used materials are shown in Table 1.

On the other hand, it is theoretically known that, capillary porosity begin to form

at water/binder ratio higher than 0.42. Therefore, two values are chosen to re-

duce the probability of capillary pores formation: 0.42 and 0.27. The effectiveness

factor (k factor) is assumed to be 0.4 and 1 for y ash and silica fume respectively

(K factor represents the efciency of supplementary materials compared to OPC.

The quantity of the SCM in the mixture can be multiplied by the k value to esti-

mate the equivalent cement content, which can be added to the existing cement

0

10

20

30

40

50

60

70

80

90

100

0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.7 0.8 0.9 1

P

a

s

s

i

n

g

%

(

V

o

l

u

m

e

)

Size (d/D)

Fuller Parabola

Ideal Fuller curve

D/10

b

a

7

Fig. 1. Comparison between Fuller parabola for best grading of aggregate and the ideal Fuller curve for grading of aggregate and ne materials.

Fig. 2. The grading of non-optimized mixture, Fuller parabola and the ideal Fuller curve in semi logarithmic scale.

Fig. 3. Particle size distribution of ne materials measured with laser granulometry.

M. Abd Elrahman, B. Hillemeier / Construction and Building Materials 58 (2014) 225233 227

content for the determination of the water-to-cement ratio [16,17]). In addition,

a polycarboxylate-based superplasticizer complies with DIN EN 934-2 has been

used to ensure a desirable consistency (class F3F4 according to DIN EN 206-1).

5.2. Mix composition and mixing

In order to optimize a high performance concrete mixture, several supplemen-

tary materials have been implemented. In this investigation, in order to achieve

dense and homogeneous cement matrix, it is suggested to use CEM III/B. One con-

trol mix incorporating OPC only and eight other mixes containing supplementary

materials were prepared. To estimate the inuence of ne y ash on concrete prop-

erties, normal y ash with the same replacement level (30%) has been investigated.

In addition, silica fume with 10% replacement level has been used. Likewise, to en-

hance the packing density of ne materials which can be achieved by using a wide

range of particle sizes, combination of 25% ne y ash with 10% silica fume with

OPC as well as with slag cement have been implemented. To evaluate the perfor-

mance of ne y ash at low w/b ratio (0.27), two mixes were prepared; the rst

with 30% of ne y ash and the second with combination of 25% ne y ash with

8% silica fume. The details of concrete mixtures proportioning are given in Table 2.

The concrete was mixed in 60 liters mixer. After mixing, fresh concrete properties

were measured, and the moulds were cast and compacted according to EN

12390-2. After 24 h of adding the water, the test specimens were demoulded. Then,

the curing process took place in water basin at room temperature (20 1 C).

5.3. Determination of concrete properties

5.3.1. Mechanical properties

The compressive strength has been determined using 100 mm cubes at ages of

28 and 91 days according to EN 12390-3. In addition, the modulus of elasticity of

concrete is determined on cylinders (150 mm 300 mm) according to European

standard EN 1048-5 at age of 91 days.

5.3.2. Concrete porosity

The concrete porosity and pore size distribution have been measured using the

mercury intrusion porosimetry (MIP) at age of 91 days. The principle of this tech-

nique is based on penetrating a non-reacting liquid such as mercury, into the pores

of a dried and evacuated porous medium. The Washburn equation is used to calcu-

late the porosity. The relationship between the pore size and the exerted pressure is

expressed as:

r

2c cos h

p

m

4

where r is the radius of the intruded pore (nm), c is surface tension of mercury (N/

m), p

m

is the applied pressure (bar), and h is contact angle between mercury and the

pore walls. Details of measurements procedures can be found in [18].

5.3.3. Durability

In this investigation in order to assess the durability of concrete, permeability,

absorption and diffusion tests have been made. The water penetration depth under

pressure according to EN 12390-8 was used to measure the permeability. The water

absorption coefcient has been measured according to EN ISO 15148. In addition,

the chloride diffusion coefcient was measured according to BAW procedure [19].

