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Materials and Structures (2016) 49:597–609

DOI 10.1617/s11527-015-0522-9


Influence of aggregate characteristics on workability

of superworkable concrete
Baudouin M. Aı̈ssoun • Soo-Duck Hwang •

Kamal H. Khayat

Received: 7 April 2014 / Accepted: 3 January 2015 / Published online: 11 January 2015
Ó RILEM 2015

Abstract Physical characteristics of aggregates aggregate can have significant effect on rheology,
have a significant influence on the performance of stability, and compressive strength of SWC. For the
concrete. Compared to conventional concrete, the mix crush aggregate with 5–14 mm particle sizes (CA14),
design of highly flowable concrete is more complex a 13 % increase in aggregate packing density from
and should ensure that the mixture can develop 0.69 to 0.79 by the use of optimum sand-to-aggregate
adequate static and dynamic stability. The selection ratio and natural sand can lead to more than 50 %
of aggregate plays a major role for the mix design and reduction in surface settlement, i.e. 50 % increase in
mixture optimization of flowable concrete. The study static stability. For the CA14 coarse aggregate, a good
seeks to understand the influence of physical charac- relationship was established between surface settle-
teristics of coarse and fine aggregates, including ment and quantity of fine particles with diameter
packing density, texture or roughness, fine particle smaller than 315 lm. Mixtures with rounded coarse
content, shape, and quantity of flat and elongated aggregates had 22–42 % higher surface settlement
particles on the workability, rheological properties, compared to those made with crushed aggregates of
and mechanical properties of superworkable concrete the same maximum size aggregate.
(SWC). Three types of sands with different fineness
moduli of 2.5, 2.6, and 3.0 and different textures Keywords Aggregate  Packing density  Rheology 
(smooth and rough) were used. Seven types of coarse Stability  Surface settlement  Superworkable
aggregates with different texture characteristics, flat concrete
and elongated particle contents, and different shapes
were investigated. Sand-to-total aggregate volume
ratio was varied between 0.45 and 0.60. Test results 1 Introduction
indicated that the packing density, the quantity of
fines passing 315 lm sieve, and the shape of coarse The volume of aggregate often represents more than
60 % of concrete volume, including highly flowable
concrete. The physical characteristics of the coarse
B. M. Aı̈ssoun  K. H. Khayat
Civil Engineering, Université de Sherbrooke, aggregate significantly affect fresh and hardened
Sherbrooke J1K 2R1, Canada properties of the concrete. Several studies investigated
the influence of aggregate characteristics on the
S.-D. Hwang  K. H. Khayat (&) superplasticizer (SP) demand, workability, and rheol-
Missouri University of Science and Technology, Rolla,
MO 65409, USA ogy of conventional vibrated concrete (CVC) and
e-mail: khayatk@mst.edu flowable concrete. The optimization of the aggregate
598 Materials and Structures (2016) 49:597–609

