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KSCE Journal of Civil Engineering (0000) 00(0):1-9

Copyright 2015 Korean Society of Civil Engineers


DOI 10.1007/s12205-015-1104-7

Structural Engineering

pISSN 1226-7988, eISSN 1976-3808


www.springer.com/12205

TECHNICAL NOTE

Mechanical Properties of Oil Palm Shell Lightweight Aggregate Concrete


Containing Palm Oil Fuel Ash as Partial Cement Replacement
K. Muthusamy* and N. A. Zamri**
Received February 4, 2015/Revised May 6, 2015/Accepted July 7, 2015/Published Online August 21, 2015

Abstract
The increasing in greenhouse gas emissions, as well as solid waste disposal from the cement manufacturing industry and the
Malaysian palm oil industries respectively contributes towards the undesirable 6C Scenario envisioned by the International Energy
Agency. The utilization of Palm Oil Fuel Ash (POFA) as partial cement replacement in the production of Oil Palm Shell (OPS)
Lightweight Aggregate Concrete (LWAC) would significantly reduce cement consumption and amount of disposed landfill waste. In
this investigation, the effect of POFA content as partial cement replacement towards the compressive strength of OPS lightweight
aggregate concrete has been conducted. A total of six OPS LWAC mixtures were prepared with varying the percentages of POFA viz.
0%, 10%, 20%, 30%, 40% and 50% to determine the best replacement of POFA as partial cement replacement. The ashes were
ground to enhance their pozzalanicity. The best replacement of POFA-20 was then used to investigate the mechanical properties of
OPS LWAC such as compressive strength, flexural strength and modulus of elasticity. The concretes containing POFA were placed in
different types of curing regimes namely water, air, sprayed and natural weather curing before subjected to compressive strength test
and flexural strength test at the age of 28, 60, 180,270 and 365 days. The compressive strength was conducted in accordance with the
BS EN12390-3 whilst the flexural strength test was carried out in accordance with the BS EN 12390-5. It was found that water curing
is the best method amongst others. OPS LWAC with POFA exhibits the highest results of compressive strength, flexural strength and
modulus of elasticity. The production of extra C-S-H gel resulting from better pozzolanic reaction for water cured OPS LWAC with
POFA has contributed to the densification of the internal structure that in turn enhances the concrete strength.
Keywords: oil palm shell, palm oil fuel ash, partial cement replacement, different curing regime compressive strength, flexural
strength

1. Introduction
Hitherto, the increase in the production of concrete is essentially
due to the higher demand from the construction industry that
continues to flourish in many parts of the globe. This material
that is produced annually over than 10 billion tonnes (Meyer,
2009) is well known for its excellent mechanical properties that
is achieved through the use of Portland cement as a sole binder.
In other words, concrete as a building material would perish
from the world of building construction upon the absence of
Portland cement in the mix. Despite its superior binding property
of Portland cement, the production of this material consumes a
large amount of natural resources and releases a colossal quantity
greenhouse gas thus posing a negative impact towards the
environment. The elimination of Portland cement use in concrete
mix is thus far impossible. However, the amount of this binder
used can be reduced by integrating supplementary cementitious
material derived from industrial wastes to produce a more

environmental friendly concrete. The utilisation of commonly


available solid wastes disposed by industry namely slag, fly ash
and silica fume in cement production serves the notion of
sustainable construction and preservation of natural resources for
future generation. In Malaysia, the issue of environmental
pollution posed by the disposal of palm oil fuel ash generated by
the countrys palm oil industry which is amongst the worlds
largest palm oil producer has opened up a new horizon for the
use of such waste in cement production.
About 4 million tonnes of Palm Oil Fuel Ash (POFA) is
produced annually (Mohamed et al., 2005). POFA is an endproduct produced from the burning of pressed oil palm shell and
fibre to generate power supply for the mill. In practice, this light
ash is often dumped as waste within the vicinity of the palm oil
mill. The disposed amount continues to rise along with the ever
growing palm oil industry which indicates the impending adverse
environmental issues in the near future (Hussin et al., 2010). The
anxiety towards reducing the amount of disposed POFA has

