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Fly ash as a sand replacement material in concrete -A study

Article  in  Indian Concrete Journal · July 2013

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Fly ash as a sand replacement material
in concrete - A study

N.P. Rajamane and Ambily P.S.

The study presented in this paper shows that fly ash can application. There are publications on the use FA as a
partially replace sand in cement concretes. This type of Sand Replacement Material (SRM) too.7, 11,19 This paper,
fly ash concrete has a lower density and manufacturing while describing the use of FA as SRM suggests the
cost, a reduced coarse aggregate content, a lower degree methodology for modifying concrete mixes to achieve
properties in fly ash concretes (FACs) that are similar
of permeability and increased durability than those of
to those of Cement Concretes (CCs).
cement concrete. Additional data analysis suggests that
they also have a better Strength-Weight Ratio (more
Significance of work
weight efficiency of concrete) and Strength-Energy
Restrictions on the extraction of sand from river beds,
Ratio (more eco-friendly and less energy-intensive
pits and other natural sources make sand a scarce
constructions). material. This paper uses fly ash (FA) as a sand substitute
in concrete and, this in the long run, would enable
Keywords: Fly ash, sand replacement, concrete, eco-friendly, its large-scale application. A systematic approach for
strength, efficiency factor, fine aggregate. modifying the basic cement concrete mix without
adversely affecting its properties in fresh and hardened
The use of fly ash (FA) as a cement replacement material stages is discussed.
is very common.1-19 Yet, at present, perhaps only about
50% of FA produced is utilised. In 2003, this figure was Modifying concrete for replacing sand by
only about 20%.10 However, the highest level of fly ash fly ash
utilisation was 63% in 2009-10. This figure for years of
2010-12 was about 56% which was reported during 2nd It is well-known that when FA is used as a Cement
International summit Fly Ash Utilisation 2013, held at Replacement Material (CRM), it acts as a Supplementary
New Delhi in January 2013. But, the large production of Cementing Material (SCM) and ‘k’ a Cementing
fly ash in India – more than 200 million tons per year at Efficiency Factor quantifies its utility.1,3 The concept
present which could increase to about 900 million tons of Equivalent Cement Factor, Ceq is also used as an
per year over the next 20 years – needs applications that efficiency parameter.6 But sand and FA are two different
consume far more quantities than today’s applications materials. It is therefore necessary to account for the
allow. In this regard, FA as a substitute material (partial difference between the physical and chemical nature of
to total) for aggregate system (both fine and coarse) in these materials. Replacing sand by FA on weight basis
concrete is attractive. Researchers have demonstrated increases the total surface area of granular ingredients of
the feasibility of substituting crushed stone coarse concrete affecting the water demand (and workability),
aggregates with artificially produced fly ash aggregates hydration rates of Portland cement and strength of
(FAAs).14,15 In fact, LYTAG is a pioneer in spreading this concrete. So, if concretes with and without FA have to

