ABSTRACT
Pumping method of placing concrete is becoming popular at construction sites in India. Indian Standard (IS) has not yet
dealt with the complexity in the mix proportioning of pumping concrete. Indian Standard has left the mix proportioning of
pumping concrete largely on the experience of a designer. Selection of water cement ratio and water reduction for a mix is
left over to designer to decide just on the basis the data available for the mix design of hand placed concrete. Pumping
capability of the mix has not been discussed anywhere by the Indian Standard. This does not seem to be justified as mix
design of pumping concrete carry more variables and is more complicated than the hand placed concrete mix design. The
present paper is the humble effort in selection of water reduction and watercement ratio in a mix design of pumping
concrete to ensure required strength and pumpability capability on the basis of paste content. The present paper deals with
the mixes having water cement ratio ranging from 0.37 to 0.48 each with various water reduction percentages to ensure the
strength of M25, M30 and M35 grade of concrete. Empirical equation has also been derived to predict water cement ratio
and water reduction at known water cement ratio.
Keywords: Mix design, Pumping concrete, Indian Standard method, Paste content
1.
INTRODUCTION
Use of pumpable concrete is gradually increasing in the construction fields. Concrete pumping is in especially useful where
space for construction equipment is limited and in the construction of high rise buildings. Indian Standard defines pumping
concrete as concrete having slump above 75 mm [1] where as American Concrete Institute (ACI) defines it as concrete that is
transported through hose or pipe by means of a pump [2]. There is quite difference between the definition given by two giant
concrete using country. Where Indian Standard code only talks about workability, ACI focuses on pumping ability. There is
no specific Indian Standard code for mix design of pumping concrete. IS: 102622009 [3] is used for mix design of pumping
concrete same as hand placed concrete. This IS code has dealt with the mix proportioning of pumping concrete merely with a
numerical example without any theoretical backup. This leads to number of queries in the mind of a designer, who has no
option but to follow the steps empirically. There is also an uncertainty of pumpability of concrete. There are no guidelines on
the selection of water reduction or pumping security. Due to the complexity of the mix proportioning of pumping concrete, it
becomes difficult task for a new designer to design an appropriate mix with the missing guidelines without many number of
trials. Trial mixes of concrete intended for pumping is first prepared and tested in a laboratory. Tests and observations
indicate whether the slump, cohesiveness, finishability and strength are acceptable. Even if the mix looks good in the
laboratory, its pumpability for complex projects is verified with a fullscale pumping test under field conditions. The wastage
of materials, time and money can be reduced if Indian Standard deals more precisely with the guidelines and pumping
security of mix design of pumping concrete.
In the mix design of pumping concrete most components are pushed to their limits. Cement consumption becomes quite high
due to increase in water needed to attain desired slump. This is where use of superplasticizers becomes significant. Thus
water reduction becomes an important parameter in mix proportioning of pumping concrete. Its a misconception that the
water reduction is to be decided based on superplasticizer in a mix design. But the viceversa, that superplasticizers should
be decided based on water reduction needed in a mix design is more significant and logical. As water reduction affects the
amount of cement paste present in a mix, it directly modifies the compressive strength of concrete [4]. It is the paste volume
(cement and water) that first is used to fill the voids of the aggregate than remaining paste is used to lubricate the mixture by
forming the layer around the aggregates [5, 6]. Paste volume plays an important part in the pumping of concrete along with
the other factors such as well gradation of aggregate, size of aggregate, consistency and workability [7, 8, 9]. During
pumping vertical distance reduces than that of the horizontal pumping distance because three to four times more pressure is
required per foot of vertical rise than is necessary per foot of horizontal movement [10, 11]. The difficulties and challenges
with smallline pumping are very similar to those found when pumping over long distances or over long periods of time [9].
Pumped concrete moves as a cylinder riding on a thin lubricant film on the inside diameter of the pipe line [7, 12, 13, 14].
