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A novel test to determine the workability of slipform concrete mixtures
Article in Magazine of Concrete Research · January 2017
DOI: 10.1680/jmacr.16.00234
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Xuhao Wang
Peter Taylor
Chang'an University
Iowa State University
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Magazine of Concrete Research
Volume 69 Issue 6
A novel test to determine the workability
of slipform concrete mixtures
Wang, Taylor and Wang
Magazine of Concrete Research, 2017, 69(6), 292–305
http://dx.doi.org/10.1680/jmacr.16.00234
Paper 1600234
Received 18/05/2016; revised 06/10/2016; accepted 19/10/2016
Published online ahead of print 09/01/2017
Keywords: fresh concrete/rheological/rheological properties/
vibration/workability
ICE Publishing: All rights reserved
A novel test to determine the workability
of slipform concrete mixtures
Xuhao Wang
Xin Wang
Project Manager, National Concrete Pavement Technology Center; Adjunct
Assistant Professor, Iowa State University, Ames, IA, USA (corresponding
author: wangxh@iastate.edu)
Graduate Research Assistant, Department of Civil, Construction and
Environmental Engineering, Iowa State University, Ames, IA, USA
Peter Taylor
Director, National Concrete Pavement Technology Center, Iowa State
University, Ames, IA, USA
The science of rheology is not strictly applicable for low workability of slipform concrete mixtures because such
mixtures are not fluids. However, the workability of slipform concrete mixtures can be assessed using the concepts
behind describing rheological behaviour. Understanding the workability of a mixture is important for construction
activities to achieve a successful pavement. Too dry a mixture may cause problems achieving sufficient consolidation,
while too wet a mixture may result in edge slump. The novel workability test method (vibrating Kelly ball test or
VKelly test) presented in this paper quantitatively assesses the responsiveness of a dry concrete mixture to vibration,
as desired of a slipform paving mixture. The development process was carried out in three phases to achieve costeffectiveness, portability, ability to assess critical performance parameters and repeatability. The three phases were
assessing the sensitivity of the VKelly test to check whether it can signal variations between laboratory mixtures
with a range of materials and proportions, evaluating the test in field applications at a number of construction sites
and validating the test against the box test developed at Oklahoma State University. The VKelly test appears to be
suitable for assessing a mixture’s response to vibration (workability) with a low multiple operator variability. A
unique parameter, the VKelly index, is introduced, and a mixture in the range of 2·0–3·0 cm/s1/2 seems to be suitable
for slipform paving.
Introduction
It has always been a challenge for the concrete industry
to define and predict the workability of concrete mixtures.
While concrete can easily meet the specifications with respect
to hardened properties, describing the workability of a concrete
mixture can be very elusive (Cook et al., 2013). The aggregate
system, paste quality and paste quantity can all influence
the workability, but modelling these effects is largely empirical
(Koehler and Fowler, 2003). Moreover, there are unique
requirements for slipform paving concrete mixtures – they
should be stiff enough to avoid edge slump yet flow readily
under vibration.
The science of rheology may be applied to concrete but, being
the study of fluids, may not be strictly applicable to low-slump
concrete. However, the concept of a two-parameter measurement may still be considered useful to properly describe a
mixture. The method developed and assessed in this work considers the rate of movement under vibration as well as the yield
stress to characterise a mixture.
The objective of this work was to develop a workability test
method that can quantitatively assess the responsiveness to
vibration of dry concrete mixtures, as is desired of a mixture
suitable for slipform paving. The proposed test method aims at
achieving cost-effectiveness, portability, the ability to assess
critical performance parameters and repeatability. The work to
292
refine and evaluate the method was carried out in the following
three phases.
(a) Assess the sensitivity of the VKelly test to check whether
it can signal variations between laboratory mixtures with
a range of materials and proportions.
(b) Evaluate the VKelly test in field applications at a number
of construction sites.
(c) Validate the VKelly test against the box test developed at
Oklahoma State University.
Background
Workability test methods
The term ‘workability’ has been defined in several ways by
different authorities.
&
&
The Japanese Association of Concrete Engineers defines
workability as ‘that property of freshly mixed concrete or
mortar that determines the ease and homogeneity with
which it can be mixed, placed, and compacted due to its
consistency, the homogeneity with which it can be made
into concrete, and the degree with which it can resist
separation of materials’.
Mindess et al. (2003) define it as ‘the amount of
mechanical work, or energy, required to produce full
compaction of the concrete without segregation’.
Magazine of Concrete Research
Volume 69 Issue 6
A novel test to determine the workability
of slipform concrete mixtures
Wang, Taylor and Wang
Offprint provided courtesy of www.icevirtuallibrary.com
Author copy for personal use, not for distribution
&
The American Concrete Institute (ACI, 2008) states that
workability is ‘that property of freshly mixed concrete or
mortar that determines the ease with which it can be
mixed, placed, consolidated, and finished to a
homogenous condition’.
Test methods to measure the workability and rheological performance of fresh concrete, from no-flow to self-consolidating
concrete, have been developed since the early twentieth
century. The most widely used method for ordinary concrete
mixtures is the slump test developed by Abrams (1922). Before
the adoption of supplementary cementitious materials and
water-reducing admixtures, the slump test could not only
measure the consistency of freshly made concrete but also,
to some extent, could indicate the potential performance of
a hardened concrete mixture due to the fact that it is (normally
dramatically affected by) water content. However, the increasing complexity of mixtures has meant that this correlation is
no longer valid.
From a rheological point of view, if a concrete material is considered to be a Bingham fluid, two scientific parameters – yield
stress and plastic viscosity – can be applied to characterise its
rheological behaviour. Thixotropy, a time-dependent shear
thinning parameter, can also be determined under dynamic conditions. According to Koehler and Fowler (2003), most existing
workability test methods can be split into either single-point or
multi-point tests depending on how many parameters they can
actually measure. The slump test, for instance, is categorised as
a single-point test because of its ability to measure yield stress
only.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
classifies workability test methods into four categories
(Hackley and Ferraris, 2001)
&
&
&
&
confined flow tests – the material flows under its own
weight or under an applied pressure through a
narrow orifice
free flow tests – the material either flows under its own
weight, without any confinement, or an object penetrates
the material by gravitational settling
vibration tests – the material flows under the influence
of applied vibration; the vibration is applied by using
a vibrating table, dropping the base supporting the
material, using an external vibrator, or using an internal
vibrator
rotational rheometers – the material is sheared
between two parallel surfaces, one or both of which
are rotating.
