Concrete Technology

The performance of cement-based materials is highly dependent on the microstructure which is formed by hydration. The concrete technology group of prof. dr. ir. Geert De Schutter is focussing on advanced cement based materials with specific properties, such as for example self-compacting concrete. Other research topics include hydration, microstructure, transport properties, durability, rheology and mechanical properties of (self-compacting) concrete. Alternative mixing procedures and pumping techniques are investigated.

  • SCC

Since many years, Self-Compacting Concrete (SCC) is one of the major research topics within the Magnel Laboratory for Concrete Research. Currently, a database is being developed of all reported SCC mixture compositions and their related properties (Pieter Desnerck, Veerle Boel). Besides this, the following aspects are studied in detail:

 

After fundamental research into rheology and pumping of SCC and the filling process of formworks from the bottom, extended research is done on the velocity profile within pumping ducts and the interaction between the concrete and the tube wall in ducts and formwork (Hai Dang Le, cooperation with Université de Cergy-Pontoise). An additional aspect is the combined use of plasticizers, retarders and accelerators which is being analysed in cooperation with KUL and KMS (K. Lesage).

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Experiments to determine the velocity profile of concrete within ducts

The behaviour of self-compacting concrete under fatigue is an important practical aspect and is being investigated with University College Ghent (Sara Korte). Besides that, the shape factors of SCC are determined in collaboration with University College Ghent and Artesis University College Antwerp (Veerle Boel, Pieter Desnerck, Bart Craeye).

Taking advantage of the specific properties of high-performance concretes (such as SCC and ultra high performance concrete (UHPC)), a new bridge composite concept is under development (P. Helincks, in collaboration with University College Ghent).

  • Binary and ternary cement based materials

However, the research is not only focussing on self-compacting concrete. The use of alternative materials as addition and/or replacement of cement, leads to new binary and ternary cement based materials with modified microstructure development. The resulting transport properties are modelled in two different research projects, with special attention to microstructure development (Zhijun Tan) and the influence of the interfacial transition zone between matrix and aggregate (Yun Gao). Besides that, the influence on the durability is being analysed, and this with respect to the developed interface zone (W. Kai) as well as with respect to the general microstructure (Tina Princic, in collaboration with University of Ljubljana, Slovenia). 

  • Radioactivity

The influence of chemically detrimental processes such as radioactive radiation on the transport properties of self-compacting concrete are studied as well (Phung Qouc Tri, in cooperation with SCK-CEN). In this regard, the modelling of the influence of these processes on the microstructure are of major importance (Ravi Patel, in cooperation with SCK-CEN).

  • Creep and shrinkage of hardened concrete

For high rise buildings, creep of hardened concrete is an important factor in determining the final deformations. An accurate modelling for this is indispensable. In cooperation with Tongji University (China) this problem is being focussed on.

  • Durability

Often, small cracks in the concrete are being formed in an early stage, e.g. due to shrinkage or thermal effects. These cracks, although often limited in crack width and depth, can have an important effect on the durability of the concrete due to the accelerated penetration of aggressive substances. In collaboration with Wuhan University of Technology (China), the effect of cracks on the remaining life time of concrete constructions is investigated in a fundamental way (Song Mu).

  • Vacuum mixing

Recently a vacuum mixing installation for cement based materials is installed in the Magnel Lab for Concrete Research. This equipment, obtained through a Hercules financing project, is currently unique in the world with respect to research on concrete. By means of this high-tech installation, new steps can be made in the development of advanced cementitious materials.  In a fundamental research project, the effect of vacuum mixing is studied in detail, in this for the development of new mixtures such as ultra high strength concrete (UHSC) (Jeroen Dils). 

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Vacuum mixing unit for cementitious materials