...... 2013 The Indian Concrete Journal 


In such a case, the water-binder (wb) ratio of Fly Ash
Abbreviations / Notations Concrete having FA as an SRM is determined by 11
B = Binder Content of Concrete
CCs = Cement Concretes
COA = Coefficient of Absorptivity wb = wc*[(1-p) + k*p] ......(1)
COA = [(Q/A)2]/t = Coefficient of Absorptivity
CRM = Cement Replacement Material where,
EE = Embodied Energy wc = water-cement ratio of basic Cement Concrete
FA = Fly Ash (CC),
FAAs = Fly Ash Aggregates p = FA fraction of binder = F/(C + F),
FAC = Fly Ash Concrete C = cement content,
ps = Sand Replacement Level (SRL) F = Fly ash content,
Q/A = Water penetrated by capillary suction per K = Cementing Efficiency Factor of FA
unit surface area for time period of t
RCPT =Rapid Chloride Permeability Test In above equation, the factor, [(1-p) + k*p] is considered
SCM = Supplementary Cementing Material as ‘equivalent cement factor, Ceq6:
SCR = Strength-Cost Ratio
SER = Strength-Energy Ratio Ceq = [(1-p) + k*p] ...... (2)
SRFACs = Sand Replaced Fly Ash Concretes
SRL = Sand Replacement Level wb = wc*Ceq ...... (3)
SWA = Saturated Water Absorption
SWR = Strength-Weight Ratio
WA = Water Absorption The value of ‘k’ could range from 0.2 to 1.1 depending
wb = water-binder ratio upon the properties of cement, age of concrete, type of
wc = water-cement ratio fly ash and percentage of FA in binder. A conservative
estimate of k corresponding to the 28-day compressive
strength is about 0.30.3 Tests are recommended to find
the value of ‘k’ for the given set of FA, cement and other
possess similar characteristics in fresh and hardened concrete ingredients; it depends upon the quantum of
stages, suitable guidelines modifying the basic CC mix pozzolanic activity of fly ash with Portland cement. For
are needed. this, concretes with different fly ash contents and varying
water-binder ratios can be cast. From the strength data,
The binder portion of concrete can be considered as a the Equation (1) can be used to determine the value of
mixture consisting of Portland cement and FA, because, ‘k’. In the present case, the data of several concrete mixes
FA acts as a supplementary cementing material.1 When studied over many years at CSIR-SERC indicate that a
FA partially replaces sand, the binder content of the ‘k’ value of about 0.80 could be considered.
concrete (B) increases in the proportion of FA addition.

Table 1. Properties of concrete ingredients


No Property Portland cement Fly ash Sand Coarse aggregate
1 Description 43 Grade Class F River sand Crushed granite
2 Conforming code IS 8119 IS 3812 IS 383 IS 383
3 Specific gravity 3.15 2.2 2.64 2.89
4 Fineness, Blaine, m2/kg 285 310 - -
5 Standard consistency, SC, % 30% - - -
6 Compressive strength, MPa 45 - - -
7 Cementing efficiency, ‘k’ - 0.80 at 28 day - -
3
8 Bulk density, kg/m 1610 995 1628 1720
9 Fineness modulus - - 2.81 6.5
10 Nominal Maximum Size of Aggregate (MSA), mm - - - 20 mm

 The Indian Concrete Journal ...... 2013


Details of experimental work Test results and discussion
Mix proportions Workability
The workability of the concretes was adequate for
Table 1 gives the properties of concrete ingredients. The
compaction by a table vibrator. Due to the increased
basic cement concrete (CC) mix A, with proportions (by
paste content, the workability of SRFACs was always
weight) of Cement: Sand: Coarse Aggregate: Water =1:
higher than that of the CC, even though SRFACs had
1: 2: 0.35 was adopted for the experimental work. This
lower water-binder ratios. Despite the surface area of FA
mix had a slump of more than 150 mm. The FAC mixes
particles being more than that of the natural sand, the
B, C, and D, were obtained by replacing 20%, 40%,
concrete workability was not affected adversely due to
and 60%, of sand with FA respectively, so that 28-day
the spherical shapes of FA particles.7 FA in concrete can
strengths of A and B to D are similar. For example, mix,
then be taken as part of the binder paste. The SRFAC
B with 20% sand replacement level (SRL), had the ratio
mix had a higher paste volume and water content per
of (Cement : Fly Ash): Sand: Coarse Aggregate: Water =
unit volume than CC (even though water-binder ratio
[1: ( 0.20)*1]: [ ( 1-0.20)*1]: 2: 0.347, i.e., (1:0.20) : 0.80 : 2 :
of FAC was lower than that of the CC); this condition
0.347. The water-binder ratio of this mix was 0.347, which
also increased the workability.
is marginally less than that of mix A. Similarly, mix D
with SRL of 60% had (Cement: Fly Ash): Sand: Coarse Density
Aggregate: Water = ((1:0.60) : 0.40 : 2 : 0.309 [Table 2]. There is a significant reduction in the self weight of
concrete with FA as an SRM. The density of CC mix was
Preparation of test specimens about 2444 kg/m3 whereas that of B, C, D mixes was
Concrete ingredients were mixed using a horizontal 2332, 2255, 2180 kg/m3 respectively. A lower mix self
spindle mixer ( Ribbon Mixer) and 10 cm steel cube weight than cement concrete is an additional advantage
moulds were used to cast the specimens. The cubes could of using FA in concrete. For the FA additions of 20%,
be demoulded 24 hours after casting. Curing was done 40%, and 60%, the natural sand reduction was 25%, 46%,
by immersing the specimens in to a water tank. and 65% respectively (Table 2).

