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Best Practice

SABP-A-057 23 March 2016


Controlled Low-Strength Material (CLSM)
Document Responsibility: Geotechnical Standards Committee

Contents

1 Introduction ........................................................2
2 References .........................................................2
3 Background ........................................................4
4 CLSM Applications .............................................4
5 Materials .............................................................7
6 Batching, Mixing, Transporting,
Placing and Curing .........................................7
7 Properties and Other Considerations .................9
8 Quality Control..................................................11

Previous Issue: New Next Planned Update: TBD


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Contacts: Zakaria S. Alhelal (alhelazs) on +966 13 880-7631; Carlos E. Acero on +966 13 880-4881

Saudi Aramco 2016. All rights reserved.


Document Responsibility: Geotechnical Standards Committee SABP-A-057
Issue Date: 23 March 2016
Next Planned Update: TBD Controlled Low-Strength Material (CLSM)

1 Introduction

1.1 Background

Controlled low-strength material is a self-compacted, cementitious material


primarily used as a backfill in lieu of compacted backfill. It results in a
compressive strength of 8.3 MPa (1200 psi) or less; and is typically composed of
water, cement, fine aggregates, and other byproduct materials. CLSM is also
termed flowable fill or soil-cement slurry. CLSM is not a type of low-strength
concrete.

1.2 Scope

This Best Practice provides guidelines for using Controlled Low-Strength


Material (CLSM); provides required material properties for different
applications; suggests mix proportions; and recommends applicable quality
control testing methods.

1.3 Disclaimer

Use of Best Practices in designing projects for Saudi Aramco, does not relieve
the designer from the responsibility to verify the information presented or from
any contractual liability to conform to Mandatory Saudi Aramco Engineering
Requirements. The use of Best Practices by designers is intended solely for, and
shall be strictly limited to, Saudi Aramco projects. Saudi Aramco is a
registered trademark of the Saudi Arabian Oil Company.

1.4 Conflicts

In the event of a conflict between this Best Practice and other Mandatory Saudi
Aramco Engineering Requirements, the Mandatory Saudi Aramco Engineering
Requirement shall govern.

2 References

This Best Practice contains the following references:

2.1 Saudi Aramco References

Saudi Aramco Engineering Procedure


SAEP-383 Approving Third Party Testing Laboratories,
Geotechnical Engineering Offices and Batch
Plants

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Document Responsibility: Geotechnical Standards Committee SABP-A-057
Issue Date: 23 March 2016
Next Planned Update: TBD Controlled Low-Strength Material (CLSM)

Saudi Aramco Engineering Standards


SAES-A-114 Excavation and Backfill
SAES-S-070 Installation of Utility Piping Systems

Saudi Aramco Material System Specification


09-SAMSS-097 Ready-mixed Concrete

Saudi Aramco General Instruction


GI-1021.000 Street and Road Closure: Excavation, Reinstatement
and Traffic Controls

Saudi Aramco Manual


Saudi Aramco Construction Safety Manual

Saudi Aramco Safety Management Guide


Guide No. 06-002-2008 Excavations and Shoring

2.2 Industry Standards

American Concrete Institute


ACI 229R-99 (2005) Controlled Low-Strength Materials

American Society for Testing and Materials


ASTM C 143 Slump of Portland Cement Concrete
ASTM C 403 Standard Test Method for Time of Setting of
Concrete Mixtures by Penetration Resistance
ASTM D 4832 Standard Test Method for Preparation and Testing
of Controlled Low Strength Material Test
Cylinders
ASTM D 6024 Standard Test Method for Ball Drop on Controlled
Low Strength Material to Determine Suitability
for Load Application
ASTM D 6103 Standard Test Method for Flow Consistency of
Controlled Low Strength Material

Process Industry Practice


CVS02100 (2014) Site Preparation, Excavation, and Backfill
Specification

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Document Responsibility: Geotechnical Standards Committee SABP-A-057
Issue Date: 23 March 2016
Next Planned Update: TBD Controlled Low-Strength Material (CLSM)

2.3 Other

NCHRP Report 597, Development of a Recommended Practice for Use of


Controlled Low-Strength Material in Highway Construction. National
Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP). Retrieved from
http://www.trb.org/Main/Public/Blurbs/156851.aspx

Sustainable Development Using Controlled Low-Strength Material.