skeleton for CVC is reported by several researches [1– was shown to increase with the increase in IAPST
3, 4]. These studies showed that the packing density of [12]. As in the case of CVC, Koehler and Fowler [8]
the aggregate is an important parameter to optimize reported that plastic viscosity of SCC can be reduced
the mixture composition for CVC. by the use of rounded coarse aggregate.
Yurugi et al. [5] reported the volume of coarse The packing density of aggregate is a function of
aggregate in concrete to be the most important factor several characteristics of the aggregate, including
to control workability and filling capacity of highly particle-size distribution, shape, and sand-to-total
flowable concrete; both properties decrease with the aggregate volume ratio (S/A). Limited information is
increase in coarse aggregate volume. Okamura and available regarding the relationship between packing
Ozawa [6] found that the volume of coarse aggregate density and static stability. Khayat et al. [7] reported
in self-consolidating concrete (SCC) should be limited that the increase in packing density of the aggregate
to increase the resistance to segregation. Khayat et al. skeleton can lead to greater static stability of SCC
[7] investigated the optimal content of coarse aggre- determined with the surface settlement test.
gate and sand needed to improve fluidity of flowable Direct and indirect relations may exist between
concrete made with viscosity-modifying admixture characteristics of aggregate, including packing den-
(VMA). The optimized mixtures included concrete sity, and rheology properties in our study. Some of the
with sand-to-paste volume ratio of 0.6 and 300 L/m3 studies [9, 3, 8] considered fine particles as those with
of crushed coarse aggregate made of 70 % of coarse apparent diameters less than 80 lm, which include the
aggregate with 14-mm maximum-size aggregate cementitious materials and fines in the aggregate.
(MSA) and 30 % aggregate with 20-mm MSA by These studies do not typically take into account the
volume. Khayat et al. [7] found that increase in effect of coarser fines ranging between 80 and 315 lm
packing density of coarse aggregate can reduce plastic that could have a considerable effect on concrete
viscosity and SP demand in SCC, especially in workability.
mixtures with relatively low water-to-cementitious Properly designed superworkable concrete (SWC)
materials (w/cm). Koehler and Fowler [8] also can have a lower admixture demand, greater robustness,
reported that the plastic viscosity of SCC can decrease and higher stability than typical SCC. In general, SWC
with the increase in packing density of the aggregate. has slump flow consistency of 450–600 mm. Such
The fineness modulus (FM) of aggregates was concrete can be used for infrastructure and building
shown to have a significant effect on the rheology of construction. This study investigates the effect of the
concrete. Aı̈tcin [9] recommended using coarse sand physical characteristics of fine and coarse aggregates on
with a FM of 2.7–3.0 to reduce water demand for high- the rheological properties, static stability, and compres-
performance concrete (HPC). Bager et al. [10] reported sive strength of SWC. The aggregate characteristics that
that the increase in fineness modulus of sand decreases are investigated include packing density, fineness
plastic viscosity of self-consolidating mortar. modulus, texture, shape, content of fines, and content
The workability of concrete can vary with the of flat/elongated particles. This study aims to under-
shape, texture, and quantity of flat and elongated stand the interactions between these physical charac-
particles of coarse aggregates. The coefficient of teristics of the aggregates and key properties of fresh
flatness and modulus of elongation are often defined to and hardened SWC. Knowledge gained in this research
characterize the shape of coarse aggregate [11]. can be used to develop guidelines for aggregate
ASTM D 3398 proposes an index to characterize the selection for SWC mixtures that can help ensure high
shape and texture of fine and coarse aggregates performance of this novel construction material.
designated for asphalt mixtures. Jamkar and Rao
[12] successfully used the Index of Aggregate Particle
Shape and Texture (IAPST) to characterize the shape 2 Experimental program
and texture of aggregate for concrete. In general,
IAPST values of crushed aggregates are higher than 2.1 Scope of work
those of round aggregates. The IAPST values ranged
between 7 and 10 for gravel and 13 and 17 for crushed Mixture compositions and test parameters investigated
granite. For a given slump consistency, water demand in the program are presented in Table 1. In total, 18
Table 1 Mixture compositions and parameters of experimental program
Objective Effect of packing density and fineness modulus (FM) of sand Effect of surface texture Effect of flat and
of coarse aggregate elongated particles
Mixture no. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
Specific parameter Type and FM Type and FM Type and FM Type and FM Surface texture of coarse Shape of coarse
of sand of sand of sand of sand aggregate aggregate
Parameter S/A and packing density Type of coarse aggregate
Materials and Structures (2016) 49:597–609

Cement (kg/m3) 300

Class F fly ash (kg/m3) 100
Water (kg/m3) 164
w/cm 0.41
Codification of sand NS CS CS NS CS CS NS CS CS NS CS CS NS2.6
2.6 2.5 3.0 2.6 2.5 3.0 2.6 2.5 3.0 2.6 2.5 3.0
Sand (kg/m3) 803 787 778 892 875 865 981 962 951 1,070 1,050 1,037
Codification of coarse agg. CA14 CA RA CA RA CA CA
14 14 20 20 14-F22 14-F31
MSA (mm) 14 14 12 20 20 14 14
Specific gravity in SSD 2.71 2.63 2.73 2.63 2.76 2.77
Absorption (%) 0.47 0.63 0.34 0.53 0.48 0.48
Coarse agg. (kg/m3) 1,011 919 827 735 919 892 926 892 919
S/A 0.45 0.50 0.55 0.60
Codification of sand type of sand (natural sand or combined sand) FM of sand, NS natural sand, CS combined sand, Codification of coarse aggregate type of coarse aggregate-
MSA-% of flat and elongated particle in coarse aggregate (if applicable), CA crushed aggregate, RA rounded aggregate, SSD saturated-surface dry
600 Materials and Structures (2016) 49:597–609

