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R K Dhir
M J McCarthy
M D Newlands
Concrete Technology Unit
University of Dundee, UK

The paper considers developments that have taken place in standards for specifying
concrete durability over the last 50 years. This indicates that a broader range of material
options is available and wider coverage of exposure conditions is now given. While this
offers scope for achieving performance through sustainable approaches, the paper
suggests the best route for this lies in techniques that influence the physical and
chemical properties of concrete, which may be met by exploiting available cementitious
materials and mix proportioning techniques and by recycling / re-use of suitable
materials. This is then demonstrated by considering the results of a series of research
projects examining different aspects of concrete durability performance, including
carbonation rates, chloride ingress, sulfate attack, freeze/thaw attack, and abrasion. It is
suggested that the various methods considered can be used effectively to at least match
the performance of conventional concrete for almost all aspects of concrete durability
performance. Coverage of experience gained to date and the use of these methods in
practice is also provided. It is suggested that integration of these within existing
construction, is best made through developments in specifications towards performance
control. Overall the paper suggests that the minor changes to concrete
materials/proportioning described can satisfy both performance and sustainability
issues, bringing substantial benefits to concrete construction.

The last 20 to 30 years have seen a growing awareness amongst engineers of the need to
ensure that provisions are made for durability in concrete structures. This has arisen,
largely as a result of the increasing incidence of premature deterioration over the period
and the substantial repair and maintenance requirements that have resulted [1]. While
the specific problems encountered and their severity have varied from region to region
around the world, this has very much become an issue of global concern [2].

More recently, there has also been a growing awareness of the importance of
sustainability in concrete construction and in particular the more effective and efficient
use of materials [3]. In the UK, for example, clients have been encouraged, where
practicable, to recycle, or re-use materials.
Furthermore, measures including landfill taxes and aggregate levies have been
introduced, at government levels, in order to promote and encourage these practices and
their wider use in future is likely [4].

Given this situation, where there is both need for durable concrete construction and
responsible use of materials, the aims of this paper are to explore how both of these can
be met through minor changes to existing concrete technology and construction


In order to examine how concrete durability can be achieved following sustainable
practices, it is appropriate to briefly review the developments that have taken place in
specification documents in the UK over the last 50 years. A summary of these and their
main specification parameters is given in Table 1.

Table 1 Developments in standards for specifying concrete durability

YEAR 1950/57 1959 1965 1972 1985 1997 2000 2002

STANDARDS CP 114 CP 115 CP 116 CP 110 BS 8110 BS 5328 BS EN206 BS 8500

Exposure Conditions 2 2 9 5 5 6 18 18
Mix parameters considered
Concrete Grade Ψ Ψ Υ Υ Υ Υ Υ Υ
Min Cement Content Ψ Ψ Ψ Υ Υ Υ Υ Υ
Max w/c ratio Ψ Ψ Ψ Υ Υ Υ Υ Υ
Cover Depth Υ Υ Υ Υ Υ Ψ (1) Ψ (1) Ψ (1)
Cement Types Permitted 1 1 1 1 3(2) 3 27(3) 17(3)
Cover is specified in appropriate structural design standard
First permitted use of pfa and ggbs in standards
Includes use of pfa, ggbs, silica fume, metakaolin

The first British Standards covering proportioning of concrete mixes were issued from
the late 1940s [5]. These covered specific concrete applications, including normal
reinforced (CP 114, first issued 1948), prestressed (CP 115, 1959) and precast (CP 116,
1965) and gave guidance, in terms of volume ratios, for two environments (‘internal’
and ‘exposed’) with different covers for each. In 1965, with the issue of CP 116, there
was a move towards modern concrete specification practice. This defined 3 internal and
6 external environments, and linked these to both minimum strength grade and cover.

