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Materials and Structures (2008) 41:479493

DOI 10.1617/s11527-007-9260-y

ORIGINAL ARTICLE

A study on durability properties of high-performance


concretes incorporating high replacement levels of slag
Erhan Guneyisi Mehmet Gesoglu

Received: 22 November 2006 / Accepted: 8 May 2007 / Published online: 6 June 2007
 RILEM 2007

Abstract This paper presents an experimental study


of combined effects of curing method and high
replacement levels of blast furnace slag on the
mechanical and durability properties of high performance concrete. Two different curing methods were
simulated as follows: wet cured (in water) and air
cured (at 208C and 65% RH). The concretes with slag
were produced by partial substitution of cement with
slag at varying amounts of 5080%. The water to
cementitious material ratio was maintained at 0.40 for
all mixes. Properties that include compressive and
splitting tensile strengths, water absorption by total
immersion and by capillary rise, chloride penetration,
and resistance of concrete against damage due to
corrosion of the embedded reinforcement were measured at different ages up to 90 days. It was found that
the incorporation of slag at 50% and above-replacement levels caused a reduction in strength, especially
for the early age of air cured specimens. However,
the strength increases with the presence of slag up to
60% replacement for the 90 day wet cured specimens.
Test results also indicated that curing condition and
replacement level had significant effects on the
durability characteristics; in particular the most
prominent effects were observed on slag blended

E. Guneyisi (&)  M. Gesoglu


Department of Civil Engineering, Gaziantep University,
27310 Gaziantep, Turkey
e-mail: guneyisi@gantep.edu.tr

cement concrete, which performed extremely well


when the amount of slag used in the mixture
increased up to 80%.
Keywords Absorption  Blast furnace slag 
Concrete durability  Corrosion  Curing  High
replacement level

1 Introduction
The worldwide demand for high-performance cement-based materials has increased and predictions
are that it will be widely used in construction industry
during the early 21st century. Economical and
environmental considerations had a crucial role in
the supplementary cementing material usage as well
as better engineering and performance properties [1,
2]. From the viewpoints of the development of highperformance concrete and the reuse of industrial
waste products, the use of blast-furnace slag (BFS) as
a cementitious ingredient in either cement or concrete
composites has been increasing [3].
On the other hand, blast furnace slag is a quite
variable material due to the variation in its chemical
composition together with both content and composition of the glass fraction of the slag. The crystalline
part of the slag does not hydrate interfering only as
fine aggregate and crystallization seed. The hydration
mechanism of the slag is also different from that of
cement. When the slag is mixed with water, initial

480

hydration is much slower than Portland cement mixed


with water. Hydration of the slag in the presence of
Portland cement depends upon the breakdown and
dissolution of the glassy slag structure by hydroxyl
ions released during the hydration of Portland cement
and also the alkali content in cement [4]. Further
information on its characteristic can be found in the
literature [57].
There is a wealth of information in the literature
related to the influence of different slag replacements
up to about 60% on the properties of concrete [2, 8
24]. However, very limited studies have been
conducted on the use of the slag at high replacement
levels (higher that 60%). Hill and Sharp [25] studied
the effect of 75 and 95% slag replacement on the
mineralogy and microstructure of three composite
pastes and concluded that the calcium hydroxide
initially formed in the blast furnace slag-cement
systems was totally consumed within six months,
indicating the important hydraulic reactions of slag at
such high replacement levels. Miura and Iwaki [26]
investigated the strength development characteristics
of concretes containing high levels of slag (from 50
to 80%) under different curing conditions. The results
indicated that the strength development of slag
concrete depended greatly on the mixture proportions
and the curing method. Demirboga et al. [27] also
studied the relationship between ultrasonic pulse
velocity (UPV) and compressive strength for concretes containing high volume blast furnace slag (50
70%). They showed that both compressive strength
and UPV were very low for all replacement levels at
early age of curing. Hooton and Emery [28] compared the sulfate resistance of concretes incorporating
slag (from 45 to 72%). They pointed out that
concretes between 45 and 75% slag replacement of
cement did not exhibited any deterioration after the
exposure period while those made with only portland
cement showed various degrees of damage. Algahtani
et al. [29] also showed that performance on exposure
to a sodium-sulfate solution, with replacement levels
of slag at 70% and above, showed sulfate resistance
to be better than that of the Type V sulfate-resistant
cement. In the study of Almussalam et al. [30], the
plastic shrinkage of concrete made with various
dosages of several mineral admixtures, such as fly ash
(2040%), silica fume (515%), and blast furnace
slag (5070%) was investigated. Results revealed that
the rate of water evaporation in the blended cement

Materials and Structures (2008) 41:479493

concretes was noted to be more than that in the plain


concretes. However, further bleeding in the former
was less than that in the latter.