*Lecturer, Faculty of Civil Engineering and Earth Resources, Universiti Malaysia Pahang, Lebuhraya Tun Razak 26300 Gambang, Pahang, Malaysia (Corresponding Author, E-mail: khairunisa@ump.edu.my)
**MEng. Student, Faculty of Civil Engineering and Earth Resources, Universiti Malaysia Pahang, Lebuhraya Tun Razak 26300 Gambang, Pahang, Malaysia
(E-mail: nurazzimahzamri@yahoo.com)
1

K. Muthusamy and N. A. Zamri

initiated an early investigation conducted by Hussin and Abdul


Awal (1996) that led to the discovery that this solid waste
material is a pozzolanic material rich in silica and is suitable to
be used as partial cement replacement. The utilisation of this
significant finding was further expanded through the successful
incorporation of POFA in many types of concrete namely
ordinary concrete (Abdul Awal 1998), high strength concrete
(Budiea et al., 2008a) and aerated concrete (Hussin et al., 2010)
that exhibits enhanced properties as compared to plain concrete.
However, the continuous development of new modern concretes
has opened up more areas for exploration of POFA as a potential
partial cement replacement in these new revolutionized concretes.
The inclusion of POFA in oil palm shell lightweight aggregate
concrete has yet to be experimented.
The vast amount of oil palm shell generated from Malaysian
palm oil industry which are disposed of as waste has led to the
use of this material as a lightweight aggregate. This eventually
led to the inception Oil Palm Shell (OPS) lightweight aggregate
concrete by Mannan and Ganapathy, (2001). Lightweight aggregate concrete has been contractors choice in many developed
countries due to its versatility and effectiveness in reducing the
dead load of structure which contribute to cost reduction. Every
year, approximately 6.89 million tonnes of Oil Palm Shell (OPS)
is generated (Chong et al., 2013). The practice of stockpiling it
behind the mill and then leaving it to degrade naturally is seemed
to be less sensible approach as it takes a long time to deteriorate.
The continuous generation of oil palm shell, in turn increases the
amount of oil palm shell dumped brings about pollution to the
environment as well as contributing towards an unpleasant sight
(Mo et al., 2015). Therefore, the abundant supply of Oil Palm
Shell (OPS) suggests its feasibility as an alternative source for
production of lightweight aggregate concrete locally. Its excess
would ensure its vital role as a viable construction material that is
readily available and affordable for local contractors. Its utilisation
shall also simultaneously reduce the amount of oil palm shell
disposed of as an environmentally polluting waste.
Like any other types of concrete, the OPS lightweight aggregate concrete has its properties continuously improvised through
the modification in its mixing ingredient. With regard to this
issue, the amount of cement for OPS lightweight aggregate
concrete which is higher than normal concrete has initiated
investigations amongst researchers to reduce the quantity of this
binder. Attempts have been made to reduce the use Portland
cement by integrating mineral admixture such as slag (Shafigh et
al., 2013a) and fly ash (Shafigh et al., 2013b). The availability of
POFA in this country offers the opportunity to integrate this
material as partial cement replacement in OPS lightweight
aggregate concrete production. Thus, the current investigation
looks into improving the strength performance of OPS lightweight aggregate concrete through the incorporation of palm oil
fuel ash. Success in integrating POFA as partial cement replacement in oil palm shell lightweight aggregate concrete could
produce a greener lightweight aggregate concrete thus offering
solution to the waste management issue faced by palm oil

industry and most importantly reduced the Portland cement


consumption. The utilisation of these waste materials in producing building material in the construction industry would help
preserving natural resources and apart from maintaining ecological balance.
The aim of this study is to develop a new greener type of
lightweight aggregate concrete known as palm oil fuel ash cement
based oil palm shell lightweight aggregate concrete. In this
research, the effects of using different percentage of palm oil fuel
ash as partial cement replacement were investigated. The strength
performances of this newly developed concrete upon implementation of different curing regime were also studied to determine
the best curing method to be applied. Towards the end of the
study, the best performing specimens were subjected to the
modulus of elasticity test and a microstructural investigation.