In 1972, CPs 114 to 116 were replaced with a single code of practice for structural
concrete, CP 110. This built on the approach of CP 116, and provided the basis for
codes in current use. Minimum cement contents were specified and linked, together
with minimum strength grades, to 4 of the 5 exposure conditions defined. In addition,
maximum w/c ratios (linked to exposure) were introduced as an alternative approach.
During the 1980s and 90s, concrete design and specification in the UK has mainly
followed BS 8110 [6] and BS 5328 [7], in which minimum cement contents, maximum
w/c ratios, minimum strength grades and covers were linked.
A European standard, BS EN 206-1 [8], together with a complementary British
Standard, BS 8500 [9], have recently been introduced, replacing BS 5328 at the end of
2003. BS 8500 specifies minimum cement contents of between 260 and 400 kg/m³,
while slightly lower values are specified in BS EN 206-1 [8]. Other requirements are
similar between the European and UK Complementary standards, e.g. the use of a wide
range of cement types permitted and definition of 18 exposure conditions, highlighting
the significance given to and importance of designing concrete for durability.

The developments in standards indicate that exposure conditions are now more clearly
defined, a wider range of available materials is considered and service life is also
included. While there is potential for greater efficiency in the recent documents, the
approach is still prescriptive and is not based on the actual processes taking place while
the structure is in service. The paper now progresses to examine the critical factors
influencing concrete durability and explores how sustainable practices may be used in
relation to these to more effectively achieve performance.

The most significant parameters defining the resistance of concrete to deterioration are
the permeation characteristics of the surface and near surface of concrete. This region
of concrete not only interfaces with the environment, but also provides protection to
embedded reinforcement. However, a number of effects, eg bleeding, rapid drying, etc,
mean that it can also be the weakest region of concrete.
Deterioration of concrete normally involves the ingress of aggressive agents or water into
concrete and the occurrence of physical/chemical processes thereafter. Transportation of
fluid into concrete can be defined in terms of the permeation properties, which can be
divided into three distinct but related transportation phenomena, covering moisture
vapour, dissolved ions, gases and aqueous solutions as follows [10],

Absorption The process by which concrete takes in a liquid, eg water or aqueous

solution, by capillary attraction. The rate at which water enters is termed absorptivity (or
sorptivity) and depends on the size and interconnectivity of the capillary pores in
concrete, and the moisture gradient existing from the surface.
Permeability The flow property of concrete which quantitatively characterises the ease
by which a fluid passes through it, under the action of a pressure differential. This
property depends on the pressure gradient and on the size and interconnectivety of the
capillary pores in concrete.

Diffusion The process by which a vapour, gas, or ion can pass into concrete under the
action of a concentration gradient. Diffusivity defines the rate of movement of the agent
and is influenced by the concentration gradient from the concrete surface, the type of
ingressing agent and the amount of reaction with the hydrating cement/structure and size
and interconnectivity of the capillary pores in concrete.
These transportation processes are influenced by a large number of material and
environmental factors. As indicated in Figure 1, there is an extremely complex



Hydrate chemistry
Cement type

Absorption Hydrate structure

Capillary size and
Pore fluid content Aggregate
Pore fluid
chemistry Curing
Permeability conditions


Primary Parameter Secondary Parameter

interaction between permeation and material properties and environmental conditions.

Figure 1 Interaction between material properties, environmental factors and

transportation mechanisms

Moreover, it highlights where the main parameters currently specified by engineers

(cement type, water/cement ratio, aggregate type and curing conditions) fit in relation to
the critical factors influencing durability in structures. In addition, it demonstrates where
the focus should be in relation to enhancing concrete durability performance, i.e. through
the use of materials influencing the physical and chemical properties, if a sustainable
practices route is to be followed.

Given the factors influencing durability, methods of more effectively achieving
performance should concentrate on refinement of the hydrate structure of concrete and
control of its chemistry and that of the pore fluids. In attempting to achieve this, within
the framework of sustainable construction, three routes are considered in this paper.
These can be classified in general terms under (i) cement selection, including binary
and ternary combinations, (ii) material proportioning or combination and
(iii) recycled / waste materials not covered in specification documents or standards.

3.1 Cement Selection

There are an increasing number of different cementing materials available beyond that
of Portland cement (PC). These are physically and chemically different to PC (as
shown in Table 2) and there is therefore potential for manipulating their combinations to
achieve optimum binding capacity of aggressive, ingressing agents and densification of
the microstructure.
Among the main materials finding use in Western Europe and elsewhere include
pulverized-fuel ash (PFA) and ground granulated blastfurnace slag (GGBS). More
recently, other materials including condensed silica fume (CSF) and metakaolin (MK)
have also been introduced.