2 Research significance
The purpose of this study was to assess the combined
effects of high replacement level of slag and curing
regimes on the performance characteristics of high
performance concretes. As mentioned above, these
effects have not been well documented, especially for
permeability-related durability and corrosion resistance of the embedded reinforcement in high performance concretes with higher levels of replacement
(up to 80%), and it is hoped that this investigation
will improve the knowledge on this subject and also
provide useful information to high performance
concrete users.

3 Experimental program
3.1 Materials
The materials used in this investigation were Portland
cement, blast furnace slag, fine aggregate, coarse
aggregate and superlasticizer. Portland cement (CEM
I 42.5R) conforming to the Turkish standard TS EN
197-1 (which is mainly based on the European EN
197-1) and blast furnace slag were utilized as
cementitious materials. The chemical compositions
and the physical properties of Portland cement and
blast furnace slag are given in Table 1. The slag was
obtained from Iskenderun Iron-Steel Factory in
Turkey. The slag was ground granulated in the plant
to have a Blain specific surface area of 405 m2/kg.
The XRD analysis of the slag shown in Fig. 1
displayed an amorphous hump characteristic at about
30o indicating the presence of large amounts of glass.
Moreover, as reported by the manufacturer, the
typical glass content of the slag is about 98%. The
fine aggregate was a mix of natural sand and crushed
sand whereas the coarse aggregate was crushed
limestone with a maximum particle size of 16 mm.
Both aggregates were obtained from local sources.
A commercially available sulphonated naphthalene
formaldehyde-based superplasticizer was used to give
a consistent workability.

Materials and Structures (2008) 41:479493

481

Table 1 Chemical compositions and physical properties of


cementitious materials used
Item

Portland
cement

Slag

SiO2 (%)

19.73

37.45

Al2O3 (%)

5.09

11.80

Fe2O3 (%)

3.99

0.66

CaO (%)

62.86

34.83

MgO (%)

1.61

10.06

SO3 (%)

2.62

0.35

Na2O (%)

0.18

0.86

K2O (%)

0.80

0.38

Cl (%)

0.01

Insoluble residue (%)

0.24

Loss on ignition (%)


Free lime (%)

1.90
0.57

1.70

Specific gravity (g/cm3)

3.14

2.82

Setting time, Vicat needle Initial/Final


(h-min)

2-46/3-44

Le chatelier (mm)

Specific surface area (m2/kg)

327

405

Fig. 1 XRD pattern of the slag

3.2 Details of mixtures, specimens, and curing


procedures
In order to investigate the combined effects of high
replacement levels of slag and curing condition on

the performance properties of concrete, five different


concrete mixes were employed, details of which are
given in Table 2. The control mix contained only
Portland cement as the binder. In the other four
mixes, Portland cement was partially replaced with,
respectively, 50, 60, 70, and 80% slag (by weight).
The water-cementitious material (w/cm) ratio was
kept constant at 0.40 for all mixes. The superplasticizer was added at the time of mixing. All concretes
were mixed in accordance with ASTM C192 standard
in a power-driven revolving pan mixer. Concrete
cubes of 150 mm and 100 mm in size, and cylinders
of dimensions 100 200 mm were cast in steel
moulds for the study of the compressive and splitting
tensile strengths, absorption characteristics, and rapid
chloride permeability test, respectively. The specimens for the accelerated corrosion test were
100 200 mm concrete cylinders in which a
16 mm diameter steel bar was centrally embedded.
The steel bar was embedded into the concrete
cylinder such that its end was at least 30 mm from
the bottom of the cylinder, and it was coated with
epoxy at the exit from the concrete cylinder in order
to eliminate crevice corrosion at these locations. The
steel bars were cleaned with a wire brush to remove
the rust from surface just before casting the specimens. For each mixture, twelve 150 150 150 mm
cubes, twelve 100 100 100 mm cubes, twenty
100 200 mm cylinder and eight corrosion specimens were cast and compacted by a vibrating table.
After casting, the moulded specimens were covered
with a plastic sheet and left in the casting room for
24 h. They were then demoulded and divided into two
equal groups and cured under the following conditions: in the first curing condition, the specimens
were immersed in water until the age of testing (call

Table 2 Mixture proportions of the concrete


w/cm
ratio

Cement
(kg/m3)

Slag (%)

Slag
(kg/m3)

Water
(kg/m3)

Fine aggregate
Natural sand
(kg/m3)

0.40

Coarse aggregate
Crushed sand
(kg/m3)

No I (kg/m3)

No II (kg/m3)

SPa
(%)

400

160

739

238

567

303

1.7

200
160

50
60

200
240

160
160

725
722

234
233

556
554

298
296

1.7
1.7

120

70

280

160

719

232

551

295

1.7

80

80

320

160

716

231

549

294

1.7

SP: Superplasticizer (wt.% of total cementitious content)