SWC mixtures were prepared to evaluate the effect of relatively smooth surface texture. The CS2.5 and
aggregate characteristics on workability, rheological CS3.0 sands were made with combinations of coarse
properties, and compressive strength. As presented in manufactured sand with FM of 3.4 and natural fine
Table 1, the first part of the study aimed at investi- sand with FM of 1.8. CSA A23.1 stipulates that the FM
gating the effect of packing density and fineness of the sand used in concrete mixture shall be between
modulus of the sand on rheology and compressive 2.3 and 3.1. Therefore, the CS2.5 sand was mixed with
strength of the concrete. Mixtures No. 1–12 were 65 % of the natural fine sand with a FM of 1.8 and
prepared with different S/A values of 0.45, 0.50, 0.55, 35 % of the manufactured sand with a FM of 3.4, by
and 0.60, by volume, to vary the packing density of the mass of total sand, to secure a FM value similar to that
concrete. In addition, for each S/A, three SWC of the NS2.6. For similar sand FM values, the NS2.6
mixtures were prepared with sands of different and CS2.5 were used to study the influence of surface
textures [natural sand (NS) vs. combined sand (CS)] texture on workability, rheology, and compressive
and FM of 2.5, 2.6, and 3.0. The spreads in S/A and strength. On the other hand, the CS3.0 sand was
sand type were employed to evaluate the influence of combined with 40 % fine sand and 60 % manufac-
packing density and quantity of fine particles in the tured sand in order to compare the performance of
aggregate on the performance of SWC. The aggregates SWC made with different sand FM values (CS2.5 vs.
used in mixtures No. 1–12 have different particle-size CS3.0).
distributions and packing density values. As presented in Fig. 1, the NS2.6 natural sand has a
For a given S/A value of 0.5 and sand type (NS2.6), more continuous particle-size distribution compared
four coarse aggregate types were used to investigate to the CS2.5 and CS3.0 sands. The particle-size
the influence of surface texture of the aggregate on distributions of the two combined sands are discon-
concrete performance in the second part of this tinuous due to the lack of particles between 0.63 and
investigation. Mixtures No. 13–16 were prepared with 1.25 mm. This is because the fine natural sand is
MSA values of 14 and 20 mm. For a given MSA, mostly composed of particles smaller than 0.63 mm,
crushed aggregate (CA) or rounded aggregate (RA) whereas the majority of particles in the manufactured
were used, as presented in Table 1. The third part of sand are larger than 1.25 mm. It should be noted that
the work seeked to evaluate the effect of the content of all of sands used in this investigation satisfy the
flat and elongated particles in coarse aggregate on the particle-size distribution requirements of CSA A23.2-
performance of SWC. Both mixtures No. 17 and 18 2A, as presented in Fig. 1.
were prepared with S/A of 0.5 and crushed aggregate In total, six types of coarse aggregates were
of 14 mm MSA. The contents of flat and elongated investigated. The aggregates vary with MSA, surface
particles in the coarse aggregate were 22 and 31 % for texture, shape, and quantity of flat and elongated
mixture No. 17 and 18, respectively. particles. For a given MSA, different surface textures
and shapes of aggregates were investigated using
2.2 Materials crushed aggregate (CA) and rounded aggregate (RA).
The crushed and rounded aggregates have different
The CSA Type GU cement, which is similar to ASTM MSA values of 14 and 20 mm, as presented in
Type I cement, Class F fly ash of 100 kg/m3 was Table 1. The CA14 and CA20 aggregates refer to
employed in all mixtures. Polycarboxylate-based SP crushed aggregate with MSA of 14 and 20 mm,
(PC) and welan gum-based VMA were used. The PC respectively. For a given shape and MSA, the quantity
and VMA admixtures have specific gravities of 1.2 of flat and elongated particles of the CA14-F22 and
and 1.21 and solid contents of 41 and 42.5 %, CA14-F31 aggregates was 22 and 31 %, by mass,
respectively. respectively. The CA14-F22 and CA14-F31 aggre-
Three sands of different textures (NS vs. CS) and gates were produced in the laboratory by mixing
different FM were used: NS2.6, CS2.5, and CS3.0 5–10 mm aggregate and 10–14 mm size aggregate in
with FM of 2.6, 2.5, and 3.0, specific gravities of 2.69, different proportions. The 5–10 mm size aggregate
2.64, and 2.61, and absorption values of 1.29, 1.44, has a content of flat and elongated particles of 53.5 %,
and 1.66 %, respectively. The NS2.6 sand is natural while the 10–14 mm size aggregate has 8.5 % flat and
siliceous sand that has round shape particles and a elongated particles. The CA14-F22 was made by the
Materials and Structures (2016) 49:597–609 601

100 100
Passing percent (%)


Passing percent (%)

70 RA14
NS2.6 RA20
CS2.5 CA14
40 50 CA20
CSA lower limit
20 30
CSA upper limit
0.08 0.8 8 10
Sieve opening (mm) 0
(a) Percent passing 0.08 0.8 8
Sieve opening (mm)
45 (a) Crushed vs. rounded aggregates

Retained percent (%)

35 100
CS2.5 30 90
CS3.0 25 80

Passing percent (%)