Table 2. Details of SRFAC mixes with strength at 28 day equal to CC


Mix Id A B C D
Type of mix CC SRFAC SRFAC SRFAC
Sand replacement level (SRL), ps 0.00 0.20 0.40 0.60
p = F/(F+C) 0.00 0.17 0.29 0.38
wc = W/C 0.350 0.417 0.452 0.495
wb = W/B = W/(F+C) 0.350 0.347 0.323 0.309
Unit contents of ingredients
C=Cement, kg/m3 562 528 506 485
F=Fly Ash, kg/m3 0 106 203 291
3
Sand, kg/m 562 422 304 194
Coarse aggregate, kg/m3 1123 1056 1013 970
Superplasticiser ( SP), kg/m3 0.84 0.95 1.06 1.16
Water, kg/m3 196 219 228 239
Density, kg/m3 2444 2332 2255 2180
Change in cement, % -6 -10 -14
Change in sand, % -25 -46 -65
Change in coarse aggregate, % -6 -10 -14
Change in water, % 12 16 22
Change in density, % -25 -46 -65

...... 2013 The Indian Concrete Journal 


Table 3. Test data on SRFAC mixes at 28 days
Mix Id A B C D
28 day compressive strength, fc, MPa 44.8 46.0 46.0 44.0
Water absorption studies
WA, 1hr, % 3.0 3.1 3.7 3.9
SWA, % 5.3 6.9 8.0 9.5
2 2
COA = [(Q/A) ]/t , µm /s 380 383 487 510
Porosity, % 13.0 15.9 18.1 21.0
Degree of Saturation (DOS), 1 hr, % 56.5 45.8 45.6 41.0
Sorptivity, S, mm/sqrt (min) 0.136 0.133 0.146 0.152
Penetration 1hr, mm 12 9 9 8
Capillary suction velocity, 1hr, mm/min 0.202 0.154 0.153 0.134
Rapid Chloride Permeability Test (RCPT), mA 182.3 70.0 52.7 44.0
Rapid Chloride Permeability Test (RCPT), Coulombs 3939 1511 1139 951
Electrical Resistivity = ER, kilo-ohm-cm 5.2 13.5 17.9 21.4
ASTM class of chloride permeability High Low Low Very Low
Ultrasonic pulse velocity (UPV), km/sec 4.22 4.14 4.10 4.05