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Materials and Structures (2008) 41:479493

as wet cured) while in the second curing condition,


those were left in a room for curing at 208C and 65%
RH until the test age (call as air cured).
3.3 Test methods
3.3.1 Compressive and splitting tensile strengths
To evaluate strength characteristics of each mixture,
the compression test was carried out on the cube
specimens (150 150 150 mm) by a 3,000 kN
capacity testing machine according to ASTM C39
while the splitting tensile strength was conducted on
the cylinder specimens (100 200 mm) according to
ASTM C496. The strength measurements of concrete
were performed at the ages of 28 and 90 days. Three
specimens from each mixture were tested at each
testing age.
3.3.2 Rate of water absorption
To measure the water absorption rate for each
mixture, three test specimens having a dimension of
100 100 100 mm were employed. The specimens
were dried in an oven at 50 58C until constant mass
and then allowed to cool to the ambient temperature
in a sealed container. Afterwards, the sides of the
specimens were coated by paraffin wax. The measurement was carried out by placing the specimens on
glass rods in a tray such that their bottom surface up
to a height of 5 mm is in contact with water, as shown
in Fig. 2. This procedure was considered to allow free
water movement through the bottom surface. The
specimens were removed from the tray and weighed
at different time intervals up to 1 h to evaluate mass
gain. The volume of water absorbed was calculated
by dividing the mass gained by the nominal surface

concrete sample

Parafin wax

water

Fig. 2 Measurement of water absorption rate of concrete

area of the specimen and by the density of water.


These values were plotted against the square root of
time. Then, the rate of water absorption was calculated from the slope of the line for each concrete. The
test was conducted at the ages of 28 and 90 days. For
each concrete mixture, three specimens were used
and the average values were reported.
3.3.3 Water absorption (WA)
The water absorption test was conducted on concrete
cubes (100 100 100 mm). The absorption test was
carried out according to ASTM C642 [31]. For the
determination of water absorption by total immersion, firstly, the dry mass for each specimen was
recorded. For this, the concrete specimens were dried
to constant weight in an oven at 50 58C. The total
drying times of the various specimens varied with the
composition of the concrete and its curing history and
ranged between 20 and 35 days. This drying method
was selected as it is considered to minimize any
modification to the capillary pore structure that would
be caused by a higher temperature and more rapid
drying. Thereafter, they were totally immersed in
water at 208C and the mass of each specimen was
recorded after 48 h of immersion into the water. The
48 h water absorption percentage of each specimen
was then evaluated for comparison purposes. Three
specimens from each mixture were tested at the ages
of 28 and 90 days and the average values were
reported.
3.3.4 Chloride permeability
The resistance of the concrete to the penetration of
the chloride ions was measured in terms of charge
passed through the concrete in accordance with
ASTM C1202 [32]. Soon after the specified curing
periods, two 50-mm disk specimens were cut from
the mid-portion of each 100 200-mm cylinder
specimen and were conditioned as mentioned in
ASTM C1202. Then, the disk specimens were
transferred to the test cell in which one face of the
specimen was in contact with 0.3 N sodium hydroxide (NaOH) solution and the other face with 3% NaCl
solution. A direct current (DC) of 60 0.1 volts was
applied across the specimen faces, and the current
across the specimen was recorded at every 5 min
interval, covering a total period of 6 h. By knowing

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the current and time history, the total charge (coulombs) passed through the specimen was computed
by Simpsons integration. The results presented are
the averages from two concrete specimens. The test
was conducted at the ages of 28 and 90 days.

cracking. The variation of current with time and


time to cracking of the specimens were determined
for all mixtures. Two specimens from each concrete
mixture were tested at the ages of 28 and 90 days.

3.3.5 Accelerated corrosion cell

4 Test results and discussion

An accelerated corrosion testing technique was


utilized to compare the corrosion performance of
control and slag blended cement concretes. Similar
cells with some differences were reported by other
researchers [3338]. In this study, the specimens
were immersed to its half height into a 5% sodium
chloride (NaCl) solution and the steel bar (working
electrode) was connected to the positive terminal of a
DC power source while the negative terminal was
connected to stainless steel plates (counter electrode)
placed near the specimen in the solution. In this
circuit, the steel bar was the anode, the steel plates
were the cathode, and the sodium chloride solution
was the electrolyte. The corrosion process was
initiated by impressing an anodic potential of 12 V.
Figure 3 is a schematic diagram of the corrosion cell.
The specimens were monitored periodically to see
how long it takes for corrosion cracks to appear on
the surface. The current increased abruptly when the
specimen cracked, indicating the occurrence of

A summary of test results regarding the compressive


and splitting tensile strengths, water absorption by
capillary rise and total immersion, chloride permeability, and time to failure of the concretes containing
high replacement levels of slag are given in Table 3
and graphically depicted in Figs. 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 11,
respectively.

