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# Normal Concrete Mix Design 1.

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## 2. Designed Mix 2.1 Variability of Strength

Design is based on the assumption of certain minimum properties of concrete, such as strength. Actual strength of the concrete produced is a variable quantity. Source of variability include variations in mix ingredients, changes in concrete making and placing; variations also occur in sampling procedure and testing. Knowledge of variability is required so that the strength values can be interpreted properly.

## 2.2 Target Strength and Characteristic Strength

It is generally accepted that the variation in concrete strengths or a particular mix follows the normal distribution as shown below:

Figure 1

## Normal distribution of concrete strength

(Source: Building Research Establishment)

In the figure above, the mean strength of the mix is 40 N/mm2. lower.

## That is, we can

expect half of the test results will be higher than 40 N/mm2 and half will be

In practice, we specify the quality of concrete not as a minimum strength, and not as a mean strength, but as a characteristic strength below which a specified percentage of the test results, often called defectives, may be expected to fall.
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Characteristic strength may be defined as to have any proportion of defectives. (BS 5328 Guide to Specifying Concrete, and BS8110 Structural Use of Concrete adopt the 5% defective level.)

As a result, it is necessary to design a mix to have a target mean strength greater than the specified characteristic strength by an amount termed the margin. Target mean strength = characteristic strength + margin fm = fk + k s where fm fk ks k s = target mean strength = characteristic strength = margin = constant = standard deviation

Constant k is derived from the mathematics of the normal distribution. Defective 1% 2.5 % 5% Constant 2.33 1.96 1.64

Example 1 To design a concrete mix with characteristic strength of 30 MPa, what should the target mean strength be? Given that : defective level 5%, standard deviation 5 MPa. Solution fk = 30 MPa fm = fk + k s = 30 + 1.64 x 5 MPa = 38.2 MPa The target mean strength should be 38.2 MPa
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k = 1.64

s = 5 MPa

## 2.3 BRE Mix Design Method (Formerly DoE Method)

Design of Normal Concrete Mixes was published by the Building Research Establishment Ltd. in 1997. (Formerly by Department of Environment). The design procedure is summarized in chart below:

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## Equations for mix design

C1 M=kxs where M = the margin k = a value appropriate to the percentage defectives permitted below the characteristic strength s = the standard deviation C2 f m = fc + M where fm = the target mean strength fc = the specified characteristic strength M = the margin C3 Cement content =

## free - water content free - water / cement ratio

C4

Total aggregate content (saturated and surfacedry) = D C W where D = the wet density of concrete (kg/m3) C = the cement content (kg/m3) W = the free water content (kg/m3)

C5

Fine aggregate content = total aggregate content x proportion of fines Coarse aggregate content = total aggregate content fine aggregate content Portland cement content =
(100 p) W

C6

(100 0.7 p) [W / (C 0.3 F)] where W = the free water content (kg/m3) C = the cement content (kg/m3) F = pfa content (of the mix) (kg/m3) p = proportion of pfa specified as percentage of the combined weight of cement and pfa the ratio of W/(C+0.3F) is derived from Table 10 and Figure 4 pC

C7

pfa content =

100 - p where C = the cement content (kg/m3) p = proportion of pfa specified as percentage of the combined weight of cement and pfa W

C8

for comparison of maximum free-water/cement ratio CF where W = the free water content (kg/m3) C = the cement content (kg/m3) F = pfa content (kg/m3) Total aggregate content (saturated and surface dry) = D (C + F) W where W = the free water content (kg/m3) C = the cement content (kg/m3) F = pfa content (of the mix) (kg/m3) D = the wet density of concrete (kg/m3)

C9

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Figure 6

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## Example 2 unrestricted design Specification of the mix:

Characteristic compressive strength 30 N/mm2 at 28 days Defective rate 2.5 % No previous control data Cement: OPC class 42.5 Slump required, 10-30 mm Maximum free-water/Cement ratio 0.55 Minimum cement content 290 kg/m3 Coarse aggregate: Uncrushed single sized 10 mm and 20 mm (1:2 by weight) Fine aggregate: Uncrushed with 70% passing 600 m sieve Relative density of aggregate : 2.6 (assumed) Volume of trial mix : 0.05 m3

## Example 3 mix restricted by maximum water/cement ratio Specification of the mix:

Characteristic compressive strength 25 N/mm2 at 28 days No previous control data but a margin of 10 N/mm2 is specified Cement: OPC class 42.5 Slump required, 30-60 mm Maximum free-water/Cement ratio 0.5 Minimum cement content 290 kg/m3 Coarse aggregate: Uncrushed single sized 10, 20 and 40 mm (Suggested ratio 1 : 1.5 : 3 by weight)

Fine aggregate: Uncrushed with 90% passing 600 m sieve Relative density of aggregate : 2.5 (assumed) Volume of trial mix : 0.08 m3

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Solution of Example 2

## (Source: Building Research Establishment)

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Solution of Example 3

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## Example 5 mix restricted by maximum cement content Specification of the mix:

