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Experimental Investigation on the Flexural Response of Palm Shell Aggregate RC Beams

Ehsan Ahmed* and Habibur Rahman Sobuz

Department of Civil Engineering Faculty of Engineering, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak 94300, Kota Samarahan, Sarawak, Malaysia E-mail: aehsan@feng.unimas.my

This paper presents the experimental results on the flexural performance of reinforced concrete beams using different gradation of oil palm shell aggregate for conventional coarse aggregate. In a designed mix proportion of concrete, 0 to 50% of coarse aggregates are replaced by the oil palm shell aggregate to cast the experimental beams. A total of four beams having different gradation of OPS aggregates are tested in the laboratory. To investigate the effect of palm-shell aggregate on the flexural performance; the first cracking load, ultimate strength, load-deflection behavior and ductility index of Oil Palm Shell (OPS) aggregate beams are compared to that of normal weight concrete (NWC) beam. The test results indicate a decrease in flexural capacity of beams with the increased replacement of conventional coarse aggregate by palm shell aggregate. It is concluded that partially replaced oil palm shell aggregate concrete beam has the potential to be used in the construction of low-cost housing. The paper also highlighted the beams failure modes due to the different level of OPS replacement. Keywords: Oil Palm shell (OPS), Normal Weight Concrete (NWC), Flexural capacity, Cracking load and Ductility index.

1. Introduction
Malaysia as the largest producer of palm oil in the world and generates a significant amount of palm oil wastes every year. In terms of hectare, the total area under oil palm cultivation is more than 4.05 million hectares, producing over 8 million tonnes of oil annually and yielding nearly about 18.9 tones/hectare of fresh fruit bunch (FFB) (MPOB, 2006). In the process of manufacturing of oil palm, solid residues and liquid wastes are generated in the oil palm industry. These include empty fruit bunch (EFB), Oil Palm Shell (OPS), Pericap and Palm Oil Mill Effluent (POME). Palm oil mills have different processing capacities of oil palm Fresh Fruit Bunch (FFB) ranging from 20-90 tonnes per hour (Subramaniam et al., 2008). In Malaysia, there is an annual production of over 4 million tonnes of oil palm shell solid wastes (Teo et al., 2006). One of the significant problems in the palm fruit processing is managing of the wastes generated during the processes. The huge amounts of solid waste materials are regularly produced in the factories and thus it creates storage problem and remain unutilized for the lack of application in the specified area. These empty fruit bunches are mainly incinerated by the conventional process and it generates severe air pollution. Thus, these residues are becoming expensive to dispose by satisfying the requirements of environmental regulations. In such a situation, efforts are going on to improve the use of these by-products through the development of valueadded products. One of the ways of disposing these wastes would be the utilization of palm shell into constructive building materials. Recently, some researches (Teo et al., 2006; Mannan et al., 2005; Basri et al., 1999; Alengaran et al., 2008) have been carried out to utilize these dispose palm shell wastes in manufacturing

lightweight concrete. Oil palm shell (OPS) is the hard stony endocarp but lightweight and naturally sized. Due to the stiff surfaces of organic origin, they will not contaminate or leach to produce toxic substances once they bound in the concrete matrix. Therefore, it is a good replacement of coarse aggregate to produce lightweight concrete (Basri et al., 1999). It was observed that OPS concrete density varies in the range of 1700 to 2050 kg/m3. One of the important characteristics of oil palm shell concrete is the compressive strength. Previous researches (Mannan et al., 2005; Basri et al., 1999, Okafor, 1988) on palm shell aggregate concrete mainly emphasize on acquiring the compressive strength of palm shell concrete that depends on oil palm shell fruit bunches quality and sample preparation technique. It has been found that OPS concrete easily attains the strength of more than 17 MPa (Teo et al., 2006), which is a requirement for structural lightweight concrete as per ASTM C330 (2005). Recent research on palm shell aggregate concrete shows that the strength as maximum as 28 MPa can be achieved by partially replacing the coarse aggregate with palm shell (Teo et al., 2006). It was also establish that the failure of palm kernel shell concrete is generally governed by the strength of OPS (Okafor, 1988) . In Previous research on flexural performance of beams (Teo et al., 2006) OPS aggregates were used as full replacement for the conventional granite aggregates in the manufacture of lightweight concrete. The full replacement of granite aggregates with OPS need special consideration in the mix design to get the desired structural performance. U. Johnson Alengaram et al., 2008) did what? . Furthermore, study shows that more than 50% replacement of coarse aggregates, in general generate nonstructural lightweight concrete that are not suitable for load bearing structural members. Accordingly, partially replaced palm shell concrete has the potential to be used in construction industries. In this paper, an experimental investigation on flexural response of different percentage of OPS aggregate concrete beam is carried out. The failure modes and crack patterns are noted and compared to get better