International Workshop on Sustainable Development and Concrete Technology,
231-250. Retrieved from
http://www.ctre.iastate.edu/pubs/sustainable/trejocontrolled.pdf

3 Benefits

CLSM as a backfill material are recognized by at least 42 state departments of


transportation in the United States. These benefits are reduced labor and equipment
cost; improved worker safety due to self-leveling properties and no need for
compaction; no special curing procedures; fast setting time; better corrosion protection
than soil; and increased productivity.

4 CLSM Applications

CLSM is best used on projects with conditions such as space limitations, limited
accessibility, unsafe access, settlement sensibility, critical construction or time
limitations exist. SAES-A-114 allows the use of CLSM in lieu of compacted fill and
GI-2021.000 includes CLSM for backfill of utility trenches under roads and pavements.

4.1 Roadway Crossing Utility Trench Backfill/General Trench Backfill

CLSM is the preferred method for backfill of utility trenches under roads and
pavements. CLSM can be readily placed into trenches without need of
compaction or special curing procedures. Trench width or size of excavation
can be reduced, as worker access may not be required. CLSM is superior to
compact fills since the latter may settle and cannot achieve the uniformity and
density of CLSM. In addition, deep trenches may be filled in continuous
placements of CLSM.

Table 1 lists the recommended CLSM mixes for backfill in areas where ease to
re-excavate is critical. For road crossing backfill mixes, see Table 2.

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Document Responsibility: Geotechnical Standards Committee SABP-A-057
Issue Date: 23 March 2016
Next Planned Update: TBD Controlled Low-Strength Material (CLSM)

Table 1: Excavatable CLSM - Manual

Sample Mix (Compressive Strength: 50 to 100 psi) A B C


Cement (type I/II or II/V), kg/m3 50 50 70
3
Fly ash, kg/m -- 150 --
3
Coarse Aggregate (5 mm nominal size, max.), kg/m 1,000 -- --
3
Fine Aggregate (concrete sand), kg/m 1,100 1,800 --
3
Crushed Sand/ Quarry Sand, kg/m -- -- 1,710
3
Silty Soil/ Sand, kg/m -- -- --
1 3
Water , kg/m 330 400 292
Admixture (Superplasticizer), L 5 4 --
Compressive Strength ASTM D 4832, psi 50-100 50-100 50-100
Flowability ASTM D 6103, mm 200-250 200-250 200-250
3
Density - wet, kg/m 2,480 2,400 2,070

Table 2: Excavatable CLSM - Equipment

Sample Mix (Compressive Strength: 100 to 300 psi) D E


3
Cement (type I/II or II/V), kg/m 100 100
3
Fly ash, kg/m 85 85
Coarse Aggregate (3/8 nominal size, max.), kg/m 3
410 410
3
Fine Aggregate (concrete sand), kg/m 1,230 --
3
Crushed Sand/ Quarry Sand, kg/m -- 1,230
Water 1., kg/m3 265 260
Admixture (Superplasticizer), L 4
Compressive Strength ASTM D 4832, psi 100-300 psi 100-300 psi
Flowability ASTM D 6103, mm 200-250 200-250
3
Density - wet, kg/m 2,095 2,085

4.2 Structural Fills

CLSM can be used for foundation support (structural fill), with compressive
strengths from 0.7 to 8.3 MPa (100 to 1200 psi) depending on the application.
For non-uniform subgrades under foundation footings or slabs, CLSM can
provide a uniform level surface. See

Table 3.