The following equation was used to determine the diffusion coefcient:

D

cl

RTh

zFU

x

d

a

d

x

d

p

t

5

With

a

d

2

RTh

zFU

erf

1

1

2c

d

c

o

s

6

where D

cl

is the migration coefcient (m

2

/s), Z is valency, for chloride ions Z = 1, F is

Faraday constant, F = 9.649 10

4

J (V* mol)

1

, U is absolute potential difference (V),

R is gas constant, R = 8.315 J (K* mol)

1

, T is absolute mean temperature of the solu-

tions during the test (K), h is height of the test specimen (m), x

d

is mean penetration

depth of the chloride ions in each half of the test specimen (m), t is duration of the

test (s), erf

1

is inverse error function, c

d

is chloride concentration at which the col-

our changes, c

d

= 0.07 (mol/L ).

6. Results

6.1. Mechanical properties

6.1.1. Compressive strength

Table 3 shows the results of compressive strength of concrete

mixes at age of 28 and 91 days. It is clear that, the main factor,

which controls the compressive strength, is the w/b ratio. Mixes

8 and 9 with w/b ratio of 0.27 had the highest compressive

strength at both 28 days and 91 days. It was 82 MPa for mix 8 at

28 days and increased to 99 MPa after 91 days. In addition, the ce-

ment type has also an important role on the development of

strength especially at early ages. At 28 days, the compressive

strength of mix 1 with OPC was 62 MPa, however for mix 3 with

slag cement it was 52 MPa. Nevertheless, at 91 days both mixes

exhibited similar strengths (70 2 MPa). On the other hand, the

addition of pozzolanic materials has an important inuence on

concrete compressive strength; depending on its type, content

and properties. Combination of pozzolanic materials with Portland

cement enhances the strength of concrete more than with slag

cement as can observed from the results of mixes 2 and 7 respec-

tively. In addition, the strength improvement is more pronounced

Table 1

Physical and chemical properties of the used ne materials.

Material CaO SiO

2

Al

2

O

3

Fe

2

O

3

MgO Na

2

O K

2

O SO

3

Cl Specic density Surface area (cm

2

/g)

CEM I 63.25 20.8 4.61 2.59 4.17 0.16 0.50 2.70 3.17 3450

CEM III B 48 29.7 6.5 1.2 8 0.31 0.65 2.49 0.02 2.96 4156

Fly ash 3.1 49.2 27.6 7.6 2.1 0.9 5 5.0 2.29 2877

M20 5 52 25 6 1 1.5 1.9 1.1 2.45 6000

Silica fume 0.2 98.4 0.2 0.01 0.10 0.15 0.20 0.10 0.01 2.2 20,000

Quartz powder 98.5 0.7 0.06 2.69 2683

Quartz sand 0.013 99.6 0.11 0.012 0.004 0.006 0.024 2.67 760

Table 2

Composition of concrete mixes.

Mix Cement FA M20 SF SP Aggregate QS QP w/b Flow diameter Air content Fresh density

Type (%) (%) (%) (%) (kg/m

3

) (kg/m

3

) (kg/m

3

) (kg/m

3

) ratio (cm) (%) (t/m

3

)

1 CEM I 100 2.8 1854 46 84 0.42 52 1.5 2.45

2 CEM I 65 25 10 3 1854 46 84 0.42 46 1 2.46

3 CEM III 100 2.2 1854 46 84 0.42 53 1.5 2.43

4 CEM III 70 30 3.3 1854 46 84 0.42 52 1.3 2.45

5 CEM III 70 30 3 1854 46 84 0.42 51 1.3 2.44

6 CEM III 90 10 2.5 1854 46 84 0.42 48 2.3 2.42

7 CEM III 65 25 10 3 1854 46 84 0.42 50 2 2.44

8 CEM III 67 25 8 8.8 1947 48 88 0.27 44 1.5 2.50

9 CEM III 70 30 6.6 1947 48 88 0.27 48 1.4 2.49

228 M. Abd Elrahman, B. Hillemeier / Construction and Building Materials 58 (2014) 225233

in mixes with silica fume (mix 2 and 6). However, the strength

development of mix 4 with normal y ash is slow compared to

other mixes, particularly at early ages.