Koehler and Fowler (2003) summarised the available workability test methods into different categorises and the advantages,
disadvantages and performance criteria of these test methods
are listed in Table 1.
VKelly test method development
Kelly ball test
The Kelly ball test was developed in the 1950s in the USA and
formerly standardised in ASTM C360-92: Standard test
method for ball penetration in freshly mixed hydraulic cement
concrete (Bartos et al., 2002; Ferraris, 1999). Due to lack of
use, it was discontinued by ASTM in 1999, but continued to
be applied by the California Department of Transportation in
Test 533 (CDoT, 2014). It can be conducted as a field test for
measuring the consistency of plastic concrete. It is comparable
to the slump test, yet is considered to be more accurate and
reliable (Scanlon, 1994). However, the precision of the test
declines with the increasing size of coarse aggregate (Bartos,
1992). The major disadvantages and drawbacks of using the
Kelly ball are summarised in Table 1.
The Kelly ball test apparatus consists of a 15·2 cm steel
cylinder with a hemispherically shaped bottom (as shown
in Figure 1). The shaft is graduated in 0·64 cm increments
and slides through a frame, and this acts as a reference for
measuring the depth of penetration. The total weight of the
apparatus (ball, shaft and handle), exclusive of the yoke, is
13·6 ± 0·05 kg. The ball is placed on a level concrete surface
and the depth of penetration is recorded after the ball is released. The slump is typically about twice the Kelly ball test
reading for normal-weight concrete (Koehler and Fowler,
2003).
From a rheology point of view, the Kelly ball test provides an
indication of the yield stress of the sample because the stress
applied by the weight is equal to the yield stress of the concrete
for the area under the ball. However, this may not be able to
provide useful information for very low slump concrete or
highly thixotropic concrete because the applied stress is not
sufficient to overcome the yield stress of concrete (Ferraris,
1999).
Overview of the proposed VKelly test method
The VKelly test apparatus (Figure 2) is built on the Kelly ball
apparatus with a vibrator attached to the ball. After several
trials, the vibrator was modified by drilling out the eccentric
weight in order to control the amount of energy delivered to
the sample. Five 0·95 cm diameter holes were drilled from the
weight, as shown in Figure 3. As such, it delivers 58% of the
original 0·0087 N.m. The steel ball was trimmed to maintain
the original apparatus weight of 13·6 kg so that it is still functional as a static Kelly ball.
The Iowa Department of Transportation specifies that
vibration should be in the range of 5000 to 8000 vibrations per
minute (vpm) in order to deliver sufficient energy while limiting the risk of compromising the air-void system by beating
too much air out of the mixture (Tymkowicz and Steffes,
293
294
Parameters
measured
Workability by
graduated scale,
K and W terms
K-slump tester
(Nasser
probe)
Yield stress
Viscosity and
yield stress
Slump test
Modified
slump test
Free flow test methods
Time of concrete
flow out of tube
Orimet test
(free orifice
test)
Confined flow test methods
Compaction
Compactability,
factor test
non-linear
relationship
to slump
Test
Stable
Stable
Commercially
available,
good
Stable
Good,
commercially
available
Ruggedness
Similar to
slump test
1·5–23·0 cm
Medium- and
highworkability
concretes
High-slump
concrete
0–18 cm
Workability
range
Similar to
slump test
Up to 3·8 cm
Greater than
1·0 cm
cannot fit
Up to 2·5 cm
Larger
apparatus
up to 4 cm
Aggregate
size
restrictions
Similar to
slump test
Cheap
Fair
Cheap
Expensive
Cost
Fast
1 min
Fast
Moderate
Similar to
slump test
Simple
Simple
Simple
Moderate
Test speed Complexity
Similar to
Similar to
slump test slump test
Small
Moderate
Moderate
Moderate
Sample
size
Table 1. Summary of features of existing workability test methods (Taylor et al., 2015a)
Similar to
slump test
Quick and
direct result
Direct reading
on workability
and
compactability
Quick and
direct result
Moderate
Data
processing
One
person
One
person
One
person
Similar to
Similar to
slump test slump
test
Small and
portable
Portable
Light
Advantages
Adds parameter
of time to the
slump test
ASTM C143
(ASTM, 2012a);
EN 12350-2
(CEN, 2000a)
in Europe
& Well known and
widely used
device worldwide
& Specifications are
typically written
in terms of slump
& Results can be
converted to
yield stress based
on various
analytical
treatments and
experimental
study
& Simple to
perform and only
requires slightly
more equipment
than the slump
test
& Gives an
indication of
both yield stress
and plastic
viscosity
& Gives more
information than
the slump test
& Dynamic test is
more appropriate
than static tests
for highly
thixotropic
mixtures
Needs modification & Inexpensive and
for low-slump
simple to use
mixtures
& Quick and
provides a direct
result
& Good simulation
of actual placing
conditions
& Sensitive to
changes in fine
aggregate
content
US Patent
& Direct result,
3 863 494
simple and
(Nasser, 1975)
easier than
slump test
& Can be
performed on in
situ concrete
& K and W terms
provide more
information than
slump
Number
of people
required
Remarks
Heavy (over More than Widely used in
36 kg)
one
Europe
Size and
weight
Powers (1968)
Wilby (1991)
Bartos (1992)
Bartos et al.
(2002)
References
Ferraris (1999)
Bartos et al.