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Document Responsibility: Geotechnical Standards Committee SABP-A-057
Issue Date: 23 March 2016
Next Planned Update: TBD Controlled Low-Strength Material (CLSM)

Table 3: Non-Excavatable CLSM

Sample Mix (Compressive Strength: 300+ psi)- F G


3
Cement (type I/II or II/V), kg/m 150 150
3
Fly ash, kg/m 85 85
Coarse Aggregate (3/8 nominal size, max.), kg/m 3
410 410
3
Fine Aggregate (concrete sand), kg/m 1,230 --
3
Crushed Sand/ Quarry Sand, kg/m -- 1,230
Water 1., kg/m3 275 260
Admixture (Superplasticizer), L 4 --
Compressive Strength ASTM D 4832, psi 300+ psi 300+ psi
Flowability ASTM D 6103, mm 200-250 200-250
3
Density - wet, kg/m 2,150 2,140

4.3 Void Filling

Voids and cavities as well as abandoned sewers, tunnel shafts, basements, and
other underground structures can be filled with CLSM. Typical applications
need access to a limited number of ports for material pouring and verification of
complete filling.

Mixes A through G in Tables 1 through 3 may be used for void filling, based on
the desired strength and availability of raw materials.

4.4 Subgrade Support

CLSM can be used to create a stable base layer or pavement subbase on sabkha
to allow construction activities such as compaction to proceed. Compaction
operations in saturated soils or in areas with elevation near the groundwater
level brings water to the surface, which creates a quicksand condition.
In general, a 300 mm layer of CLSM is sufficient to create a stable base.
After 24 hours of hardening, the CLSM can receive subsequent soil fill layers.
See

Table 3.

4.5 Erosion Control

Being a cemented material, CLSM resists erosion better than many other fill
materials, and at the same time, it maintains permeability comparable to marl.
Mixes D through G in Tables 2 and 3 are recommended.

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Document Responsibility: Geotechnical Standards Committee SABP-A-057
Issue Date: 23 March 2016
Next Planned Update: TBD Controlled Low-Strength Material (CLSM)

4.6 Utility Bedding

Although CLSM may be a good alternative for bedding material for pipelines
and utility conduits, this application has not been evaluated by Saudi Aramco
and in general, should not be used. However, CLSM may be used to provide a
base support layer in subkha as required in SAES-S-070.

4.7 Other Applications

CLSM has been used in various other applications such as insulation and
isolation fill, construction of bridge approaches and pavement bases, sub-bases,
and subgrades.

5 Materials

Conventional CLSM mixtures consist of water, Portland cement, fine aggregates, coarse
aggregates, and other products such as fly ash and admixtures. Materials selection
should be based on availability, cost, specific application, and the desired characteristics
of the mixture (e.g., flowability, strength, excavatability, and density). Materials should
be in conformance to ACI 229R Chapter 3.

While cement, fly ash, and water for CLSM must follow the same requirements of
concrete, fine aggregate may consist of concrete sand (ASTM C 143), sand with fines,
crushed sand as a byproduct of quarry crushing operations, and silty sandy soils with up
to 20% fines passing through a 75 m (No. 200) sieve. Coarse aggregate, when used,
may be up to 50% of the total aggregate and with a maximum size of 10 mm (3/8 in).

6 Batching, Mixing, Transporting, Placing and Curing

CLSM is typically batched, mixed, transported, and placed similar to concrete


(see ACI 304).

6.1 Batching, Mixing and Transporting

CLSM may be produced on site or at a batch plant and transported to the site.
The preferred method of mixing is at a concrete ready-mix batch plant.
However, since CLSM is not concrete or a structural material, Saudi Aramcos
approval requirements of concrete ready-mix batch plants in SAEP-383 and in
09-SAMSS-097 do not apply to the CLSM batching facility.

Transportation of the batched CLSM should be in transit-mix trucks; however,


in view of the high flowability of the material, and precautions should be taken
to avoid spilling during transportation. Use of end plugs, lower transportation
volumes, and transporting with partial water content are typical precautions.

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Document Responsibility: Geotechnical Standards Committee SABP-A-057
Issue Date: 23 March 2016
Next Planned Update: TBD Controlled Low-Strength Material (CLSM)

When CLSM is produced on site, mechanical mixers of adequate capacity shall


be used. Raw materials must be properly identified, measured, and controlled.
Proportioning should be volume-based unless equipment is available for
weighing. Special conditions, such as rapid setting mixtures, may require on-
site mixing.