6.1.2. Modulus of elasticity

The experimental results of elastic modulus of concrete are

found in Table 3. All mixes have modulus of elasticity more than

40,000 MPa. Mix 8 with low w/b ratio has the highest elasticity

of about 51,000 MPa. Mix 1 and mix 3 showed roughly the same

elasticity, that mean slag cement and OPC have the same effect

on elasticity [20]. On the other hand, the elastic modulus of mixes

with silica fume is higher than mixes without silica fume. Mix 6

with silica fume showed the highest elasticity at w/b of 0.42, it

was 45,200 MPa. However, mix 4 with normal y ash showed the

lowest elastic modulus, it was 40,200 MPa.

6.2. Porosity measured with MIP

Table 4 presents the experimental results of concrete total

porosity at age of 91 days. Compared to literature, all mixes have

lower porosity than traditional concrete which lies between 15%

and 20% [21]. Mix 1 with OPC has the highest porosity (10%), while

the use of slag cement reduces the porosity to about 8.9% (mix 3).

However, replacing OPC by 25% ne y ash and 10% silica fume as

in mix 2 dramatically reduces the porosity to 6.2%. Moreover,

mixes 8 and 9 with low w/b ratio exhibited porosity in the range

of UHPC (about 46%) [21]. The total porosities of mix 8 and mix

9 were 3% and 4.9% respectively.

On the other hand, regarding durability and deterioration of

concrete, capillary porosity is of most concern. Most of the trans-

port mechanisms take place via the capillary pore framework.

Therefore, capillary porosity of concrete mixes has been calculated

from the data sheet of MIP measurements. It is assumed to be in

the range of 30 nm to 10 lm [21]. Table 4 shows also the capillary

porosity of different concrete mixes. Similar to total porosity re-

sults, mix 1 with w/b of 0.42 has the highest capillary porosity

(5.6%). At w/b ratio of 0.42, the capillary porosity of mix 2 was

4.5%. Mixes 8 and 9 with w/b ratio of 0.27 have very low capillary

porosity of 1.9% and 2.96% respectively. Fig. 4 presents the pore

size distribution of concrete mixes. Mix 1 has the largest volume

of pores in the size range of 0.010.1 lm. It is clear from the gure

also that combined addition of ne y ash and silica fume along

with the use of low w/b ratio (mix 8) resulted in large reduction

in pore sizes, particularly in the capillarity range.

6.3. Durability

6.3.1. Water penetration depth (permeability)

Table 5 illustrates the results of water penetration depth tests.

All mixes exhibited low permeability (depth < 20 mm). The results

revealed also that the main factor governs the permeability is the

w/b ratio. The penetration depth of mix 8 with w/b ratio of 0.27

was about 3 mm which is the lowest penetration depth, while

for mix 9 it was 5 mm. In addition, cementitious materials have

crucial inuences on pore volume and connectivity which control

the water permeation. Mix 5 with ne y ash has lower penetra-

tion than mix 4 with normal y ash; it was 8 and 18 mm respec-

tively. At the same time, mix 5 has lower depth than mixes 6

and 7 with silica fume. Mix 3 with slag cement showed higher

resistance to penetration than mix 1 with OPC (15 and 18 mm

respectively).

6.3.2. Absorption (capillary suction)

Table 5 shows the results of the absorption coefcient of differ-

ent concrete mixes. Mix 8 made with slag cement, ne y ash and

with w/b ratio of 0.27 has the lowest absorption coefcient of

about 0.08 kg/m

2

h

0.5

. However, for mix 1 with w/b ratio of 0.42

and with OPC, the water absorption coefcient was 0.32 kg/

m

2

h

0.5

, which is about 4 times higher than that of mix 8. All con-

crete mixes with slag cement have lower absorption than mix 1.

For all these mixes, the absorption coefcient ranges between 0.1

to 0.2 kg/m

2

h

0.5

. Compared to mix 1 with OPC, replacing a part

of OPC with 25% of ne y ash and 10% silica fume (mix 2) reduced

the absorption to about 0.1 kg/m

2

h

0.5

.