2. Experimental Programme
2.1 Materials
The materials used in this study consist of ordinary Portland
cement, sand, Oil Palm Shell (OPS), Palm Oil Fuel Ash (POFA),
superplasticizer and tap water. A single batch of Ordinary
Portland Cement (OPC) that conforms with MS 522: Part 1:
(2003) for Portland cement specification was used as a binder to
produce all the concrete specimens. Tap water was used for
concrete mixing work and curing purpose. A small percentage of
Superplasticizer, categorized as Type A water reducing admixtures
in accordance with ASTM C494-05 (2005) was employed in the
mix at the amount of 1% of the cementitious material. The fine
aggregate used is local river sand with fineness modulus of 2.62.
In this study, the OPS were used as coarse aggregate in this
lightweight concrete mix. POFA was added as partial cement
replacement. OPS and POFA shown in Figs. 1 and 2 were
collected from a palm oil mill located in the state of Pahang,
West Malaysia. The OPS were washed thoroughly until the dirt
and fibers on its surface were removed at the UMP concrete
laboratory. Then, it is air dried and sieved through a 10 mm sieve
to remove smaller particles. The OPS were then crushed before
sieved again using 5 mm sieve. The physical properties of the

Fig. 1. OPS at Palm Oil Mill


KSCE Journal of Civil Engineering

Mechanical Properties of Oil Palm Shell Lightweight Aggregate Concrete Containing Palm Oil Fuel Ash as Partial Cement Replacement

prepared ground OPS and POFA are illustrated in Figs. 3 and 4


respectively.
2.2 Mix Proportioning
The experimental work is divided into two stages. The first is
essentially the identification of the most suitable percentage of
palm oil fuel ash that would produce a mix with optimum
strength. Six types of mixes namely plain Oil Palm Shell Lightweight Aggregate Concrete (OPS LWAC) and OPS lightweight
aggregate concrete containing different content of POFA as
partial cement replacement were considered. The concretes were
prepared in the form of cubes (100 100 100 mm). The
control specimen, a plain OPS LWAC with 100% OPC of Grade
30 was designed using trial mix method as specified by Shafigh
et al. (2010). Next, the OPS LWAC with POFA was prepared by
integrating a range of POFA content as partial cement replacement. The use of POFA as partial cement replacement in OPS
LWAC was based on a simple approach viz. by direct replacement by weight of total binder material. The cement replacement
is varied from 10% to 50% with 10% interval leading to the
formulation of mix identified as POFA-0, POFA-10, POFA-20,
POFA-30, POFA-40 and POFA-50 as tabulated in Table 2.
The second stage of the experiment, investigates the strength
performance of oil palm shell lightweight aggregate in different
curing regime at various curing age. Only two types of mixes
were used that is the best performing OPS LWAC with 20%
POFA (POFA-20) in terms of strength and the ordinary OPS
LWAC (POFA-0) as control specimen. Specimens were cast and
then covered with wet gunny sack for 24 hours before demoulded and placing it in different curing environment. Then, the
specimens were subjected to four types of curing regimes
namely water, air, sprayed curing and natural weather curing
until the age of testing. The details of curing regimes employed

Fig. 2. POFA at Palm Oil Mill


Table 1. Physical Properties of Ground OPS
Physical Property
Specific Gravity
Fineness Modulus
Bulk Density (compacted) (kg/m3)
Water absorption (24 hour)
Moisture Content

Ground OPS
2.3
5.80
596
22.22
13.83

Table 2. Mix Proportion of Concrete Mixes


Fig. 3. Ground OPS

Mixes

Cement

Sand

500
450
400
350
300
250

870
870
870
870
870
870

POFA-0
POFA-10
POFA-20
POFA-30
POFA-40
POFA-50

Mix Proportion (kg/m3)


Ground
SuperPOFA
OPS
plasticizer
360
5.0
360
50
5.0
360
100
5.0
360
150
5.0
360
200
5.0
360
250
5.0

Water
225
225
225
225
225
225

Table 3. Curing Regimes


Curing
Water Curing

Fig. 4. Ground POFA

ground OPS are tabulated in Table 1. POFA taken from palm oil
mill were sieved using 300 m and ground to be very fine. The
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Remark
Specimen was immersed inside water tank for one year
Specimen was placed in concrete laboratory for one
Air Curing
year
Natural
Specimen was placed outdoor, exposed to rain and
Weather Curing sunny day for one year
Specimen was covered using gunny sack and watered
Sprayed Curing
three times a day for one year

K. Muthusamy and N. A. Zamri

are tabulated in Table 3.