Table 2 Typical chemical and physical characteristics of common cements


Chemical Characteristics (Oxide analysis)
SiO2 20.0 37.0 48.0 92.0 55.0
Al2O3 5.0 11.0 26.0 0.7 40.0
Fe2O3 3.0 0.3 10.0 1.2 0.5
CaO 65.0 40.0 3.0 0.2 0.1
MgO 1.1 7.0 2.0 0.2 0.4
SO3 2.4 0.3 0.7 - 2.0
S2- - 1.0 - - -
Na2O 0.2 0.4 1.0 1.2 -
K2O 0.9 0.7 3.0 1.9 -
Physical Characteristics
Fineness, m²/kg 340 350 380 15,000 10,000
Loss on Ignition, % 1.0 - 5.0 - -
Bulk Density, kg/m³ 1400 1200 900 240 360
Specific Gravity, g/cm³ 3.1 2.9 2.3 2.2 2.4

The characteristics of these materials mean that they can contribute one or all of the
following, towards the provision of enhanced durability.

High alumina content, (except silica fume; which in PFA is 6 times that of PC, in
GGBS 2 times and in MK 8 times). This is also likely to be in amorphous form,
with a high chloride binding capacity.
Large number of well dispersed fine particles available to absorb aggressive agents.
Potential for blocking and increasing the length of pathways into concrete.

There has also been a growing awareness that it may be possible to get further
enhancement of performance by combining two or three materials with PC. This relates
both to the need for higher strength and extended durability. Developments in
European cement standards (BS EN 197) where combinations beyond binary cements
are permitted, means that the use of cements comprising a range of materials will start
to become more commonplace. These materials should allow engineers, through
careful selection and combination, to produce cement blends to achieve a required set of
concrete properties.

3.2 Material Proportioning

The importance of the limits (minimum cement content, maximum w/c ratio, minimum
strength) for concrete durability provisions in Standards is evident from the wide use of
this approach. The basis for this has, in the main, been local experience and little work
to evaluate the role of these on performance has been carried out. The influence of
these parameters is clearly important for effective material use by engineers. From an
environmental point of view, advantages could be gained if it was possible to reduce
cement contents in concrete. In following this type of approach, it may be necessary to
consider the use of fillers to achieve a closed structure and admixtures to control

Recent developments have also seen the introduction of mix proportioning techniques,
aimed at physically minimising the void space of concrete prior to concrete production,
see Figure 2. Such an approach to mix proportioning has been developed by
Dewar [11], and is based on the principle that when materials of different sizes are
mixed together, smaller particles attempt to fill voids between larger particles to form a
mixture with minimum voids. The method seeks to achieve this by taking account of
the physical characteristics of all the materials in the mix (including the mean particle
size of all constituents, the voids ratio and the relative density) and provides optimum
proportions of each constituent.

+ + =


Figure 2 Concept of particle packing using different sized materials to minimize voids

3.3 Recycled / Waste Materials not Covered in Specification Documents

The potential for the use of domestic, industrial and construction waste products in
concrete as cement components and aggregates is substantial, as shown in Table 3.
Whilst this is the case, much of these materials are wasted through disposal at landfill
sites. Although some materials have found use as a general fill, there is clearly scope
for their use in higher value applications, such as concrete [12].

Table 3 Potential quantities of material available for use in concrete in the UK

Recycled aggregates 109 Mt As coarse aggregate
Conditioned PFA (moist) > 4 Mt As cement component/fine aggregate
Glass > 2 Mt As fine aggregate
As aggregate. Finer fractions have
Incinerator ash 1 Mt
potential pozzolanic properties
Granulated rubber > 40 Mt Specialist concretes
When used appropriately, it has been shown that these materials may,

Create high performance aggregates to conserve natural mineral resources

Generate sustainable construction
Reduce waste disposal costs
Minimise dependency on landfill

Clearly, given their novelty, the route to the use of these materials in construction needs
to be research and development work and thereafter through site trials.


4.1 Carbonation Rates

Carbonation is the process by which carbon dioxide present in air diffuses into concrete
and chemically reacts with calcium hydroxide, produced through cement hydration. This
leads to the formation of calcium carbonate causing an associated reduction in alkalinity.
Carbonation continues from the concrete surface and in time, the neutralisation effect
breaks down the passive oxide layer protecting embedded steel. In the presence of
moisture and oxygen, carbon steel reinforcement will corrode.