Fig. 3 Schematic
representation of
accelerated corrosion cell

4.1 Compressive and splitting tensile strengths


The data concerning the variation of compressive
strength with respect to concrete age and curing
condition for concretes containing 0, 50, 60, 70, and
80% slag is presented in Fig. 4. The strength values
for the control and slag concretes ranged from 50.6 to
63.1 MPa and from 27.9 to 66.2 MPa, respectively,
depending mainly on slag content, curing condition,
and concrete age. The figure indicates that there was
a systematic decrease in compressive strength with
the increase in slag content. This is more pronounced

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Materials and Structures (2008) 41:479493

Table 3 Summary of test results


Property

Mixture

Air cured

Wet cured

28 days
Mean
Compressive strength (MPa)

Splitting tensile strength (MPa)

Rate of water absorption (mm/min0.5)

Water absorption (%)

Chloride permeability (Coulombs)

Time to failure (Hours)

90 days
COV

Mean

28 days
COV

Mean

90 days
COV

Meana

COVb

Control

50.6

9.0

57.9

4.7

56.2

3.5

63.1

5.4

50% slag

41.9

10.7

54.6

3.2

49.0

1.6

66.2

3.3

60% slag

38.3

2.3

51.8

7.5

43.1

5.7

64.5

1.2

70% slag

30.9

5.4

43.5

5.4

37.1

5.5

57.8

4.7

80% slag

27.9

3.4

38.0

2.8

34.2

2.7

51.4

2.7

Control

4.01

6.2

4.64

5.0

4.41

12.5

5.09

2.3

50% slag

3.36

10.7

4.37

7.9

3.93

6.0

5.20

2.5

60% slag

3.18

4.4

4.27

1.0

3.69

11.5

5.17

8.8

70% slag

2.78

4.6

3.91

14.5

3.39

1.6

5.00

0.6

80% slag

2.57

3.3

3.41

14.3

3.05

1.2

4.57

2.6

Control
50% slag

0.231
0.220

5.6
3.1

0.209
0.170

9.3
9.9

0.200
0.176

4.2
7.9

0.166
0.117

1.2
4.9

60% slag

0.206

4.4

0.156

3.8

0.165

6.0

0.107

4.0

70% slag

0.201

7.7

0.145

5.4

0.158

2.4

0.090

6.2

80% slag

0.188

2.9

0.137

8.4

0.152

1.8

0.082

2.6

Control

5.16

6.1

4.58

5.4

4.50

1.2

3.90

1.1

50% slag

4.67

4.0

3.84

5.7

4.00

4.1

3.01

5.5

60% slag

4.50

3.2

3.73

8.9

3.85

2.6

2.95

2.3

70% slag

4.33

6.5

3.66

5.2

3.80

2.7

2.84

3.0

80% slag

4.39

9.4

3.61

7.2

3.75

2.2

2.79

0.8

Control

4800

2.8

4050

2.2

4250

4.1

3750

0.9

50% slag

2700

6.0

1850

6.7

2050

2.1

1410

2.3

60% slag

2330

3.6

1770

2.3

1870

3.2

1070

3.5

70% slag

2100

4.1

1650

3.3

1600

3.3

960

3.1

80% slag

2050

4.4

1500

3.0

1580

5.4

880

1.7

Control
50% slag

78.0
83.0

5.7
2.3

92.0
109.0

3.2
1.0

85.0
93.7

2.5
1.0

115.0
139.5

3.1
1.8

60% slag

88.9

0.7

116.0

4.3

101.0

0.3

149.2

0.7

70% slag

90.0

1.1

123.0

10.0

110.7

2.1

161.6

6.2

80% slag

91.2

0.2

129.0

3.1

114.0

2.8

175.1

0.9

The number of observation is 3 for compression, split, and absorption tests while that is 2 for chloride permeability and corrosion
tests

COV: Coefficients of variation (%)

for concretes subjected to air curing condition.


However, for the wet cured concrete tested at later
age (90 days), it was observed that the presence of
slag is highly beneficial at 50 and 60% replacement
with a strength exceeding that of the control. A
noticeable strength reduction is observed at 70% and
above-replacement level. This trend agrees with
results reported elsewhere [3942]. From Fig. 4, it

is also evident that the curing methods had considerable effect on the compressive strength development, especially for wet cured slag concretes. For the
control and slag concretes, air curing resulted in
significantly lower 28- and 90-day strengths as
compared to wet curing. It was observed that the
ratio of the compressive strength of the specimens
subjected to air curing to those cured under wet for

Materials and Structures (2008) 41:479493

485
6

80
Wet cured
Dry cured
Test age: 28 days
Test age: 90 days

Wet cured
Dry cured
Test age: 28 days
Test age: 90 days

60

Water absorption (%)

Compressive strength (MPa)

70

50
40
30

20
1

10
0

0
0

20

40

60

80

100

20

40

Fig. 4 Effects of slag replacement and curing conditions on 28


and 90 day compressive strength of concretes

Chloride permeability (Coulombs)

Splitting tensile strength (MPa)

100

6000
Wet cured
Dry cured
Test age: 28 days
Test age: 90 days

Wet cured
Dry cured
Test age: 28 days
Test age: 90 days

5000

4000

3000

2000

1000

0
0

20

40

60

80

100

Replacement levels of slag (%)