2.3 Mechanical Properties Testing
2.3.1 Compressive Strength Test
For all concrete mixes, specimen cubes of (100 100 100
mm) were prepared. Three cubes were made for each mix. The
compressive strength test was conducted at 28, 60, 180, 270 and
365 days of curing adhering to the procedure in BS EN 12390-3
(2009). The compressive strength result for each mix was
obtained by taking the average of three data.
2.3.2 Flexural Strength Test
The flexural strength test was conducted in accordance to BS
EN 12390-5 (2009). Prism specimens of size 100 100 500
mm were used throughout this test. The specimens were tested to
determine its strength performance at 28, 60, 180, 270 and 365
days.

Fig. 6. Tiny and Angular Shape of POFA Sample after Grinding


Process
Table 4. Chemical Constituent of Ordinary Portland Cement (OPC)
and Palm Oil Fuel Ash (POFA)

2.3.3 Modulus of Elasticity Test


Concrete cylinders with the dimension of 100 mm 200 mm
were used to perform elasticity modulus test in accordance with
BS 1881 : Part 121 (1983). The specimens cured under the
standard water conditions for 28, 60, 180, 270 and 365 days.

Chemical Constituent
Silicon dioxide (SiO2)
Aluminium oxide (AL2O3)
Ferric oxide (Fe2O3)
Calcium oxide (CaO)
Magnesium oxide(MgO)
Sodium oxide (Na2O)
Pottasium oxide (K2O)
Sulphur oxide (SO3)
Lost of ignition (LOI)

3. Results and Discussion


3.1 Properties of Palm Oil Fuel Ash
According to ASTM C618-05 (2005), for a material to be used
as a mineral admixture in concrete, the maximum amount of
pozzolanic material that can be retained when sieved wet on a 45
m sieve is 34%. After subjected to grinding process, the wet
sieve test conducted on the processed POFA and it was found
that only 3% retained on 45 m sieve. Fig. 5 shows the large and
spherical shape of unground POFA which has been transformed
into a finer and angular form through grinding process as in Fig.
6. Based on the composition tabulated in Table 3, this palm oil
fuel ash is classified under the Class C pozzolan in accordance to

Fig. 5. Unground POFA Appearing in Large and Spherical Shape

OPC
16.05
3.67
3.41
62.28
0.56
0.06
0.82
4.10
1.20

POFA
51.55
4.64
8.64
5.91
2.44
0.07
5.50
0.61
5.00

ASTM C618-05 (2005). Table 4 illustrates the constituent of


ordinary Portland cement and palm oil fuel ash, respectively.
3.2 Effect of POFA on Compressive Strength Subjected to
Moist Curing
The compressive strength at 28 days of OPS LWAC for all
variation of Palm Oil Fuel Ash (POFA) percentage is presented
in Fig. 7. Evidently, concrete specimens exhibit increment in the
compressive strength when POFA is added from 10, 20 and 30%
replacement by weight of cement. Amongst all the mixes, POFA20 exhibits the highest compressive strength with the density
value of 1843 kg/m3. The increase in strength of OPS LWAC
with POFA could be attributed to the improvement in the bond
between the hydrated cement matrix and the aggregate. The
calcium hydroxide (Ca(OH)2) generated from the hydration process were used during pozzolanic reaction leading to the formation
of a secondary calcium silicate hydrate (CSH) gel. This gel
fills in the voids of concrete internal structure that in turn
enhances strength of the blended cement OPS lightweight aggregate concrete through densification of structure. The contribution
of palm oil fuel ash through role of pozzolanic reaction in
producing secondary C-S-H gel which increases the ability of
concrete to sustain load has previously been highlighted by Abdul

KSCE Journal of Civil Engineering

Mechanical Properties of Oil Palm Shell Lightweight Aggregate Concrete Containing Palm Oil Fuel Ash as Partial Cement Replacement

Fig. 7. Compressive Strength of OPS LWAC Specimens with Different POFA Content at 28 days

Fig. 8. Compressive Strength of OPS LWAC with POFA (POFA-20)

