Early age concrete thermal stress measurement and modeling

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Riding, Kyle Austin, 1978-

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A large amount of heat can be liberated during cement hydration, causing very large temperature increases in mass concrete members. The non-uniform temperature field produced by the cement during curing can cause very high internal stresses that may crack the concrete. Concrete thermal cracking in very large structures is a well-known phenomenon and was studied extensively during the height of dam construction in the United States. In recent years concrete bridge member sizes have increased for structural and aesthetic reasons. Recent problems in San Antonio and Houston, Texas with thermal cracking and very high internal temperatures in mass concrete bridge members has renewed interest in studying early-age thermal cracking and its mechanisms. In order to predict the early-age thermal cracking risk of a concrete member, the temperature history, autogenous shrinkage, modulus development, tensile strength development, coefficient of thermal expansion development, creep behavior, and external restraint conditions must be known. A testing procedure has been developed to measure concrete heat of hydration, mechanical property development, and free shrinkage response at different curing temperatures. The concrete free shrinkage includes thermal and autogenous shrinkage components and is measured using a newly developed free shrinkage testing apparatus. The early age concrete creep is calculated from rigid cracking frame tests performed at different varying temperatures. Trends in early age creep behavior for different concrete mixtures common in mass concrete have been found and are used to develop a statistical model relating concrete mixture proportions and constituent material properties for use in mass concrete thermal stress modeling. The results from the test methods described are used in a new concrete early-age cracking risk and durability software package called ConcreteWorks.