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International Journal of Civil Engineering and Technology (IJCIET)

Volume 7, Issue 2, March-April 2016, pp. 328340, Article ID: IJCIET_07_02_029

Available online at
Journal Impact Factor (2016): 9.7820 (Calculated by GISI) www.jifactor.com
ISSN Print: 0976-6308 and ISSN Online: 0976-6316
IAEME Publication


Abaho. G
Research Scholar, Department of Civil Engineering,
School of Engineering and Technology,Jain University, Bangalore
M. R. Prenesh
Professor, Department of Civil Engineering Engineering,
School of Engineering and Technology,Jain University, Bangalore
The experimental tests conducted helps to study the concrete properties of
volcanic concrete systems with granite replacement of river sand. The test
results show that granite rock aggregates is an alternative construction
material to river sand with a beneficial effect of reduced permeability
properties. Compression strength, Corrosion potential and polarization
resistance test results give an impression that 30% river sand replacement in
volcanic concrete system is more resistant to sulfate attack as compared to
same systems with no replacement. The reduced permeability property of
concrete system could lead to reduced chances of corrosion of steel in
reinforced concrete structures hence to increased durability of structures.
Key word: Sulfate Attack, Volcanic Concrete System, Granite Rock Powder,
River Sand, Corrosion of Reinforcement
Cite this Article: Abaho. G and M. R. Prenesh. Corrosion of Steel In
Embedded Concrete with Volcanic Aggregates Due To Sulfate Attack,
International Journal of Civil Engineering and Technology, 7(2), 2016, pp.

Industrialization and urbanization development in Rwanda involves constructions of
different types of infrastructure hence consuming large quantities of building raw
materials like aggregates. The environmental impact associated with this development
is high due to extraction of raw materials in quarries and carbon dioxide emissions
released in the production and transport processes (Schneider et al. 2011; Shi et al.
2011; Jungle et al.2011) [1, 2, 3,]. Waste industrial materials can be used as an

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Corrosion of Steel In Embedded Concrete with Volcanic Aggregates Due To Sulfate Attack

alternative to natural fine aggregates in concrete mixes (Halifax AL-Jabra et al. 2009)
[4]. Fly ash, siliceous stone powder, lime stone rock dust and quarry waste are
examples of reported used raw materials in place of natural river sand Red DURAR
(1998) [5].SciTech (2012), [6] reported the use of volcanic rock aggregates in local
construction industry. This work is suspicious to the durability of the structures
constructed with volcanic rock aggregates due to its porosity. Rasheeduzzafar et al.
1990) [7] found the effect of porous concrete system to cause concrete cover
deterioration and the reinforcement corrosion. Reinforced concrete deterioration by
sulfate attack causes the reinforcing steel exposed to aggressive agents initiate
corrosion of the reinforcement and shortens its designed service life. The sulfate
permeation can be controlled by: increasing compactness, lowering water-to-cement
ratio, proper curing, surface treatment, and use precast concrete in place of cast-in-situ
concrete (ACI Committee, 1991;Hossain, 2004; Kalousek et al., 1972; Al-Amoudi et
al., 1994;Young et al. ,1998) [8,9, 10, 11,15] .
Research in cement chemistry over the past two decades resulted in cements with
a high C3S/C2S content(Rasheeduzzafar,1990).This increase in C3S/C2S ratio results
in increased calcium hydroxide content in the hardened cement concrete, thereby
enhancing the susceptibility to such cements to softening type of sulfate attack
(Rasheeduzzafar, 1990; ACI Committee, 1991). Irassar et al. (2000) [12] reported that
a low C3S/C2S ratio is a significant positive cause in the choice of cement for good
sulfate resistance. However, Kalousek et al. 1972; Rasheeduzzafar, 1990; Lawrence,
1990 [13] reported that the limitation on C3A content is not the last answer to the
problem of sulfate attack. Mehta (1993) [14] said that Type V cement addresses only
the problem of sulfate expansion associated with the ettringite formation. Therefore,
Type V cement is particularly efficacious when calcium sulfate is the attacking
medium, although it could be beneficial with respect to the prevention of gypsum
owing sodium sulfate attack. Thus, Type V cement is of no avail in the attack of
calcium hydroxide and C-S-H and the next loss of strength (Mehta, 1993). Neville,
2004 [16] said that although significant progress has been made on the understanding
of the mechanism of sulfate attack in concrete, knowledge and understanding remains
inadequate. Accordingly, the role of C3A, cement content, water to binder ratio, and
the role of pozzolanic materials remain controversial. Hence, the effect of ingredient
materials used in the concrete material to sulfate attack and their interaction to cause
corrosion of steel in concrete remains an interesting area to research.
The most economic strategy, environmental friendly for sustainable development
in the construction industry in Rwanda is to use the locally available construction raw
materials. The abundances of volcanic rocks in northwestern part and granite rock
aggregates industrial waste in the eastern part of Rwanda have motivated the conduct
of this research.