(2002)
(continued on next page)
& Static test, not a
Ferraris and
dynamic test; does
de Larrard
not account for the
(1998)
thixotropy of
Ferraris (1999)
concrete or the ability
of concrete to flow
under vibration
& Need to verify the
validity of the test
ASTM C143
& Does not give an
indication of viscosity
(ASTM,
& Static, not dynamic
2012a)
EN 12350-2
test; results are
influenced by
(CEN, 2000a)
concrete thixotropy
& Less relevant for
higher slump
mixtures
& Does not consider
the effects of coarse
aggregate
& Static test; not
appropriate for lowslump mixtures
& Only appropriate for Bartos (1992)
Bartos (1994)
highly flowable and
self-compacting
Wong et al.
concrete
(2000)
& Results are not
expressed in terms of
fundamental units
& Large and bulky
& Requires a balance to
measure the mass of
concrete
& May not reflect the
field situation
& Does not use
vibration
Disadvantages
Magazine of Concrete Research
Volume 69 Issue 6
A novel test to determine the workability
of slipform concrete mixtures
Wang, Taylor and Wang
Offprint provided courtesy of www.icevirtuallibrary.com
Author copy for personal use, not for distribution
Slump, slump
flow, and
slump time
Penetration
correlated
to the slump
Penetration
correlated
to yield stress
Penetration,
correlates to
slump and
Vebe time
Time to flow a
certain distance
Torque measured
from concrete
mixing truck
Slump rate
machine
Kelly ball test
Ring
penetration
test
Cone
penetration
test
Flow through
test
Deliverychute
torque
meter
Stable
Stable
Stable
Need a level
concrete
surface
Wide range
Highly flowable
concretes
Low-slump
and fibrereinforced
mixtures
Not specified
Not specified
Not specified
Good for grouts Not for large
and highaggregate
workability
concretes
Little
expensive
Cheap
Cheap
Cheap
Cheap
Up to 3·8 cm
Stable
Similar to
slump test
Similar to
slump test
Complicated in
Similar to slump Similar to
field conditions
test
slump test
Long
duration
Fast
Fast
Fast
Concrete in Fast
the truck
6l
Small
Small
Small
Similar to
Similar to
slump test slump test
Simple
Simple
Simple
Simple
Simple
Similar to
slump test
Quick and
direct result
Quick and
direct result
Quick and
direct result
Quick and
direct result
Quick and
direct result
Similar to
slump test
Portable
1 m long,
0·23 m
wide
4 kg metal
cone
Portable
One
person
One to
two
persons
One
person
One
person
Little
One
heavier
person
than
slump test
Similar to
Similar to
slump test slump
test
US Patent
4 332 158
(Osborne, 1982)
Not widely used
Not a well-known
test
Not a well-known
test
Developed in the
1950s in the
USA; alternative
to the slump test
A computercontrolled
device
Wong et al.
(2000)
Bartos et al.
(2002)
Sachan and
Kameswara
Rao (1998)
Wong et al.
(2000)
Powers (1968)
Bartos (1992)
Scanlon (1994)
Ferraris (1999)
Chidiac et al.
(2000)
(continued on next page)
& Static test, not a
dynamic test; does
not account for the
thixotropy of
concrete or the ability
of concrete to flow
under vibration
& Requires computer to
log data and
calculate
& Faster than the
& Static test
slump test and
& Must be performed
on a level concrete
more accurate in
determining
surface
consistency
& The test is no longer
widely used
& Provides an
& Large aggregate
indication of
can influence the
yield stress
results
& Easy and simple & Static test, perform
on a level concrete
to perform
surface
& Can be
performed on
& Large aggregate
can influence the
in situ concrete
results
& Test is not widely
used and the
interpretation of
results is not well
known
& Provides a direct & Static test, not
result and easy
particularly
to perform
appropriate for
& Can be
fibre-reinforced
performed on in
concrete
situ concrete
& Not recorded in
fundamental units
& Simple and
& Only appropriate
inexpensive
for highly flowable
concrete
& Test results are a
function of the
& Not standardised and
time required for
not widely
the concrete to
used
flow both out of
the cone and
down the trough
& Measures the
& Gives no indication of
workability of
plastic viscosity
the concrete as it & Readings are made at
exits the mixer
only one shear rate
before it is
& Device needs
placed
calibrating for
& Direct reading of
each mixture
torque from
device
& No need for
computer or
other sensors
& Gives an
indication of
both yield stress
and viscosity
& A simplified
traditional
rheometer and
less expensive
Magazine of Concrete Research
Volume 69 Issue 6
A novel test to determine the workability
of slipform concrete mixtures
Wang, Taylor and Wang
Offprint provided courtesy of www.icevirtuallibrary.com
Author copy for personal use, not for distribution
295
296
Surface settlement
versus initial
concrete height
Parameters
measured
Degree of
compaction compactability
Flow table test
Thaulow tester
Powers’
remoulding
test
Low- to
moderateslump
concrete
Better for highslump
concrete
Workability
range
Not specified
Not specified
Aggregate
size
restrictions
Inappropriate for Commonly used Up to 5 cm
field use
for low-slump
mixtures
Stable
Stable
Ruggedness
Fair
Expensive
Cheap
Little
expensive
Cost
Similar to
Vebe test
Minimum
23 kg
Small
Small
Sample
size
Fair
Fair
Fast
Long until
concrete
hardens
Simple
Simple
Simple
Fair, uses
LVDTs
Test speed Complexity
Horizontal spread of Stable, but
a cone specimen
needs to be
subjected to jolting placed on firm
level ground
Wide range of
concretes
Not specified
Fair
As slump
cone test,
0·007 m3
Fast
Simple
Similar to the Powers remoulding test, but modified to allow for the measurement of concretes with higher workability
Similar to Vebe test, Inappropriate for Commonly used Not specified
different apparatus field use
for low-slump
mixtures
Vebe
Remoulding ability
consistometer
of concrete under
vibration
Compaction
test
Vibration test methods
Surface
settlement
test
Test
Table 1. Continued
Direct results
Direct results
Direct results
Quick and
direct result
Does not give a
direct result
Data
processing
One
person
Fair
Heavy
Heavy
One
person
At least
one
At least
one
DIN 1048 and
EN12350-5
(CEN, 2000b)
ASTM C124
(withdrawn in
1973)
ASTM C1170
(ASTM, 2008)
EN12350-4
(CEN, 2004);
similar to Fritsch
test
Can be used for
moderate slump
mixtures
Number
of people
required
Remarks
200 by 400 One
mm rigid
metal
container
Fair
Size and
weight
Disadvantages
Bartos et al.