Awal (1998), Megat Johari et al. (2012), Budiea et al. (2008b)


and Hussin et al. (2008).
In contrast, the strength development showed a declining trend
with a further replacement of cement with POFA (40% and
50%). Excessive use of POFA as partial cement replacement
significantly reduces the amount of cement used in the concrete
mix, consequently reduces the hydration products. As a result,
the lower amount of Ca(OH)2 produced would be insufficient for
the available silica in POFA to transform it into C-S-H gel. The
substantial increase in pozzolan contents leads to a surplus of the
small sized fraction that move apart from cement grains, causing
the unpacking of the system. This unpacking in turn results in a
considerable reduction in the strength of the system. This finding
is in good agreement with the finding of Masazza (1993), adding
too much of pozzolanic ash in concrete mix results in strength
reduction. A similar trend was also observed in ordinary concrete
(Abdul Awal, 1998) as well as aerated concrete (Abdullah et al.,
2009).
3.3 Compressive Strength under Different Curing Regime
Two types of mixes, control specimen (POFA-0) and another
mix containing POFA (POFA-20) that exhibited optimum strength
from the experimental work conducted at first phase were selected
to be used in the next stage of this research. The second stage of
this research investigates the effect of curing regime on the
strength performance of those mixes. The compressive strength
data for 28, 60, 180, 270 and 365 days of age of both mixes
POFA-0 and POFA-20 upon subjected to four different types of
curing regimes namely water, sprayed, air and natural weather
curing are plotted in Figs. 8 and 9. It is apparent that different
curing method influences the strength development of both type
of specimen especially the one containing POFA as partial cement
replacement. Placing the concrete specimen in a high humidity
environment namely in water curing and sprayed curing regimes
prevents excessive loss of moisture and controls the evaporation
of moisture from the concrete surface. Whilst, prolonged exposure of the specimens to moist condition promotes the generation
of C-S-H gels that increases the concrete strength.
By comparing the performance of both mixes, POFA-20 exhibited better strength than the control specimen (POFA-0) in
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Fig. 9. Compressive Strength of OPS LWAC without POFA (POFA-0)

both water and sprayed curing regime throughout the curing age.
Evidently, the application of water curing successfully assists the
concrete to exhibit the highest compressive strength. The availability of moisture, assists POFA to react with calcium hydroxide
formed during the hydration process thus producing larger amount
of secondary C-S-H gel that makes the Interfacial Transition
Zone (ITZ) of the blended cement concrete denser and stronger
in comparison to plain specimen. Duan et al. (2013) opined that
occurrence of pozzolanic reaction upon the integration of pozzolanic ash as supplementary cementitious material will improve
the pore structure and ITZ to be denser. Another researcher,
Tanaka and Kurumisawa (2002) also highlighted out that the
strength of ITZ is one of the main factors that contribute towards
compressive strength. Therefore, it could be concluded that, continuous availability of moisture provides a conducive environment
for the occurrence of better pozzolanic reaction that substantially
contributes towards the refinement of pore structure that leads to
strength enhancement.
It was observed that POFA-20 in air curing regime exhibited
lower strength as compared to the fully cured concrete. Within
the initial periods which after the concrete were demoulded,
there is sufficient moisture in the concrete (until the age of 60
days) due to the high humidity environment in the laboratory for
the hydration process and pozzolanic reaction to take place. This
condition enables the specimens to exhibit higher value of compressive strength than the control specimen. The humidity level
in concrete laboratory is not uncommon in tropical regions and it
allows lower evaporation of concrete specimen compared to
drier environment (Shafigh et al., 2013a). However, at the age of

