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Reducing Set Retardation in High Volume Fly Ash Mixtures with the Use of Limestone: Improving Constructability for Sustainability



Dale P. Bentz


From a sustainability perspective, high volume fly ash (HVFA) concretes are attractive not only because of the reduction in cement content and its associated greenhouse gases that they provide, but also because they avoid landfilling excessive quantities of fly ash. These sustainability benefits are often tempered by practical constructability limitations that may exist for HVFA concretes: retardation and diminution of the early age reactions, delays in setting (and finishing operations), and lower early-age strengths. This paper explores the alleviation of these deficiencies in HVFA mixtures via the incorporation of fine limestone powders into ternary blends. Isothermal calorimetry and Vicat needle penetration measurements are employed to assess reaction rates and setting times, respectively. A systematic variation of the content and fineness of the limestone powder in mixtures containing either a Class C or a Class F fly ash indicates that setting times are linearly correlated with the surface area supplied by the limestone. Comparison of a limestone system to one containing an inert TiO2 of similar particle size indicates that the acceleration and amplification effects of the limestone are due to both physical (nucleation) and chemical (additional calcium ions) processes. The results indicate that ternary blends with 40 % of the cement by volume replaced by 30 % to 35 % fly ash and 5 % to 10 % limestone at a constant water volume fraction can be achieved without significant delays in setting.
Journal of the Transportation Research Board


Fly Ash, Limestone, Constructability, Sustainability


Bentz, D. (2012), Reducing Set Retardation in High Volume Fly Ash Mixtures with the Use of Limestone: Improving Constructability for Sustainability, Journal of the Transportation Research Board, [online], (Accessed April 24, 2024)
Created May 8, 2012, Updated May 5, 2017