(2002)
References
& Only works for lowslump concretes
& Size of the device
generally unsuitable
for field work
& No analytical
treatment of the test
method has been
developed
& Shear rate declines
during vibration
& Size of the device
generally unsuitable
for field work
& No analytical data
available
(continued on next page)
Tattersall
(1991)
Wong et al.
(2000)
Bartos et al.
(2002)
ACI 211
(ACI, 2002)
Powers (1968)
Scanlon
(1994)
Wong et al.
(2000)
& Size of the device
Bartos (1992)
Scanlon (1994)
generally unsuitable
Bartos et al.
for field
& Only works for low(2002)
slump concretes
& No analytical
treatment of the test
method has been
developed, shear rate
declines during
vibration
& Difficult to empty for Bartos et al.
low-slump concrete
(2002)
& Different compaction Ferraris (1999)
methods cannot be
compared directly
& May need a
computer to facilitate
readings
& Measures higher
workability than
that measured
with the Vebe
and the Powers
remoulding tests
& Simple and can
& Does not represent
be used in the
actual placement
field
conditions
& Direct result
& Results tend to
& Appropriate for
converge as the
highly thixotropic
number of drops is
concrete
increased
& An analytical
treatment of the test
is difficult
& Provides an
indication of
compactability
& Simple and
inexpensive
& Can give an
indirect
indication of
plastic viscosity
when the
variable of time
is added
& Dynamic test;
can be used on
very dry concrete
& Standardised in
ASTM and
identified by ACI
211 (ACI, 2002)
in its guide for
proportioning
low-slump
concrete
& Test results are
directly obtained
& Dynamic test
and suitable for
low-slump
concretes
& Test results are
directly obtained
& Inexpensive and & Does not give a
simple to
direct result
perform
& Time required to
& Appropriate for a
perform the test is
wide range of
longer than other
concrete
test methods
mixtures
because settlement
distance must be
recorded until
concrete hardens
Advantages
Magazine of Concrete Research
Volume 69 Issue 6
A novel test to determine the workability
of slipform concrete mixtures
Wang, Taylor and Wang
Offprint provided courtesy of www.icevirtuallibrary.com
Author copy for personal use, not for distribution
Fair
Discharge rate of
concrete falling
from chute to
bucket with
vibration
Similar to the LCL flow test, Angles flow box and the vibrating slope apparatus
Vibratory flow
meter
Stable
Low-slump
concrete
Low- to
moderateslump
concrete
Vibrating slope
apparatus
Stable for lab
use
Penetration depth
versus time
Not specified
Expensive
Cannot be too Expensive
large due to
the
apparatus
Cheap
Vertical pipe
apparatus
Up to 3·8 cm
Specially for
fibrereinforced
concrete
Stable
Elapsed time from
insertion of the
vibrator until all
concrete
discharged
Fair
Inverted slump
cone test
Not specified
Wide range of
concretes
Stable
Wigmore
Penetration
consistometer
resistance by
adding energy
Similar to Angles flow test; not suitable for very low or very high workability
Not specified
LCL flow test
Inappropriate for Moderate
field use
slump
mixtures
Time of concrete
to flow under
vibration and pass
obstructions
Angles flow
box test
Large
Fair
As slump
cone test,
0·007 m3
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fast
Fast
Fast
Fair
Fair, use
displacement
transducer
Difficult to
perform
Simple
Simple
Direct results
Direct results
Direct
Direct results
Direct results
Very heavy
Fair
Small and
portable
Large
Fair
ACI Committee
544
recommended
—
More than Developed in the
two
1960s, modified
people
by Federal
Highway
Administration
& Simple and
direct results
& Readily available
equipment and
materials
& Dynamic test
considering the
high thixotropy
of fibrereinforced
concrete
& Simple and
direct results
& Readily available
apparatus
& Dynamic and
provides valuable
information
& By changing the
vibration
parameters, the
test can be used
to determine
values related to
yield stress and
viscosity
& Measures lowslump concrete
& Results can be
correlated to
yield stress and
viscosity
& Designed to be
rugged for field
use
& Dynamic test
& Wide range of
concrete
workability
Similar concept for & Represents
SCC mixtures
actual field
conditions
& Dynamic test
that subjects
concrete to
vibration
& The ability of
concrete to pass
obstructions and
resist segregation
is assessed
& Similar to Angles
flow box test
More than Behaves as a
one
Newtonian fluid
person
subjected to
vibration
One
person
One
person
One
person
Szecsy (1997)
Wong et al.
(2000)
Tattersall and
Baker (1989)
Banfill et al.
(1999)
Tattersall and
Banfill (1983)
ASTM (2001)
Bartos et al.
(2002)
(continued on next page)
& Very large, bulky
and heavy device
& Results have not
been verified
analytically
& Needs a notebook
computer to record
data
& Vibration is limited
and shear rate is
non-uniform
& Not effective in
distinguishing
changes of mixtures
& Different vibrators
result in varied
results
&
&
&
&
&
&
&
Scanlon (1994)
Bartos (1992)
&
&
&
&
More expensive
Requires electricity
Not precise
Drop ball needs to
be larger than the
maximum coarse
aggregate size
Device is too large
and bulky for field
use
Appropriate for
mixtures with less
than 5 cm slump
Operation is tricky to
maintain consistency
Long fibres may wrap
around the vibrator
Important test
parameters are not
standardised
Expensive and may
not be suitable for
field use
Pipe has 60 mm
opening may too
small for normal
aggregate sizes
Scanlon (1994)
Wong et al.