One of the important aims of this work was to find out and compare the permeability
properties of two concrete systems with granite rock aggregates and river sand fine
aggregates. Some countries like Rwanda still use concrete with no admixtures.
Concrete is normally a mixture of well-proportioned ingredients of cement, water,
fine and coarse aggregates sometimes with chemical and mineral admixtures. Cement
acts as a binding material, aggregates in general, are inert granular materials
which give to 60 to 70 percent of the volume of concrete. Fine aggregates are filler
materials and work as workability agent because coarse aggregates contribute to the
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Abaho. G and M. R. Prenesh

volume of concrete. In this study, the materials used were, grade 43 Portland cement
(cement RW), purified drinking water, volcanic rock coarse aggregates from
Ruhengeri, Kaguguriver sand and granite rock powder from East Africa granite plant
at Nyagatare used as fine aggregates. The size of crushed volcanic rock coarse
aggregates used ranged between (20-6.3) mm while fine aggregates ranged between
4.75mm and 150micro. Table1and Table2 below give more details on materials,
sieves analysis results, grading and grading limits for all aggregates used.
Table 1 shows some of the physical-chemical properties of materials.

Type Opc 43grade , Specific gravity - 3.15, Standard consistency32%, Fine setting time- 300 minutes, Compressive strength- 7th
day- 41N/mm2 - 28thN/mm2- 62 N/mm2 , Specific surface Average
size - ( m) 15-25, Specific surface, BET (m2/kg) - 1400
Specific gravity-2.42,
Fine modulus- 2.93,
Mamum size-20 mm
Bulk Density(Kg/lit)- Loose - 1.216,
- rounded - 1.360
Specific gravity-2.58,
Fine modulus- 2.43,

Volcanic rock

River sand

Granite powder





Specific gravity-2.69,
Fine modulus- 2.43
Chemical properties







The most proportioned fine aggregates to coarse aggregates ratio depend upon
actual grading, particle shape and surface texture of both fine and coarse aggregates.
For conformity with grading limit (IS: 383-197), the granite aggregate fall in zone II
of crushed aggregate and river sand aggregates fall in zone II grading limit of fine
aggregates Table.2. Sieve analysis carried out on granite aggregates compared to river
sand gives the results as presented in Table2. The surface index method was used to
find out easily the proportion of fine to coarse aggregates (Murdock, L. J, 19 60) [31].

Figure1 Sieve analysis of fine aggregates for different sieve sizes

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Corrosion of Steel In Embedded Concrete with Volcanic Aggregates Due To Sulfate Attack

Fig 1 shows that the amount of fine particles present in granite powder is
considerably higher when compared to the river sand. Water plays a critical role in the
green concrete mixture, particularly in the amount used. Workability of concrete
usually increases with increased water in the concrete system. Water requirement for
workability of concrete increases with increase of fine aggregates but this is only true
above 300micro particle size of aggregates otherwise for 300micro and below particle
size the phenomena is vice versa.
Table 2 Sieve Analysis results, grading limits and surface Index for coarse and fine and
Passing of
the granite

limit of
zone II
by weight

Passing of
the River

limit of fine
zone II
% passing by

Sieve Size

Passing of
the volcanic









75 micron





20-10 mm
10-4.75 mm
4.75-2.36 mm
2.36-1.18 mm
600-300 micro
300-150 micron
Smaller than
150 micron








