Factors Affecting the Strength of Concrete – Civil Engineering

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Concrete is heterogeneous, brittle, and the most widely used construction material. Factors affecting the strength of concrete are many and are discussed below.

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  1. Water/Cement Ratio-
    In 1918 AD Duff Abram made some experiments with tweaking the amount of water added to mix the concrete. He found that the lower the amount of water higher will be the strength.
    However, we need to add a minimum quantity of water for full hydration of the cement. Generally, 38 percent to 40 percent of water is sufficient to fully hydrate the cement.
    Again, the water-cement ratio has hyperbolic relation if we plot the graph between W/C ratio and compressive strength of concrete. So, we could approximate it to a linear graph for ease of use.
  2. The Ratio of Cement to Aggregate
    Adequate cement paste should be available to fill the gaps between aggregate. This imparts a role in transferring load to the aggregate.
  3. Grading of Aggregates
    The grading of aggregate should be as per IS:10262-2019
  4. Surface Texture and Shape of Aggregates-
    Aggregates having smooth surfaces do not provide a good bond with cement paste.
    On the other hand, aggregate having an angular shape gives ease to interlocking and thus higher bond strength and consequently higher strength of concrete. Aggregate having round surface provides workability but on the cost of a reduction in strength. So, round shape aggregate should be avoided.
  5. Strength and Stiffness of the Aggregates-
    The higher the strength of aggregate higher will be the strength of concrete.
  6. Maximum Size of the Aggregates-
    If we choose the bigger size of aggregate the need of cement for bond will be less because of the lower surface area. Thus we can adopt lower W/C ratio.
    But this is not true. As low bond strength leads to lower strength of concrete. Also, the bigger size of aggregate provides more heterogeneous concrete, in which stress distribution is not uniform.
  7. Proper Curing-
    Proper Curing ensures complete hydration of the cement paste. This leads to eliminating permeability from the concrete. Hence, concrete becomes stronger. Curing is the endothermic reaction. Also, if moisture is available every time and temperature has not fallen down then the strength of concrete is always increasing albeit at a smaller rate.

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