understanding on the performance of OPS replaced beams. 2.1 Flexural Response

The theoretical cracking moment Mcr of the beam is computed using the flexural formula as given below:
Mcr = frIg yt
Eq. (1)

where yt is the distance from the neutral axis to the tension face of the beam, fr is the modulus of rupture of the concrete and I is the second moment of inertia of the cross section about neutral axis. The first cracking load Pcr is then calculated from the cracking moment. The ultimate moment capacity of the beam is calculated using equivalent rectangular stress block of the beam cross section following the BS code of practice (BS 8110-1:1997).

3. Experimental outline 3.1 Test program

Table 1 shows the test program to evaluate flexural performance of reinforced concrete beams. A total of four beams having different gradation of oil palm shell (OPS) were fabricated in the laboratory. The First beam was made from normal weight aggregate (designated as CB) and in this beam coarse aggregate was not replaced with palm shell aggregate, whereas the rest three beams are designated as PB-10, PB-15 and PB-50 respectively. In these three beams conventional coarse aggregate were replaced with OPS aggregate by 10%, 15% and 50% respectively. Table 1. Test Program

OPS replacement level (%) 0 Beam designation CB (Control) 10 PB-10 15 PB-15 50 PB-50

3.2 Selection of Mix and Materials One of the objectives of this study is to produce lightweight concrete as partial replacement for the conventional crushed stone aggregates so that it could be used as structural concrete. Based on the previous study, trial mixes have been prepared before selecting appropriate mix that would satisfy the requirement of lightweight concrete strength for partial replacement of OPS on conventional aggregate. Finally, two different mix proportions were set for this study to get the desire strength of lightweight concrete. For the specimens designated with PB-50, the mix portion was set at 1:1.71: 0.39: 0.39: 0.41 by weight of ordinary Portland cement, natural sand, crushed granite of 12.5 mm nominal size, OPS aggregate and water that replaced 50% of the coarse aggregate with the palm shell. Another mix ratio 1:1.65:2.45 by weight of cement, sand and crushed stones involving OPS as replacement for crushed stone in the percentage of 0%, 10%, 15% was used in each case for the remaining beams (designated as CB, PB-10, PB-15 respectively). In this case a water/cement ratio of 0.45 is maintained for three types of beam. The properties of OPS aggregate differ from that of conventional granite aggregates because of its organic nature. The physical properties of oil palm shell and crushed granite aggregate are illustrated in Table 2. Table 2. Properties of palm shell and granite aggregate Properties Specific Gravity Bulk density (Kg/m3) Los Angles abrasion value, % Water absorption for 24h (%) Aggregate Crushing value Aggregate Impact value Fineness modulus Shell thickness, mm Maximum aggregate size, mm Palm shell aggregate 1.21 572 5.1 25.64 6.78 6.65 6.24 0.5-4.0 12.5 Granite aggregate 2.72 1445 24.5 0.7 17.92 12.32 6.76 5-20 20

Standard specimens were tested in the laboratory to determine the cube strength, modulus of elasticity, splitting tensile strength and modulus of rupture at 28 days. The average values of palm shell aggregate and conventional aggregate concrete properties are mentioned in Table 3. The material properties of reinforcing

steel were taken from the manufacturers manual that was confirmed by laboratory testing and is shown in Table 4.
Table 3. Palm shell and conventional aggregate concrete properties

Concrete properties Concrete cube strength (MPa) (MPa) of elasticity (GPa) Modulus Modulus of rupture (MPa) Splitting tensile strength (MPa) Air-dry density (Kg/m3) Poisson ratio, Air content, % Slump, mm

NWC 36.0 28.6 3.7 2.95 2330 0.14 3.9 62

PB-10 19.9 17.1 2.6 2.5 2065 0.18 4.6 45

PB-15 17.7 16.3 2.5 2.3 2032 0.21 4.75 39

PB-50 15.4 13.4 2.4 2.1 1784 0.24 5.4 29

Table 4. Steel reinforcement properties

Reinforcement type Tension,T10 Compression,T10 Compression, T6 Shear,R6

Yield strength (MPa) 482 482 470 215

Modulus of elasticity (GPa) 195 195 189 200

3.3 Beam Details Fig.1 shows the cross-sectional and longitudinal details of the test beams. All the beams were 150 mm X 150 mm in cross-section and 1500 mm in length. They were longitudinally reinforced with 2T-10 bars (two 10mm diameter bars) as the tensile reinforcement and either 2T-10 bars (for beams designated with PB-50) or 2T-6 bars (for beams designated with CB, PB-10 and PB-15) for the compressive reinforcement. R-6 stirrups (6mm diameter bar) were placed at a spacing of 100mm-125mm throughout the whole length of beam to prevent the beams from failure in shear.