20 70
15 60
10 50
0.08 0.16 0.32 0.63 1.25 2.50 5.00 10.00 14.00 20.00 28.00
Sieve opening (mm)
(b) Percent retained 10
0.08 0.8 8
Fig. 1 Particle-size distributions of various sand types
Sieve opening (mm)
(b) Different contents of flat and elongated
particles (MSA of 14 mm)
combination of 30 % of the 5–10 mm aggregate and
70 % of the 10–14 mm aggregate. The content of Fig. 2 Particle-size distribution of various coarse aggregates
these two aggregates were 50 % each for the CA14-
F31 combination. On the other hand, the CA14 is
software requires the determination of the packing
obtained from a quarry without any modification in the
density of each material (sand and coarse aggregate)
laboratory. Particle-size distributions of the investi-
using the ICT. The packing density values corre-
gated aggregates are presented in Fig. 2.
sponding to different S/A values of 0.45–0.60 are
presented in Table 2 for the three sands types.
2.3 Test methods The content of flat and elongated particles in the
coarse aggregate was determined in accordance with
The packing density of the sand and coarse aggregate CSA A23.1-13A. Accordingly, a particle is considered
was determined using the intensive compaction tester to be flat when its smallest dimension is less than 3/5 of
(ICT). In general, the ICT is employed for the research the average size. On the other hand, a particle is
and testing of compaction of granular materials such considered to be elongated when its largest dimension
as soil and concrete [13]. The normal pressure applied (length) is greater than 9/5 of the average size. An
to compact the aggregate was set at 20 kPa, which was aggregate particle is considered to be elongated when
kept at a low values in order to prevent any crushing of it has a length which exceeds the gauge length
the aggregate during testing. Then, variations in corresponding to its MSA. On the other hand, a
packing density values with respect to S/A were particle is considered to be flat when it passes the
determined using the ‘‘Optimization René LCPC’’ gauge opening corresponding to its MSA. From the
software. The software enables the calculation of the aggregate sample representing each aggregate, the test
packing density of binary aggregate combinations, sample is taken for the purpose of CSA A23.1-13A
such as sand and coarse aggregate. As input data, the testing. The number of aggregate particles to be tested
602 Materials and Structures (2016) 49:597–609

D \ 315 lm
depends on the mass percentage of the test sample to
the initial representing sample. A minimum of 200

particles shall be taken if the test sample is more than
15 % of the initial sample mass. On the other hand, a
minimum of 100 aggregate particles is needed in case
D \ 80 lm the mass of test sample is from 5 to 15 % of the initial
one. The percentage of flat and elongated particle is
considered as the ratio of the mass of particles
classified as either flat or elongated expressed in terms
of the mass of the test sample.
Calculated packing

The slump flow test (ASTM C 1611) was used to

evaluate the ability of SCC to deform under its own
weight. The time (T-50) needed for the concrete to
spread 500 mm in the slump flow test was noted. The

Table 2 Packing density and content of fines for various S/A values for the CA14 coarse aggregate and different sand types

J-Ring test (ASTM C 1621) was used to assess the

passing ability of concrete through closely spaced
D \ 315 lm

obstacles. Rheological properties were determined

using a modified Tattersall two-point workability

rheometer [14]. Yield stress and plastic viscosity were

determined at 10 min using the descending portion of
D \ 80 lm

the shear stress–shear rate curve.

The surface settlement test was used to assess static

stability. A rigid PVC column measuring 200 mm in

Packing density values of CA20, RA14, and RA20 are 0.553, 0.630, and 0.625, respectively

diameter and 700 mm in height was used [15]. The

settlement was monitored using a linear variable
differential transducer (LVDT). Settlement values are
Calculated packing

monitored at 5-min intervals until the hardening of the

concrete. The settlement values are good indication of
static stability of the SCC [16, 17].

Several 100 9 200 mm cylinders were cast in a



single layer with 5 strokes of consolidation using

10-mm diameter tempering rod. Compressive strength
D \ 315 lm

(ASTM C 39) was determined at 7, 28, and 56 days on

CA14 coarse aggregate (packing density = 0.564)a

the cylinders that were demolded at 24 h and moist-


cured at 100 % relative humidity at 23 ± 1 °C until

the age of testing.
D \ 80 lm


3 Test results and discusssion

3.1 Influence of packing density on static stability

Calculated packing

Slump flow, air content, rheological properties, sur-

face settlement, and compressive strength values of
the investigated mixtures are presented in Table 3.


The tested concretes were not air-entrained and had air

contents of 1.5–4 %. All mixtures had surface settle-
ment values lower than the 0.5 %, which is the upper


limit considered for stable SCC mixtures [18, 15]. It is

Table 3 Workability, rheological properties, and compressive strength values of investigated mixtures
Mix. no. Codification = S/A-sand Calculated SP (%, dry % Slump Air J-ring T50 Yield Plastic Surface 56-days
type-coarse agg. type-% of packing of cement ? flow content (mm) (s) stress viscosity settlement compressive
flat and elongated particles density fly ash) (mm) (%) (Pa) (Pa.s) (%) strength

