Restraint Effects in Early Age Concrete Structures

Abstract: One of the widespread issues in concrete structures is cracks occurring at early age. Cracks that appear in the young concrete may cause early start of corrosion of rebars or early penetration of harmful liquids or gases into the concrete body. These situations could result in reduced service life and in significantly increased maintenance cost of structures. Therefore it is important for construction companies to avoid these cracks.Volumetric deformations in early age concrete are caused by changes in temperature and/or the moisture state. If such movements are restrained, stresses will occur. If the tensile stresses are high enough, there will be a damage failure in tension and visible cracks arise. These stresses are always resulting from a self-balancing of forces, either within the young concrete bodyalone, i.e. without structural joints to other structures, or from the young concrete in combination with adjacent structures through structural joints.The decisive situation within a young concrete body alone is typically high stresses at the surface when the temperature is near the peak temperature within the body. This situation occur rather early for ordinary structures, say within a few days after casting for structures up to about some meters thickness, but for very massive structures like large concrete dams, it might take months and even years to reach the maximum tensile stresses at the surface. Usually this type of cracks is denoted "surface cracks", and in some cases only a temperature calculation may give a good perception to make decisions of the risk of surface cracking.On the other hand, the decisive situation within a young concrete body connected to adjacent structures, might include both risk of surface cracking at some distance away from the structural joint and risk of through cracking starting in the neighborhood of the structural joint. If the young concrete body is small in accordance to the adjacent structure, or, in other words, if thereis an overall high restraint situation in the young concrete, the risk of early surface cracking might be out of question. So, restraint from adjacent structures represents one of the main sources of thermal and shrinkage stresses in a young concrete body.This study is mainly concentrated on establishing the restraint inside the young concrete body counteracted by adjacent structures, and how to estimate the risk of through cracking based on such restraint distributions. The restraint values in the young concrete are calculated with use of the finite element method, FEM. Any spatial structure may be analyzed with respect to the level of restraint. Calculations of risk of cracking are demonstrated with use of existing compensation plane methods, and a novel method denoted equivalent restraint method, ERM, is developed for the use of restraint curves. ERM enables the use of both heating ofthe adjacent structure and/or cooling of the young concrete, which are the most common measures used on site to reduce the risk of early cracking.In a design situation many parameters are to be considered, like type of cement, different concrete mixes, temperature in the fresh concrete, surrounding temperatures, temperature in the adjacent structure, measures on site (heating/cooling/insulation), sequence order of casting.Therefore, in general a lot of estimations concerning risks of cracking are to be performed. The main objective with the present study is to develop methods speeding up and shorten the design process.Furthermore, established restraint curves have been applied to the method of artificial neural networks (ANN) to model restraint in the slab, wall, and roof for the typical structure Tunnel. It has been shown that ANN is capable of modeling the restraint with good accuracy. The usage of the neural network has been demonstrated to give a clear picture of the relative importance of the input parameters. Further, results from the neural network can be represented by a series of basic weight and response functions, which enables that the restraint curves easily can be made available to any engineer without use of complicated software.A new casting technique is proposed to reduce restraint in the newly cast concrete with a new arrangement of the structural joint to the existing old concrete. The proposed technique is valid for the typical structure wall-on-slab using one structural joint. This casting method means that the lower part of the wall is cast together with the slab, and that part is called a kicker. It hasbeen proven by the beam theory and demonstrated by numerical calculations that there is a clear reduction in the restraint from the slab to the wall using kickers.Restraint is affected by casting sequence as well as boundary conditions and joint position between old and new concrete elements. This study discusses the influence of different possible casting sequences for the typical structure wall-on-slab and slab-on-ground. The aim is to identify the sequence with the lowest restraint to reduce the risk of cracking.