Implementation of ConcreteWorks software in Texas highway construction
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The hydration of cement and water is an exothermic reaction capable of generating significant amounts of heat. Unaccounted for, the heat generated can alter the chemical reaction of the cement, producing massive cracks in the hardened concrete that sacrifice the integrity of the structural element. Alternatively, the heat produced can create thermal gradients capable of cracking the concrete and exposing the reinforcing steel to chlorides. To prevent either of these events from occurring, a software program known as ConcreteWorks was created as part of a previous research project funded by the Texas Department of Transportation. ConcreteWorks gives TxDOT engineers, contractors, and inspectors the ability to manage the structural design, mix proportions, and construction processes in order to minimize maximum concrete temperatures as well as temperature gradients. The free program has seen successful on several non-TxDOT projects, however, it has failed to become incorporated into standard TxDOT practices and specifications. The goal of this research, funded by TxDOT, was to promote widespread use and acceptance of the program within the DOT. In pursuit of this goal, a four-hour hands-on training class was developed and taught throughout the state of Texas, construction projects were selected for the use and validation of the software program, and a few modifications were suggested to make the program more helpful and easy to use. This thesis primarily focuses on the results of the validation of ConcreteWorks on mass concrete and precast applications. In total, four precast beams and two columns were instrumented. With regards to existing methods of predicting temperatures, the program was fairly accurate for mass concrete applications. The program was also very useful for precast elements; however, the lack of variables to match the model to the actual structure likely limits the software program from producing a more accurate prediction.