Once concrete flow through the pipe line is established, the lubrication is maintained as long as pumping continues with
properly proportional and consistent mixture [2, 7, 12, 13]. Lubricant layer is formed of the paste comprising of cement,
water, admixture and fine aggregate. The procedure in which concrete pumping through pipe takes place is similar in both
shotcreting and normal concrete pumping. Formation of lubrication layer and movement of concrete through pipe are similar
in shotcreting and normal concrete pumping. Certain percentage of cement paste from the mix is used to form the lubricating
layer [8, 9, 15]. By involving the effect of paste in a mix, IS method of mix proportioning can be simplified.
2. OBJECTIVE OF RESEARCH
The aim of this research work is not to propose a new method of mix proportioning but to give some precise points
about prediction of water reduction at known water cement ratio (w/c), w/c ratio on basis of paste requirement that will not
only ensure strength but will also give some pumping security to improve the existing IS method. It may result in some
valuable addition in mix proportioning without relying on experience to the existing methodology of Indian Standard mix
design.
3.
LITERATURE REVIEW
Pumpable concrete requires sufficient amount of fines, enough slump, continuous grading of aggregates, uniformly and
thoroughly mixed materials. The consistency of the concrete mix has an important effect on the pumping pressure. The right
consistency of the concrete mix is essential to avoid excessive frictional resistance in the pipe lines due to stiff mixes or
segregation with too wet mixes. Stiff concrete requires higher pumping pressure to pass through in the pipeline. The 100 mm
slump is most desirable for the pumping of concrete [10]. Loss of 1030% of initial slump is expected after 45 minutes of
mixing [16, 17]. Indian Standard does not provide the traditional curves expressing the relationship between w/c ratio
and the strength by testing concretes made with chemical admixtures [18]. It is uneconomical and time consuming to use
the traditional empirical approach of making alternative trial mixes of all possible combinations to arrive at the optimum
mix. The procedures of existing IS mix design method that are commonly adopted for designing normal strength concrete
with low workability cannot be directly applied for designing pumping concrete mixes [19]. Mix design of high workable
concrete leads to much higher cement content than that of low workable concrete at the same w/c ratio. Its a general known
fact that cement content influences the strength of the concrete, high cement content leads to higher strength [4]. It is the
cement paste that disperses and lubricates the aggregate particles [6]. The properties of the fresh concrete are largely
influenced by the volumetric content and rheology of the cement paste. The water in a cement paste is divided into two parts
based on its usage in a mix. One part is the filling water, which is used to fill the voids between solid particles and does not
contribute to the fluidity of the paste [4, 5]. The other part is the surface water, which forms a water film on the surface of
each solid particle and contributes to the fluidity of the paste [4, 5]. The cement paste has to be more than sufficient to fill up
the voids between the aggregate particles and to provide a thin film of paste coating each aggregate particle to lubricate the
concrete mix [6]. The excess paste contributes to the workability of fresh concrete and leads to high cement content, making
a mix design uneconomical. This is where the role of superplasticizer becomes significant. It is known that superplasticizer
can decrease the water demand. It decreases the water in surface layer but not the filling water [20]. The superplasticizers
have positive effects on properties of concrete, both in the fresh and hardened states [21]. In the fresh state, utilization of
superplasticizer normally reduces the tendency to bleed due to the reduction in water cement ratio or water content of
concrete [21]. The use of superplasticizers increases compressive strength by enhancing the effectiveness of compaction to
produce denser concrete. Risk of drying shrinkage is reduced by retaining the concrete in liquid state for longer period of
time [21]. For the cement containing pozzolan, the maximum and the minimum water cement ratio to attain a desired
strength of concrete is related to the specific surface and content of pozzolan [20]. The finer the pozzolanic material, the
greater is the maximum water cement ratio at which desired strength is achieved [20]. It is because the addition of
pozzolanic material increases the packing density of the system thus decreases the filling water [20]. Mixing water includes
both filling water and the water in surface layer of the particles. The addition of finer pozzolanic materials can decrease
filling water, but increases the water in surface layer [20, 22]. Superplasticizer can decrease the water in surface layer,
however the amount of the filling water is not affected. Water demand can be greatly reduced when a fine pozzolanic
material is added with a superplasticizer. The addition of a fine pozzolanic material reduces both pore sizes and porosity
[22]. It further increases the workability of concrete by making it more slippery without adding more water and increases
strength [22]. Requirement of the paste can also be reduced by a better mixture proportion of the aggregate such that void
space is least between the aggregates, packing the mixing materials more densely.