K. Muthusamy and N. A. Zamri

60 days, the concrete begins to experience a reduction its strength


that is lower than plain OPS LWAC. The absence of water
interrupts the further occurrence of pozzolanic reaction causing
the POFA-20 to have lesser amount of C-S-H gel which in turn
reduces the strength. Similarly results were reported from literature
(Muthusamy, 2009; Shafigh et al., 2013a).
Concrete specimens cured under natural weather curing method
do not perform well for both types of mixes, as it demonstrate the
least compressive strength. This undesirable characteristic is
presumably due to the hot weather conditions around February
2014 to April 2014 which is the period on when the concrete
specimens have been cast and subjected to curing. This hot
weather condition causes excessive water evaporation from the
concrete surface that leads to incomplete hydration process. At
higher temperatures, the rate of cement hydration is negatively
affected by the hydration process leading to poor strength development (Mannan and Ganapathy, 2002). The 28-day compressive
strength of POFA-20 that was subjected to sprayed curing, air
curing and natural weather curing was approximately 65%, 64%
and 62% of concrete of full water curing condition, respectively.
The results of this investigation indicate that the strength of OPS
concrete containing palm oil fuel ash is very much dependent on
the continuous presence of water throughout its curing age. It is
apparent that, the lack of moisture supply disrupts both hydration
process and pozzolanic reaction, which in effect results in poor
concrete strength. This observation is congruent with the findings
of Ozer and Ozkul (2004). They concluded that concrete containing pozzolanic ash are more adversely affected by poor
curing conditions than OPC concrete. Categorically, it is evident
that water curing is the most suitable curing medium for OPS
lightweight aggregate concrete produced by incorporating palm
oil fuel ash as partial cement replacement.
3.4 Flexural Strength
The development of the specimens flexural strength with
curing age under different types of curing regime is illustrated in
Figs. 10 and 11. The results show a similar general trend for
compressive strength under different curing regimes. Both
POFA-0 and POFA-20 show a substantial increase in the flexural
strength from the age of 28 to 365 days. Water cured POFA-20
exhibits the highest flexural strength amongst others. Continuous
water curing is the ideal method for preventing loss of moisture
from the concrete and conducive medium for better hydration
process as well as the pozzolanic reaction to take place.
Conversely, natural weather curing produces concrete with the
least flexural strength value as compared to other curing
methods. Air curing method also was found to offer a less
favourable effect on the flexural strength development of POFA20, as compared to POFA-0.
Evidently, the inclusion of POFA as partial cement
replacement produces concrete with higher strength when the
period of water supplied is longer. SiO2 of ground POFA reacts
with the Ca(OH)2 liberated from cement hydration in the
presence of water (pozzolanic reaction). This reaction forms

Fig. 10. Flexural Strength of OPS LWAC with POFA (POFA-20)

Fig. 11. Flexural Strength of OPS LWAC without POFA (POFA-0)

additional or secondary calcium silicate hydrate (CSH) gel


that gives away more homogeneous densely packed microstructure that enhances the concrete strength. On the other hand,
plain concrete (POFA-0) have a lesser amount of total amount of
CSH gel since there is no further reaction takes place apart
from the hydration process. The role of calcium silicate hydrate
as the primary product of cement hydration that contributes most
to engineering properties of concrete was highlighted by Hu et
al. (2014).
The 28-day flexural strength loss of POFA-20 under sprayed
curing, air curing and natural weather curing was approximately
74%, 70% and 62% respectively, as compared to concrete
subjected to full water curing condition. On the other hand, the
strength values of POFA-0 specimens subjected to sprayed
curing, air curing and natural weather curing is 85%, 76% and
74% as compared to the samples placed under water curing.
Ostensibly, OPS LWAC containing palm oil fuel ash (POFA-20)
is more sensitive to the curing method applied compared to
ordinary concrete. A continuous supply of water is vital owing to
the high dependency of pozzolanic reaction on the availability of
moisture. In general, this result is consistent with the findings of
Abdullah et al. (2009) whom reported that the performance of
concrete strength produced through the incorporation of palm oil
fuel ash appears to be higher than plain concrete upon prolonged
exposure to water supply.
3.5 Relationship between Compressive Strength and Flexural Strength
Figures 12 and 13 shows the relationship between the compressive
and flexural strength of POFA-0 and POFA-20 mixtures under

KSCE Journal of Civil Engineering

Mechanical Properties of Oil Palm Shell Lightweight Aggregate Concrete Containing Palm Oil Fuel Ash as Partial Cement Replacement

concrete. Only water cured POFA-20 is able to achieve the


targeted strength at 28 days. Shetty (2005) reported that the
flexural strength of concrete having a compressive strength of
more than 25 MPa, is approximately between 8-11% of its
compressive strength. The flexural strength percentage of water
cured POFA-20 is also close to this range. It is evident that, water
curing is the most suitable curing method to be employed to
achieve desirable compressive and flexural strength.

Fig. 12. Relationship Between Compressive Strength and Flexural


of OPS LWAC with POFA (POFA-20) after Subjected to
Various Curing Regimes for 365 days

different curing conditions up to 365 days. An increase in both


compressive strength and flexural strength with age was observed
in all the concrete specimens, irrespective of the curing methods
applied. However, it is worth mentioning that the compressive
strength value exhibited by the specimens varies depending on
the curing method employed. A similar trend was observed on
the flexural strength of concrete specimens. As for compressive
strength, it can be seen that the flexural strength for both mixes is
the highest upon subjected to water curing as compared to
sprayed curing, air curing and natural weather curing.
Evidently, the flexural strength performance of plain concrete
subjected to water curing, sprayed curing and air curing was not
significantly apparent. On the other hand, the strength performance of water cured POFA-20 exhibits a larger stark difference
as compared to the specimens placed under sprayed curing and
air curing. Lack of moisture supply disturbed the hydration
process, and pozzolanic reaction leads to the production of a
lower amount of C-S-H gel that in turn reduces the strength of

