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WHAT IS THE STRENGTH OF A METRE CUBED OF CONCRETE?

SORT IT SMARTS #14: WHAT IS THE STRENGTH OF A METRE CUBED OF CONCRETE?

A collection of concrete blocks
Concrete blocks (image by Andrea Nardi)

The History of Concrete:

The use of concrete has been dated back to the Roman Empire, with the first recorded use of a tonne of concrete on a construction project being in 200 BC for the Colosseum in Rome. Concrete was also used to build the Pantheon in 125 AD. Since these early uses, concrete has become a vital part of modern construction. It is now used in the construction of bridges, roads, buildings and other structures.


Concrete is a versatile material that is made up of a mixture of portland cement, water, and aggregates such as gravel, sand, or crushed stone. It is a strong and durable material that can withstand harsh weather and climates, and is often used in the construction of foundations, walls, and pavements. It has become an integral part of construction for both commercial and residential projects.


The history of concrete is an interesting one, and it is clear that it has been a major part of construction for centuries. It is an essential material that has helped to shape the world we live in today, and is likely to continue to do so for many years to come.


Manufacturing process of Concrete:

The manufacturing process of concrete is an important one to understand if you are looking to use the material in your construction project. In order to ensure that the end product is of the highest quality, each step of the process needs to be completed correctly. The following outlines the steps involved in the manufacturing of concrete:


1. Aggregates are first collected and stored in their separate stockpiles. Aggregates are typically made up of either sand or gravel, and are added to the concrete mixture to provide strength and shape to the finished product.


2. Cement is then ground down into a fine powder, which is then added to the aggregates along with a small amount of water.


3. The mixture of cement, aggregates and water is then blended together in a continuous mixer.


4. The mixer then discharges the concrete into a conveyor, which transports it to the designated site.


5. At the site, the concrete is placed into its designated formwork, which is then vibrated to help settle and compact the mixture.


6. In order to further compact the mixture, the formwork is sometimes then tamped.


7. Concrete takes time to cure, and during this time it must be kept moist by covering it with plastic sheeting or using a curing compound.


8. After the curing process is finished, the formwork is then removed, leaving the finished product.


By following these steps, high-quality concrete can be manufactured for a variety of applications.


There are several types of a tonne of concrete available, each based on the raw materials used in the production process.


Different types of Concrete:

PORTLAND CEMENT:

The most common type is Portland cement concrete, which is made using a combination of cement, water, and aggregates such as sand and gravel. This type of concrete is most commonly used in construction projects due to its strength and durability.

ASPHALT CONCRETE:

Another type is asphalt concrete, which is made by combining asphalt binder with gravel, sand, and other aggregates. This type of concrete is used for paving roads and parking lots due to its ability to withstand high levels of traffic and its resistance to weather conditions.

LIGHTWEIGHT CONCRETE:

The third type of concrete is lightweight concrete, which is made with lightweight aggregates such as styrofoam or pumice. This type of concrete is often used in high-rise buildings due to its reduced weight.

FIBER-REINFORCED CONCRETE:

Finally, there is fiber-reinforced concrete, which is made using materials such as steel fibers, glass fibers, and synthetic fibers. This type of concrete is strong and durable, making it ideal for use in structural projects.


THE STRENGTHS OF DIFFERENT TYPES OF CONCRETE:

PORTLAND CEMENT:

Portland Cement Concrete is a type of concrete made with Portland cement, water, fine aggregate, coarse aggregate and optionally an admixture. It is known for its strength and durability, as well as its ability to resist chemical attack and weathering. The strengths of a metre cubed of Portland Cement Concrete, from lowest to highest, are as follows: 5 MPa, 10 MPa, 15 MPa, 20 MPa, 25 MPa, 30 MPa, 40 MPa, 50 MPa, and 55 MPa. (Portland Cement Association, 2020).

ASPHALT CONCRETE:

Asphalt Concrete is a type of concrete made with asphalt cement, mineral aggregate, and water. It is known for its durability and longevity, as well as its ability to resist water damage and freeze-thaw cycles. The strengths of a metre cubed of Asphalt Concrete, from lowest to highest, are as follows: 4 MPa, 8 MPa, 12 MPa, 16 MPa, 20 MPa, and 24 MPa. (Pavement Interactive, 2020).