In a concrete pumping line, concrete moves in the form of a cylinder separated from the pump line wall by a lubricating
layer of water, cement, and fine sandthe mortar component of the mix [7, 8, 9]. The concrete mix must be designed so the
concrete cylinder can bend around and up in the line. The mix must be workable, dense, and have sufficient mortar to keep
moving through the line. The amount of mortar required depends on the size of the line being used, the efficiency of the
concrete pump valve, and the pressure that pushes the concrete [8, 9, 15]. When concrete is pumped, water in the mix
transmits the pump pressure to the concrete mixture. If the voids between aggregates are not filled with mortar, pump
pressures cause segregation forcing water through the mix. When this happens the lubricating layer is lost, coarse particles
get interlocked increasing friction and causing concrete blockage [8, 9, 15]. Studies have been carried out to evaluate the
thickness of the lubricating layer. Average thickness of the lubricating layer is found out to be 2 mm, which does not depend
upon flow rate but on concrete mix design and potentially on pipe diameter [12, 23]. Jolin et al. [9] and Burn [15] found that
cement paste thickness in lubricating layer is 1mm irrespective of flow rate, fine aggregate, coarse aggregate and diameter of
pipe. Jolin et al. [15] have also stated that the thickness of cement paste in the lubricating layer is constant regardless of the
pipe diameter and is approximately 1 mm, but amount of paste required to form 1 mm thick layer is different for different
internal diameter of the pipe. The actual paste volume changes as pressure is applied to the concrete as the air volume
diminishes to negligible values during pumping [8, 9, 15, 24]. Minimum quantity of effective paste available for mobility in
the pipeline under pressure is termed as real paste. When mix is designed by IS guidelines, the real paste is the initial paste
of the mix as air volume is not considered in the mix proportioning of concrete. The stability and mobility of concrete under
pressure is usually focused during the pumpability of concrete [25]. Both the aspects have been considered in the concept of
real paste content [9, 15]. The real paste represents the amount of paste required to create the lubricating layer and to fill the
intergranular voids. The relative amount of paste required for forming a lubricating layer in the pipe increases with smaller
pipe diameter, as can be seen from Figure1 (9, 15).
12
10
8
Relative amount of paste required for lubrication layer (%)
6
4
2
0
100
200
Figure 1: Relative amount of paste required for a 1 mm thick lubricating layer in the hose (adapted from Jolin et al.
(9))
The paste required to form lubricating layer and to fill the intergranular voids, together gives the real paste content at which
pumping just starts to take place, but gets blocked after moving some distance through pipe. When a safety factor of 1 is
added to real paste content it is found that concrete starts to pump successfully without blockage [9, 15]. It makes the
concept of real paste content a unique and useful tool for optimizing mix design of concrete intended for pumping. The real
paste required for successful pumping through a known concrete delivery pipe can be calculated using Equation 1 [9].
p P+
r 2 ( r1 )2
r2
* 100
(1)
Where
s
s
The approach of real paste content alone does not guarantee pumpability. Well graded aggregate, workability and stable
rheological properties are other requirements for successful pumping of concrete. Maximum size of the coarse aggregate is
considered while selecting the pipeline diameter. Generally, the pipeline diameter must be 3 to 4 times greater than the
maximum aggregate size [2, 7, 10].
4.
EXPERIMENTAL PROGRAM
All the mixes were designed under the guidelines of IS code [3] with slump value of 125 mm. Workability of the mixes was
tested by the standard slump test. The mixes were tested at different w/c ratios ranging from 0.38 to 0.48 with the variation
of 0.01 and water reduction was varied from 8% to 25% at each w/c ratio accordingly to observe the compressive strength
behaviour with water reduction and to achieve M25, M30 and M35 grade of concrete. Under the guidelines of IS code [28],
super plasticizer was added to the mix to get 125 mm slump. A total of 90 trial mixes were tested, all the variation in w/c
ratio and water reduction are shown in Table1. Some mixes were discarded due to low slump values. Amount of
superplasticizers added in the mix for lower water reduction varied 0.2 to 0.6% of the weight of cement and 0.8 to 1.2% of
the weight of cement for higher water reduction.
