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Batching of fresh concrete

The measurement of materials for making concrete is known as batching.

There are two methods of batching:

(i) volume batching
(ii) weight batching

Weight batching is preferred over volume batching especially on important jobs. This is because
of the fact that the quantity of solid materials in a container very much depends on its degree of
compaction i.e. on the closeness with which the material packs. If the material packs closely with
few air voids the solid volume of the materials is greater than if the material is packed loosely.
However, because it is convenient volume batching is used at most construction sites.

Volume batching of cement should be avoided because being a very fine material, its volume is
greatly affected by the way it is filled in the gauge box. It is more accurately measured by
weight. Ordinarily cement is batched by the bag. Each cement bag is packed to contain a net
weight of 50Kg which is approximately 35 litre in volume. The quantity of aggregate to be
batched with each bag of cement would then be easily measured by using a measuring box of 35
litre. One such a box would measure internally 40 X 35 X 25 cm.

Water is usually measured by volume in a calibrated tank or by means of flow type water meters.

Proportions by volume are usually specified in terms of aggregates in a dry-rodded condition, but
the batch quantities must be given in the loose condition. Care must be taken in the case of wet
sand which might bulck.

Concrete Mix Design

It is the process of selecting suitable ingredients of concrete and determining their relative
proportions with the object of producing concrete of certain minimum strength and durability as
economically as possible.

Variables in proportioning

In connection with specifying a concrete mix, four variable factors to be considered are

(a) Water-cement ratio.

(b) Cement content or cement-aggregate ratio.
(c ) Gradation of the aggregates.
(d) Consistency.

Usually two or three factors are specified, and the others are adjusted to give minimum
workability and economy. Water/cement ratio expresses the dilution of the paste - cement content
varies directly with the amount of paste. Gradation of aggregate is controlled by varying the

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amount of given fine and coarse aggregate. Consistency is established by practical requirements
of placing.

In brief, the effort in proportioning is to use a minimum amount of paste (and therefore cement)
that will lubricate the mass while fresh and after hardening will bind the aggregate particles
together and fill the space between them. Any excess of paste involves greater cost, greater
drying shrinkage, greater susceptibility to percolation of water and therefore attack by aggressive
waters and weathering action. This is achieved by minimising the voids by good gradation.

Design Mean Strength

The assumption of a normal distribution of concrete strengths forms the basis of mix design and
statistical quality control procedures for satisfying the strength requirement. For a normal
distribution, the probability of a strength lying outside specified limits either side of the mean
strength can be determined. These limits (fig. below) are usually expressed in terms of the
standard deviation s defined by,


[ ]
(∑ f c )
2 1/2 ∑ ( f c )2−
s= [ ∑ ( f c −f cm)
n−1 ] =
N /mm 2

Where fc = observed strength

fcm = best estimate of the mean strength
(∑ f c )/n
n = the number of observations.

Probability values

Probability of an observed strength Probability of an observed strength

lying outside the range being less than (fcm - s)
(fcm s)
1 in 50 2.33 1 in 100
1 in 20 1.96 1 in 40
1 in 10 1.64 1 in 20

The probabilities of a strength lying outside the range (f cm s) for different values of are given in
the above table, in which of probabilities of strengths falling below the lower limit (f cm - s) are
also given.

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If the specified characteristic strength fcu is the strength below which not more than
1 in 20 of the population of strengths shall fall, it follows that,

fcu = fcm - 1.64s

or fcm = fcu + 1.64s

Hence if the standard deviation likely to be obtained on site can be assessed, the mean strength
for which the concrete must be designed can be determined.

American Method of Mix Design

In practice the most widely used method of mix design is that of the American Concrete Institute,
given in ACI Standards. The ACI method utilises the fact that, for a given maximum size of
aggregate, the water content in kilogram per cubic metre determines the workability of the mix,
largely independently of the mix proportions. The relative water content for various workabilities
is given in Table 3.1a and Table 3.1b gives the actual content for for a reference (plastic)
consistence. It is thus possible to start the mix design by selecting the water content from these
two tables. The values given are for well-shaped angular coarse aggregates, and in practice there
would be some variations due to differences in aggregate shape and texture. It should also be
added that in mixes with a cement content in excess of about 360 or 390 kg/m 3 the water
requirement is greater.

A further assumption is made that the optimum ratio of the bulk volume of coarse aggregate to
the total volume of concrete depends only on the maximum size of aggregate and on the grading
of fine aggregate. The shape of the coarse aggregate particles does not directly enters the relation
since, for instance, a crushed aggregate has a greater bulk volume for the same weight(i.e. a
lower bulk density) than a well rounded aggregate. Thus the shape factor is automatically taken
into account in the determination of the bulk density. Table 3.2 gives values of the optimum
volume of coarse aggregate when used with fine aggregates of different fineness moduli for the
reference (plastic) consistence. For other consistences, the values of Table 3.2. should be
multiplied by a factor given in Table 3.3.

