Non-Invasive Permeability Assessment of High-Performance Concrete Bridge Deck Mixtures

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Virginia Tech


Concrete construction methods and practices influence the final in-place quality of concrete. A low permeability concrete mixture does not alone ensure quality in-place concrete. If the concrete mixture is not transported, placed and cured properly, it may not exhibit the desired durability and mechanical properties.

This study investigates the in-place permeation properties of low permeability concrete bridge decks mixtures used in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Permeation properties were assessed in both the laboratory and in the field using 4-point Wenner array electrical resistivity, surface air flow (SAF), and chloride ion penetrability (ASTM C 1202-97).

Laboratory test specimens consisted of two concrete slabs having dimensions of 280 x 280 x 102-mm (11 x 11 x 4-in) and twelve 102 x 204-mm (4 x 8-in) cylinders per concrete mixture. Specimens were tested at 7, 28 and 91-days. Thirteen cylinder specimens per concrete mixture underwent standard curing in a saturated limewater bath. The simulated field-curing regimes used wet burlap and plastic sheeting for 3 (3B) and 7 days (7B) respectively and was applied to both slabs and cylinder specimens.

Slab specimen were tested on finished surface using the SAF at 28 and 91 days, and 4-point electrical resistivity measurements at 1, 3, 7, 14, 28 and 91 days. Compressive strength (CS) tests were conducted at 7 and 28 days. Chloride ion penetrability tests were performed at 7, 28, and 91 days.

Statistical analyses were performed to assess the significance of the relationships for the following: Total charge passed and initial current (ASTM C 1202-97); 3B resistivity and 7B resistivity; Slab and cylinder resistivity; Slab resistivity and ASTM C-1202-97 (Total Charge and Initial current); and Surface Air Flow and ASTM C-1202-97.

Field cast specimens, test slabs and cylinders, were cast on-site during concrete bridge deck construction. The slab dimensions were 30.5 x 40.6 x 10.2-cm (12 x 16 x 4 in.), and the cylinders were 10.2 x 20.4-cm (4 x 8-in). In-situ SAF and resistivity measurements were taken on the bridge deck at 14, 42 and 91 days. In-place SAF and resistivity measurements on laboratory field cast slabs were taken at 7, 14 and 28-days. ASTM C 1202-97 specimens were prepared from field cast cylinders and tested at 7 and 28 and 42-days. The relationship between in-place permeation measures from field specimens was compared to laboratory data.

Results indicated no difference in chloride ion penetrability (Figures 7.4 and 7.5) and 28-day compressive strength (Figure 7.2) with regard to differing simulated field curing regimes, for same age testing. There was no significant difference at the 95 % confidence level between 3B resistivity and 7B resistivity specimens tested at the same age (Figures 7.9 and 7.10).

A well defined relationship was observed between total charge passed and initial current (Figure 7-6). An inverse power function was found to describe the relationship between charge passed/initial current and electrical resistivity for all laboratory mixtures used in this study (Figure 7.17 – 7.22). Field data was used to validate laboratory established models for charge passed/initial current and electrical resistivity. Laboratory established models were able to predict 30 to 50% of the field data (Figures 7.31 – 7.34). Results indicate that the SAF lacked the sensitivity to classify the range of concretes used in this study (Figure 7.24).



Permeability, Chloride Ion Penetrability, High-Performance Concrete, Concrete Resistivity, Initial current, Nondestructive Testing