Table1: Variation of water reduction in w/c ratios used for trail mixes
Trial Mixes
Water Reduction in 125 mm slump (%)
W/C Ratio
0.48
0.47
0.46
0.45
0.44
0.43
0.42
0.41
0.40
0.39
0.38
8
8
8
9
9
8
9
8
12
14
15
9
9
9
10
10
9
10
9
13
16
18
10
10
10
11
11
10
11
10
14
18
21
11
11
11
12
12
11
12
11
15
20
24
12
12
12
13
13
12
13
12
16
22

14
14
14
14
14
14
14
18
24

16
15
16
16
16
16
20

16
18
17
18
18
22

20
18
19
20
24

19
20
22

20
22
24

24
25

5.
upon the amount of its usage. Additional percentage of superplasticizer always increases the paste content and benefits in
improving pumping capability of concrete mix. The variation of paste content (excluding superplasticizer) with water
reduction in 125 mm slump at different w/c ratios is presented in Figure2.
30
W/C  0.48
W/C  0.47
W/C  0.46
20
W/C  0.45
W/C  0.44
Linear
(W/C  0.44)
Water reduction
in 125 mm
slump
(%) 15
W/C  0.43
W/C  0.41
W/C  0.39
25
10
W/C  0.42
5
W/C  0.40
0
26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34
W/C  0.38
Figure2: Water reduction in different w/c ratios producing different amount of paste
Straight lines are the perfect fit to the data plotted between paste content and water reduction for every line. The constant (c)
value of the equations for every fitting line shown in Figure2 is found to be same irrespective of different w/c ratio and
slump value. The slope (m) of the equations of the fitting lines only depends on the slump value. The slope (m) of the
equations of the fitting lines along with the constant and R 2 values are shown in Table2. Single equation can be formed to
represent the relationship between the water reduction and paste formed in a mix at different w/c ratios. It can be done by
using common constant value and by representing the slope by another equation. The slopes were plotted with different w/c
ratios to find the representing equation which can be used to form a single equation for all the fitting lines in Figure2, is
shown in Figure3.
Table2: Values of slope, constant and R2 of equations for best fitting lines at
different w/c ratios as shown in Figure2
W/C Ratio
Slope (m)
0.48
0.47
0.46
0.45
0.44
0.43
0.42
0.41
0.40
0.39
0.38
2.9689
2.9439
2.9184
2.8921
2.8652
2.8375
2.8091
2.7799
2.7499
2.7191
2.6874
Constant (c)
100
100.01
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
100
R2
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
0.35
2.5
0.37
0.39
0.41
0.43
0.45
0.47
0.49
2.55
2.6
2.65
S lope of equations (m)
2.7
2.75
2.8
2.85
2.9
2.95
3
W/C Ratio
Figure3: Variation of slope of equation in Figure2 with respective water cement ratio
Using the constant value and slope equation from Figure3, single equation is formed to represent the family of
lines in Figure2. The Equation is shown below:
wr =
(2)
Where,
wr = Maximum water reduction needed to achieve certain paste p at particular w/c ratio
w/c = Water cement ratio
p = paste content
Water reduction required to get particular amount of paste in a mix is independent of the material properties. It only depends
upon the w/c ratio and slump value. Equation2 can be used to find the water reduction required to achieve desired paste
content. Equation2 has no relation with strength of concrete. Strength of concrete cannot be predicted by producing a mix
based on values given Equation2.