Aggregate content of concrete were marginally higher than that of CC mix, A, due to
Substituting sand with FA reduced the coarse aggregate higher content of fine particles. The Sorptivity and the
contents per unit volume of the SRFACs. The reduction Coefficient of Absorptivity (COA) were also higher,
was 6%, 10% and 14% in specimens B, C, and D but, very marginally (Table 3). However, the Degree
respectively (Table 2). of Saturation reached in 1 hour of water absorption,
was lower when FA acts as SRM. This is confirmed by
Compressive strengths reduction in Capillary Suction Velocity. It is to be noted
The basic cement concrete mix, A (w/c ratio = 0.35) that the matrix of SRFACs continues to hydrate reducing
had a 28-day compressive strength of 44.8 MPa, and the capillary pores and resulting in a lower porosity
the FAC mixes, B, C, and D had strengths of 46, 46, with time.16,2,7 As the permeability is more influenced
and 44 MPa, respectively (Table 3). Because of the by the pore size distribution than by the porosity, and,
appropriate modifications carried out to the CC mix A, the pore sizes of SRFAC are expected to be finer than
the variations in the levels of sand substitution did not that of CC. As a result, SRFAC would achieve higher
have much effect on the 28-day compressive strength of degree of impermeability with age.
the concretes. However, the SRFACs so obtained had the
7-day strengths less than those of the CC mixes, due to The studies on RCPT as per ASTM C 1202 revealed
the slower initial pozzolanic reactivity of FA compared that quantity of Electrical Charges moved are much
to that of the cement. In other words, cement hydrates lower resulting in change of Chloride Permeability
more rapidly to produce the C-S-H gel than fly ash. 16 classification from High to Very Low as sand is replaced
However, with increasing reaction time, FA reacts more by fly ash (Table 3). The Electric Resistivity of Concrete
with cement hydration products forming increasing is very significantly increased from 5.2 kilo-Ω-cm
the compressive strength of concrete and reducing the to 21.4 kilo-Ω-cm, an increase of about 400%. Thus,
strength difference between CC and SRFACs.7 embedded steel in SRFACs can get more protection
against corrosion.
Studies on microstructural properties
Saturated Water Absorption (SWA) is computed based Ultrasonic pulse velocity (UPV) measured in the range
on the weight of water-saturated specimen oven dried of 4.05 to 4.22 km/s indicated compact/dense nature
at 100±50 C for 24 hrs. (Table 3). Despite the lower of the matrix.
water-binder ratio of SRFACs, the SWAs of SRFACs

 The Indian Concrete Journal ...... 2013


Table 4. Ecological, economical, other advantages of SRFAC mixes
Mix id A B C D
3
Embodied Energy (EE), MJ/m 3312 3109 2976 2850
Embodied CO2 emission (ECO2e), kgCO2e/m3 575 542 520 499
3
Typical cost, material, Rs/m 5761 5440 5233 5030
3
Strength-Energy Ratio (SER), MPa/MJ/m 65 60 58 58
Strength-ECO2e Ratio (SECO2eR), MPa/kgCO2e/m3 192 175 141 128
Strength-Cost ratio (SCR), MPa/Rs/m3 129 118 114 114
Strength-weight ratio (SWR), MPa/kg/m3 0.0183 0.0197 0.0204 0.0202
Strength Efficiency of Cement (SEC), MPa/kg cement/m3 0.0797 0.0871 0.0909 0.0907
Change in RCPT values, % 0.0 -61.6 -71.1 -75.9
Change in Electrical Resistivity values, % 0.0 159.6 244.2 311.5
Change in Embodied Energy values, % 0.0 -5.7 -9.3 -12.8
Change in Embodied CO2 Emission values, % 0.0 -5.8 -9.6 -13.2
Change in typical Cost (material), % 0.0 -5.6 -9.2 -12.7
Change in Strength-Energy Ratio (SER), % 0.0 -8.1 -11.7 -11.2
Change in Strength-ECO2e Ratio (ECO2e), % 0.0 -8.9 -26.7 -33.2
Change in Strength-Cost ratio (SCR), % 0.0 -8.0 -11.5 -11.1
Change in Strength-Weight ratio (SWR), % 0.0 7.6 11.3 10.1
Change in Strength Efficiency of Cement (SEC), % 0.0 9.3 14.0 13.8

Benefit of using FA as SRM Cost of concretes and strength-cost ratio (SCR)


There are many benefits occur to concrete when fly ash SRFACs would cost less than CC because the price of FA
acts as SRM in concretes and these are enumerated in is lower than that of sand. The additional cost benefit of
Tables 2 to 4. Some of these are discussed below: using SRFAC would result from the reduced quantity
of coarse aggregates (Table 2).
Strength efficiency of cement (SEC)
Strength efficiency of cement, SEC, computed as ratio of Most of the concrete structures are still designed using
Strength to Portland cement content, defines a parameter compressive strength as the main characteristic of
which indicates the efficiency of cement to produce concrete. So, compressive strength to cost ratio (SCR)
strength in the concrete. SEC is enhanced when FA is is a good parameter to understand the impact of using
used as SRM. FA as an SRM in concrete. In this regard, the SCR is
defined as:
Decrease in density and strength-weight ratio (SWR)
The self-weight of concrete forms a major portion of load Strength-Cost-ratio = SCR MPa/Rs/m3
carried by structures such as bridges and multi-storey = (Compressive Strength)/(Cost for 1 m3 of concrete)
buildings. Therefore engineers prefer low density and
high strength-weight ratio (SWR) concrete: A higher value of SCR indicates that the strength
development per rupee spent to produce concrete is
SWR = (compressive strength of concrete in MPa)/ better and thereby the utilisation of finance to produce
(Density of concrete kg/m3) the strength in concrete is also better. In the present
study, the strengths of SRFACs and CC were similar
The low density of SRFAC ensures that, its SWR is higher but the costs of SRFACs were lower, as a result, the
than that of CC at a similar level of 28 day strength. Strength to Cost Ratio SRC of SRFACs was better than
that of the CC.