6.3.3. Chloride diffusion

Table 5 shows the experimental results of chloride diffusion

coefcient of concrete. Mixes with slag cement exhibited higher

resistance to chloride diffusion than mix 1 with OPC alone. How-

ever, mix 2 with partial replacement of OPC with silica fume and

ne y ash showed signicant reduction in the diffusion coef-

cient. It reduced from 28 10

13

m

2

/s for mix 1 to

4.5 10

13

m

2

/s for mix 2. At w/b ratio of 0.42, mix 5 with ne

y ash exhibited higher resistance to chloride diffusion than mix

6 with silica fume alone and higher than mix 7 with both silica

fume and ne y ash. Furthermore, due to incorporation of ne

y ash (mix 5), the chloride diffusion is reduced to around the half

of the value of mix 3 with slag cement only. As expected, reducing

the w/b ratio resulted in high resistance to chloride diffusion. With

w/b ratio of 0.27, combination of silica fume and ne y ash (mix

8) resulted in a very high reduction in chloride diffusion to

1.39 10

13

m

2

/s compared to mix 1 with w/b of 0.42 and OPC,

which is about 20 times less. On the other hand, contrary to the re-

sults of mixes with w/b ratio of 0.42, combination of silica fume

with ne y ash is more efcient in reducing the chloride diffusion

than ne y ash alone at w/b ratio of 0.27. Proof for that are the re-

sults of mixes 5, 7, 8 and 9. Similar conclusion has been empha-

sized by Bentz, who reported that silica fume is more efcient

for reducing diffusivity in low w/c ratio concretes [22].

Table 3

Compressive strength and modulus of elasticity of concrete mixes.

Mix Compressive strength (MPa) Modulus of elasticity (MPa)

28 days 91 days

Mix 1 62 72 43,100

Mix 2 78 82 44,500

Mix 3 52 68 43,500

Mix 4 56 64 40,200

Mix 5 68 72 42,900

Mix 6 66 78 45,200

Mix 7 66 71 40,800

Mix 8 82 99 50,200

Mix 9 80 91 46,900

Table 4

Total and capillary porosity of concrete mixes measured at the age of 91 days using MIP.

Mix Mix 1 Mix 2 Mix 3 Mix 4 Mix 5 Mix 6 Mix 7 Mix 8 Mix 9

Total porosity (%) 10.30 6.20 8.90 7.80 6.98 7.20 6.50 3 4.90

Capillary porosity

a

(%) 5.60 4.50 4.50 3.89 3.50 3.90 3.80 1.90 2.96

a

The capillary porosity is assumed to be in the range of 30 nm to 10 lm.

M. Abd Elrahman, B. Hillemeier / Construction and Building Materials 58 (2014) 225233 229

Fig. 4. Pore size distribution of concrete mixes measured at age of 91 days using MIP.

Table 5

Durability properties of concrete measured at age of 91 days.

Mix Water penetration depth (mm) Water absorption coefcient (kg/m

2

h

0.5

) Chloride diffusion coefcient 10

13

(m

2

/s)

Mix 1 18 0.32 28

Mix 2 14 0.095 4.5

Mix 3 15 0.178 9

Mix 4 18 0.132 8

Mix 5 8 0.105 3.81

Mix 6 11 0.148 6

Mix 7 13 0.15 5

Mix 8 3 0.074 1.39

Mix 9 5 0.088 4.33

230 M. Abd Elrahman, B. Hillemeier / Construction and Building Materials 58 (2014) 225233

7. Discussion

7.1. Mechanical properties

By having a close look to the experimental results, it can be ob-

served that the compressive strength and modulus of elasticity of

all mixes are higher than 60 MPa and 40 GPa respectively at

91 days with total cementitious materials of about 312 kg/m

3

.

However, for traditional concrete without optimization, the com-

pressive strength and modulus of elasticity are in the range of

about 40 MPa [21] and 25 GPA respectively. This signicant

enhancement in mechanical properties of concrete can be directly

attributed to the high packing density of solid particle system due

to applying ideal Fuller curve. On the other hand, the addition of

supplementary materials has important inuences on concrete

mechanical properties. The pozzolanic reaction turns CH into a

new pozzolanic CSH gel which tightens and strengthens the

aggregate-paste interface, therefore modulus of elasticity and late

strength are markedly improved. In addition, supplementary mate-

rials enhance the packing density which results in better compact-

ness, thus the strength increases [23]. These effects are more

noticeable with using ne y ash and silica fume.