Characteristic compressive strength 50 N/mm2 at 7 days Defective rate 1 % Previous control data: standard deviation 5 N/mm2 Cement: RHPC class 52.5 Slump required, 30-60 mm Maximum cement content 550 kg/m3 Coarse aggregate: Crushed single sized 10 mm Fine aggregate: Uncrushed with 45% passing 600 m sieve Relative density of aggregate : 2.7 (assumed) Volume of trial mix : 0.08 m3

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Solution of Example 4

## (Source: Building Research Establishment)

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Solution of Example 5

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Trial Mixes

## 3.1 Moisture conditions of aggregates: Aggregates may be in the following conditions:

Oven dry:- prolonged drying in an oven would eventually remove the moisture completely. Air dry:- when the aggregate is allowed to stand in dry air, some water will evaporate so that the aggregate is air-dry. Saturated surface dry (SSD):- all pores in the aggregate are full of water, i.e., saturated, but the surface of the aggregate is dry. Damp or wet:- containing an excess of moisture on the surface (free water).

## Moisture Condition of Aggregate

(Source: Design and Control of Concrete Mixtures Portland Cement Association)

## 3.2 Adjustment to mix proportion in trial mix

The batch quantities determined in the mix design are based on saturated surface-dry (SSD) aggregates. Very often, aggregates are in other conditions, adjustment of actual weights of aggregates and water have to be made.

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## 3.3 Determination of mass of aggregate for trial mix 3.3.1 MT = MD (

1 M.C. ) 1 A

where MT MD = the mass of aggregate to be weighed for trial mix = mass of aggregate designed, which the aggregate is assumed in SSD condition. M.C. = insitu moisture content of the aggregate (mass of water/mass of dry aggregate) presented in decimal. A = water absorption of the aggregate (mass of absorbed water/mass of dry aggregate) presented in decimal.

3.3.2

A simplified formula: MT = MD (1 + M.C. A) This formula gives an approximate result only but is accurate enough for most practical purpose.

## 3.4. Determination of mass of water for trial mix

MD = MT or MTw + MTf + MT10 + MT20 + MT40 = MDw + MDf + MD10 + MD20 + MD40 MTw = MDw + MDf + MD10 + MD20 + MD40 - (MTf + MT10 + MT20 + MT40)

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Example 6

Quantities of the constituent materials for 0.05 m3 of a designed mix are: Material Cement Coarse aggregate (SSD) Sand (SSD) Water Designed Mass (kg) 17.0 69.2 25.7 8.0 Absorption (%) 1 2 -

If oven-dried aggregates are use, determine the mass of each constituent for trial mix. Solution Using MT = MD ( 1 M.C. ) 1 A Using MT = MD (1 + M.C. A)

## Coarse agg: MTc = 69.2

1 0 1 0.01 1 0 1 0.02

## = 68.5 kg Sand: MTs = 25.7

= 25.2 kg Water: Using MD = MT 69.2 + 25.7 + 8 = 68.5 + 25.2 + MTw MTw = 9.2 kg Cement: unchanged

Example 7

If moisture content of aggregates in example 6 are: Coarse aggregate: Sand 1.4 % 2.8%

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## 3.5 Workability of trial mix

During the mixing of the trial mix, an experienced technician is able to adjust the water content by eye inspection if the workability of the mix is much outside the target range. It is thus useful, initially, to withhold a small proportion, say 10% of the mixing water until assessment of workability has been made to determine whether deduction or addition of water is necessary. Any adjustment of water ( MAw) must be recorded for later use.

## 4. Design iteration (Re-design)

The design tables and charts in the BRE method are based on the statistical data in England. Due to different sources of cement and aggregates, there may be deviation of actual cube strength of trial mix from target strength. It is thus necessary to undergo the re-design procedure. The re-design procedure is same as the original design procedure excepted that data obtained from tables and charts shall be replaced with actual measured data in the first trial.

## 4.1 Free-water content

In Item 2.3 of the design table, use actual free-water content in the first trial instead of obtaining from table 3. Actual free water content (per m3) = (MDw MAw) volume of first trial mix Please note that any addition or deduction of water to bring the aggregate back to SSD condition shall not be involved in the above calculation.

## 4.2 Density of fresh concrete

In Item 4.2, use actual measured fresh concrete density in the first trial.
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## 4.3 Free-water/cement ratio

In Item 1.7, the free-water/cement ratio shall be determined as follow: a. Determine the actual free-water/cement ratio in the first trial, which is (MDw MAw) Mcement b. When the actual cube strength of the first trial is available, plot this result together with the result in (a) on figure 4 to obtain a re-design water/cement ratio. (Two examples are given as below.)

Example 8

## Target mean strength 60 MPa First trial

Free-water/cement ratio 0.37 No addition or deduction of water during first trial Actual cube strength 70 MPa

Re-design

fc = 70 MPa

Example 9

## Target mean strength 22 MPa First trial

Free-water/cement ratio 0.62 Some water is added such that the actual free-water/cement ratio became 0.69 Actual cube strength 14 MPa

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Re-design

fc = 14 MPa

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