...... 2013 The Indian Concrete Journal 


Eco-friendliness of SRFACs increased Strength-Energy Ratios (more eco-friendly
For eco-friendliness, the Embodied Energy (EE) and and less energy-intensive concrete), and lower carbon
Embodied CO2 Emission (ECO2e) at the production footprint.
stage of concrete per unit volume should be as low
as possible. Since SRFACs conserve both cement and Acknowledgements
conventional aggregates, it is a material of lower values The paper is being published with the permission of
of EE and ECO2e compared to CC. Lower values of EE Director, CSIR-SERC Chennai. The authors thank staff
and ECO2e of concretes are indicative of lower Carbon of various laboratories of CSIR-SERC, particularly,
Footprint of concretes. These values for each concrete Advanced Materials Lab (formerly called Concrete
mix are computed in the present study from the reported Composites Lab). .
EE and ECO2e of ingredients of concretes including that
required for making of concretes.20 References
1. Berry E.E. and Malhotra V.M., [1980], Fly ash for use in concrete – a critical
The energy intensive nature of concretes is assessed review, ACI Material Journal, Mar-Apr, pp 5-73
by: 2. Dattatreya J K, N P Rajamane, M Neelamegam, J. Annie Peter and S.
Strength to Energy Ratio = SER, MPa/MJ/m3 Gopalakrishnan, [2002], Technical consideration for use of fly ash in
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6. Larrard F de, [1999], Concrete mixture proportioning – A scientific approach,


Modern Concrete Technology Series, E & F N SPON, London
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Densities of SRFACs are lower than those of CC; but their 7. Mangaraj B K and Krishnamoorthy S, [1994], Use of pond fly ash as part
replacement for mortar and concrete, The Indian Concrete Journal, May,
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8. Mehta P.K. and P.J.M. Monteiro, [1997], Concrete: Structure, Properties, and
energy-intensive than CC, because of the former’s lower Materials, Indian Concrete Institute, Chennai.
EE. The SRFACs are related to lower level emission of 9. Neville A.M. [1996], Properties of Concrete, 4th Edition, Addison Wesley
CO2 as compared to CC, because of the former’s lower Longman
embodied CO2e content. Hence, SRFACs can be said to 10. Rajamane N P, [2003a], Making of concrete ‘green’ through use of fly
possess lower carbon footprints. The strengths of CC ash, Oct-Dec., 2003, Green Business Opportunities, Journal published by
Confederation of Indian Industry, Vol 9, No 4, pp 22-29
and SRFACs being similar, the Strength to Energy Ratio
(SER) of SRFACs is more than the CC. 11. Rajamane N P, Annie Peter J and Ambily P S, [2007], “Prediction of
compressive strength of concrete with fly ash as sand replacement material”,
Cement and Concrete Composites, Volume 29, Issue 3, March, Pages 218-
Concluding remarks 223