Max 15


Sieve size
within which
particle lie
For surface
Index [31]

Index for

The proposed study conducted tests and their experimental setups in series to find
steel corrosion behavior due to sulfate attack on a new concrete system mixture. The
study utilized crushed volcanic rock aggregates as coarse aggregates and granite rock
powder partly as well as full replacement. The laboratory program conducted in this
investigation focused on six basic mixes. The mix designations according to the grade
of concrete and the fine aggregates type used are: Mixes incorporating 0% river sand
(100% granite powder), 10% granite powder (90% river sand), 30% granite powder
(70% river sand), 50% granite powder (50% river sand), 70% granite powder (30%
river sand), 100% granite powder (0% river sand), with no admixtures for RS100
or GP0, GP10, GP30, GP50, GP70and GP100respectively. This work adapted the
Bureau of Indian Standards IS 10262:2009; 456:200 [27, 29] guidance for
making M40 grade concrete specimens. Table 3 shows the resultant mixture

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Abaho. G and M. R. Prenesh

Table 3Mix design with mixture compositions


Designation of

River Sand

Replacement of
sand with granite
aggregates (%)



This study comprised of six experimental tests which are explain independently
here below.

3.1. Workability
The strength of concrete is much dependent upon water cement ratio (w/c). Leaving
other factors constant, the lower the w/c ratio higher compressive strength of concrete
will be. Workability of concrete with low w/cis obtained by good gradation of
aggregates as it helps to reduce voids in the paste. Good gradation here means that
concrete sample contains all standard fractions of aggregate in required portion to
minimize voids. This study adopted the use of surface index which is an empirical
number related to specific surface of the particle with more weightage given to the
finer fractions (Murdock, L. J, 19 60).

3.2. Compressive strength

One of the most important properties of concrete is its compressive strength. The
other characteristics of concrete are closely related to its compressive strength. It is
one of the factors that affect the durability of the concrete structures. In this study,
compressive strength test was conducted on 150mm x 150mm x150mm cube
specimens using compression testing machine (CTM) of 3000kN capacity. On the
specimen prepared under same condition but with different w/c ratio of 0.35, 0.4 and
0.45, the compressive strength was tested at different curing age of (1, 3, 7 and 28)
days and the average test results were considered for analysis and comparison.

3.3 Weight loss

In order to study the effect of sulfate environment on the weight loss of concrete
and rebar corrosion of reinforcing steel, the six set up of concrete cylinder of 15 cm in
diameter and 30 cm in height, with the two centrally embedded reinforcing bars, was
arranged. Specimens were immersed in a 3.5% of NaSO4 aqueous solution after dried
in air for one day in a laboratory temperature (21 2C) and weighed. The reduction
or increase in weight of the reinforced concrete specimens was evaluated and
recorded periodically. The results for weight loss (WL) were calculated using the
equation 1,
% =

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Corrosion of Steel In Embedded Concrete with Volcanic Aggregates Due To Sulfate Attack

Where Wi = average initial weight of triplicate specimens (g); and Wt.= average
weight of triplicate specimens after a prescribed exposure period (g).

3.4. Corrosion potential

Reinforcement corrosion of the embedded steel was monitored by measuring the
corrosion potentials and polarization resistance at regular intervals. The corrosion
potentials (Ecorr) were measured using a high impedance voltmeter and recording the
potentials with respect to a copper/copper sulfate (Cu/CuSO4) reference electrode.

3.5. Linear polarization resistance

The linear polarization resistance (LPR) technique measures the polarization
resistance (R) of the concrete specimen in a Potentiostat/Galvanostat of ACM
Instruments. The work (Song and Saraswathy, 2007) [17] has details
of electrochemical techniques. The test scan of 20 mV to a scan speed of mV/min
gave the polarization resistance of the concrete specimen tested. The basic principle
of electrochemical corrosion of reinforced concrete is well-known (Dao et al
2010; Bentur et al.1998) [18, 19] and the experimental testing is shown in Figure 2
shown below.