6.2 Mixture Proportions

There is no standard mixture proportioning method for CLSM (such as ACI 211
for conventional concrete); proportioning for CLSM has generally been
performed empirically. Typical proportion range for the materials used in
CLSM mixtures are:

Cement: From 30 to 120 kg/m3 (50 to 200 lb/yd3)

Water: From 193 to 344 kg/m3 (325 to 580 lb/yd3)

Aggregate: Only fine aggregate is often used - ranges from 1500 to 1800 kg/m3
(2600 to 3100 lb/yd3). Coarse aggregate, when used, substitutes
approximately 50% of the fine aggregate content.

Fly ash: Class F fly ash content ranges from none to 1200 kg/m3
(2000 lb/yd3)

Tables 1 through 3 present mix proportions that have been successfully batched
and tested for compressive strength, segregation and flowability properties.
These proportions should be used as a baseline in producing CLSM mixes;
noting that since changing the aggregate type and source is the most significant
factor affecting the water demand of CLSM, adjustments of water content
should be anticipated. Regardless of the approach to mixture proportioning,
the key properties sought are fluidity with minimal segregation, acceptable
setting times, and adequate strength gain.

Before production of CLSM for the actual project, the supplier must
demonstrate that a satisfactory mix can be produced. A trial batch should be
performed by the proposed batching facility and testing results of Compression
Strength in accordance with ASTM D 4832 and Flowability in accordance with
ASTM D 6103 should be submitted for approval and acceptance.

6.3 Placement of CLSM

The area to be filled should be clean from foreign materials and free from loose
soil that could mix with the CLSM during its placement.

CLSM may be placed using chutes, conveyors, buckets, pumps, or any other
method approved by the company representative. Internal vibration or

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Document Responsibility: Geotechnical Standards Committee SABP-A-057
Issue Date: 23 March 2016
Next Planned Update: TBD Controlled Low-Strength Material (CLSM)

consolidation is not required. Conventional concrete pumping equipment can


deliver CLSM; however, mix proportioning should be targeted to provide
adequate void filling in the mixture providing adequate cohesiveness for
transport through the pump line without segregation.

CLSM may be placed in one lift or, if necessary due to hydraulic pressure,
multiple lifts of uniform thickness. The lift height should be limited so
hydraulic pressures do not jeopardize the integrity of bulkheads, formwork,
trench or other soil walls, or other structures that retain the volume being filled.
On deep fills, CLSM may be placed in multiple lifts, allowing hardening of each
lift before placement of the next to reduce the hydraulic pressure.

Underground utilities and tanks must be secured against floating during CLSM
placement. Sand bags can be placed over pipes to prevent floating.

6.4 Hardening Time and Curing

Hardening is the time required for CLSM to go from a plastic state to a hardened
state sufficient to support the weight of a person. Under normal conditions, this
time is around 5 hours; however, it is recommended that the CLSM remain
undisturbed for 24 hours after placement. See ASTM C 403 for methods to test
readiness, particularly in areas that will receive additional structures over the
CLSM (i.e., pavement placement).

Curing procedures specified for concrete are not necessary for CLSM.

At early ages, vehicles or construction equipment should not be permitted


directly over CLSM, as high concentrated loads tend to break up the surface of
the material. Protect the material with a layer of soil/aggregate base if driving
on the surface is necessary.

7 Properties and Other Considerations

CLSM is a hybrid between concrete and soil. Its production, handling, and plastic-state
characteristics are similar to concrete; while its in-service characteristics are similar to
soil.

7.1 Fresh CLSM Properties

Flowability Proper flowability enables the material to be self-compacting and


leveling. Tested in accordance with ASTM D 6103, a minimum of 200 mm
(8-in) spread should be achieved with no segregation.

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Document Responsibility: Geotechnical Standards Committee SABP-A-057
Issue Date: 23 March 2016
Next Planned Update: TBD Controlled Low-Strength Material (CLSM)

Segregation and Bleeding Segregation and bleeding should be minimized.


The use of fly ash and air entraining admixtures (AEAs) is recommended to
reduce excessive bleeding. Visually observe during mixing and placing.