R6-100~125mm c/c 1450mm 1500mm



25mm 150m m

2T-10 R6-100mm c/c 2T-10 mm dia bar 150m mm Section A A for PB-50

22mm 150m m

2R-6 R6-125mm c/c 2T-10mm dia bar

150m m Section A A for CB, PB-10 and PB-15

Fig. 1. Longitudinal and cross-section details of the experimental beams

3.4 Instrumentation and Testing Procedure

The four-point bending test set-up is shown in the Fig. 2. All the beams were tested over a simple span of 1900mm. Linear voltage displacement transducers (LVDT) were placed, one at centre of the beam, the other two under load points to measure the deflection of quarter and mid-span the beams. Portable electronic data logger was used to record the reading of deflections. Loads were applied by two hydraulic jacks, which are attached to the pressure gauge. The load from the actuator was transferred to the beam by means of a spreader beam. After a regular increase of loading, the loading values and the corresponding deflections were recorded. The load and the corresponding deflection taken from the test were then used to investigate the behavior of beams. The quarter span transducers were used mainly to check the symmetrical nature of the loaded beams. Cracks were visually detected using a magnifying glass and its propagation was traced and the corresponding loads were recorded on the surface of the beam.

Fig. 2. Loading and instrumentation of four-point bending test in the laboratory

4. Experimental Results and Discussion

4.1 LoadDisplacement Response

The load-deflection behavior of control beam and beam made with different percentage of OPS aggregate are shown in Fig.3. It is observed from Fig. 3, initially all the palm shell aggregate beams behave like the control beam with the internal steel reinforcing bars carrying the majority of the tensile force in the section. and this elastic behavior is followed until the final failure of the beams. When the
beams were initially loaded, the concrete layer at the tension zone was able to resist the tensile forces exerted before the concrete tensile strength at the bottom of the beam has exceeded. This indicates the deflection of the beam would increase steeply before the first cracking of the beam has occurred. Thus, the rate of increase of deflection along with the visual inspection was used to detect the first cracking of the beams.

Fig. 3. Load-deflection behavior of control beam and palm shell aggregate concrete beam

For all the beams tested, the failure of the beams started at mid-span within the vicinity of the point of application of loading. It began with the appearance of a crack near to the region of constant bending moment of the beams. With further increase in loading, the crack pattern propagated further from the tension face to the neutral axis of the beams. The flexural crack after reaching the neutral axis, started to incline and continue until the final failure. This is an expected mode of failure, i.e., failure due to bending along the length of the beam. 4.2 Ductility Characteristics

Ductility is an important factor for any structural element or structure itself especially in the seismic regions. A ductile material is one that can undergo large strains while resisting loads. When applied to RC members, the term ductility implies the ability to sustain significant inelastic deformation prior to collapse. In this study, the displacement ductility was investigated. The displacement ductility index (displacement at failure divided by displacement at yield) can give an estimation of the lack of ductility of these beams. Table 5 shows the displacement ductility of the tested different percentage OPS concrete beams. It was also observed that OPS replacement beams showed more displacement or ductility as compared to that of without replacement of OPS (control) beam. One of the factors contributing to the good ductility behavior of the OPS beams was the toughness and good shock absorbance nature of the OPS aggregates as indicated by the aggregate crushing value (ACV) and aggregate impact value (AIV) from Table 2. 4.3 Cracking and Ultimate load Table 5 shows the experimental results of control and different percentage OPS beams in terms of the first cracking load and ultimate load. From the experimental investigations, the first cracking load and the ultimate capacity of the test beams are noted. Theoretical predictions of the first cracking load is calculated from the equivalent transformed section analysis of the beam cross-section and ultimate load carrying capacity is predicted using equivalent stress block of the cracked cross section in accordance to the provision mentioned in British Standard (BS 8110 Part 1 1997).