(2000)
& Not appropriate for
field use
& Results are likely a
function of yield
stress and viscosity,
but the values are
not directly recorded
Magazine of Concrete Research
Volume 69 Issue 6
A novel test to determine the workability
of slipform concrete mixtures
Wang, Taylor and Wang
Offprint provided courtesy of www.icevirtuallibrary.com
Author copy for personal use, not for distribution
297
298
Visual rates, surface
voids and edge
slumping
Parameters
measured
Dry unit weight
and corresponding
moisture content
Intensive
compaction test
Density of
compacted
concrete
Kango hammer Density of
test
compacted
concrete
Proctor test
Methods for very low slump concrete
Box test
Test
Table 1. Continued
Stable
Stable
Stable
Stable
Ruggedness
Not specified
Not specified
May up to
5·0 cm
Aggregate
size
restrictions
Slump less than Up to 3·0 cm
about 1·0 cm
Low-slump
concretes
Lean, dry
concrete
Slipform paving
concrete
Workability
range
Expensive
Fair
Cheap
Cheap
Cost
Small
cylindrical
sample
Cubic,
small
Small
About
0·03 m3
Sample
size
3–5 min
Fair
Simple
Simple
Very time
Simple
consuming
Direct results
Direct results
Direct results
Direct results
Fast
Simple
Data
processing
Test speed Complexity
One
person
One
person
About
54 kg
One
person
& Can be used for
low-slump
mixtures
& Simple and well
known
Designed for soil
test
& Equipment is
expensive compared
with the Proctor test;
150 mm model is
too heavy for field
use
& Does not incorporate
vibration, which is
commonly used in
placing low-slump
concrete
& Does not incorporate
vibration and can be
only used for lowslump concretes
& Very time
consuming, needs
preparation
& Hammer is not
specified, making
comparisons of test
results difficult
& Apparatus is large
and requires
electricity
Juvas (1990)
Tattersall
(1991)
Juvas (1994)
Juvas (1994)
Bartos et al.
(2002)
ASTM D698
(ASTM,
2012b)
ASTM D1557
(ASTM,
2012c)
& More work is needed Cook et al.
to verify the rating
(2013)
scale
& No field data
available
& No specifications for
evaluating edge
slumping
& Simulates actual
placement
conditions
& Simple and does
not require
expensive
equipment
& Suitable for
slipform paving
concrete
& Repeatability is
good for single
and multioperators
References
Disadvantages
Advantages
& With vibration
and pressure,
the test
accurately
simulates field
placement
conditions
& Simple and easy
to perform
Nordtest-Build 427 & Accurately
(Nordtest-Build,
measures small
1994), US patents
changes in
4 794 799
proportions
(Paakinen, 1989) & Simulates lowand 4 930 346
slump roller(Paakinen et al.,
compacted
1990)
concretes
& Fast and
computer
controlled
& Smaller model
feasible for field
use
Designed for soil
test
Developed at
Oklahoma State
University
Number
of people
required
Remarks
Larger than One
Proctor
person
test
Small and
portable
Fair
Size and
weight
Magazine of Concrete Research
Volume 69 Issue 6
A novel test to determine the workability
of slipform concrete mixtures
Wang, Taylor and Wang
Offprint provided courtesy of www.icevirtuallibrary.com
Author copy for personal use, not for distribution
Magazine of Concrete Research
Volume 69 Issue 6
A novel test to determine the workability
of slipform concrete mixtures
Wang, Taylor and Wang
Offprint provided courtesy of www.icevirtuallibrary.com
Author copy for personal use, not for distribution
Handle
Graduated shaft
14·0 cm
Steel frame
14·3 cm
R = 7·6 cm
11·7 cm
Steel ball
Figure 2. VKelly test apparatus
300·0 cm
All holes empty
Figure 1. Kelly ball test apparatus
1996). A variable transformer is used to hold the vibrator frequency to 6000 vpm.
The following procedures are recommended for the VKelly
test on both static (CDoT, 2014) and dynamic tests (Taylor
et al., 2015a).
&
&
&
&
&
Discharge fresh concrete into a wheelbarrow or other
container to a depth of at least 15·0 cm for 2·5 cm
aggregate or smaller, and at least 20·0 cm for concrete
made with larger aggregate.
Create a levelled area of about 0·3 m2 without tamping,
vibrating or consolidating the concrete. Avoid overworking
the surface, causing excess mortar to rise and resulting in
erroneously high penetration readings.
Gently lower the ball until it touches the surface of the
concrete. Make sure the shaft is vertical (perpendicular to
the surface of the concrete) and free to slide through the
yoke. Take an initial reading to the nearest 0·2 cm and
then gradually allow the ball to sink into the concrete.
Record, to the nearest 0·2 cm, a second reading when the
ball comes to rest.
Turn on the vibrator, which has been pre-set to
6000–8000 vpm, and simultaneously start the timer.
Record the readings on the graduate shaft at 6-s intervals
up to 36 s. A video recorder can be used to help further
analyse the penetration depth during vibration.
Remove the VKelly apparatus, remix the test concrete for
about 30 s and repeat the test twice. For any given time,
Hole
Figure 3. Modified eccentric weight in vibrator (Taylor et al.
2015a)
&
&
1:
the penetrating depth should be within 1·3 cm of the
average readings from the three measuring cycles.
Plot the averaged penetration readings (vertical axis)
against the square root of time (horizontal axis) (see
Figure 4) and determine the slope of the best-fit line from
√6 s to √36 s by conducting a linear regression analysis
of the data (Equation 1).
Report the slope, Vindex (in cm/s1/2)
pffiffi
Dpene ¼ Vindex t
where Dpene is the penetration depth at time t, t is the elapsed
time of vibration and Vindex is the VKelly index.
