New methods to quantify the cracking performance of cementitious systems made with internal curing
The use of high performance concretes that utilize low water-cement ratios have been promoted for use in infrastructure based on their potential to increase durability and service life because they are stronger and less porous. Unfortunately, these benefits are not always realized due to the susceptibility of high performance concrete to undergo early age cracking caused by shrinkage. This problem is widespread and effects federal, state, and local budgets that must maintain or replace deterioration caused by cracking. As a result, methods to reduce or eliminate early age shrinkage cracking have been investigated. Internal curing is one such method in which a prewetted lightweight sand is incorporated into the concrete mixture to provide internal water as the concrete cures. This action can significantly reduce or eliminate shrinkage and in some cases causes a beneficial early age expansion.
Standard laboratory tests have been developed to quantify the shrinkage cracking potential of concrete. Unfortunately, many of these tests may not be appropriate for use with internally cured mixtures and only provide limited amounts of information. Most standard tests are not designed to capture the expansive behavior of internally cured mixtures. This thesis describes the design and implementation of two new testing devices that overcome the limitations of current standards.
The first device discussed in this thesis is called the dual ring. The dual ring is a testing device that quantifies the early age restrained shrinkage performance of cementitious mixtures. The design of the dual ring is based on the current ASTM C 1581-04 standard test which utilizes one steel ring to restrain a cementitious specimen. The dual ring overcomes two important limitations of the standard test. First, the standard single ring test cannot restrain the expansion that takes place at early ages which is not representative of field conditions. The dual ring incorporates a second restraining ring which is located outside of the sample to provide restraint against expansion. Second, the standard ring test is a passive test that only relies on the autogenous and drying shrinkage of the mixture to induce cracking. The dual ring test can be an active test because it has the ability to vary the temperature of the specimen in order to induce thermal stress and produce cracking. This ability enables the study of the restrained cracking capacity as the mixture ages in order to quantify crack sensitive periods of time.
Measurements made with the dual ring quantify the benefits from using larger amounts of internal curing. Mixtures that resupplied internal curing water to match that of chemical shrinkage could sustain three times the magnitude of thermal change before cracking.
The second device discussed in this thesis is a large scale slab testing device. This device tests the cracking potential of 15’ long by 4” thick by 24” wide slab specimens in an environmentally controlled chamber. The current standard testing devices can be considered small scale and encounter problems when linking their results to the field due to size effects. Therefore, the large scale slab testing device was developed in order to calibrate the results of smaller scale tests to real world field conditions such as a pavement or bridge deck. Measurements made with the large scale testing device showed that the cracking propensity of the internally cured mixtures was reduced and that a significant benefit could be realized.
0794: Materials science