Results from a series of tests on concretes exposed for 2 years in the laboratory and under
field conditions, and projected to 35 years service using modelling techniques are shown
in Table 4 [13]. These indicate that at the same design strength, there was little or no
difference in measured carbonation depth for different cement type concretes. Not
surprisingly, the environmental conditions were the most important factor.

Table 4 Comparison of long-term carbonation performance of concretes based on

estimations from laboratory and field data


CONDITION PC PFA 30% (1) MK 10% (2) CSF 5% (1)

Outdoor Sheltered 24 25 24 25
Outdoor Unsheltered 11 12 12 12
Increased replacement levels showed slight increase in carbonation depth.
Increased replacement levels showed slight increase in carbonation depth. Notable reduction in
carbonation depth with increasing exposure to moisture. Outdoor unsheltered conditions showed
little difference between PC, MK 10% and 15%.

Other test results from a study examining the role of cement content on concrete
performance are shown in Figure 3 [14]. These indicate that there was a gradual
increase in carbonation depth with time during the 20 weeks accelerated test conditions.
However, variation in cement contents at fixed w/c ratio had little influence on
carbonation and, in fact, slightly improved performance was noted as cement content
was reduced. These suggest less cement could be used in concrete for equivalent
performance. In these cases, limestone filler and plasticizing admixture were used to
maintain the fines content and workability. Studies using particle packing mix
proportioning techniques have shown that such methods can be used to bring minor
improvements to carbonation resistance [15]. Work examining some of the recycled
materials referred to above has shown that providing these concretes are proportioned
for equivalent strength to conventional concretes, similar performance can be
achieved [12].

4.0% CO2 exposure, 20°C, 55% RH Cement content,
1 week = approx. 1 year natural exposure kg/m³
25 270

0.65 w/c ratio 300

20 205



Cement and water reduction


0 4 8 12 16 20 24

Figure 3 Role of cement content on carbonation resistance of concrete

4.2 Chloride Ingress

Soluble chlorides present in de-icing salt or occurring in seawater can enter concrete and
may lead to reinforcement corrosion. In concrete subject to periodic wetting and drying,
chlorides ingress under both absorption (capillary suction) when the concrete is dry and
by diffusion once the pores become filled. A threshold level of chlorides must be present
at the site of the reinforcement to initiate corrosion. The propagation of corrosion
thereafter depends on the continued availability and passage of chlorides and oxygen to
the corroding site.

An example of results obtained from accelerated chloride diffusion tests, covering a

range of cement combinations, with PC/PFA and PC/GGBS as the principle materials,
at equivalent design strengths, are given in Figure 4 [16]. As indicated, the
combinations of three materials gave substantial improvements at all design strengths
compared to the control (PC) and binary cement concretes. It is not really possible to
single out a mix as having overall superior performance, although no chlorides were
detected during the test for high design strength concrete containing ternary cements.

This particle packing method has been used effectively in a study considering the
development of chloride resistant concrete where a physically dense and chemically
resistant (through use of PFA and GGBS) concrete cover was developed to slow down
the advance of chlorides [17]. Similarly, work examining the effect of varying cement
contents at a given w/c ratio has indicated that this has little influence on chloride
resistance [18]. Results from chloride diffusion tests on conditioned (moistened) PFA
concrete are shown in Figure 5 and indicate that, for a range of fine and coarse material,
moistened and stored gave similar performance to dry PFA concrete and improvements
compared to PC concrete [19].

Cement type
7 PC control
PC/PFA control

PD INDEX, cm²/s x 10


3 2.5



1 0.7
< 0.1

< 0.1
< 0.1
< 0.1
20 N/mm² 40 N/mm² 60 N/mm²

Figure 4 Effect of multi blend cement types on chloride diffusivity

5M NaCl exposure

6 PFA Fineness

5 high
x10 -13 m²/s

4 low

35 N/mm²
3 medium

1 high 50 N/mm²

0 low
Dry 1 6

Figure 5 Effect of PFA conditioning period and fineness

on coefficient of chloride diffusion
Tests examining recycled concrete aggregate indicate that, as with carbonation,
providing the concretes were proportioned to achieve a required strength, they have
little impact on chloride resistance [12, 20].