Figure 2Experimental schemes for testing LPR

With the curves for the potential against current density the Rp of the systems in
study was obtained and hence the basis to calculate the corrosion current density
(icorr) of the systems using Equation 2 (stern and Geary, 1957) [20], where B
is Tafel constant with recommended value (Dhir et al.1993; Gonzlez et al.1996;
Gowers and Millard, 1993; Mangat and Mollay, 1992)[21, 22, 23, 24] of 0.052 V for
the passive corrosion of steel in concrete.

3.6. Slabs for water Absorption Test

In general, water absorption in the concrete causes durability problems due to
migration of water. In this experiment, the measurements of water rise in the slabs
were performed at the age of 1 and 2 hours. The slabs were cured at 38OC water
ponding temperature for 28 days; air dried for 2 days and finally placed in a basin
10mm soaking in water, the water level was monitored to keep the water height at
10mm height. Measurements were taken using an ordinary inch tape over a cross

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Abaho. G and M. R. Prenesh

section of the slab to determine the depth of water rise. This test measures the rate of
absorption of water by capillary suction of unsaturated concrete placed in contact with
water. The photographic view of the measurements of water absorption in slab
specimen is shown in Fig. 3 adopted from Felix Kala (2013) [25].

Figure3Measurements of water absorption in slab specimen


4.1. Workability
Concrete workability for six mixes studied and had slump values; 70, 70, 75, 73, 71
and 70 for RS, GP10, GP30, GP50, GP70 and GP100 respectively. It shows that
concrete mixes with 30% granite powder produced higher slump compared to other
the mixes. This improved workability for the mix might be due
to the more amounts of fine particles in granite aggregates. The very fine particle in
granite aggregates i.e., 300 micron and 150 micron particles, being so fine, contribute
more towards workability by acting like ball bearings to reduce the internal friction
between coarse particles. However more than 30% replacement of river sand (50, 70
and 100) % by more fines made the concrete leaner which restrained the mobility of
aggregates as less paste was there to provide lubrication. Other factors considered
constant, it shows that a good grading was reached with 30% replacement of rivers
and. It led to less total voids in concrete which caused excess paste available that
effected better lubrication hence caused higher workability of concrete.

4.2. Compressive strength test

Compressive strength test was considered important in this work because other
desirable characteristic properties concrete directly or indirectly depend on its
compressive strength. The effect of granite aggregates in partial and fully replacement
of river sand fine aggregates is shown in Fig. 4 a), b) and c).The data show that 30%
river sand replacement with granite aggregates gives the highest compressive strength
in all curing days. The increased compressive strength was due to finer particles of
granite aggregates that filled the pores in concrete in general which increased its
density and compactness of concrete system. It is seen from the figures that the lower
the w/c the more the compressive strength the concrete gained in early curing age.
This possibly is due to decreased aggregate cement transition zone which increases
with increase in water cement ratio. This is more likely because the cement particles
are held at a closer interval in case of lower w/c ratio than higher w/c ratio. 10% of
river sand replacement showed insignificant change in compressive strength. Above
30% replacement (50, 70, and 100) %, both workability and compressive strength

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Corrosion of Steel In Embedded Concrete with Volcanic Aggregates Due To Sulfate Attack

have a trend of decrease due to more water requirement of fine aggregates for better
workability. It means that inadequate water to hydrate cement particles as well as fine
aggregates left pores in concrete system. This is a line of weakness for cracking in
case of compression force applied on this concrete. Also it is observed that the more
the curing age, the more the compressive strength as a result of increased binding
together of aggregates due to continued hydration process.



Figure 4 a, b and c Compressive strength of 0.35, 0.4 and 0.45w/c ratio at different age of
curing respectively.