It is feasible to substitute up to 60% sand by fly ash 12. Rajamane N. P., J. Annie Peter and S. Gopalakrishnan, [2003a], Effect of
high volumes of replacement of cement by fly ash in high performance
(FA) without affecting the workability and strength concrete of 100 MPa strength, Proceed. of IWC-2003, Pune, 19-21 Sept ,
requirements of concrete. A methodology based on Indian Concrete Institute
‘cementing efficiency’ of fly ash, k, was successfully used 13. Rajamane N. P., [2003b], Problems and prospects of use of fly ash in concrete,
to modify the cement concrete mix. When FA is used as All India Seminar on Fly ash Utilisation and Disposal, 11-12 Oct, Institute of
Engineers (I), TN Centre, pp 66-88
a sand replacement material, the density (self weight)
14. Rajamane, N. P., Annie Peter, J., Sabitha D., and Gopalakrishnan S., [2004],
of concrete reduces. This reduction is accompanied ”Studies on development of bonded fly ash aggregates for use as coarse
by reductions in each of contents of cement, sand, and aggregate in structural grade concretes,” New Building Materials and
coarse aggregate. The major advantages of adding FA Construction World, Vol.10, Issue 4, October, pp. 60-70.

as SRM in CC are: lower cost of concrete (economy), 15. Rajamane, N. P., Annie Peter, J., Sabitha D, Srinivasa Rao K., and S.
Gopalakrishnan, [2003c], “Fly ash based aggregates and their influence on
higher Strength-Weight Ratio (weight efficiency), properties of concretes - a review”, INCONTEST 2003, 10-12 September,
Coimbatore, pp 7-19.

 The Indian Concrete Journal ...... 2013


16. Sear Lyndon K A, [2001], Properties and use of coal fly ash a valuable
industrial by-product, Thomas Telford, UK N.P. Rajamane holds a B.E. (Civil) First Class
with Distinction, from Karnataka University and
17. SERC-CPWD, [2008], Rajamane, N. P., Chellappan, A., Neelamegam, M., M.Tech. from IIT Madras. He is former Head,
Annie Peter, J., Dattatreya, J.K., Prabhakar, J., Srinivasan, P., Bhaskar, S., Advanced Materials Lab, CSIR, SERC, Chennai. At
Sabitha, D., Ambily, P.S., Harish, K.V., ‘Studies on evaluation of durability of
present, he is Head, Centre for Advanced Concrete
cracked RC members using fly ash concrete subjected to accelerated corrosion
Research (CACR), SRM University, Kattankulathur
and carbonation’, Grant-in-aid Project No. GAP 02541, Dec 2008
(Near Chennai), Tamil Nadu. He is the recipient of
18. SERC-CII, [2004], Gopalakrishnan, S., Lakshmanan, N, Rajamane, N. P., “Outstanding Concrete Technologist for 2008” by
Krishnamoorthy, T. S., Neelamegam, M., Annie Peter, J., Balasubramanian, Indian Concrete Institute. He has patents on building blocks from
K., Prabhakar, J., Bharatkumar, B. H., Dattatreya, J. K., and Sabitha, D., [2005], lateritic soil and natural rubber latex modified cement concrete.
“Development of High Volume Fly ash Concrete for Structural Applications”, He has about 330 technical publications related to his research
for Confederation of Indian Industries, Mumbai, GAP 2041, February interests of high performance concrete, geopolymer concrete,
19. Rafat Siddique. [2003], Effect of fine aggregate replacement with Class F fly
lightweight concrete, concrete chemicals, repair materials,
ash on the mechanical properties of concrete, Cement Concrete Research, nanotechnology and mineral admixtures.
Vol 33, pp 539–47.
Ambily P.S. holds an M.Tech (Structural
20. Rajamane N P, [2013], ‘Studies on development of ambient temperature cured Engineering) from National Institute of
fly ash and GGBS based geopolymer concretes’, PhD Thesis submitted to Technology, Calicut, India and currently doing
Visvesvaraya Technological University, Belgaum, Karnataka, India.
PhD at Anna University, Chennai. She is a
scientist in Advanced Materials Laboratory of
CSIR-Structural Engineering Research Centre
(CSIR-SERC). Her research interests includes,
Geopolymer concrete, Ultra High Performance concrete,
Self compacting concrete, Lightweight concrete, fly ash
aggregate, fly ash concrete, alternate binders and fillers for
concrete.

...... 2013 The Indian Concrete Journal 

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