Rheology of the mortar phase of concrete with crushed aggregate

Abstract: In Sweden, concrete has traditionally been manufactured with glaciofluvial deposits as fine aggregate. In 2004 the production of this aggregate was approximately 21 million tons. Due to environmental reasons and local shortage of this natural resource there exists a goal to reduce the production to 12 million tons in year 2010. In order to compensate for the reduced production an alternative material which can be used as replacement has to be found. Aggregate from crushed bedrock is an alternative which is locally available and found in sufficient amounts. However, the characteristics of this type of aggregate generally differ from the ones of glaciofluvial fine aggregate and are known to generate concrete with higher water demand and lower workability. In order to facilitate a changeover to crushed fine aggregate, it is important to achieve a better understanding of the influence of crushed fine aggregate characteristics on the workability of concrete. The properties of the mortar phase of concrete influence the workability of concrete. The study of the mortar phase of concrete with crushed fine aggregate can therefore be valuable in predicting the influence of the fine aggregate characteristics on concrete workability. The aim of this licentiate thesis was to clarify the influence of the characteristics of crushed fine aggregate (0-2 mm) on the rheological properties of mortars. This included studies of the effect of aggregate shape, quality and amount of fines, washed fine aggregate and superplasticizer addition. The experimental work was divided into three different parts, i.e., zeta potential study, micromortar and mortar rheology. In the zeta potential part, the interaction between different fines and a common type of superplasticizer was studied. The results indicate that the superplasticizer is preferentially adsorbed on biotite rich fines. In the micromortar part, the fines fraction of different fine aggregates was studied separately in order to evaluate the influence of their particle shape, specific surface area and mineral composition. The results from this part showed that the quality of the fines has a large influence on the rheological properties of micromortars. Furthermore, the yield stress and plastic viscosity were shown to increase with the specific surface area of the fines. The results also suggest that the shape of the fines mainly influences the plastic viscosity, i.e., the viscosity of the micromortars with elongated fines was higher than the corresponding micromortars with cubic shaped fines. In the mortar part, different fine aggregates were studied both with their original and with standardized grading curves. The evaluation was done both with and without addition of superplasticizer and at different paste volumes. The effect of washed fine aggregate was also evaluated. The results show that the shape of the fine aggregate particles mainly influences the plastic viscosity of the mortar. The fines content was shown to increase the yield stress and, thus, the water demand of the mortar. Furthermore, the results showed that washing and the use of superplasticizer are two potential ways to reduce the water demand of mortars with fine aggregates from crushed rock. Finally, the results from this work suggests that the higher yield stress and plastic viscosity often shown by mortars containing crushed fine aggregate can be related to two main characteristics of the aggregate. The high yield stress is believed to mainly originate from the high amounts of fines often seen in crushed fine aggregates, while the higher plastic viscosity can be related to the more elongated particle shape of the fine aggregate.