Nelson Bustamante: Requirements of Concrete Admixtures for use in Construction

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Admixture is a material that is used as an ingredient for the preparation of concrete, and is added to the batch immediately prior to or during mixing materials (ACI 212.R-10). The purpose of blending admixtures is to improve fresh or hardened concrete properties or the combination thereof. Examples of admixtures include accelerating, retarding, water-reducing, air-entraining, super plasticizing admixture (normal), and super plasticizing admixture (retarding). 

There are certain requirements that admixtures should meet otherwise it would fail to complete its mission. For instance, ACI 212.3 R-10 specifies that chemical admixtures shall conform to the specifications of ASTM C494. This would ensure the production of concrete with desired properties.

1. Physical Requirements of Admixtures

Table 1 provides physical
requirements of admixtures.

Table 1 – Physical Requirements of Various Admixtures used in combination with Concrete

Water contents, percent of control sample, maximum 95 80 80
Slump * *
Time of setting, allowable deviation from control sample, hours
Maximum -3 +3 +/- 1 +4
Minimum -1 +1 +1.5 +1
Compressive strength, percent of control sample, minimum
1 day 140 125
3 days 125 90 110 90 125 125
7 days 100 90 110 90 125 125
28 days 100 90 110 90 115 115
6 months 90 90 100 90 100 100
1 year 90 90 100 90 100 100
Flexural strength, percent of control sample, minimum:
3 day 110 90 100 90 110 110
7 day 100 90 100 90 100 100
28 day 90 90 100 90 100 100
Length change, percent increase over control sample, maximum
28 day 0.010 0.010 0.010 0.010 0.010 0.010
6 months 0.010 0.010 0.010 0.010 0.010 0.010
1 year 0.010 0.010 0.010 0.010 0.010 0.010
Bleeding, percentage increase over control sample, maximum 5 5 5 5 5 5
Loss of workability ** ***
Air content, percent, maximum, over control 1.5 1.5

AA – Accelerating Admixture
RA – Retarding Admixture
WRA – Water-reducing Admixture
AEA – Air-entraining admixture
NSA- Super plasticizing admixture (Normal)
RSA- Super plasticizing admixture (retarding)

Use of Water Reducing Admixtures
Fig. 1: Use of Water Reducing Admixtures (Increase Workability
  • Not more than 15 mm below that of control mix concrete
    ** At 45 min, the slump shall not be less than that of the control mix concrete at 15 min
    *** At 2 hours, the slump shall not be less than that of the control mix concrete at 15 min

2. Quality Requirement of Admixture

When the admixtures are said to be compatible with concrete, it should meet the following quality requirements :

1. Characteristics of Admixture

The data sheet shall give the
characteristic details such as type of admixtures, available forms, basic
material used, details on dosage and its application methods, precaution to be
taken and compliance with specified standards.

2. Chemical Composition

This is an important parameter and manufacturer shall furnish details of suitability of admixture with cement available in market and other ingredients in different environment condition.

The chemical composition such as chloride and soluble sulphate content of admixture shall comply with specification given by BIS and other organisation.

2. Solid Content

The solid content will determine the concentration and efficiency of admixture. Higher the solid contents, higher the efficiency and would require less amount of admixture to alter the properties of concrete.

3. Specific Gravity

The consistency of admixture mainly
depends on its specific gravity and depends on solid content. If the specific
gravity changes, the consistency of concrete mix will vary.

4. Molecular Weight

Higher the molecular weight higher
the efficiency when it is used in concrete.

5. Dosage

Details of dosage and application
methods shall be furnished by manufacturer for all admixtures.

6. Compatibility Details

Basic compatibility details, possible compatibility problems due to different type of cement and their effects on water demand or water absorption etc., shall be furnished.

7. Hydration Process

The admixture should not change the
hydration process of cement paste to convert into solid mass and it should not
contain high chloride which would corrode steel.

8. Air Entrainment

Air entrained in the concrete should not exceed 1% unless otherwise specified.

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