0,3
Wet cured
Dry cured
Test age: 28 days
Test age: 90 days

0,25

0,2

0,15

0,1

0,05

0
0

20

40

20

40

60

80

100

Replacement levels of slag (%)

Fig. 5 Effects of slag replacement and curing conditions on 28


and 90 day splitting tensile strength of concretes

0.5

80

Fig. 7 Effects of slag replacement and curing conditions on 28


and 90 day water absorption of concretes

Rate of water absorption (mm/min )

60

Replacement levels of slag (%)

Replacement levels of slag (%)

60

80

100

Replacement levels of slag (%)

Fig. 6 Effects of slag replacement and curing conditions on 28


and 90 day water absorption rate of concretes

Fig. 8 Effects of slag replacement and curing conditions on 28


and 90 day chloride permeability of concretes

the control concrete deviated up to -10%. However,


this ratio for concretes containing slag lay within a
range of 11 to 26%, depending mainly on slag
content and testing age. This implies that slag
concretes are more sensitive to curing method than
plain cement concretes.
The strength variation pattern for splitting tensile
strength of control and slag concretes is similar to
that of compressive strength, as can be seen in Fig. 5.
The splitting tensile strength, in general, is decreasing
with increasing slag content, except for the 50 and
60% slag concretes in the case of 90-day wet curing.
However, the decrease in splitting tensile strength
was slightly smaller compared to the decrease in
compressive strength. Irrespective of curing condition

486

and testing age, the 80% slag concretes showed lower


compressive and splitting tensile strengths.
4.2 Absorption characteristics
The change in water absorption rate with concrete
age and curing condition for the control and slag
concretes are given in Fig. 6. It is clear that rate of
water absorption decreases systematically with an
increase in curing period (from 28 to 90 days), and
the gradients of the water absorption tends to
decrease with increase in the replacement level of
slag. Generally, slag concrete performed better than
the control concrete and marked improvements in
terms of lower rate of water penetration through
capillary suction were apparent, particularly under
wet curing condition. It was found that the rate of
water absorption of air cured slag concretes was
about 1.1 to 1.5 times lower than that of control
concretes, depending on slag content and curing
period. However, that in the wet cured slag concretes
was in the range of 1.2 to 2.0. This reduced water
absorption rate reflects a finer pore structure that
would, for example, inhibit ingress of aggressive
elements into the pore system, especially under
proper curing condition [43]. The previously mentioned figure also highlights the advantages of adding
slag to the mixture, even at high replacement levels
(from 50 to 80%), to decrease the water absorption
rate of the concrete mixtures. Further, it demonstrates
the dependence of water absorption rate on the
proportion of slag in the mixture, testing age, and
curing procedure employed. This is contrary to
experience with most blast furnace slags. The reason
for this may be that a more reactive slag was utilized.
Figure 7 shows the variation in water absorption
with concrete age and curing condition for the control
and slag concretes. Similar to the rate of water
absorption test results, water absorption characteristics of the concrete specimens decreased with
increasing slag content, irrespective of curing condition and testing age. However, the differences in the
water absorption characteristics of the control and
slag concrete due to curing method became more
significant after 28 days and were remarkably lower
for slag concrete compared to the control concrete.
Furthermore, the reduction in the water absorption
with increasing test age was about 12% and 15%
for air and wet cured conventional concretes,

Materials and Structures (2008) 41:479493

respectively, while it was about 1822% and 30


35% for air and wet cured slag concretes, respectively. This reduction in the water absorption with
age indicates better performance of slag blended
cement concretes over conventional concrete. The
improvement in the performance of the air cured
samples might be explained due to the surface
carbonation of the air-cured concrete resulted in
enhanced reduction in sorptivity. In the studies of Bai
et al. [43] and Dias [44], it is pointed out that aircured concrete undergoes an increase in weight and a
reduction in sorptivity as a result of carbonation of
the surface zone.
4.3 Resistance to chloride ion penetration
The effect of wet and air curing conditions (up to 28
and 90 days of age) and high replacement levels of
slag (from 50 to 80%) on chloride permeability of the
concrete is shown in Fig. 8. The calculated total
passing charge which is an indication of the concretes resistance to penetration of the chloride ions
ranged from 3,750 to 4,800 coulombs (from moderate
to high chloride permeability rating according to
ASTM 1202 guidelines, concerning the chloride ion
permeability rating) for the control mixture, depending on curing condition and testing age. However,
these values ranged from 880 to 2,700 coulombs
(from very low to moderate chloride permeability
rating) for the concrete mixture having slag in
different proportions. This indicated that the slag
concretes had remarkably lower permeability than the
control concretes, irrespective of curing condition
and testing age. From Fig. 8, it is also evident that the
concretes containing 50% and above-replacement
levels of slag showed sharply reduced values of the
charge for all curing condition and testing age. For
example, at 70 and 80% replacement levels, the
90 day wet cured slag concretes had a charge value of
less than 1,000 coulombs, which is considered to
have an excellent resistance to the penetration of
chloride ions according to ASTM 1202. The large
decrease in the permeability with the use of supplementary cementing materials in the above concretes
is due to the change in the pore structure of the
hydrated cementitious system [45, 46].
As it is also observed in Fig. 8, the extension of the
curing period from 28 to 90 days and the enhancement of the curing conditions applied to the test