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Abaho. G and M. R. Prenesh

4.2. Concrete weight loss

Experimental results for weight loss of reinforced concrete specimens exposed to
sulfate solution are schematically presented as a function of the exposure time in
Figure 5. The data show that the concrete specimen lost weight. This was when the
weight of specimens immersed in test solution was compared with their weights
before immersion. It shows that the specimen gained weight on their immersion to
solution. Weight loss increased considerably after three months in the RS (0% granite
replacement) concrete. In comparison to others, specimens designated GP 30, the
increase of weight loss was not so big and it appears after three months. This could be
due to capillary pore system filled by little expansive reaction products compact the
concrete matrix system and increasing the weight. Then, the expansion of these
products is increased to a great extent generating fractures in the concrete matrix
system, loosening of material and therefore, the weight of specimen decreased.

Figure5Weight loss of concrete in sulfate environment

The maximum weight loss was 2.1% in duration of six months of exposure in the
RS (0% GP) volcanic concrete specimens and the minimum weight loss (0.2 %) was
in GP30 concrete system. From these results, it is clear that the contribution of granite
powder inporefilling of the concrete system is significant and prevents the easy
penetration of sulfate ions towards and within the concrete. Again the trend in water
loss in volcanic concrete system shows that the concrete becomes porous and
permeable above 30% river sand replacement by granite aggregates due absorption of
water by increased fines in the mix. Possibly also, 30% river sand replacement
consumes some calcium hydroxide during poazzolanic reaction which reduces the amount
of gypsum in the mixture. This would be the same case for mixtures more above 30% but
it might be overcome by its porosity that permit the ingress of more water to concrete.

4.3. Corrosion potentials

Figure 5 the results of corrosion potentials of evaluated test specimens. The horizontal
broken lines show the limits corresponding to the corrosion probability criterion
suggested in the norm ASTM C876 [26].

Figure 6

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Corrosion of Steel In Embedded Concrete with Volcanic Aggregates Due To Sulfate Attack

Fig 7
Figure 6and 7 Variation of Ecorr and iccorrof the reinforcement steel as a function of the
exposure time respectively

In the five months of specimen exposure, the corrosion potentials, of all the
reinforced concrete systems, show fluctuation ranging from -696 to -380 mV/ CuCuSO4 with a slight decrease during the month, towards more noble values.
According to ASTM C 876, these Ecorr values show that there exists a 90% chance of
active corrosion during all the exposure time; but, the criterion is for partly saturated
not totally saturated specimens. ASTM C 876 criterion is applied in fully merged
structures or specimen environment reinforcement corrosion tests. Therefore,
probably all embedded steel were in a passive state during the six months of specimen
immersion in the sulfate solution. Otherwise, GP30 could have performed better in as
far as resisting corrosion of steel reinforcement as shown in fig.6. Since the system
with the granite rock powder presented the more noble corrosion potentials during the
exposure time. The GP70 concrete samples presented corrosion potentials between 520 to -380 mV /Cu-CuSO4 compared -696 to -518.7mV/ CuSO4 for RS
(GP0) concrete systems. This shows that granite powder contribution to the inhibition
of corrosion of the reinforcement has limit with percentage replacement. This testing
technique provides qualitative information on reinforcement corrosion. Therefore,
quantitative information on reinforcement corrosion could be developed by
employing the linear polarization resistance technique presented in fig.7 shown above.

4.4. Polarization resistance

From the curves potential against current density Rp was obtained for all the systems
in study and icorr was calculated representing the results in Figure 7; the horizontal
broken line point out the threshold of active to passive corrosion (Andrade and
Alonso, 1996) [28].
In Figure 7; it can be observed that the system steel-concrete that presents a
highest corrosion resistance induced by sulfates is GP30, because its corrosive activity
was the lowest in the exposure time and decreased significantly until it reached a low
level of corrosion (0.003A/cm2) at the end of the period. The GP 70 system showed
levels of corrosion between 0.03 and 0.008 A/cm2, and RS (GP0) showed levels of
corrosion between 0.06 and 0.0035A/cm2 which means that GP 30 significantly
inhibit the corrosion of the reinforcement in the initial six months. The significant
effect of GP 30 to inhabit corrosion current density is due to reduction of pores size
and pore distribution in concrete system that makes the possible dense structure of
pores formed. Because of that, it is deduced that the microstructure of concrete with
GP30 becomes denser than the rest of the system. Therefore, it reports a decrease in