Research significance
The objective of developing a novel test protocol and defining
a workability parameter is to provide a better approach for
measuring slipform paving concrete consistency and assessing
299
Magazine of Concrete Research
Volume 69 Issue 6
A novel test to determine the workability
of slipform concrete mixtures
Wang, Taylor and Wang
Offprint provided courtesy of www.icevirtuallibrary.com
Author copy for personal use, not for distribution
Table 2. Chemical composition of cementitious materials
Incremental penetration depth: cm
16·0
14·0
12·0
y = 2·1x
R2 = 0·99
10·0
8·0
6·0
4·0
Sample of test results
2·0
Linear (sample of test results)
0
0
1
2
3
4
5
Vibration duration,
6
7
8
S½
Silicon dioxide (SiO2): %
Aluminium oxide (Al2O3): %
Iron oxide (Fe2O3): %
Sulfur trioxide (SO3): %
Calcium oxide (CaO): %
Magnesium oxide (MgO): %
Sodium oxide (Na2O): %
Potassium oxide (K2O): %
Phosphorus pentoxide (P2O5): %
Titanium dioxide (TiO2): %
Strontium oxide (SrO): %
Barium oxide (BaO): %
Loss on ignition: %
Type I/II
cement
Class C fly
ash
20·10
4·44
3·09
3·18
62·94
2·88
0·10
0·61
0·06
0·24
0·09
—
2·22
42·46
19·46
5·51
1·20
21·54
4·67
1·42
0·68
0·84
1·48
0·32
0·67
0·19
Figure 4. Sample plot of VKelly test results
responses under vibration process. Such a mixture should be
mobile while under vibration, making it easy to move the
mixture through a paving machine and to achieve full consolidation while creating a slab with the required dimensions. On
the other hand, the mixture should also be highly thixotropic,
meaning that when vibration energy is no longer provided it
will stand up straight without edge slump. The slump test only
addresses the latter parameter. The approach was thus to take
an existing test – the Kelly ball test – and modify it by adding
vibration energy.
water/cementitious materials (w/cm) ratio of 0·45, aiming at
5% air content. Class C fly ash was introduced as a supplementary cementitious material and a synthetic air-entraining admixture (AEA) was used. The chemical composition of
the cementitious materials is shown in Table 2.
The variables used were as follows.
&
&
Experimental approach
The development of the VKelly test method was conducted in
three phases.
&
&
&
&
&
Phase I was to assess the sensitivity of the test to capturing
variations in laboratory mixtures with a range of
proportions and materials. A matrix was prepared and
measured by (a) setting a control mixture, (b) incrementally
adjusting a single ingredient, (c) conducting both slump
and VKelly tests using more than one operator and
(d) repeating for the other ingredients.
Phase II was to run the VKelly test in the field to check its
feasibility as a field test method at a number of slipform
paving sites.
Phase III sought to validate the VKelly test results by
comparing it with the box test (Cook et al., 2014) carried
out on the same mixtures.
Phase I: Laboratory tests
Materials and proportions
The control mixture was an ordinary Portland cement mixture
with 335 kg/m3 cementitious materials, a fine to coarse aggregate ratio of 45/55 (with local limestone aggregate (2·5 cm
nominal maximum aggregate size) and river sand) and a
300
Sand: increments of 60, 120 and 240 kg/m3 and
decrements of 60, 120 and 240 kg/m3 (respectively denoted
as +1, +2, +4, −1, −2 and −4)
Air: an increase of 2% and a decrease of 2%, yielding
target air contents of 3% and 7% (respectively denoted as
+2 and −2)
Class C fly ash: increments of 10%, 20% and 30% Portland
cement replacement dosage (respectively denoted as +1, +2
and +3)
Water: increments of 5 and 10 kg/m3 (respectively denoted
as +1 and +2).
Including the repeated control mixture, a matrix of 22 mixtures
was prepared. The mix proportions are shown in Table 3.
Tests
Samples of all the mixtures were subjected to testing for fresh
properties, including slump (ASTM C143 (ASTM, 2015)), air
content (ASTM C231 (ASTM, 2014b)) and unit weight
(ASTM C138 (ASTM, 2014a)), and a VKelly test.
Laboratory test results
The test results are summarised in Table 4. A factor of two was
used to convert the static initial readings to slump, which were
nearly identical to the slumps measured in accordance with
ASTM C143 (ASTM, 2015).
The VKelly index as measured by two operators was assessed
statistically to check multi-operator variation. The percentage
Magazine of Concrete Research
Volume 69 Issue 6
A novel test to determine the workability
of slipform concrete mixtures
Wang, Taylor and Wang
Offprint provided courtesy of www.icevirtuallibrary.com
Author copy for personal use, not for distribution
Table 3. Mix proportions (Taylor et al. 2015a)
Variable
Sand
Stone (CA): kg/m3
Sand (FA): kg/m3
Cement: kg/m3
Fly ash: kg/m3
Water: kg/m3
AEA: ml/cwt
Air: %
w/cm ratio
Unit weight: kg/m3
FA/CA
Air
Class C fly ash
Water
Plain
+1
+2
+4
−1
−2
−4
+2
−2
+1
+2
+3
+1
+2
1007
824
335
—
150
44
5
0·45
2316
0·45
947
883
335
—
150
44
5
0·45
2316
0·48
887
943
335
—
150
44
5
0·45
2314
0·52
765
1061
335
—
150
44
5
0·45
2311
0·58
1069
765
335
—
150
44
5
0·45
2319
0·42
1130
705
335
—
150
44
5
0·45
2320
0·38
1251
587
335
—
150
44
5
0·45
2322
0·32
979
800
335
—
150
44
7
0·45
2264
0·45
1036
848
335
—
150
44
3
0·45
2370
0·45
1007
824
301
33
150
44
5
0·45
2316
0·45
1003
820
268
66
150
44
5
0·45
2307
0·45
1000
818
234
100
150
44
5
0·45
2303
0·45
1007
824
335
—
155
44
5
0·46
2316
0·45
1007
824
335
—
160
44
5
0·48
2316
0·45
Table 4. Laboratory test results (Taylor et al. 2015a)
Mixa
Sand −4
Sand −2
Sand −1
Sand +1
Sand +2
Sand +4
Air +2
Air −2
Air −2 (R)
Fly ash +1
Fly ash +2
Fly ash +3
Plain
Plain(2)
Plain(2) Water +1
Plain(2) Water + 2
Plain(3)
Plain(4)
Plain(3) 15 min
Plain(3) 30 min
Plain(3) 45 min
Plain(4R) mix
Plain(4R) 15 min
Slump:
cm
Slump
measured
by VKelly
test: cm
1·9
1·9
1·9
2·5
2·5
2·8
3·8
2·5
2·5
2·5
2·5
3·2
2·5
2·5
—
—
3·2
3·2
—
—
—
—
—
2·0
2·5
2·5
2·5
4·4
3·0
5·1
3·3
2·5
3·8
2·8
3·8
3·2
2·8
3·2
4·1
2·8
2·3
3·4
2·7
2·3
2·5
2·7
VKelly index statistics
Air
content: %
Unit
weight:
kg/m3
VKelly
index
(ave.)