Materials and Structures (2008) 41:479493

487

Fig. 9 Typical time-current


for the 90 day wet cured
control and slag blended
cement concrete specimens

0.6
Control specimen
Specimen with 60% slag

Corrosion Current (A)

0.5

0.4

0.3

0.2

0.1

0
0

10

20

30

40

50

60

70

80

90 100 110 120 130 140 150 160 170 180 190 200

Time (Hours)

specimens resulted in a reduction of the total charge


passed through the concretes, with the difference
much more marked for the slag concretes than the
control concretes, especially under wet curing condition. Test results exhibited that the chloride permeability of the air cured control concrete was
determined as about 1.1 times higher than that of
the wet cured control concrete, whereas for blast
furnace slag blended cement concrete, the equivalent
increase in the dry/wet ratio ranged from 1.3 to 1.7
times, depending on replacement level of slag and
testing age. This indicates that the lack of proper
curing significantly aggravated the chloride ion
penetration through concretes. However, concrete
mixtures containing slag suffered more at all replacement levels, particularly for later age (90 days). The
obvious reason for this that the slag blended cement
concrete requires prolonged moist curing, in order to
take advantage of the beneficial effects of the
hydraulic activity and pore refinement.

Fig. 9, current-time curve initially descended till a


time value after which a steady low rate of increase in
current was observed, and after a specific time value a
rapid increase in current was detected until failure.
Almost a similar variation of the corrosion current
with time has also been observed by other researchers
[3338]. The sudden rise of the current intensity
coincided with the cracking of the specimen. Thus,
this curve was used to determine the corrosion time
of the specimen when the specimen cracked due to
corrosion and the current started to increase sharply.
The first visual evidence of corrosion was the
appearance of brown stains on the surface of the

4.4 Corrosion resistance


The corrosion behavior of steel bars embedded in
control and slag blended cement concrete specimens
subjected to wet and air curing conditions were
studied by impressing a constant anodic potential.
The current required to maintain the fixed potential
was plotted against time and the typical curves of
corrosion current with time for the 28 day wet cured
control and slag concrete specimens are illustrated in
Fig. 9. Typical corrosion specimens after the conclusion of the test are shown in Fig. 10. As seen from

Fig. 10 Photograph showing typical corrosion specimens after


the accelerated corrosion test

488

Materials and Structures (2008) 41:479493

specimens. Cracking was observed shortly thereafter


and it was associated with a sudden rise in the
current. Figure 11 demonstrates the average corrosion
times for the control and slag subjected to different
curing conditions. Time to cracking in the control
concrete specimens was in the range of 85115 h (3
to 5 days) whereas that in slag blended cement
concrete specimens was in the range of 83175 h (3
to 8 days), depending mainly on replacement level,
curing condition, and age at testing. It was observed
that for a given curing condition and testing age, the
times of corrosion cracking for the slag concrete
specimens were relatively longer compared to the
control concrete specimens, which implies that the
former provides better protection to steel reinforcement against corrosion. From Fig. 11, it was also
noted that time to cracking increased (up to 52%)
with increasing slag content, especially for the
specimens subjected to wet curing condition. The
effect of curing condition was more noticeable for
both control and especially slag concretes, as seen in
Fig. 10. An approximately 10% difference was
observed between the time to cracking of air cured
and wet cured control concrete specimens tested at
28 days, whereas that for blast furnace slag blended
cement concrete specimens was in the range of
1325%. At later age (90 days), the percentage
difference increased significantly for both concrete
types. However, slag blended concrete specimens
were affected more negatively by the lack of curing
than the control concrete specimens due to the change

4.5 Analysis of variance

150

The analysis of variance (ANOVA) was performed


statistically to investigate the influence of replacement level of slag, curing condition, and testing age
on the compressive and splitting tensile strengths,
water absorption rate, water absorption, chloride
permeability, and time to failure of the concretes.
For this purpose, the replacement level, curing
condition, and age were selected as factors whereas
the concrete properties were assigned as dependent
variables. The Minitab software was used to analyze
experimentally obtained data.
The following null hypotheses were tested using a
0
0.05 level of significance: (1). H0 : there is no
difference in the mean compressive strength (or
splitting tensile strength, water absorption rate, water
absorption, chloride permeability, time to failure)
00
when different replacement levels are used; (2). H0 :
there is no difference in the mean compressive
strength (or splitting tensile strength, water absorption rate, water absorption, chloride permeability,
time to failure) when different curing condition are
000
applied; (3). H0 : there is no difference in the mean
compressive strength (or splitting tensile strength,
water absorption rate, water absorption, chloride
permeability, time to failure) when different testing
age are used.
Results obtained from statistical analysis were
shown in Table 4. According to the ANOVA table, it
was pointed out that at 95% confidence level,
replacement level of slag, curing regime, and testing
age had significant effects on the properties of
concrete measured because none of the P-values
were above the significance level (0.05).