4.3 Sulfate Attack

Most sulfate solutions (e.g. sodium, magnesium) in soils, groundwater and seawater react
with calcium hydroxide, Ca(OH)2, and calcium aluminate in concrete to form calcium
sulfate and calcium sulfoaluminate compounds. The volume of compounds formed is
greater than that of cement paste, leading to its breakdown, while, in some cases,
decomposition can occur. The intensity and rate of sulfate attack depends on a number of
factors such as type of sulfate, its concentration and the continuity of supply to concrete.

Tests with various cement components (PFA, GGBS) indicate that through the effects
of dilution of the reactive components of cement (aluminate phases) and the densifying
effects associated with these materials, reductions in expansion and damage due to
sulfate attack may be achieved. This has also been found in work examining the role of
cement content at fixed w/c ratio, where reducing expansions were noted with reducing
cement content, see Figure 6 [15].

5.0% Na2SO4 Cement content,
9000 kg/m³
0.55 w/c ratio 355

Cement and water reduction


4000 280



0 20 40 60 80 100 120

Figure 6 Role of cement content on expansion due to sulfates

The benefits associated with PFA, have also been found with conditioned PFA, which
indicates that, despite moisture and storage, performance benefits are maintained,
compared to PC concrete (Figure 7) [19].
PFA Fineness 6 g/l MgSO4 Exposure
High 35 N/mm² Cube Strength


400 Medium




Dry 1 6

Figure 7 Effect of conditioning period and fineness on sulfate resistance

4.4 Freeze/thaw Attack

Damage to concrete, may occur if it is exposed to conditions of frost during service. If

concrete has a moisture content near saturation and is subjected to cycles of freezing and
thawing, then the effects of ice growth in the capillaries and associated development of
hydraulic and osmotic pressures, may result in the build up of expansive forces within the
concrete pore system and lead to its disruption and breakdown.

In the main, freeze/thaw resistance of concrete is controlled by the use of air-entraining

admixtures, which introduce discreet air bubbles (air contents of typically 5%), which
relieve the pressures occurring when concrete undergoes freezing. This includes tests
covering a range of cement types. Data from tests using concretes without air-
entrainment, suggests that concretes of similar strength, but denser microstructures, may
give slightly poorer resistance to freeze/thaw damage [15], for example by reducing the
cement content at a fixed w/c ratio (but including filler) [14] and concretes which have
been physically optimised by particle packing [15].

With the introduction of air-entrainment, the effect of using different materials in concrete
tends to become secondary, in relation to freeze/thaw resistance, although, specific
materials may influence the admixture dosage that is needed to achieve a particular air
content in concrete.

The results from a recent study using crumb rubber recovered from used car tyres are
shown in Figure 8 and indicate that the introduction of small quantities of this material
lead to scaling resistance of concrete approaching that achieved with air-entrainment. The
beneficial effects of this material are most notable at around 6% by volume crumb rubber
and with the use of smaller size fractions [21]. The use of crumb rubber can also be
useful in situations where it is difficult to use air entraining admixtures such as concrete
transported over long distances, erratic air entrainment using materials with high loss-on-
ignition or low workability mixes which are often difficult to air entrain.

Crumb rubber (CR) added at 6% by volume


Concrete type
1mm CR
8mm CR
20mm CR


0 10 20 30 40 50 60

Figure 8 Effect of crumb rubber addition on freeze/thaw resistance of concrete

4.5 Abrasion

Abrasive damage to concrete is normally caused by the action of objects or materials in

contact with concrete surfaces, eg grinding action of traffic on industrial floors. Factors
including finishing of concrete and curing, both of which have a significant influence on
the quality of the concrete near surface, are important factors influencing abrasion
resistance. Once signs have occurred, the type of aggregate and the aggregate/paste bond
are factors influencing subsequent damage [22].

Work examining the effect of different cement types indicates that for a particular
aggregate, there is little difference in performance providing the concretes have equal
strength [23]. Results from tests examining abrasion resistance of concrete with varying
cement contents at fixed w/c ratio are shown in Figure 9 [18]. These indicate that with
reducing cement content minor enhancements in abrasion resistance were noted. This
appears to reflect the increased aggregate contents associated with cement reductions.