Operator 1
Operator 2
Difference
Difference: %
4·8
5·3
4·5
5·5
5·4
4·5
7·0
3·5
5·8
5·0
5·0
5·5
4·5
4·7
—
—
5·2
5·5
—
—
—
—
—
90·4
88·4
89·8
86·9
88·8
88·3
87·4
88·6
87·4
87·8
88·0
87·4
87·6
87·7
—
—
88·2
87·8
—
—
—
—
—
1·19
1·18
1·18
1·45
1·26
1·85
1·67
1·55
1·63
1·60
1·72
1·82
1·48
1·54
1·79
1·87
1·58
1·71
1·55
1·56
1·38
1·71
1·70
1·14
1·17
1·14
1·47
1·27
1·83
1·68
1·55
1·60
1·63
1·73
1·80
1·47
1·54
1·83
1·88
1·55
1·70
1·53
1·54
1·40
1·68
1·66
1·24
1·19
1·22
1·43
1·24
1·88
1·67
1·55
1·65
1·57
1·71
1·84
1·50
1·55
1·75
1·85
1·61
1·73
1·57
1·57
1·37
1·74
1·75
−0·10
−0·03
−0·08
0·04
0·03
−0·05
0·01
0·00
−0·05
0·05
0·01
−0·04
−0·03
−0·02
0·08
0·03
−0·05
−0·03
−0·05
−0·03
0·03
−0·07
−0·09
8·31
2·15
6·45
2·63
2·02
2·74
0·30
0·00
3·13
3·17
0·74
2·09
2·06
0·99
4·40
1·36
3·38
1·48
3·11
1·80
1·83
3·86
5·37
a
(2), (3), and (4) denote the second, third and fourth repeats; (R) denotes remix
differences varied from 0·00 to 8·31% for the same test, which
indicates a low multi-operator error.
The repeatability of the VKelly test performed by a single
operator was also verified. The plain mix was tested four
times and the coefficient of variation of the index for the
four mixtures was determined to be 0·06 cm/s1/2. The influence
of elapsed time on the index was also tested, and the results
are shown in Figure 5. Mix plain(3) was measured three
times at 15-min intervals without remixing. The index
tended to decrease with elapsed time, but the influence was
not apparent until the measurement taken 45 min after
mixing. The VKelly index was measured after remixing mix
plain(4) right after the original measurement and after 15 min
elapsed time. The remixing generally provided a stable index,
as shown in Figure 5. The error bars shown in Figure 5 represent the standard deviation of all the plain tests (i.e.
0·09 cm/s1/2).
301
Magazine of Concrete Research
Volume 69 Issue 6
A novel test to determine the workability
of slipform concrete mixtures
Wang, Taylor and Wang
Offprint provided courtesy of www.icevirtuallibrary.com
Author copy for personal use, not for distribution
1·90
VKelly index: cm/s½
1·80
1·70
1·60
1·50
1·40
1·30
1·20
1·10
s
m
Pl
ix
ai
@
n(
4)
15
re
m
m
in
ix
n(
4)
ai
Pl
s
45
n(
3)
ai
Pl
ai
n(
4)
re
Pl
Pl
ai
n(
3)
30
m
in
m
m
15
n(
3)
ai
Pl
in
s
s
in
n(
3)
ai
Pl
n(
2)
Pl
ai
Pl
ai
n
1·00
Figure 5. Influence of elapsed time and remixing on VKelly index
Sand
Air
Fly ash
Water
2·5
VKelly index: cm/s½
2·0
1·5
1·0
Water
Fly ash
0·5
Air
Sand
0
–4
–3
–2
–1
0
+1
+2
+3
+4
Increment of variables
Figure 6. Influence of fine aggregate, air, class C fly ash and water on VKelly index
Figure 6 shows the effects of varying fine aggregate content, air
content, class C fly ash content and water content on the VKelly
index. An increase in fine aggregate content up to 240 kg/m3
increased the VKelly index, while decreases in content produced
a lower index. Increases in class C fly ash dosage and water
content within a reasonable range resulted in a gradually
increased index value, as expected. However, the lower air content
mixture had a higher index compared with that of the plain
mixture. This is unexpected, and the reason for this is unknown.
Phase II: Field tests
VKelly tests were conducted at a number of slipform paving
sites. Pavement types included reconstruction, bonded and
302
unbonded overlay, and new pavement, with pavement thicknesses varying from 10 cm to 30 cm. The mix proportions,
site information and field test results are shown in Table 5
(Taylor et al., 2015a). VKelly slump values were in the range
2·5–6·6 cm.
Site MO was found to have the lowest VKelly index, likely due
to the low w/cm ratio and high daily average temperature. The
low fly ash replacement level is likely related to the low index
for site C, which is consistent with the laboratory test results
discussed above. The modified aggregate system of sites F, G,
H, I and J with either intermediate aggregate or coarse sand
has the potential to affect the thixotropy and workability of
the mixture, as indicated by the higher index at these sites.