3.6 Modulus of Elasticity


The modulus of elasticity of POFA-0 and POFA-20 mixtures
under different curing conditions is shown in Fig. 14. Throughout
the curing age, POFA-20 shows higher results value as compared
to the control specimen. The better performance of the specimen
containing POFA is due to the utilisation of ash which is a pozzolanic material that chemically reacts with calcium hydroxide
Ca(OH)2 released during cement hydration. The silica from
pozzolanic material that reacts with Ca(OH)2 and water produces
calcium silicate hydrate (C-S-H) gel that makes the internal
structure of the concrete denser that in turn, increases the elasticity modulus of the concrete. As the curing age increased, the
higher modulus of elasticity is demonstrated as compared to the
control specimen as a more densely packed microstructure is
achieved.
This finding is in a good agreement with the finding of Sideris
et al. (2004) whom suggests that the changes in microstructure of

Fig. 14. Modulus of Elasticity of Concretes

Fig. 13. Relationship Between Compressive Strength and Flexural


of OPS LWAC without POFA (POFA-0) after Subjected to
Various Curing Regimes for 365 days
Vol. 00, No. 0 / 000 0000

Fig. 15. SEM Image of 1 year Water Cured OPS LWAC with POFA
(POFA-20)

K. Muthusamy and N. A. Zamri

Fig. 16. SEM Image of 1 year Water Cured Plain Plain OPS LWAC
without POFA (POFA-0)

paste with age, increases the compressive strength and the


modulus of elasticity of a specimen as well. Fig. 15 illustrates the
dense internal structure of OPS LWAC containing POFA with
abundant C-S-H gel in the form of cotton shape. Prolonged
curing up to one year has enabled more C-S-H gel to be formed
when SiO2 from POFA reacts with Ca(OH)2 produced from
hydration of cement. This resulted in more densely packed
microstructure with higher value of modulus of elasticity than
POFA-0. As can be observed in the internal structure of POFA-0
in Fig. 16, lesser amount of C-S-H gel were produced and the
presence of Ca(OH)2 (circled in red) is also detected. The use of
100% OPC in POFA-0 produces smaller amount of C-S-H gel
and the Ca(OH)2 remains as it is without being used unlike OPS
LWAC containing POFA. The findings obtained are also in good
agreement with the results obtained by Newman and Choo
(2003) that highlights the increase in modulus elasticity of
concrete through the inclusion of pozzolanic ash.

4. Conclusions
Based on the results obtained from this study, the following
conclusions are made:
Oil palm shell lightweight aggregate concrete exhibits the
highest compressive strength upon the inclusion of 20% POFA
as partial cement replacement. The occurrence of optimum
pozzolanic reaction has enabled the densification of the concrete
internal structure causing it to exhibit the highest strength value
amongst all mixes.
The utilisation of POFA as partial cement replacement up to
30% is able to produce oil palm shell lightweight aggregate concrete exhibiting the targeted compressive strength.
Oil palm shell lightweight aggregate concrete produced using
40 and 50% palm oil fuel ash also can be used for structural
application.
The strength performance of POFA-20 is very much dependent
on the duration of the specimen as it comes in contact with
moisture. Therefore, it can be concluded that, water curing is the
best curing method for OPS LWAC containing POFA as it

promotes better hydration process and pozzolanic reaction that


lead to the generation of a larger amount of C-S-H gel. This is in
turn, enhances the compressive strength and flexural strength of
concrete as the gel occupies the existing voids in concrete making it denser and stronger.
The application of air curing is not recommended as the
absence of water disrupts the pozzolanic reaction that is essential
for POFA-20 strength development.
POFA-20 exhibits higher value of modulus of elasticity as
compared to plain concrete because of stiffer condition of concrete as a result of the pozzolanic reaction that makes the internal
structure more compact.
Adopting POFA as supplementary material in the production
of oil palm shell lightweight aggregate concrete would reduce
Portland cement consumption as well as reducing the amount of
ash disposed apart from assisting the palm oil industry to be
more environmentally friendly industry.

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