Thus, having chosen the maximum size and type of aggregate, in order to obtain concrete of a
certain workability we use the water content from Tables 3.1a and b and the bulk volume of
coarse aggregate from Table 3.2. Given the specific gravity of coarse aggregate, its absolute
volume is determined. The water/cement ratio is now chosen in the usual manner to satisfy both
strength (Table 3.4) and durability
(Table 3.5) requirements, and cement content is computed by dividing the water content by the
water/cement ratio. We have thus absolute volumes of water, coarse aggregate, and cement, and
by subtracting the sum of these from the total volume of concrete we find the absolute volume of
fine aggregate that has to be added to the mix. Multiplying this volume by the specific gravity of
fine aggregate and by the unit weight of water, the weight of sand is obtained. Alternatively, the
weight of fine aggregate can be obtained direct by subtracting the total weight of other

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ingredients from the weight of a unit volume of concrete, if this can be estimated from
experience. This approach is slightly less accurate than the absolute volume method.

If entrained air is used, allowance for its volume is made prior to calculating the volume of fine

Adjustment for aggregate moisture:

The aggregate quantities actually to be weighed out for the concrete must allow for moisture in
the aggregate. In the above design procedure the aggregate was considered to be saturated
surface dry. Generally, the aggregate may have a moisture content above or below its absorption
capacity. In the former case the amount of aggregate to be weighed must be increased and equal
amount of mixing water must be decreased. Whereas in the later case the amount of aggregate to
be weighed is decreased and equal amount of mixing water is increased

Table 3.1a : Relative Mixing Water Requirements for Different Consistencies of


Consistence Relative Water

Description Slump Compacting Vebe
mm factor s per cent
Extremely dry _ _ 32 - 18 78
Very stiff _ 0.70 18 -10 83
Stiff 0 - 30 0.75 10 - 5 88
Stiff plastic 30 - 80 0.85 5 -3 92
Plastic(reference) 80 - 130 0.91 3-0 100
Fluid 130 - 180 0.95 _ 106

Table 3.1b : Approximate Mixing Water Content for the Reference (Plastic) Mix of
Table 3.1a. for different Maximum Sizes of Aggregate.

Maximum size of Non-air-entrained Entrapped air content Air-entrained water

aggregate water content per cent content
mm Kg/m3 Kg/m3
10 225 3 200
12.5 215 2.5 190
20 200 2 180
25 195 1.5 175
40 175 1 160
50$ 170 0.5 155
70$ 160 0.3 150
150$ 140 0.2 135

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$ Water contents of concretes with aggregates sizes greater than 40 mm are not given
for mixes with a slump of less than 30 mm.

Table 3.2. Bulk Volume of Coarse Aggregate per Unit Volume of Concrete.

Maximum size of Bulk volume of rodded coarse aggregate per unit volume of concrete for
aggregate fineness modulus of sand of __
mm 2.40* 2.60* 2.80* 3.00*
10 0.50 0.48 0.46 0.44
12.5 0.59 0.57 0.55 0.53
20 0.66 0.64 0.62 0.60
25 0.71 0.69 0.67 0.65
40 0.75 0.73 0.71 0.69
50 0.78 0.76 0.74 0.72
70 0.82 0.80 0.78 0.76
150 0.87 0.85 0.83 0.81

 Fineness modulus of sand.

The values given will produce a mix with a workability suitable for reinforced concrete
construction. For less workable concrete, e.g. that used in road construction, the values may be
increased by about 10 per cent. For more workable concrete, such as may be required for placing
by pumping, the values may be reduced by up to 10 per cent.

Table 3.3. Factors to be Applied to the Volume of Coarse Aggregate Calculated on the
Basis of Table 3.2. for Mixes of Consistence other than Plastic.

Consistence Factor for maximum size of aggregate of _

10mm 12.5mm 20mm 25mm 40mm

Extremely dry 1.90 1.70 1.45 1.40 1.30
Very stiff 1.60 1.45 1.30 1.25 1.25
Stiff 1.35 1.30 1.15 1.15 1.20
Stiff plastic 1.08 1.06 1.04 1.06 1.09
Plastic (reference) 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00
Fluid 0.97 0.98 1.00 1.00 1.00

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Table 3.4. Relation between Water/Cement Ratio and Compressive Strength of
Concrete According to ACI Standard

Compressive strength at Water/cement ratio (by weight)

28 days*
MPa Non-air-entrained concrete Air-entrained concrete
48 0.33 _
41 0.41 0.32
34 0.48 0.40
28 0.57 0.48
21 0.68 0.59
14 0.82 0.74

*measured on standard cylinders. The values given are for maximum size of aggregate of 20 to

Table 3.5. Maximum Permissible Water/Cement Ratios for Different Types of

Structures in Severe Exposure, Prescribed by ACI Standard.

Exposure conditions

Type of structure Structure wet continuously Structure exposed to

or frequently and exposed sea water or
to freezing and thawing* sulphates
Thin sections, such as railings,
kerbs, sills, ledges, ornamental
work, and sections with less
than 25mm cover to the
0.45 0.40$
All other structures 0.50 0.45$

* Air-entrained concrete should be used under all conditions involving severe exposure.
When Type II or Type V cement is used, maximum water/cement ratio may be
increased by 0.05.

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