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Concrete Shrinkage

The volumetric change in a concrete specimen in the absence of load is called shrinkage. Shrinkage
consists of three components, drying shrinkage, autogenous shrinkage, and carbonation. Drying shrinkage
occurs when water not consumed during hydration diffuses into the environment, resulting in a decrease
in the volume of the concrete specimen. Autogenous shrinkage is a result of the hydration of cement. The
volume of the hydrated cement paste is smaller than the solid volume of the unhydrated cement and
water. Finally, carbonation occurs when carbon dioxide from the atmosphere reacts with the calcium
hydroxide in the cement paste in the presence of moisture, resulting in a decrease in the volume of the
concrete specimen.
Shrinkage, like creep, causes the girder to shorten over time, thus reducing the stress in the strands and
causing prestress losses.
Shrinkage has been the focus of a great deal of research along with creep, and several shrinkage models
have also been published. The ambient relative humidity, curing conditions, the size and shape of the
specimen, and mixture proportions affect the rate and extent of shrinkage. Drying shrinkage occurs when
the ambient relative humidity is less than the internal relative humidity of the concrete, as a result of
water loss to the environment. Therefore, a lower ambient relative humidity will increase shrinkage. ACI-
209 (ACI, 1992) and the AASHTO LRFD Specification (AASHTO, 1998) indicate that shrinkage will
increase 67% at 40% relative humidity compared to 80% relative humidity.

Concrete experiences volume changes throughout its service life. This total inservice volume change is
the result of applied loads and shrinkage. When loaded, concrete experiences an instantaneous
recoverable elastic deformation and a slow inelastic deformation called creep. Creep of structures is
composed of two components, basic creep or deformation under constant load without moisture loss or
gain, and drying creep. Drying creep is a time-dependent deformation of a drying specimen under
constant load minus the sum of the drying shrinkage and basic creep. Deformation of concrete in the
absence of applied loads is often called shrinkage. There are four main types of shrinkage in concrete i.e.
plastic, autogenous, carbonation and drying shrinkage. This chapter includes the review of available
literature on the influence of the type of the cement and fineness, mineral and chemical admixtures,
ambient conditions, size of specimen, aggregate, various testing methods and remedial measures on
plastic shrinkage cracking ofconcrete and the shrinkage mechanism is also addressed.

There are four main types of shrinkage in concrete i.e. plastic, autogenous, carbonation and drying

Early-age shrinkage in concrete may lead to deleterious cracking which in some

occasions can dramatically impair the aesthetics, durability and serviceability of a structure. (WP
& Combrick , 2013) Plastic- and autogenous shrinkage are the two main phenomena by which
early-age shrinkage is caused. The former occurs due to excessive loss of water e.g. by
evaporation, whereas the latter is a result of hydration and chemical reactions. (Sivakumar &
Santhanam, 2006)
Plastic shrinkage and its probable cracking, the main topic of this research, occurs shortly after
casting, while the concrete still is in its plastic phase, Figure 1.1. The phenomenon is defined as
the shrinkage of young concrete which occurs due to rapid and excessive drying. The cracking
occurs when the concrete surface dries and shrinks so fast, that the induced tensile strains exceed
the strain capacity of the very young concrete. It may clearly affect the aesthetics, durability and
serviceability of the structure by accelerating the ingress of harmful materials that might cause
damage in future, e.g. corrosion of the reinforcement. (Sayahi, 2016)
According to ACI 305R (1999): “Plastic shrinkage cracking is frequently associated with hot
weather concreting in arid climates. It occurs in exposed concrete, primarily in flat work but also
in beams and footings and may develop in other climates whenever the evaporation rate is
greater than the rate at which the water rises to the surface of recently placed concrete by
bleeding”. The main driving force behind the phenomenon is thus believed to be rapid and
excessive loss of water, which mainly takes place in form of surface water evaporation.

Sayahi, F. (2016, October). Plastic Shrinkage Cracking in Concrete.
Sivakumar, A., & Santhanam, M. (2006). Experimental methodology to study plastic shrinkage
cracks in high strength concrete in measuring, monitoring and modeling concrete
WP, B., & Combrick , R. (2013, June). Modelling the severity of plastic shrinkage cracking in
concrete. Cem Concr Res, 48:34-9. 2.