1 0.45-NS2.6-CA14 0.776 0.25 550 2.5 465 3.5 92 31 0.23 65

Materials and Structures (2016) 49:597–609

2 0.45-CS2.5-CA14 0.714 0.28 550 4.1 480 2.8 89 27 0.38 53

3 0.45-CS3.0-CA14 0.692 0.28 550 2.4 515 2.2 90 15 0.47 40
4 0.50-NS2.6-CA14 0.782 0.25 540 2.4 485 2.4 79 25 0.23 64
5 0.50-CS2.5-CA14 0.719 0.29 550 3.5 500 3.4 96 24 0.33 57
6 0.50-CS3.0-CA14 0.697 0.27 550 2.3 470 5.1 103 21 0.44 49
7 0.55-NS2.6-CA14 0.785 0.23 570 2.4 525 2.8 54 35 0.23 62
8 0.55-CS2.5-CA14 0.721 0.29 550 2.6 540 2.3 73 28 0.33 55
9 0.55-CS3.0-CA14 0.705 0.27 550 2.0 450 4.4 94 19 0.41 45
10 0.60-NS2.6-CA14 0.780 0.23 560 2.9 540 3.6 73 39 0.14 61
11 0.60-CS2.5-CA14 0.720 0.30 545 3.7 485 3.7 75 37 0.30 53
12 0.60-CS3.0-CA14 0.700 0.29 550 3.1 480 3.2 88 35 0.39 43
13 0.50-NS2.6-CA14 0.782 0.25 540 2.4 485 2.4 79 25 0.23 64
14 0.50-NS2.6-RA14 0.803 0.24 545 1.7 535 3.4 77 17 0.40 49
15 0.50-NS2.6-CA20 0.804 0.33 550 2.7 475 2.8 85 25 0.35 57
16 0.50-NS2.6-RA20 0.816 0.24 535 1.9 515 2.3 81 21 0.45 51
17 0.50-NS2.6-CA14-F*22 0.776 0.29 570 2.9 555 3.0 18 37 0.33 62
18 0.50-NS2.6-CA14-F31 0.776 0.34 570 2.7 510 2.4 45 49 0.31 64
* Quantity of flat and elongated particles in coarse aggregate. F22 refer to 22 % of flat and elongated particles in the coarse aggregate
604 Materials and Structures (2016) 49:597–609

worthy to note that the settlement values varied with 0.5

the type of sand in use. Mixtures made with natural


Surface settlement (%)

sand with a FM of 2.6 (NS2.6) had lower settlement
values compared to those prepared with combined 0.3 R² = 0.84
sands with FM of 2.5 and 3.0 (CS2.5 and CS3.0), as Concrete with NS2.6
0.2 Concrete with CS2.5
presented in Table 3. Mixtures made with natural sand
Concrete with CS3.0
(NS2.6) are more homogenous than those prepared 0.1 w/cm = 0.41
SP = 2 to 4L/m3
with combined sands of the CS2.5 and CS3.0 due to
more continuous particles-size distribution of the 0
0.65 0.70 0.75 0.80
NS2.6. The use of the NS2.6 sand led to an increase Packing density
in packing density, which is attributed to its contin-
Fig. 3 Relationship between packing density of combined sand
uous gradation and less angular shape compared to the
and coarse aggregate and surface settlement for SWC mixtures
two crushed sands. The increase in the packing density No. 1–13 made with crushed coarse aggregate with MSA of
by the use of the NS2.6 may increase the lattice effect, 14 mm
which can lead to lower settlement. For the coarse
aggregate of the CA14, a good correlation was 70

Compressive strenght at 56 days

established between the surface settlement of the R² = 0.81
concrete and the packing density of the aggregate. As
presented in Fig. 3, an increase in the packing density

of the aggregate skeleton (combined coarse and fine
aggregate) from 0.692 to 0.785 led to nearly 50 % 50

reduction in surface settlement, indicating significant 45 Concrete with NS2.6

Concrete with CS2.5
enhancement in static stability of the concrete. It is 40
Concrete with CS3.0
important to note that the relationship between the 35
0.65 0.70 0.75 0.80
settlement and packing density presented in Fig. 3 is Packing density of aggregate
valid for the CA14. The relationship trend line may vary
depending on the type of coarse aggregate. For a given Fig. 4 Influence of packing density on compressive strength of
packing density, the surface settlement is expected to concrete made with different types of sands and crushed coarse
aggregate with MSA of 14 mm (mixtures No. 1–13)
increase with the increase in MSA. For example,
mixtures No. 13 and 15 made with the CA14 and
CA20, respectively, had packing densities of 0.78 and vary with the type of sand. Mixtures made with natural
0.80 but exhibited surface settlement values of 0.23 and sand with a FM of 2.6 (NS2.6) had higher packing
0.35 %, respectively. In other words, the former mixture density and greater compressive strength compared to
with the lower MSA, despite its slightly lower packing those prepared with combined sands of CS2.5 and
density, still exhibited lower surface settlement. Similar CS3.0. SWC with higher packing density resulted
findings were reported in NCHRP Report 628 for mix from sand type also exhibited greater compressive
design of SCC for precast, prestressed elements where it strength. Mixtures made with the NS2.6 had lower SP
is shown that for a given viscosity level, SCC mixtures demand than those prepared with CS2.5 and CS3.0. As
with larger MSA (10, 14, or 20 mm) would exhibit presented in Table 3, for a given coarse aggregate,
greater risk of segregation [15]. mixtures containing the NS2.6 sand exhibited slightly
Variations of compressive strength at 56 days with higher plastic viscosity than those made with the
respect to packing density of the aggregate skeleton combined sands.
are presented in Fig. 4 for mixtures made with the As in the case of the surface settlement, it is
CA14 and three types of sands. These mixtures important to point out that the relationship between the
correspond to mixtures No. 1–13 in Table 1. Mixtures packing density and compressive strength varies with
No. 4 and 13 are duplicate points. For the CA14 coarse coarse aggregate type. This can be in part attributed to
aggregate, a good correlation is established between the quality of the interfacial transition zone (ITZ),
packing density and compressive strength, as pre- which varies with type of coarse aggregate (MSA and
sented in Fig. 4. Compressive strength was shown to shape in this case).
Materials and Structures (2016) 49:597–609 605