In fact, it should be pointed out here that, at different w/b ratios

the behaviour of ne materials is somewhat different. At w/b ratio

of 0.42, the comparison of mix 5 and 7 showed that the compres-

sive strength and modulus of elasticity of mix 5 (72 and

42,900 MPa) with ne y ash was a little bit higher than mix 7

(71 and 40,800 MPa) with ne y ash and silica fume. While, at

low w/b ratio (0.27), the situation is totally reversed. The addition

of both silica fume and ne y ash (mix 8) enhanced the mechan-

ical properties (99 and 50,200 MPa) more than mix 9 with ne y

ash (91 and 46,900 MPa). On the other hand, although the cement

content is low (can be said lean mixes), the mechanical properties

of mixes 8 and 9 are in the range of high strength concrete which

needs more cement, more silica fume and more superplasticizer

per cubic meter. This can be reasoned by sequential lling of the

voids in the system. The voids between each particle class are lled

with particles from smaller class. Especially at the micro scale, the

gap between the cement particles and silica fume with average

diameter of about 30 lm and 0.5 lm respectively are lled with

ne y ash with diameter of 110 lm. As a consequence, the bond

between aggregate and cement paste is increased which improves

the mechanical properties as the experimental results revealed.

7.2. Porosity

In order to evaluate the experimental results, a small compari-

son with total and capillary porosity of concrete as reported in lit-

erature will be presented. It is stated that the total porosity of

normal concrete, HPC, and UHPC are 15%, 8.3% and 6% respectively,

while the capillary porosity (0.0310 lm) are 8.3%, 5.2% and 1.5%

by volume respectively [21]. The experimental results indicated

that the maximum total porosity was 10% for mix 1. In addition,

the capillary porosity was 5.6% which is lower than porosities of

conventional concrete as reported in the literature. These results

signicantly manifest the inuence of enhancing the packing den-

sity on concrete porosity. The porosity of concrete is resulted from

the porosity of cement paste only, however the voids inside the

aggregate do not participate in the porosity of concrete. By maxi-

mizing the packing density of aggregate, the volume of cement

paste (cementitious materials and water) required to ll the gaps

between the aggregate is reduced to about 23%. In this investiga-

tion, the cement content is about 312 kg/m

3

and the water content

is about 131 liters (w/c = 0.42). So, the total volume of cement and

water (cement paste) equals about 230 liters for one cubic meter of

concrete (23%). However, normal high performance concrete needs

at least 400 kg cement and about 168 liters of water (w/c = 0.42).

The total volume of cement paste (cement and water) is about

300 liters for one cubic meter of concrete (about 30%). So, if the ce-

ment pastes of both concrete have the same porosity, then the total

porosity of the densely packed concrete will be lower by 23.33%

because it has less cement paste.

The use of supplementary materials largely reduces the porosity

of concrete depending on their type and content at w/b ratio of

0.42. The use of slag cement, with higher neness than OPC, re-

duces the total and capillary porosity to about 9% and 4.5% respec-

tively (mix 3). More reduction of porosities was attained by the

addition of normal y ash (mix 4). The total and capillary porosities

were reduced to about 7.8% and 3.9% respectively. Mix 5 with ne

y ash showed lower porosity; about 7% and 3.5% for total and cap-

illary porosity respectively, which are smaller than the aforemen-

tioned porosities of HPC according to Teichmann [21]. This can

be attributed to the efcient packing of ne y ash which has small

size (<10 lm), spherical shape and smooth texture. On the other

hand, the addition of silica fume to the system of slag cement

and ne y ash showed a small effect at w/b ratio of 0.42. At the

same direction, mix 2 made with OPC, ne y ash and silica fume

exhibited about 6.3% and 4.5% for total and capillary porosity

respectively. At low w/b ratio, the porosity is signicantly reduced.

For mix 9 with w/b ratio of 0.27 and with ne y ash, the total and

capillary porosities were 4.9% and 2.9% respectively. More reduc-

tion was gained by the addition of the silica fume to the system.

The total and capillary porosity of mix 8 was about 1.9% 3% respec-

tively which are much lower than normal HPC [24]. These values

are comparable to those of UHPC which needs more nes, cement,

llers and superplasticizer and special mixing procedures.