100

4.6 Correlation between concrete properties

250
Wet cured
Dry cured
Test age: 28 days
Test age: 90 days

200

Time to failure (hours)

in hydration kinetics of cements and the hydration


development at the curing cessation time [47].

50

0
0

20

40

60

80

100

Replacement levels of slag (%)

Fig. 11 Effects of slag replacement and curing conditions on


the average time required to crack the specimens tested at 28
and 90 days

In order to understand the interdependence between


the properties of the concrete measured in the present
investigation, the correlation between compressive
strength (or chloride permeability) and water absorption (or rate of water absorption, chloride permeability, time to failure) of concrete specimens with and
without slag was studied. The plots are illustrated in
Figs. 12 and 13. From Fig. 12, it was observed that

Materials and Structures (2008) 41:479493

489

Table 4 Analysis of variance (ANOVA) results for hardened properties of concrete


Dependent variable
Compressive strength

Source of variation

541.2

96.2

0.00002

yes

1153.5

205.1

0.00000

yes

1
42

3000.4
5.6

533.5

0.00000

yes

Replacement level

1.57

64.0

0.00003

yes

Curing condition

7.08

288.8

0.00001

yes

18.53

755.2

0.00000

yes

42

0.02

Replacement level

0.00214

88.4

0.00002

yes

Curing condition

0.02665

1101.4

0.00000

yes

1651.7

0.00000

yes

0.00004

yes

Error
Replacement level

0.03996

42

0.00002

0.15120

19.5

Curing condition

8.85800

1139.8

0.00000

yes

Testing age

6.16330

793.1

0.00002

yes

42

0.00777

Error
Replacement level

594668.7

108.1

0.00000

yes

Curing condition

3847669.0

699.6

0.00000

yes

1
42

5050519.0
5500.2

918.2

0.00000

yes

Testing age
Error
Time to failure

Significance

Testing age

Chloride permeability

P-level

Error

Water absorption

Computed F

Replacement level

Testing age
Rate of water absorption

Mean Square (MS)

Curing condition
Testing age
Error
Splitting tensile strength

Degree of freedom

Replacement level

1000.8

19.5

0.00022

yes

Curing condition

20398.1

397.6

0.00010

yes

8643.0

168.5

0.00080

yes

Testing age
Error

42

the compressive strength data and the water absorption data (or rate of water absorption, chloride
permeability data) suggested the presence of inverse
type of relationship between them; the higher the
compressive strength, the lower the water absorption
(or rate of water absorption, chloride permeability).
However, the compressive strength increased with
increasing the time to failure of concrete specimens
for both plain and slag concretes. It was also evident
that the correlation coefficients between the measured
properties for the slag concrete was somewhat low
since the data obtained from slag concrete mixtures
exhibited more scatter while those for the plain
concrete was close to unity, suggesting fairly good
correlation between them.
To quantify the type and nature of interdependence between the chloride permeability and the
other three measured properties (water absorption,

51.3

rate of water absorption, and time to failure) for plain


and slag concretes, the plots, as shown in Fig. 13, are
used. It was clear that the chloride permeability,
water absorption, and rate of water absorption
appeared to follow similar trends. However, the
chloride permeability and the time to failure had an
inverse type of relationship. The previously mentioned figures also indicated that for both plain and
slag concretes, the chloride permeability data was
well correlated with the data obtained from the
absorption and corrosion tests, and produced higher
correlation coefficients. For all cases, the correlation
coefficients R2 were in the range of 0.810.91 and
0.910.96 for the plain and slag concretes, respectively. This implies that there was a good relationship
between the chloride permeability and the others,
irrespective of replacement levels of slag, curing
conditions, and testing ages.

490

Materials and Structures (2008) 41:479493

c) 80

80
Plain concrete
Slag concrete

Compressive strength (MPa)

70
60
50

y = -14.136x + 98.413
R2 = 0.5305

40

Plain concrete
Slag concrete

70

y = -9.8114x + 101.48
R2 = 0.9597

Compressive strength (MPa)

a)

30
20

y = -0.0115x + 105.61
R2 = 0.9779

60
50
40
30
y = -0.0126x + 67.214
R2 = 0.2936

20
10

10

0
0

1000

d) 80

80
Plain concrete
Slag concrete

Compressive strength (MPa)

70
60
50
40

y = -180,66x + 73,525
R2 = 0,4084

30

3000

4000

5000

6000

Plain concrete
Slag concrete

70

y = -181,59x + 93,583
R2 = 0,9038

Compressive strength (MPa)

b)

2000

Chloride permeability (Coulombs)