In studies examining the replacement of aggregate with recycled concrete aggregate, data
suggests that levels up to 30% RCA gave very similar performance to that of conventional
concrete, see Figure 10. Only minor increases in abrasion were noted when 50% RCA
was used as aggregate [24].




390 kg/m³ cement,

350 kg/m³ cement,
270 kg/m³ cement,

310 kg/m³ cement,

195 l/m³ water

175 l/m³ water
135 l/m³ water

155 l/m³ water



M3f M2f M1 M6

Figure 9 Effect of cement content on abrasion resistance

2.0 2.0

air cured water cured
1.5 1.5

1.0 1.0

0.5 0.5

0.0 0.0
0 10 20 30 40 50 0 10 20 30 40 50

Figure 10 Role of coarse and fine aggregate content on abrasion resistance of concrete


The various approaches described are clearly at different stages in their development in
relation to take up by industry. This is reflected in Table 6, which summarises selected
practical applications of cement combinations and recycled materials used in concrete
construction or full-scale trials over the past 15 years.
Table 6 Selected practical applications of materials and mix proportioning.


PFA Sizewell B Power Various 100,000t PFA and 1,300t
Station, UK, 1993 sintered PFA lightweight
aggregate were used
Canary Wharf, London, Various 10-30% PFA concrete used
UK, 1990 for durability purposes
Burnaby, British Residential 50% PFA concrete used in
Columbia, Canada, buildings 24,500 ft2, 22-unit
1998 sustainable housing
GGBS Channel Tunnel Rail Bridge piers 50% GGBS concrete used
Link, Kings Cross, to minimize thermal
London, UK, 2003 cracking and improve
Heathrow Airport, Airside road 50% GGBS concrete used
London, UK, 2003 tunnel walls to minimize thermal
cracking and improve
Honley, UK, 1991 Reinforced 70% GGBS (CEM III) mix
concrete sewage used to combat sulfate
treatment tank attack.
Silica Fume Oresund Link, Oresund Bridge 5% used for extreme
Denmark, 2001 marine conditions
311 Wacker Drive, Various 5-10% CSF used to provide
Chicago, USA, 1990 high strength concrete
Multi Blends Stoerbelt Crossing, West Bridge, East PC/PFA30%/CSF5%
Denmark, 1998 Tunnel and East blends used to offset
Bridge extreme marine conditions.
Tsing Ma Bridge, Hong Bridge piers, PC/GGBS/CSF mixes used
Kong, 1996 towers and deck in 400,000m³ of concrete
Tappan Zee Bridge Bridge deck PC/PFA20%/CSF6% was
Hudson River, USA, used to inhibit ingress of
1992 deicing salts
RCA Dundee, UK, 2001 Concrete road 100% replacement of
pavement coarse aggregate
Conditioned Dundee, UK, 2003 Precast seating for Conditioned ash used as
Fly ash sports stadium 15% replacement for sand
Dundee, UK, 2003 Concrete beams 30% replacement for PC

Cement combinations using PFA, GGBS and silica fume have been increasingly
popular as advances in concrete technology increase engineers understanding of their
benefits in enhancing strength and durability. Minimum cement contents remain in
standards and will remain in use unless changes in specification documents are
introduced. Particle packing techniques are now being used successfully in ready mix
concrete production.
The use of recycled materials such as recycled concrete aggregate and conditioned
(moistened) PFA have been considered in full-scale trials and in some construction
applications. It is likely that there increased use in construction will be gradual, as
research findings are disseminated. This process may take longer for some of the other
materials referred to and is also likely to depend on factors including availability.


An alternative approach to prescription based mix proportions for durable concrete is
performance-based specification, where concrete is tested for durability to ensure
achievement of a required performance. This considers concrete with respect to relevant
exposure conditions, a required design life and criteria that defines the end of that life and
employs a test method which directly assesses concrete resistance to a standardised
deterioration process. It differs from the conventional approach in that no reference to
material contents (eg cement content, w/c ratio and strength) are made, only a specified
performance to an agreed test method.

Prior to implementation of this approach, a number of factors must be established

including the relationship between the test and real performance, sampling and test
procedures and test precision. A number of other questions need to be answered [25],
however, this is likely to more readily enable the application of some of the materials
described earlier in this paper.