7.3. Durability

The incorporation of ne y ash or both ne y ash and silica

fume with low w/b ratio result in an effective reduction in the

transport of contaminants into concrete. The results of sorption

and chloride diffusion conrm this inuence. The water absorption

coefcient of mix 9 was about 0.09 kg/m

2

h

0.5

. However, combina-

tion of ne y ash and silica fume leaded to more reduction in

water absorption coefcient to 0.07 kg/m

2

h

0.5

. Similar results

were obtained for the chloride diffusion which is considered the

most important factor that can be used to evaluate the concrete

durability. The chloride diffusion coefcient of mix 1 without

pozzolanic materials was about 28 10

13

m

2

/s. However, the

use of slag cement (mix 3) reduced the diffusion to around

9.3 10

13

m

2

/s. The use of ne y ash at the same w/b ratio of

0.42 (mix 5) reduced the diffusion to about 3.8 10

13

m

2

/s. How-

ever, mix 8 with w/b ratio of 0.27 showed the lowest chloride dif-

fusion (about 1.4 10

13

m

2

/s) which is in the range of UHPC [21].

The role of high packing density in reducing the chloride diffusion

coefcient can be elucidated by comparing the result of mix 5 with

literature [25]. In spite of both concretes made with ne y ash, the

chloride diffusion of mix 5 is 3.8 10

13

m

2

/s which is 5 times

lower than that of Brandburger which was 1.5 10

12

m

2

/s. Fur-

ther, by the use of silica fume it is reported that the diffusion coef-

cient reduced to 1.5 10

12

which is half the resistance of mix 7.

The transport of liquids and gases takes place through the con-

tinuous pore system inside concrete. So, enhancing the packing

density reduces the penetration of contaminates into concrete.

The increased volume of aggregate closes the transport passes

and makes it longer. The experimental results of water penetration

test clarify the important role of the increased packing density in

transport mechanisms. All concrete mixes exhibited water pene-

tration depth lower than 20 mm which can be classied as imper-

meable concrete under aggressive conditions (<30 mm) according

M. Abd Elrahman, B. Hillemeier / Construction and Building Materials 58 (2014) 225233 231

to Neville [26]. Because of its higher neness, the use of slag ce-

ment results in lower permeability compared to OPC concrete

[20]. This is attributed to the dense microstructure and the low

CH concentration in the transition zone in slag cement concrete.

The addition of both ne y ash and silica fume notably reduces

the permeability and diffusivity [27]. The main effect of ne mate-

rials is the enhancement of transition zone properties and making

it denser. This zone is known as the locus of micro-cracks which

inuences not only the mechanical properties but also the perme-

ability and durability. Due to its high pozzolanity, ne y ash and

silica fume increase the homogeneity of the microstructure by

replacing CH crystals with additional CSH gel. Therefore, the

probability of micro-cracking is reduced and the transition zone

becomes thinner. Moreover, the size and content of capillary pores,

as well as the CH crystals concentration are reduced with progress

of the pozzolanic reaction. Furthermore, the produced CSH gel

blocks the pores, reduces its size and interrupts its connectivity.

In addition, it reduces the wall effect around the aggregate sur-

faces, thus allowing better packing of cement particles at the inter-

face between cement paste and aggregate.

7.4. The role of dense packing and ne y ash

To explain the role of the packing density and ne y ash on

concrete properties, it is worth to repeat the fact that all of the

studied mixtures prepared roughly with the same volume fractions

of aggregate and cementitious materials. Applying ideal Fuller

curve in the concrete mix design minimized voids content. These

voids should be also lled with dense cement paste. However, ce-

ment particles with sizes of about 30 lm cannot achieve this tar-

get alone. Therefore, another material with smaller size which

can t in the voids between cement particles should be imple-

mented. Fine y ash is the ideal in these conditions because it

has smaller size, spherical shape, smooth texture and pozzolanic

reactivity. Going deeper, the voids between ne y ash should be

lled with smaller size particles. Silica fume with particle size of

about 0.10.5 lm could be the best material lling the voids be-

tween ne y ash. By this mechanism, cementitious materials

are needed only to ll the voids between the aggregates, which

are minimized, and also to cover the aggregate surface to keep

the workability at a satised level. As a result, dense microstruc-

ture are generated which enhances both mechanical properties

and durability of concrete using low binder content.