Compressive strength of concrete also depends on

the w/cm and ITZ between aggregate and paste. Given
the fact that w/cm was fixed, the spread in the
compressive strength can be attributed to different
textures of sand that affect the quality of ITZ. Mixtures
made with natural sand of NS2.6 had higher compres-
sive strength than those prepared with the combined
sands of CS2.5 and CS3.0. Similarly, concretes with
coarser sand of CS3.0 developed lower strength than
similar mixtures containing the CS2.5 sand.
For a given S/A value, SWC mixtures containing
natural sand of NS2.6 necessitated lower SP demand
to secure a target slump flow. Cement paste with lower
SP content can be more viscous. The improved quality Fig. 5 Influence of content of fines with diameter less than
of the paste by the use of natural sand resulted in 315 lm in the CA14 coarse aggregate and different types of
sands on plastic viscosity of SWC
denser ITZ that can enhance mechanical strength of
the concrete. In addition, the aggregate skeleton
formed with natural sand have greater packing density
than the skeleton made with combined sands due to
smooth texture and regular shape of the natural sand
particles, thus contributing the increase in the strength

3.2 Influence of content of fine particles

on performance of SWC

The content of fines contained in coarse aggregate of

14-mm MSA and the three sand types were deter-
mined for various S/A values in order to evaluate the
influence of fine particles on rheology and stability of Fig. 6 Influence of content of fines with diameter less than
concrete. The contents of fines passing 315 lm sieves 315 lm in the CA14 coarse aggregate and different types of
are presented in Table 2. The 12 sand-aggregate sands on surface settlement of SWC
combinations corresponding to mixtures No. 1–12
are presented in Tables 1 and 3. combinations increases the specific surface, and
Variations in plastic viscosity and surface settle- consequently leads to an increase in the resistance to
ment are presented in Figs. 5 and 6 with respect to the flow of the concrete, which corresponds to an increase
quantity of fines with an apparent diameter smaller in plastic viscosity. It is interesting to note that in
than 315 lm. The quantity of fines varied between 8 particular, a good linear correlation (R2 = 0.91) was
and 18 % in mixtures with S/A values ranging established between the quantity of fines with diam-
between 0.45 and 0.60. In general, an increase in the eter lower than 315 lm in sand and coarse aggregate
quantity of fines with a diameter smaller than 315 lm and the surface settlement of the concrete. Such fine
led to an increase in plastic viscosity of the concrete, particles contribute to an increase in cohesion of the
thus leading to a decrease in settlement. As presented paste and bond between the paste and aggregate
in Figs. 5 and 6, the increase in fine content from 8 to skeleton. Consequently, the risk of bleeding is
18 % led to a significant increase in plastic viscosity reduced, and the aggregates can remain in more
(15–40 Pa.s) and considerable decrease in surface uniform suspension, thus leading to an enhancement in
settlement (0.47–0.14 %). For a given w/cm, the static stability. The increase in fines content also
increase in fine particle content in the sand-aggregate resulted in an increase in the packing density, which
606 Materials and Structures (2016) 49:597–609

CA14 & NS2.6
2.5≤D≤10 30
RA14 & NS2.6

Retained percent (%)

CA20 & NS2.6 25
RA20 & NS2.6



0.08 0.16 0.315 0.63 1.25 2.5 5 10 14 20 28
Sieve opening (mm)

