One common concern limiting the proliferation of high-volume fly ash (HVFA) concrete mixtures is the significant delay in setting that is sometimes encountered in field concrete mixtures. While several methods to mitigate the delayed setting times of HVFA mixtures have been demonstrated, a related issue is the prediction of setting times in field mixtures, so that construction operations including finishing and curing can be anticipated and properly scheduled. This paper presents a feasibility study evaluating the employment of simple electrical measurements to predict the setting time of paste mixtures on which concurrent Vicat needle penetration testing was performed. Electrical, setting, and accompanying calorimetry tests are conducted under quasi-isothermal conditions to minimize the confounding influence of temperature on the obtained results. Electrical resistance (or heat flow) measurements can be used to adequately predict a mixtures initial setting time for a wide variety of binary and ternary powder blends, prepared at a constant water volume fraction. However, a simple parametric study in 100 % ordinary portland cement pastes in which water content (water-to-cement ratio) is varied indicates that the relation between resistance trends and subsequent setting times is strongly dependent on this parameter, as is also the case for the thermal measurements. This suggests that employment of this approach for field mixtures will require pre-determination of the resistance-setting time relationship for each mixture of interest (e.g., calibration) or at least that the on-site water content of the concrete mixture be assessed/verified by a separate measurement.
Journal of Materials in Civil Engineering
Electrical properties, heat release, high volume fly ash, hydration, initial setting, resistance.