The role of ne y ash in reducing the porosity and enhancing

the concrete durability can be interpreted basically from several

aspects. Firstly, it enhances the packing density of the system by

its ball bearing effect which reduces the particle interlocking

[28]. Secondly, it enhances the packing of particles at the aggregate

surfaces. Thirdly, it reacts with CH, therefore, the transition zone

become denser and the pores become ner [29]. Fourthly, the poz-

zolanic reaction takes place within the capillary pores, and the

hydration products block and reduce the size of capillary pores

and prevent their connectivity. Fifthly, the pozzolanic reaction

takes some water of the free water in the system, which indirectly

reduces the porosity. Sixthly, it enhances the cohesion of fresh con-

crete and reduces the amount of bleeding water beneath the aggre-

gate, and as a result the transition zone is densied. Seventhly,

because of its spherical shape and smooth texture, it reduces the

water demand and makes the microstructure more homogenous.

Finally, because of its low hydration rate compared to cement,

the hydration heat is low which result in smaller thermal stresses

at early ages. Both normal y ash and ne y ash has similar inu-

ences on concrete from chemical point of view because they have

similar chemical composition as can be seen from Table 1. The only

difference is the mean particle size (neness): for normal y ash it

is in the range of cement (about 30 lm), while ne y ash it is

lower than 10 lm as can be seen in Fig. 3. The benets of ne y

ash instead of normal y ash can be drawn as follow:

1. Fine y ash is more reactive than normal y ash, therefore,

mechanical properties are better enhanced particularly at early

ages [2931].

2. Normal y ash has relatively large particle size; therefore, it

cannot ll the voids between cement particles which resulted

in poor packing density on the cement matrix.

3. Fine y ash enhances the packing density on the aggregate sur-

face which cannot be achieved by normal y ash.

On the other hand, the use of silica fume with cement (binary

system) result in low packing density because of the high inter-

particle forces and the possibility of agglomeration. Silica fume

should be uniformly and homogeneously dispersed in order to

achieve its pozzolanic and ller effects [32]. Therefore, the use of

adequate cementitious materials with optimum composition, with

the use of appropriate superplasticizer that is sufcient to ef-

ciently disperse the ne particles will lead to concrete with dense

microstructure and superior properties.

8. Conclusion

Based on the above results and discussions, the following con-

clusions can be drawn:

1. By applying ideal grading curve, it is possible to produce HPC

with superior properties using only 312 kg/m

3

of cementitious

materials.

2. In the densely packed system, replacing OPC with 25% ne y

ash and 10% silica fume (mix 2) exhibited compressive strength

higher than 80 MPa with w/b ratio of 0.42, while the elastic

modulus reached around 45 GPa. However, the compressive

strength reached 99 MPa and the elastic modulus was more

than 50 GPa for mix 8 with combination of slag cement, ne

y ash and silica fume along with w/b ratio of 0.27.

3. The maximum porosity of concrete mixes was 10% for mix with

OPC only, (signicantly lower than traditional concrete), which

revealed the importance role of packing density. However, a

total porosity of 3% has been achieved by using supplementary

materials with w/b ratio of 0.27.

4. A very low capillary porosity was obtained for all mixes com-

pared to traditional concrete and HPC. In particular, mix 8 with

w/b ratio of 0.27 has a capillary porosity of lower than 2%.

5. The optimized concrete showed very low water penetration

depth. At w/b ratio of 0.42, it ranges between 8 and 14 mm

and it decreased to 38 mm with reducing the w/b ratio to 0.27.

6. The chloride diffusion coefcient was reduced from

28 10

13

m

2

/s for OPC concrete to 4.5 10

13

m

2

/s by using

25% ne y ash and 10 silica fume. More reduction of chloride

diffusion is reached by using both silica fume and ne y ash

with slag cement at w/b ratio of 0.27, it is reduced to 1.39

10

13

m

2

/s (about 20 times lower than OPC concrete).

7. Silica fume is more effective in improving the durability and

strength of concrete in systems with loww/b ratio than systems

with high w/b ratio.

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