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Improve workability without losing strength?

What's the secret?

Improve workability without losing strength?

The flow, or workability, or ‘rheology’ of the concrete mix, is an important part of the smooth production process.
Markham saving the world one concrete structure at a time

Too stiff?

A stronger mix may be stiffer, but it will be more difficult to handle. Stiffer mix can be challenging to place, particularly in irregular or confined areas, and the working time frame is reduced.
Markham saving the world one concrete structure at a time
Cementitious or crystalline additives may contribute to stiffness, by taking up free moisture before placement.
Markham saving the world one concrete structure at a time

Too fluid?

Obviously, water is an integral part of mixing, placing and curing concrete, and the proportion of water available will affect the flow.
Markham saving the world one concrete structure at a time
You may be tempted to add water to improve flow. This ‘water of convenience’ will contribute to increased porosity as it bleeds and evaporates, resulting in a weaker concrete.
Concrete placement

A side note on slump testing

‘Slump’ is the expression for the rigidity of the uncured concrete.
A slump test involves a conical mould filled with uncured concrete, which is then released onto a flat surface.
The distance the mix sags indicates its slump.
Stiff concrete has lower slump; fluid concrete has high slump.

Markham saving the world one concrete structure at a time

How to strike a balance?

We need to have the maximum possible moisture available for the flow of the concrete – without adding excess. Yes, this is achievable.
It’s important that the moisture isn’t ‘sucked up’ prematurely by dry or crystalline admixtures – these will contribute to stiffness and awkward placement.
Markham saving the world one concrete structure at a time
The answer is found in hydrogel technology. By introducing catalytic silica with the mix water, a hydrogel formation is commenced, which is still in flux at the time of pour. The rheology of the mix is greatly improved, making placement easier.
Markham saving the world one concrete structure at a time
Once the concrete is placed, the hydrogel formed in the concrete has even more benefits:
1. Enhanced hydration – for improved curing, reduced shrinkage cracking, and lower heat of hydration.
2. Sealing the concrete porosity – effectively waterproofing the concrete from the inside out.
3. Self-healing: the hydrogel provides ‘stimulated autogenous healing’, boosting the concrete’s own strength and chemistry.
Markham saving the world one concrete structure at a time

Win Win Win!

Using concrete hydrogel admixtures is a win for the placement team, improving the workability of the mix.
Markham saving the world one concrete structure at a time
It is a win for the construction and design teams, providing waterproofing and reduced shrinkage cracking.
Markham saving the world one concrete structure at a time
It is a win for the owners and users of the structure as the long-term durability is enhanced, reducing later maintenance issues.
Concrete placement - image by Chris Lightfoot from Pixabay
Why not try hydrogel admixture in your next project?
Prove the benefits for your own team, and for your customer!
Reach out to the friendly Markham team for more information!
Markham saving the world one concrete structure at a time

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We understand that choosing the correct solution and type of product is essential for the success of any project. MARKHAM GLOBAL has a technical support team with many years of concrete industry experience and successful project applications and are ready to help you find the right solution for your application.

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