Fig. 8 Comparison of percent retained values on each sieve for

different types and sizes of coarse aggregate
Fig. 7 Influence of fines with diameter smaller than 315 lm on
yield stress of SWC made with the CA14 aggregate and different
types of sand CA14 (MSA = 14 mm) and rounded aggregate RA14
(MSA = 14 mm) have similar particle-size distribu-
tions but different surface textures and shapes. This is
contributes to the enhancement of static stability of the the same case for the CA20 and RA20 aggregates.
concrete. In the mix design of SCC and SWC, Rheological properties, static stability, and compres-
adequate quantity of the fine materials can be assured sive strength values of mixture No. 13–16 in Table 1
by using supplementary cementitious materials, fillers, are discussed in this section. Figure 8 presents the
and fine sand. percent retained values on each sieve for different
Variations of yield stress values are presented in aggregate types and MSA. For all coarse aggregate
Fig. 7 with respect to the quantity of fine particles with types, natural sand (NS2.6) with FM of 2.6 was used.
diameter smaller than 315 lm. In general, mixtures Plastic viscosity and surface settlement values of
made with combined sands (lower packing density) the four mixtures are compared in Fig. 9. The 0.50-
(CS2.5 and CS3.0) had higher yield stress values NS2.6-CA14 and 0.50-NS2.6-CA20 mixtures made
compared to those prepared with the natural NS2.6 with crushed aggregate had 48 and 16 % higher plastic
sand (higher packing density). The shape irregularity viscosity, respectively, compared to similar concrete
of the combined sands can increase inter-particle prepared with rounded aggregate with the same MSA.
friction, thus leading to an increase in yield stress of As presented in Fig. 8, crushed aggregates of CA14
the concrete. On the other hand, the uniformly rounded and CA20 had 2–6 % higher percent retained values
shape of the natural sand contributes to a decrease in on particle sizes between 2.5 and 10 mm than the
the inter-particle friction and yield stress. rounded RA14 and RA20 aggregates. The absence or
For a given volume of total aggregate (sand and excess of the intermediate particles in the aggregate
coarse aggregates), an increase in S/A corresponds to a have considerable effect on workability [21]. There-
decrease in coarse aggregate volume, which reduces fore, the relatively low plastic viscosity of concrete
the inter-particle friction and yield stress. This is due made with rounded aggregate is attributed to the
to the reduction of inter-particle friction with the coupled effect of the quantity of intermediate particles
decrease in particle diameter and coarse aggregate (2.5–10 mm) and shape of the aggregate.
volume [20]. SWC mixtures with rounded aggregate had
22–42 % higher surface settlement values compared
to those made with crushed aggregate of the same
3.3 Influence of type of coarse aggregate MSA, as shown in Fig. 9. The smooth surface of
on performance of SWC rounded aggregate reduces adherence between the
cement paste and coarse aggregate particles, thus
Two types of coarse aggregates were used for each hindering retention of the aggregate in the suspension.
MSA: rounded and crushed. The crushed aggregate De Larrard [3] also reported that rounded aggregate
Materials and Structures (2016) 49:597–609 607

0.50-NS2.6-CA14 Slump = 550±20 mm

SS = 0.23% Surface settlement = SS
Plastic vicosity (Pa.s)

SS = 0.35%
0.50-NS2.6-RA14 SS = 0.45 %
20 SS = 0.40%
14 mm 20 mm

Fig. 9 Comparison of plastic viscosity and surface settlement

of mixtures made with different shapes of coarse aggregate
Fig. 10 Percent retained values on each sieve for aggregates
with different contents of flat and elongated particles
has a good shape and good intrinsic resistance but
developed relatively weaker bond to the hydrated 3.4 Influence of content of flat and elongated
cement paste. On the other hand, crushed aggregate particles on performance of SWC
presents less satisfactory characteristics in terms of
shape and intrinsic resistance, but it contributes to For a given MSA of 14 mm, mixtures No. 17 and 18
greater bond with the hydrated cement matrix [3]. In were made with crushed coarse aggregate that
addition, rounded coarse aggregate has lower specific includes different contents of flat and elongated
surface area and necessitates lower volume of paste particles of 22 and 31 %, by mass, respectively.
required for a given fluidity than crushed coarse Except the content of flat and elongated particles,
aggregate. For a given paste volume, mixtures made these two mixtures were proportioned with the same
with rounded coarse aggregate can have higher mixture composition. Figure 10 presents the percent
fluidity and greater deformability. For a given packing retained values on each sieve for the combined sand
density, mixtures containing rounded coarse aggre- and coarse aggregate skeletons that include different
gate can have lower viscosity and higher surface contents of flat and elongated particles. For all the
settlement than those prepared with crushed coarse coarse aggregates, natural sand (NS2.6) with a FM of
aggregate. 2.6 was used.
As in the case of plastic viscosity, mixtures made Rheological properties and compressive strength at
with crushed aggregates exhibited 6 % higher yield 56 days for mixtures No. 17 and 18 are given in
stress compared to those prepared with rounded Table 3. As expected, an increase in the content of flat
aggregate, as presented in Table 3. An irregular shape and elongated particles led to an increase in plastic
and rough surface texture of the crushed aggregate viscosity. As presented in Table 3, the 0.50-NS2.6-
could be the main cause of several inter-particle forces CA14-F31 made with aggregate containing 31 % of
and correspondingly slight increase in yield stress and flat and elongated particles exhibited approximately
plastic viscosity of the concrete made with such 30 % higher plastic viscosity compared to the 0.50-
aggregate. NS2.6-CA14-F22 prepared with aggregate having
On average, mixtures made with crushed aggregate 22 % of such particles. It should be noted that the
had 10 % higher compressive strength at 56 days than CA14-F31 aggregate has less particles with 14 mm
those with rounded aggregate. As presented in diameter compared to the CA14-F22, as illustrated in
Table 1, mixtures No. 13–16 were made with the Fig. 10. In addition, the CA14-F31 aggregate has
same mixture compositions except for the type of higher percent passing on the 14 mm sieve size than
coarse aggregate. In general, mixtures made with the CA14-22 (100 vs. 85 %). This indicates finer
crushed aggregate have greater bond between the gradation of the CA14-F31 aggregate, despite of the
aggregate particles and hydrated cement paste than higher content of flat and elongated particles. There-
those prepared with rounded aggregate due to the fore, the higher plastic viscosity of the 0.50-NS2.6-
rougher texture of the former type. CA14-F31 mixture are attributed to higher content of
608 Materials and Structures (2016) 49:597–609