A recently completed project at the University of Dundee has investigated a performance-

based approach to specifying carbonation resistance [13]. The work developed a
standard natural carbonation CEN test to benchmark the performance of a representative
sample of cement types and combinations permitted in BS EN 197-1. Concretes
containing these cement types were examined and their performance in terms of
carbonation resistance compared to that of a concrete of known performance.

The study highlighted the need for precision testing when considering performance
based approaches. A round-robin test programme throughout Europe using a simple
carbonation test had shown variability of over 30% for similar concretes and exposure
conditions and this was mainly attributed to a combination of variability in concrete
production and test method execution. The study reduced this variability to 6% by
introducing a 3-mix normalisation procedure and modifying the test method to have
active control on CO2 concentration, temperature and relative humidity [13].

Figure 11 from the study shows an example of the advantages in using a performance
based approach. A series of concretes were designed on an equal strength basis for
Exposure Class XC3/4 in BS 8500 [26]. Based on the prescriptive approach, two mixes
(MK and CSF) would fail the mix limitation criteria in terms of maximum water/cement
ratio and minimum cement content. However, when these mixes were tested for
performance, all mixes performed satisfactorily with regards to meeting the maximum
permitted depth of carbonation at 35 years. Further work is now underway to
investigate the carbonation exposure classes given in BS EN 206-1 and to develop a
rapid assessment method to determine potential carbonation performance of hardened
concrete using electrical resistivity techniques.
This approach will remove the constituent material element and focus on performance,
provide greater flexibility in material selection and promote sustainability.
Exposure Class XC3/4 in BS 8500
Minimum intended working life = 50 years
Minimum cover requirements = 30mm
All mixes designed for equal strength and meet minimum strength requirements

Prescriptive Approach Performance Approach

Maximum w/c ratio = 0.60
0.65 Concretes performance tested for 3 years
Water/cement ratio

0.60 Assuming: ti = 35 years

0.55 tc = 15 years

0.50 Thus, performance limitation of

0.45 maximum 30 mm carbonation at 35 years

0.40 40
Minimum cement content = 280kg/m³ 35 year carbonation based on
375 35 probabilistic analysis of

Carbonation Depth, mm
% % % 0%
Cement Content, kg/m³

0 0 5 performance testing
350 A3 S5 K1 F1 30
325 G 25
300 20
275 15
250 10
225 5
200 0

PC % % 5% % PC % % 5% 0%
30 50 K1 10 A 30 50 K1 F1

MK 15% and CSF 10% mixes fail criteria All mixes pass minimum performance
for maximum w/c ratio and criteria of 30mm carbonation
minimum cement content at 35 years

Figure 11 Comparison of prescriptive and performance-based approaches to concrete

exposed to Exposure Class XC3/4 in BS 8500-1.

The paper has demonstrated that concrete for future construction needs to be durable,
achieved following sustainable practices. It is suggested that the control of durability
should be through the concrete microstructure and associated chemistry. Different
options that may be followed, which fit within this are considered, including, cement
selection, material proportioning and the use of recycled / waste materials.

For specific aspects of concrete durability performance, including carbonation rate,

chloride ingress, sulfate attack, freeze/thaw attack and abrasion resistance, it is
demonstrated, through the work of a series of investigations, that these various
sustainable options can be used effectively to match and in some cases give
improvements in concrete performance compared to conventional concrete.

It is illustrated that, although time is required before they are fully exploited, these
various options are beginning to find use at full-scale trial and industrial level. It is
suggested that the best means of using these various materials is through the
performance based specification route, for which developments are currently in
progress. This requires that concrete achieves a defined level of performance and
provides greater flexibility in material selection.
Overall, the paper suggests that two of the most important issues in concrete
construction can be considered collectively such that the aims of both can be satisfied,
bringing a number of benefits to concrete construction.

The data reported in this study is based on information provided from several research
projects. The Authors would like to acknowledge the contribution made to these by
CTU staff in collaboration with industrial partners, the UK Government, the British
Cement Association, Quarry Products Association, Scottish Environment Protection
Agency and British Standards Institution.

1. The Concrete Society. Developments in durability design and performance-based
specification of concrete. Concrete Society Special Publication. CS 109, 1996,
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