Developments in material technology have always propelled the progress
of human civilizations. Ultra High Performance Concrete (UHPC) has rapidly
evolved across the past twenty years and is now a material with highly
desirable mechanical and thermal properties. While these traits make UHPC a
“future” material capable of amplifying the life of buildings, bridges, roads,
and other infrastructural elements, its applications are restricted by its high
cost, intricate curing-mixing procedures, and lack of standard design codes. The
present paper reviews numerous research works which look into various facets of
UHPC and efforts to remove the mentioned bottlenecks. In the near future, we
can expect UHPC to attain greater popularity as it gets made with locally available
material via simpler procedures. The design codes for such UHPC will be easily
available, making its production cheaper and faster.
Traditional Production Materials and Methods for Manufacturing UHPC (Ultra High Performance Concrete) in the Construction Industry
Ultra High Performance Concrete (UHPC) is a relatively recent cementitious material possessing elevated strength, durability, and ductility levels (Azmee & Shafiq, 2018). Plus, it is non brittle and exhibits superior durability and mechanical performance, improved workability, self-densifying characteristics, and self-placing properties (Azmee & Shafiq, 2018). Despite its desirable properties making UHPC an excellent material in the construction of high quality infrastructure, particularly bridges across the globe (Russel & Graybeal, 2013), cost, complex production procedures, and lack of standard design codes restrict its applicability (Azmee & Shafiq, 2018).
The present paper analyses the literature available from multiple research studies to evaluate UHPC, its constituents and properties, the ingredients that endow it with special properties, and manufacturing techniques which employ traditional methods and materials. Special focus is directed towards the studies that focus on removing the roadblocks for widespread adoption of UHPC viz. UHPC production from locally available materials by employing sustainable, simple, fast, and safe procedures, and efforts towards the standardization of UHPC design codes.
National Research Council (1975) elaborates on the connection between material technology development and human progress.
Kozlovska, Strukova, and Baskova (2016) list the merits of UHPA as slashing construction costs, time, material, and environmental impact, while maximizing the quality, life, and durability of structures. PCA (2019) informs us of the various strengths of UHPA, why it has aesthetic properties, and what types of fibres go into its making.
Richard and Cheyrezy (1995) outline the making of Reactive Powder Concrete (RPC) concept. Azmee and Shafiq (2018) delineate the fundamental principles for UHPC design, completed projects using UHPC, and compositions of commercially available UHPC brands. Azmee and Shafiq (2018) also describe the Sherbrooke pedestrian bridge in Canada as the first structure completely made from RPC.
Russel and Graybeal (2013) take a U.S.-centric approach in studying the latest developments in UHPC technology and its successful deployment for making structures around the world. They also study UHPC’s mechanical and thermal properties viz. compressive strength, tensile strength, elasticity modulus, Poisson’s ratio, thermal expansion coefficient, creep, and shrinkage.
Sobuz et al. (2016) traced the complexity in UHPC manufacturing to the use of specifically graded fine aggregates and intricate curing-mixing procedures. They undertook forty trials to examine how superlasticiser-cement ratio, total-free-water-cement ratio, and fineness impact the strength and curing procedures of UHPC. For these trials, they utilised fine and coarse aggregates employed to make concrete of normal strength.
Lopez (2016) depicts a pending patent of a formulation and procedure for UHPC that is cost-effective, fast, safe, and can be made anywhere. The composition and process deliver UHPC with excellent compression, traction, ductility, toughness, durability, deformation and other such properties.
Zhang and Zhao (2017) experimented and came up with a UHPC with low cement content in a step towards sustainable UHPC production. The researchers added 10-20% of silica fume and replaced about 30% fly ash to obtain equivalent or even better mechanical characteristics.
Alsalman, Dang, and Hale (2017) built UHPC using locally available materials in order to cut the required costs, energy, and material. Specifically, they evaluated how binder content and type, sand gradation, and curing methods impacted compressive strength.
Baqersad, Sayyifi, and Bak (2017) sought to compile the best range of mechanical properties of UHPC for diverse applications.
NPCA (2013) explains the optimisation of various processes involved in the making of the precast concrete constituents of architectural UHPA. These processes include batching, placing, forming, curing, and surface treatment followed by mock ups.
Sidodikromo, Chen, and Habib (2019) conclude that the inclusion of fibres made from Supplementary Cementitious Material (SCM) upgrades UHPC’s compressive, flexural, and tensile strength; toughness, and flowability, while curing boosts its durability.
Abbas, Nehdi, and Saleem (2016) concluded that fibre inclusion and curing procedures are the chief causatives of UHPC’s superior durability and mechanical strength, which enable it to endure even in aggressive ambiences.
Chen et al. (2018) found that compressive strength of UHPC: rises for an increase in packing density between 0.825 and 0.855; falls when water film thickness climbs up from 0.058 to 0.07 µm; and declines for a hike in excess paste film thickness from 220 to 280 µm.
National Research Council (1975) places the discussion in the broadest possible context i.e. how human societies moved up the ladder of civilization through upgrades in material technology. By explaining the distinct advantages of UHPC, Kozlovska, Strukova, and Baskova (2016) drive home the importance of UHPC as a future material. PCA (2019) links the various constituents of UHPA to its special characteristics.
