Evaluation of natural pozzolans as replacements for Class F fly ash in portland cement concrete
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Most concrete produced today utilizes pozzolans or supplementary cementitious materials (SCMs) to promote better long term durability and resistance to deleterious chemical reactions. While other pozzolans and SCMs are available and provide many of the same benefits, Class F fly ash has become the industry standard for producing quality, durable concrete because of its low cost and wide-spread availability. With impending environmental and safety regulations threatening the availability and quality of Class F fly ash, it is becoming increasing important to find viable alternatives. This research aims to find natural, lightly processed, alternatives to fly ash that perform similarly to Class F fly ash with regards to pozzolanic reactivity and provide comparable compressive strength, workability, drying shrinkage, thermal expansion properties and resistance to alkali-silica reaction, sulfate attack, and chloride ion penetration. Eight fly ash alternatives from the US were tested for compatibility with the governing standard for pozzolans used in portland cement concrete and various fresh and hardened mortar and concrete properties. The results of this research indicate that six materials meet the requirements for natural pozzolans set by the American Society for Testing and Materials and many are comparable to Class F fly ash in durability tests. The primary concern when using these materials in concrete is the increase in water demand. The spherical particle shape of fly ash provides improved workability even at relatively low water-to-cement ratios; however, all of the materials tested for this research required grinding to achieve the appropriate particle size, resulting in an angular and rough surface area that requires more lubrication to achieve a workable consistency. So long as an appropriate water reducing admixture is used, six of the eight materials tested in this study are appropriate and beneficial for use in portland cement concrete.