flat and elongated particles as well as greater inter- yield stress by the reduction of inter-particle friction.
particle friction due to finer particle gradation of the In this stage, different sand types should be considered
CA14-F31 aggregate. As presented in Table 3, the to compare the contents of such fines.
increase in flat and elongated particle content of The form of coarse aggregate has a significant
22–31 % also resulted in a significant increase in the effect on stability, rheology, and compressive strength
yield stress from 18 to 45 Pa. However, it should be of SWC. In general, for a given sand type and S/A
noted that the surface settlement and 56-day compres- value, crushed coarse aggregate results in greater static
sive strength values of mixtures No. 17 and 18 were stability (higher plastic viscosity) and compressive
similar, regardless of the content of the flat and strength than rounded aggregate. It is however,
elongated particles in the coarse aggregate. Both important to verify the content of intermediate parti-
mixtures were highly stable with surface settlement of cles of 2.5–10 mm diameter in the selected aggregate
approximately 0.32 %. This indicates that the increase because the lack of such particles could lead to a
in plastic viscosity does not contribute to an increase in decrease in stability of SWC.
surface settlement and is mainly attributed to the Even for a given type and MSA, a difference in the
increase particle collision of flat and elongated content of flat and elongated particles still exists.
particles. In addition, the increase in the flat and Therefore, special care should be taken to limit the
elongated particle content necessitated higher SP amount of flat and elongated particles in the coarse
demand. Therefore, the content of flat and elongated aggregate. An increase in the content of such particles
particles can result in an increase in yield stress and can lead to a significant increase in the inter-particle
plastic viscosity of the SWC without positive effect on friction and flow resistance (viscosity), thus resulting
static stability and compressive strength. The increase in a reduction in passing and filling capacity of the
in the flat and elongated particles also reduce the SWC. In addition, it should be noted that the increase
passing ability of the SWC; the differences between in plastic viscosity of the concrete due to the flat and
slump flow and J-Ring flow diameters were increased elongated particles does not contribute to the stability
from 15 to 60 mm due to the 9 % increase in the flat of SWC.
and elongated particle content (22 vs. 31 %). In
general, highly flowable concrete should have differ-
4 Conclusions
ence between slump flow and J-Ring flow equal or
lower than 50 mm to secure adequate passing ability.
This study aimed at evaluating the influence of sand
and coarse aggregate characteristics on key perfor-
3.5 Sand and coarse aggregate optimization
mance properties of SWC. The aggregate character-
for mix design of SWC
istics includes the packing density of the combined
aggregate, content of fines, surface texture, shape of
The influence of sand and coarse aggregate charac-
particles, and content of flat and elongated particles.
teristics on rheology and static stability of SWC was
Given the results reported in this study, the following
elaborated in Sects. 3.1–3.4. Recommendations for
conclusions appear to be warranted:
optimizing sand-aggregate combinations are dis-
cussed herein. As proven from the test results of this 1. For SWC mixtures with crushed coarse aggregate
study, the packing density appears to be the most with MSA of 14 mm, the increase in packing
predominant parameter to secure adequate static density resulted in increase in stability and
stability and mechanical properties of the SWC. compressive strength. The packing density can
Therefore, for a given sand and coarse aggregate type, be adjusted, in the order of importance, by varying
the first step is to adjust or select a S/A value that leads the S/A value, form of coarse aggregate, and sand
to the maximum packing density to achieve the type. For a given coarse aggregate, an increase in
targeted stability. Once the optimum packing density packing density results in an improvement in
was achieved, particle-size distributions of sand and static stability and compressive strength of the
aggregate should be verified to determine the content SWC.
of fine particles smaller than 315 lm which contrib- 2. For a given S/A value, the increase in the content
utes to an increase in static stability and a decrease in of fine particles smaller than 315 lm in the sand
Materials and Structures (2016) 49:597–609 609

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