Table 5. Experimental and Theoretical results Experimental load (kN ) Beam designation CB PB-10 PB-15 PB-50 Pcr 7.8 6.2 6.0 7.0 Put 38.75 35.6 32.6 34.1 Theoretical load (kN ) Pcr 8.2 6.5 6.2 7.2 Pult 30.3 28.7 28.3 29.4
Pult ( Exp .) P (The .) ult

Failure mode Concrete crushing Concrete crushing Concrete crushing Concrete crushing

1.28 1.24 1.15 1.16

Ductility Index 1.75 2.42 2.90 3.31

Table 5 also tabulates the failure modes of the test beams. It was observed from the test result that the control beam failed by yielding of tensile steel reinforcement followed by crushing of the concrete directly under four-point bending test. When loaded in the laboratory, the control beam (CB) developed flexural tensile cracks in the constant bending region at load of 8.2kN. At load around 34.1 kN, the tensile reinforcing steel yielded. Finally, the beam failed in flexure due to the crushing of extreme compression zone concrete at load 38.75 kN.
4.4 Crack width and distribution

Generally, in beams cracks occur when the stress in the tensile zone reaches the modulus of rupture of the concrete beam. Table 4 shows the summarized values of first and the maximum crack widths. For all four beams, the first crack appeared at the centre of the beam. Figs. 7 and 8 show the crack pattern for the OPS and the NWC beams. The vertical pattern of cracks indicates that they were flexural

cracks. The average spacing of crack width for NWC is 150 mm while it was closely spaced at 65 mm for OPS beams.
4.5 Mode of Failure The failure modes of the experimental beams have been tabulated in Table 5. It was observed from the experimental investigation that all the OPS replacement beams have failed in the same manner. The failure mode of specimen without replacement of OPS was different from that of with replacement one. The crack patterns and modes of failure of control beam and typical OPS beams are shown in Figs. 3 (a) and 3 (b)

Fig:3 Mode of failure (a) Control beam (b) typical OPS replacement beam 5. Conclusion
Flexural response of palm shell aggregate concrete beams are experimentally investigated and compared with the analytical results. Based on experimental and theoretical investigations the following conclusions are made:

For the flexural behavior, the experimental results of palm shell concrete beam show very close agreement with the theoretical results. It was identified from the flexural test that the cracking load for the beam CB, PB-50, PB-15 and PB-10 was 7.8kN,7.0 kN, 6.0kN and 6.2 kN respectively whereas the corresponding ultimate load were 38.75kN, 34.1 kN, 32.6 and 35.6 kN. It was observed that all the palm shell aggregate concrete beams showed satisfactory flexural performance under the action of transverse loading. For both beams; PB-10 and PB-15, the theoretical results show closer agreement with the experimental results when higher value of creep functions is used.

6. Acknowledgement
This study was conducted at the Heavy Structures Laboratory, Department of Civil Engineering, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, Malaysia and the authors would like to thank the technicians in the laboratory for providing assistance in specimen fabrication and testing.

7. References
Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) 2006. A summary on the performance of the Malaysian oil palm industry2005 (on-line). Available from : http://econ.mpob.gov.my/economy/summary_latest05.htm [Assessed on 5 july 2006]

Subramaniam, V., Ngan, M. A., May, C. Y. and Sulaiman, N. M. N. (2008) Environmental performance of the milling process Of Malaysian palm oil using the life cycle assessment approach. American Journal of Environmental Sciences. Teo, D.C.L., Mannan, M.A., and Kurian, J. V. (2006). Flexural Behaviour of reinforced lightweight concrete beams made with oil palm shell (OPS). Journal of Advanced Concrete Technology, 4 (3), pp. 1-10 Mannan, M. A., Alexander J., Ganapathy C. and Teo, D.C.L (2005). Quality improvement of oil palm shell (OPS) as coarse aggregate in lightweight concrete. Building and Environment, 41, pp. 1239-1242 Basri, H.B., Mannan, M. A. and Zain, M. F. M (1999). Concrete using waste oil palm shells as aggregate. Cement and Concrete research, 29 (4), pp. 619-622 Alengaram U. J., Jumaat, M. Z. and Mahmud, H. (2008). Ductility behaviour of reinforced palm kernel shell concrete Beams. European journal of scientific research, 23 (3), pp. 406-420 Okafor, F.O. (1988). Palm kernel shell as a lightweight aggregate for concrete Cement and Concrete Research 18, pp. 901-910. ASTM C330 (2005). Standard specification for lightweight aggregates for structural concrete. Annual book of ASTM Standards. BS 8110-1(1997) .Structural Use of Concrete- Part 1: Code of practice for design and Construction British Standard