Water absorption (%)

20

y = 0.3053x + 28.746
R2 = 0.901

60
50
40

y = 0.265x + 14.589
R2 = 0.4056

30
20
10

10

0
0

0,05

0,1

0,15

0,2

0,25

0,3

50

100

150

200

250

Time to failure (hours)

Rate of water absorption (mm/min0.5)

Fig. 12 Correlation between compressive strength and (a) water absorption, (b) rate of water absorption, (c) chloride permeability,
and (d) time to failure for concretes with and without slag

As discussed above, the correlation coefficients


(R2) between the compressive strength and water
absorption (48 h immersion test) of the concretes
were low while those between the chloride permeability and water absorption of the concretes were
very high. It has been reported that the strength
changes are mainly attributed to the interaction of
paste thickness, bond strength, and modulus of
elasticity of paste and aggregates. The pore size
distribution and microcracks are also important
factors that determine mechanical properties of
cementitious materials [48]. However, both the
permeability and absorption characteristics of the
concrete are primarily affected by the pore structure
and pore fluid conductivity together with the related
changes occurred in the pore structure. Thus, the rate
of any transport process depends on the microstructural characteristics of the concrete mixes [49].
Therefore, these reasons suggest that the mechanisms
of strength and water absorption are fundamentally
different and influenced by many different factors,
thus leading to a poor correlation between them.

However, the interdependence between the permeability and absorption provided relatively higher
correlation coefficient.

5 Conclusions
The following conclusions are drawn from the test
results and analysis presented in this paper:
1.

2.

For the mixtures with high replacement levels of


slag, curing played a critical role in realizing the
full potential of concrete in terms of strength and
especially durability characteristics.
Generally, there was a systematic decrease in
both compressive and splitting tensile strengths
with the increase in slag content, especially
under air curing condition. However, the incorporation of up to 60% slag to partially replaced
Portland cement in concrete caused an increase
in long-term compressive and splitting tensile
strengths.

Materials and Structures (2008) 41:479493

Chloride permeability (Coulombs)

a)

6000
Plain concrete
Slag concrete

y = 818.28x + 501.61
R2 = 0.9094

5000

4000

3000

2000

y = 802.63x - 1285.4
R2 = 0.9259

1000

0
0

Water absorption (%)

Chloride permeability (Coulombs)

b)

6000
Plain concrete
Slag concrete

y = 14807x + 1228,2
R2 = 0,8187

5000

4000

3000

2000

1000

y = 11894x - 124,89
R2 = 0,9584

0
0

0,05

0,1

0,15

0,2

0,25

0,3

Rate of water absorption (mm/min0.5)

c)

6000
Plain concrete
Slag concrete

Chloride permeability (Coulombs)

Fig. 13 Correlation
between chloride
permeability and (a) water
absorption, (b) rate of water
absorption, and (c) time to
failure for concretes with
and without slag

491

5000
y = -24.741x + 6501.1
R2 = 0.8063

4000

3000
y = -17.017x + 3704.6
R2 = 0.9053

2000

1000

0
0

50

100

Time to failure (hours)

150

200

492

3.

4.

5.

6.

Materials and Structures (2008) 41:479493

Slag concrete exhibited marginally lower absorption characteristics than control concrete. An
increase in slag content (from 50 to 80%)
reduced the water penetration by total immersion
and capillary action, particularly under wet
curing condition.
It was observed that the concretes containing
50% and above-replacement levels of slag
showed sharply reduced values of the charge,
irrespective of curing condition and testing age.
Results indicated that the chloride permeability
of the air cured control concrete was about 1.1
times higher than that of the wet cured control
concrete, whereas for slag blended cement concrete, the equivalent increase in the dry/wet ratio
ranged from 1.3 to 1.7 times, depending on
replacement level of slag and testing age. This
implies that concretes containing high replacement levels of slag are very sensitive to the
curing method adopted.
Based on the results of the rapid corrosion test,
slag concrete specimens had superior performance and mostly gave longer time to failure at
similar curing condition and testing age in
comparison to control specimens. Similar to
water absorption and chloride permeability
results, the corrosion resistance of the specimens
increased considerably with increasing slag content. For example, the 90 day wet cured specimen
containing high level of slag (80% slag) exhibited about 52% higher corrosion resistance than
the control sample.
The effect of wet and air curing regimes on the
durability related properties was more pronounced in the presence of slag, particularly at
higher replacement levels (5080%). It was
observed that large differences in values between
wet and air curing were obtained for the slag
mixtures. This illustrates and reinforces the
importance of proper curing for concrete containing 50% and above-replacement level.

This study has been exclusively focused on the


hardened properties of the high performance concrete
containing high replacement level of slag under air
and wet curing regimes. During the experimental
study, an assumption of concrete saturation has been
made. However, the degree of concrete saturation
plays an important role. Therefore, it should be

pointed out that further research should be useful in


order to better understand the effect of this saturation
issue on the relative test results.

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