5.2. Effect of water reduction on strength
Based on the result of 28 days compressive strength obtained by the testing of cubes for M25, M30 and M35 grade of
concrete, variation of water reduction with different w/c ratios is shown in Figure4. Best fitting curve has been used to know
the equation and R2 value as shown in Figure4.
f(x) =
R = 0
0.50
0.48
0.46
f(x) =  0x + 0.49
R = 1
0.44
0.42
Water  Cement ratio 0.40
M35
Linear (M35)
M30
0.38
Linear (M30)
M25
Linear (M25)
0.36
0.34
0.32
8
10
12
14
16
18
20
22
24
26
Figure4: Water reduction in different w/c ratios required to achieve different grade of concrete
The constant value of the equations is represents the maximum w/c ratios at which particular grade of concrete can be
achieved. The values of constant (c) is found to be 0.49, 0.46 and 0.44 for M25, M30 and M35 grade of concrete respectively
when rounded off to 2 decimal place, which is in order with IS code (1). The relation between water cement ratio and water
reduction for M25, M30 and M35 grade of concrete can be incorporated into one equation. To give a single equation slope of
the equations must be same. As the slopes of the equations are almost near to each other, thus to combine slope of the
equations average of the slopes of the equations is taken to give the nearest result. The combined equation is:
w/c =
(3)
Where
0.0033* wr + c
0.0033* wr + 0.49
(3)
w/c =
0.0033* wr + 0.46
w/c =
0.0033* wr + 0.44
(4)
(5)
Water reduction required to get particular amount of paste in mix is independent of the material used. It only
depends upon the w/c ratio. Single equation can be formed to represent water reduction on w/c ratio and paste
required in a mix. It is found that best fitting lines shown in Figure3 have same constant with varying slope.
The slope of the lines is having a linear relationship with the w/c ratio. Thus using the linear equation of slope
with constant, equation for the family of lines as shown in Figure 3 is formed. The equation is presented below
It is noticed that same strength is achieved at different w/c ratio with different water reduction, varying in paste
content. The Equation 2 represents w/c ratio with water reduction needed to get M25, M30 and M35 grade of
concrete whereas the Equation 6 represents water reduction needed at given w/c ratio to acquire required
amount of paste p. The values of w/c ratio and water reduction from Equation 2 and Equation 6 may or may not
be same. The problem arising in selecting a particular w/c ratio with water reduction which not only satisfy
strength but also qualify for required paste for pumping can be solved by simultaneously solving the Equation 2
and 6 to get an equation which will not only ensures the required paste but also strength of the concrete. The
Equation 7 obtained by simultaneously solving the Equation 2 and 6 is given below.
w/c =
The equations presented above are formed on the best fitting line of practical results obtained on compressive
strength of cube after 28 days. Thus, the equations can be used to predict required paste, water cement ratio and
water reduction. Mix that is pumpable in pipe of certain diameter, same mix can be used in pipe with
comparatively higher diameter. It is observed that in order to increase the paste content with strength just higher
w/c ratio can be selected than that given by the Equation 7, water reduction than can be calculated using
Equation 2. Using lower water reduction than that given by Equation 5 increases both paste content and strength
of the concrete. The calculated w/c ratio with water reduction using Equation 2 and 7 can be used to start as a
trial mix.
The equations were then used to predict water reduction and paste content at 0.47 and 0.41, 0.44 and 0.38, 0.42
and 0.38 w/c ratios for M25, M30 and M35 grade of concrete respectively. The prediction and actual results of
the above mixes are shown in Table2.
Table 2: Comparison between the predicted result and actual test results
Datas predicted by derived
equation 2
Grade of
Concret
e
Assume
d w/c
ratio
Predicted
water
reduction
Target
strength
28 days
(N/mm2)
M25
M25
M25
M25
M25
0.48
0.47
0.44
0.42
0.41
3.03
6.06
15.15
21.21
24.24
31.60
M30
M30
M30
M30
M30
0.44
0.42
0.41
0.39
0.38
6.06
12.12
15.15
21.21
24.24
M35
M35
M35
M35
M35
0.42
0.41
0.40
0.39
0.38
6.06
9.09
12.12
15.15
18.18
38.25
0.44
0.42
0.41
0.39
0.38
6
12
15
21
24
38.61
38.44
39.46
38.73
39.00
32.81
31.33
30.58
29.05
28.28
43.25
0.42
0.41
0.40
0.39
0.38
6
9
12
15
18
43.50
43.24
43.45
43.67
43.41
33.46
32.73
32.00
31.26
30.51
From the Table2, guidelines for using the equation can be stated. If the w/c ratio is known than water reduction
can be calculated using either Equation 2, 3 or 4 for M25, M30 and M35 grade of concrete respectively. The
calculated value should be rounded off to whole number for water reduction and to two decimal place for w/c
ratio and paste content. The calculated water reduction with known w/c ratio can be used for trial mix. In order
to increase the concrete strength, either of the three method presented can be used. Firstly, w/c ratio can be
lowered with calculated water reduction. Secondly, same w/c ratio can be used with lower water reduction than
the calculated one and lastly higher w/c ratio can be used with calculated water reduction. One of the three
methods can be used according to the need to maintain paste content or to reduce the cement content. First
method can be used to reduce the cement consumption in the mix design, whereas second and third method can
be used to maintain the paste content. In case w/c ratio is not known than by knowing the diameter of the pipe
paste content can be estimated by Equation 1 following by the calculation of w/c ratio using Equation 7. Once
w/c ratio is known same procedure can be used as stated above.