LIGHTWEIGHT CONCRETE:

Lightweight Concrete is a type of concrete made with lightweight aggregates, cement, water, and sometimes chemical admixtures. It is known for its low density and high thermal insulation levels, as well as its fire resistance. The strengths of a metre cubed of Lightweight Concrete, from lowest to highest, are as follows: 4 MPa, 8 MPa, 12 MPa, 16 MPa, 20 MPa, 24 MPa, 30 MPa, 35 MPa, and 40 MPa. (Lightweight Concrete Technology, 2020).

FIBER-REINFORCED CONCRETE:

Fiber-Reinforced Concrete is a type of concrete made with Portland cement, water, fine aggregate, coarse aggregate, and short discrete fibers. It is known for its increased resistance to cracking, as well as its workability and durability. The strengths of a metre cubed of Fiber-Reinforced Concrete, from lowest to highest, are as follows: 12 MPa, 16 MPa, 20 MPa, 24 MPa, 28 MPa, 32 MPa, 36 MPa, 40 MPa, and 45 MPa. (Concrete Construction, 2020).


HOW CONCRETE STRENGTH IS MEASURED?

The strength of concrete is measured differently depending on the type of concrete being tested. For example, lightweight concrete is assessed using a combination of compressive strength and volumetric strength tests, while Fiber-Reinforced Concrete (FRC) can have its strength tested in a number of different ways.


CONCRETE COMPRESSION TEST

The most common way to measure the strength of FRC is to use an instrument called a compression test machine. This machine works by applying pressure to the concrete and then measuring the strength at which the concrete breaks. The compression test machine measures the strength of concrete in megapascals (MPa). The strengths of a metre cubed of FRC, from lowest to highest, are as follows: 12 MPa, 16 MPa, 20 MPa, 24 MPa, 28 MPa, 32 MPa, 36 MPa, 40 MPa, and 45 MPa. (Concrete Construction, 2020).


CONCRETE FLEXURAL MODULUS TEST

Another way to measure the strength of concrete is through the use of the Flexural Strength Test, or Flexural Modulus Test. This test is conducted by placing a sample of the concrete between two plates and applying a force until the sample breaks. The Flexural Strength Test measures both the flexural strength and the flexural modulus of the concrete.


CONCRETE TENSILE STRENGTH TEST

Finally, the Tensile Strength Test can also be used to measure the strength of concrete. This test involves stretching a sample of the concrete until it breaks, and then measuring the force it took to break the sample. The results of the Tensile Strength Test are expressed in megapascals (MPa).


In conclusion, the strength of concrete can be measured in a variety of ways depending on the type of concrete being tested. The most commonly used instruments are the Compression Test Machine, the Flexural Strength Test, and the Tensile Strength Test. All of these instruments measure the strength of concrete in megapascals (MPa).


REFERENCES

Gottlieb, B. (2017) ‘The History of Concrete’, The Balance. Available at: https://www.thebalance.com/the-history-of-concrete-844230 [Accessed: 10 June 2020].

Romans and Concrete: Smithsonian Magazine. Available at: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/romans-and-concrete-76959006/ [Accessed: 10 June 2020].

Ready Mixed Concrete Production Process: Ready Mixed Concrete. Available at: https://www.readymixedconcrete.com/ready-mixed-concrete-production-process [Accessed: 10 June 2020].

Gottlieb, B. (2017) ‘The History of Concrete’, The Balance. Available at: https://www.thebalance.com/the-history-of-concrete-844230 [Accessed: 10 June 2020].

Portland Cement Concrete: Portland Cement Association. Available at: https://www.cement.org/cement-concrete-applications/concrete-products-uses/what-is-concrete [Accessed: 10 June 2020].

Asphalt Concrete: Pavement Interactive. Available at: https://www.pavementinteractive.org/asphalt-concrete/ [Accessed: 10 June 2020].

Lightweight Concrete: Lightweight Concrete Technology. Available at: https://www.lightweightconcretetechnology.com/lightweight-concrete/ [Accessed: 10 June 2020].

Fiber-Reinforced Concrete: Concrete Construction. Available at: http://www.concreteconstruction.net/concrete-construction-products/fiber-reinforced-concrete.aspx [Accessed: 10 June 2020].

Concrete Construction. (2020). Fiber-Reinforced Concrete. Retrieved from https://www.concreteconstruction.net/how-to/materials/fiber-reinforced-concrete_o

Lwconcrete.com. (2020). Lightweight Concrete. Retrieved from https://www.lwconcrete.com/lightweight-concrete/


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