Conceptualization of RPC and its successful practical application was a landmark milestone in the evolution of UHPC. The depiction of this journey by Richard and Cheyrezy (1995) holds major clues for further expanding the utility of UHPC. Azmee and Shafiq (2018) take things further by portraying the other developmental stages of UHPC along with its fundamental design parameters. Russel and Graybeal (2013) adopt a U.S.-focused point of view but, similar to Azmee and Shafiq (2018), present a comprehensive technical and practical account.
Of special note are the works of Sobuz et al. (2016) that seeks to mitigate the intricacy involved in producing UHPC; Lopez (2016) whose product will enable top-class UHPC production at any location via a simple, safe, and fast formulation and procedure; Zhang and Zhao (2017) who make efforts towards lending sustainability to the UHPC manufacturing procedure; and Alsalman, Dang, and Hale (2017) who explain UHPC making with locally available materials. Complexity restricts widespread use (Azmee & Shafiq, 2018) and these works try and lower the same, hence their importance to this paper. Baqersad, Sayyifi, and Bak (2017) deserve accolades for they try and standardize mechanical properties for UHPC utilized in distinct application. Lack of standards is another roadblock in UHPC adoption (Azmee & Shafiq, 2018).
UHPC supports multiple architectural applications on account of its aesthetic appeal. Therefore, the optimization of processes for making architectural UHPA by NPCA (2013) assumes significance.
Finally, Sidodikromo, Chen, and Habib (2019); Abbas, Nehdi, and Saleem (2016); and Chen et al. (2018) explain ways to further boost UHPC properties, something essential to expand its utility in future.
Once innovations gather critical mass, a result of
researchers improving their practical utility, they forge ahead. UHPC is
following a similar trajectory. In the near future, we can expect UHPC to
attain greater popularity as it gets made with locally available material and requires
simpler procedures. The design codes for such UHPC will be easily available,
making its production cheaper and faster.
Abbas, S., Nehdi, M.L., & Saleem, M.A. (2016). Ultra-high performance concrete: Mechanical performance, durability, sustainability, and implementation challenges. International Journal of Concrete Structures and Materials, 10, 271-295. Retrieved from: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40069-016-0157-4
Alsalman, A., Dang, C.N., & Hale, W.M. (2017). Development of ultra-high performance concrete with locally available materials. Construction and Building Materials, 133, 135-145. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.conbuildmat.2016.12.040
Azmee, N.M. & Shafiq, N. (2018). “Ultra high performance concrete: From fundamental to applications.” Case Studies in Construction Materials, 9, e00197. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cscm.2018.e00197
Baqersad, M., Sayyifi, E.A., & Bak, H.M. (2017). State of the art: Mechanical properties of ultra-high performance concrete. Civil Engineering Journal, 3(3), 190-198. Retrieved from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/315825560_State_of_the_Art_Mechanical_Properties_of_Ultra-High_Performance_Concrete
Chen, Y., Matalkah, F., Soroushian, P., Weerasiri, R., & Balachandra, A. (2019). Optimization of ultra-high performance concrete, quantification of characteristic features. Cogent Engineering, 6(1). https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/23311916.2018.1558696
Kozlovska, M., Strukova, Z., & Baskova, R. (2016). Comparison of conventional and advanced concrete technologies in terms of construction efficiency. Advances in Material Sciences and Engineering, 6, 1-6. Retrieved from: https://www.hindawi.com/journals/amse/2016/1903729/
Lopez, A.M.N. (2016). Formulation and method for producing ultra-high performance concretes (U.S. Patent Application No. PCT/IB2016/057385). U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Retrieved from: https://patents.google.com/patent/WO2017098409A1/en
NPCA – National Precast Concrete Association. (2013). Guide to manufacturing architectural precast UHPC elements. NPCA Whitepaper. Retrieved from: https://precast.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/UHPC-White-Paper.pdf
National Research Council. (1975). Materials and society. Materials and man’s needs: Materials science and engineering – volume 1, the history, scope, and nature of materials science and engineering. (pp. 3-64). Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/10436.
PCA – Portland Cement Association. (2019). Ultra-high performance concrete. Retrieved from: https://www.cement.org/learn/concrete-technology/concrete-design-production/ultra-high-performance-concrete
Richard, P. & Cheyrezy, M. (1995). Composition of reactive powder concretes. Cement and Concrete Research, 25(7), 1501-1511. https://doi.org/10.1016/0008-8846(95)00144-2
Russel, H.G. & Graybeal, B.A. (2013). Ultra high performance concrete: A state-of-the-art report for the bridge community. Federal Highway Administration of the U.S. Department of Transportation. Publication No. FHWA-HRT-13-060. Retrieved from: https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/research/infrastructure/structures/hpc/13060/13060.pdf
Sidodikromo, E.P., Chen, Z., and Habib, M. (2019). Review of the cement-based composite ultra-high performance concrete (UHPC). The Open Civil Engineering Journal, 14, 141-162. Retrieved from https://opencivilengineeringjournal.com/VOLUME/13/PAGE/147/FULLTEXT/#conclusions
Sobuz, H.R., Visintin, P., Mohamed Ali, M.S., Singh, M., Griffith, M.C., & Sheikh, A.H. (2016). Manufacturing ultra high performance concrete utilising conventional materials and production methods. Construction and Building Materials, 111, 251-61. DOI: 10.1016/j.conbuildmat.2016.02.102
Zhang, J. & Zhao, Y. (2017). IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science, 61. 3rd International Conference on Energy Materials and Environment Engineering 10-12 March, 2017. Bangkok, Thailand.
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