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Abaho. G and M. R. Prenesh

both sulfate ion penetrability and corrosion current density. According to Powers
1958 [30], several mineral additions have also been shown to improve the resistance
of concrete materials to the penetration of aggressive ions. So the research in this field
may produce interesting results also regarding the durability of reinforced concrete
4.5. Water Absorption
Table 4Effect of granite powder on water absorption
Hours of

1 hr.
2 hr.
2 hr.
1 hr.
2 hr.

Water penetration (mm) at

320c water Ponding
Mix Designation



GP 100

GP 70

GP 50


GP 10

GP 0

The test results are presented in table 4 above. The absorption of the slabs 100 mm
x 500 mm x500 mm containing granite powder are lower than that of RS (GP0) as
presented in table 4. In the case of concrete mix GP30 the average absorption for 1
and 2 hours is 15.2 mm and 20 mm respectively. The average absorption of concrete
mix RS for 1 and 2 hours is 16.9 mm and 22 mm. It is observed that the reduction in
water absorption for GP30 is 5% compared to conventional concrete RS (GP0) mix
presented table 4. It could be noted that the variation in absorption for different
concrete mixes was found to be normal for 2 hours of curing when compared to 1
hour of curing. The interaction between permeability, volume change and micro
cracking here is a challenge to the discussant, heat of hydration and internal
manifestation can cause micro cracks and increase permeability of concrete system.
However, based on the analysis made on the previous tests and on the water
penetration comparison of GP30 and RS, the high the porosity of the specimen the
higher was the water penetration in concrete. Hence, G30 was impermeable compared
to RS concrete mixtures.

The experimental study on steel reinforcement corrosion due to sulfate attack in
concrete with volcanic rock coarse aggregates and granite aggregates to replace river
sand fine aggregates is the specialty of this paper. Experimental results analysis for
workability, compressive strength, weight loss, corrosion potentials, polarization
resistance and water absorption characteristics of concrete systems are the basis for
conclusion enclosed. It has been found that granite aggregate is an alternate
construction material in volcanic concrete system with even some beneficial effects of
improved workability, compression strength etc. but within certain limit. The test
results show that granite powder in 30% partial replacement of river sand has an
advantage of reduced permeability properties on hardened concrete over the river
sand. With the results obtained in conducted test, specimens made with 30% granite
rock powder (GP 30) as fine aggregates give 8% absorption decrease in the hardened

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Corrosion of Steel In Embedded Concrete with Volcanic Aggregates Due To Sulfate Attack

concrete system compared to river sand aggregates. Polarization resistance test has
proved that volcanic concrete system with 30 % granite rock powder replacement is
more resistant to corrosion of steel reinforcement compared to 100 % volcanic river
sand system. The addition of 30% of granite rock powder as partial replacement river
sand reduced weight loss by around 1.9%. Granite rock powder
increases densification of the concrete system and reduces pore size as well as poredistribution in volcanic concrete systems as justified by an average of 14.75MPa
difference in compressive strength GP30 as compared to RS. Therefore, corrosion of
steel reinforcement due to sulfate attack in volcanic concrete systems could be
reduced with the use of GP30 granite rock powder fine aggregates than using RS
(GPO). This work opens for more research to find out the exact limit for river sand
replacement which lies between (10-50) percent as per present finding.

The authors thank Jain University for its support in the Ph.D. Program with its
scholarship. Thanks for the government of Rwanda to the support extended to the
research scholar through His Excellency president Kagame scholarship. Thanks for
the University of Rwanda for the study leave given to the research scholar. Authors
are also thankful to support given by Civil-Aid Techno clinic P.V.T. Ltd in
conducting experiments and other laboratory tests.





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