Subsidence and Settlement Subsidence occurs when CLSM loses water


(through bleeding and absorption into surrounding soil), resulting in a reduction
in volume. Subsidence generally only occurs during CLSM placement until the
mixture hardens. Using sufficient fines or high early-strength cement may be
effective in limiting subsidence. For deep structural fills, subsidence may be
significant. Subsidence of up to 20 mm per meter has been reported.

7.2 Hardened CLSM Properties

Compressive Strength The compressive strength of CLSM is the most


common hardened property measured and it is often used as an index for
excavatability. Materials and mixture proportions must be selected to ensure
that the strength values are not exceeded in the long term. See ASTM D 4832
for testing.

Excavatability Easy removal of CLSM, from trenches, for example, is essential


when utilities fail or require repair. Undesired long-term strength gain may
prohibit the removal of CLSM using conventional means of shovels or backhoes.
Specified maximum unconfined compressive strength values gauge the ability of
CLSM to be excavated at later ages. If future excavation is anticipated, the
maximum long-term compressive strength should not exceed 2.1 MPa (300 psi).
Generally, CLSM with a compressive strength of 0.3 MPa (50 psi) or less can be
excavated manually, and mechanical equipment, such as backhoes, are used for
compressive strengths of 0.7 to 1.4 MPa (100 to 200 psi)1.

Compatibility with Plastics CLSM is compatible with high-, medium-, and


low-density polyethylene materials used as protection for underground utilities.
Fine gradation of CLSM can aid in minimizing scratching and nicking these
polyethylene surfaces.

Thermal Conductivity Specially designed CLSM can be used as insulation to


prevent heat loss from pipes or to dissipate heat from conduits.

Corrosion CLSM uniformity reduces the chance for corrosion caused by using
dissimilar backfill materials with varying moisture contents. A potential for
corrosion exists when pipes are embedded in both CLSM and surrounding soil
or conventional fill. Saudi Aramco has not evaluated the effects of CLSM in
direct contact with metallic materials; therefore, such applications should be
evaluated by a corrosion specialist.

1 Allowable bearing pressure of 0.3 to 0.7 MPa (50 to 100 psi) strength is equivalent to a well-compacted fill

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Document Responsibility: Geotechnical Standards Committee SABP-A-057
Issue Date: 23 March 2016
Next Planned Update: TBD Controlled Low-Strength Material (CLSM)

7.3 Safety Considerations

CLSM work should adhere to safety practices in the Saudi Aramco Construction
Safety Manual, in particular the chapters for Excavations and Shoring and
Concrete Construction; Saudi Aramco Safety Management Guide No. 06-002-
2008 Excavations and Shoring; and GI-1021.000 Street and Road Closure:
Excavation, Reinstatement and Traffic Controls.

Excavations filled with CLSM are a quicksand hazard and should be protected
with vehicular and/or pedestrian barricades and warning lights until the CLSM
has hardened.

8 Quality Control

The following testing procedures are intended for the mix design verification and
approval before construction.

Quality control of CLSM in the field is often done by visual inspection alone. Although
testing is not required by any of Saudi Aramco mandatory standards, it is recommended
to verify flowability on site before CLSM pouring (see ASTM D 6103). It is also
recommended to test the suitability for load application before paving operations over
CLSM (see ASTM D 6024).

Table 4: CLSM Testing Procedures

Test Procedure Notes


Practice for Sampling Freshly
Sampling ASTM D 5971 Mixed Controlled Low Strength ---
Material
Test Method for Flow Consistency The range of flowability
Consistency,
ASTM D 6103 of Controlled Low Strength acceptance is 200-250 mm,
fluid mixtures
Material without segregation.
Consistency,
Slump of Portland Cement
plastic ASTM C 143 ---
Concrete
mixtures
Test Method for Preparation and
Compressive
ASTM D 4832 Testing of Soil- Cement Slurry Test ---
strength
Cylinders
Standard Test Method for Ball
Suitability for
Drop on Controlled Low Strength
load ASTM D 6024 ---
Material to Determine Suitability for
application
Load Application

Revision Summary
23 March 2016 New Saudi Aramco Best Practice.

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