Table 3: Detail of the mix proportioning on predicted water reduction
Grade of
Concrete
W/C ratio
Water
reduction
PPC Content
(kg/m3)
Cement: Fine
Agg. : Coarse
Agg.
M25
M25
M25
M25
0.47
0.44
0.42
0.41
M30
M30
M30
M30
M30
M35
M35
M35
M35
M35
6
15
21
24
405.48
391.66
381.34
375.81
1 : 1.93 : 2.56
1 : 2.04 : 2.77
1 : 2.12 : 2.92
1 : 2.16 : 3.00
0.6
0.8
1.20
1.40
32.14
29.94
28.52
27.79
0.44
0.42
0.41
0.39
0.38
6
12
15
21
24
433.13
424.79
420.31
410.68
405.48
1 : 1.76 : 2.39
1 : 1.82 : 2.51
1 : 1.85 : 2.57
1 : 1.91 : 2.70
1 : 1.95 : 2.77
0.8
0.60
0.80
1.20
1.40
33.11
31.55
30.87
29.48
28.77
0.42
0.41
0.40
0.39
0.38
6
9
12
15
18
453.75
449.98
446.03
441.87
437.49
1 : 1.65 : 2.28
1 : 1.67 : 2.32
1 : 1.69 : 2.37
1 : 1.73 : 2.43
1 : 1.75 : 2.49
0.6
0.80
1.20
0.80
1.2
33.70
33.04
32.46
31.57
30.97
6.
Super
plasticizer
(%)
Paste content
(%)
CONCLUSION
This experiment has been performed over a wide range of w/c ratios ranging from 0.38 to 0.48 with reducing water
upto 25%. Different water reductions not only influence the strength but also paste content which is independent of the
materials used. The proposed method can be used for first trial mix, which allows designer to select nearest possible w/c
ratio and water reduction rather than being dependent on the experience. This technique greatly reduces the large number of
trials required to reach the appropriate mix design which will not only guarantee higher probability of concrete being
pumpable but also strength. Additionally, it also allows a designer to control the amount of cement needed for the mix. This
approach may not be give exact result due to the variation in the properties of aggregate and cement quality but greatly near
enough to give a designer a better idea to predict the right water cement ratio and water reduction for the mix design of
pumping concrete and to reduce the number of trials to achieve one thus saving time, money and labour.
The proposed approach if used in conjunction with the Indian standard (IS) method, can lead to proper design mix for
pumping concrete ensuring the pumping capability of mix without merely relying on the experience and discretion of the
designer. It may be expected that the finding of present work may serve as a useful guideline for judiciously applying the
concept of minimum paste content to predict pumping ability in mix and quantify the water reduction needed at different w/c
ratios which can lead to improvement in the IS method of mix design of pumping concrete.
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Popat D. Kumbhar1, Pranesh B. Murnal2 INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF CIVIL AND STRUCTURAL ENGINEERING
Volume 3, No 1, 2012
A NEW MIX DESIGN METHOD FOR HIGH PERFORMANCE CONCRETE UNDER TROPICAL CONDITIONS P. D.
Kumbhar1 and P. B. Murnal2, ASIAN JOURNAL OF CIVIL ENGINEERING (BHRC) VOL. 15, NO. 3 (2014) PAGES
467483