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Typical semi-adiabatic temperature rise curve for a portland cement paste specimen

Typical semi-adiabatic temperature rise curve for a portland cement paste specimen

Reducing Early-Age Cracking Today

Concrete is generally viewed as a durable and long-lasting construction material. However, the long-term performance of a concrete structure can be greatly compromised by early-age cracking. One recent informal estimate from the industry places this as a $500 million problem in the U.S. alone, with some ready-mix companies experiencing early-age issues on as many as 70 % of their jobs. As is often the case, as a problem intensifies, mitigation strategies are developed and promoted from the research laboratory to the field. This paper will briefly review the most common non-structural causes of early-age cracking and present an introduction to various mitigation strategies. These strategies are being further investigated as part of a newly formed university/industry/government collaboration under the acronym of REACT: Reducing Early-Age Cracking Today.

Viewpoints on concrete cracking vary as widely as potential applications for this century-old construction material. At one end of the spectrum lies the commonly heard statement “all concrete cracks.” At the other end, there are numerous real world examples of crack-free (at least to the naked eye) concrete construction. As is usually the case, the truth likely lies between these two extremes, perhaps with a statement like “all concrete can be made to crack when proper design and construction practices are not followed.” However, when proper materials selection and placement procedures are followed, crack-free concrete can be a reality. Early-age cracking is a particular concern for the industry, both for aesthetic reasons and for its potentially detrimental impact on the service life performance of concrete facilities.



Created April 9, 2017, Updated November 15, 2019