Magazine of Concrete Research
Volume 69 Issue 6
A novel test to determine the workability
of slipform concrete mixtures
Wang, Taylor and Wang
Offprint provided courtesy of www.icevirtuallibrary.com
Author copy for personal use, not for distribution
7/30/15
237
113
136
635
—
1179
—
Gravel
Yes
Type A
Interstate
Unbonded
overlay
22·9
6·6
2·0
22
6/1/15
237
101
128
814
—
705
290
Granite
Yes
Type A
County
Unbonded
overlay
12·7
3·8
1·9
22
224
301
Limestone
Yes
WRDA 82
Highway
New
pavement
30·5
2·5
1·5
28
—
Gravel
Yes
Type A
Interstate
Unbonded
overlay
20·3
2·5
2·2
9
—
Gravel
Yes
Type A
Highway
—
Granite
Yes
Type A
City
Bonded
overlay
10·2
2·5
2·0
18
Quartzite
Yes
Type A
County
Bonded
overlay
12·7
3·8
2·1
26
—
—
Limestone
Yes
Type A
Interstate
Unbonded
overlay
24·1
4·4
2·1
21
—
Limestone
Yes
Type A
City
Reconstruction
22·9
5·7
1·8
23
7/22/14
325
81
154
739
—
980
In order to assess the limits of what mixtures may be considered
‘good’ or ‘bad’ for slipform paving, a validation process is
necessary. Data were collected as part of another programme
(Taylor et al., 2015b). Mixtures were prepared that ranged from
deliberately dry to deliberately wet, so that the VKelly test could
be performed over a wide range of workabilities.
Two types of coarse aggregate were used, limestone and
crushed gravel (LS and G), both of 2·5 cm nominal maximum
aggregate size. Natural river sand was the same as that used in
phase I. Two aggregate gradation systems were used for each
aggregate type – one with a fixed 50/50 of coarse to fine aggregate content and one that was sieved to fit within a tarantula
curve (Ley et al., 2012). A constant class C fly ash replacement
level of 20% was used and the w/cm ratio was 0·42. Either two
or three cementitious material contents were applied for each
aggregate system.
Tests were conducted to determine fresh concrete properties,
including slump (ASTM C143 (ASTM, 2015)), air content
(ASTM C231 (ASTM, 2014b)), the VKelly test and the box
test (Cook et al., 2014).
Figures 7(a) and 7(b) show the relationship between cementitious material content and slump and VKelly index, respectively. As expected, both parameters increase with increased
cementitious material content. However, the VKelly index is
more sensitive to the cementitious material content; that is, the
VKelly test can differentiate between mixtures having similar
slump values. Generally, the aggregate system that fell within
the tarantula curve gave a better workability.
The box test visual rating was assessed for each mixture
and plotted against the VKelly index (Figure 8). A box test
visual rate of 2·0 is considered to be acceptable for slipform
paving (Cook et al., 2014), which corresponds to a VKelly
index of 2·0 cm/s1/2. An index of 3·6 cm/s1/2 was measured in
the 7·6 cm slump mixture, which is too wet for slipform
paving. Therefore, a reasonable upper limit is considered to be
3·0 cm/s1/2.
Conclusions
22·9
5·1
2·1
19
The following conclusions are drawn from this study.
Thickness: cm
VKelly slump: cm
VKelly index
Average
temperature: °C
Date (m/d/y)
Cement: kg/m3
Fly ash: kg/m3
Water: kg/m3
Sand: kg/m3
Coarse sand: kg/m3
Coarse aggregate:
kg/m3
Inter aggregate:
kg/m3
Aggregate type
AEA
Water reducer
Location
Pavement type
7/17/14
237
101
135
745
—
1071
7/18/14
237
104
125
722
—
926
Limestone
Yes
Type A
City
Reconstruction
377
—
—
Gravel
Yes
Type A
Highway
Overlay
using fabric
15·2
3·8
2·1
22
—
2·5
2·2
23
27·9
6·4
2·2
21
9/26/14
279
47
121
684
—
952
8/27/14
231
77
126
753
—
829
9/12/14
237
102
122
443
332
1071
8/29/14
237
101
125
645
240
959
8/15/14
237
95
113
698
—
811
8/14/14
237
101
125
758
—
1091
7/21/14
237
101
128
833
—
978
Site I
Site MO
Site H
Site G
Site F
Site E
Site D
Site C
Site B
Site A
Table 5. Mix proportions, site information and field test results
Gravel
Yes
Type A
Interstate
Reconstruction
Site K
Site J
Phase III: Validation of VKelly test results
&
&
&
The proposed VKelly test method appears to be suitable
for assessing the response of a mixture to vibration
(workability), especially for slipform paving mixtures.
Two parameters from the VKelly test – slump and the
VKelly index – can be used to report both static and
dynamic characteristics of concrete mixtures.
The VKelly test can be conducted in the field and may
also find some uses as a quality control tool, although the
303
Magazine of Concrete Research
Volume 69 Issue 6
A novel test to determine the workability
of slipform concrete mixtures
Wang, Taylor and Wang
Offprint provided courtesy of www.icevirtuallibrary.com
Author copy for personal use, not for distribution
Slump: cm
20·0
18·0
16·0
14·0
12·0
10·0
8·0
6·0
4·0
2·0
0
200
report by the same authors (Taylor et al., 2015a). This research
was conducted under the Federal Highway Administration
(FHWA) Transportation Pooled Fund Study TPF-5(205) with
support from the state departments of transportation of
Colorado, Iowa (lead state), Kansas, Michigan, Missouri,
New York, Oklahoma, Texas and Wisconsin. The authors
would like to express their gratitude to Iowa Department of
Transportation and the other pooled fund state partners for
their financial support and technical assistance.
G1.0 50
LS1.0 50
G1.0 tarantula
LS1.0 tarantula
250
300
350
400
(a)
REFERENCES
4·0
Abrams DA (1922) Proportioning concrete mixtures. ACI Journal
G1.0 50
LS1.0 50
G1.0 tarantula
LS1.0 tarantula
VKelly index: cm/s½
3·5
3·0
2·5
ASTM (2001) C995: Standard test method for time of flow of
1·5
1·0
0·5
0
200
250
300
350
400
Cementitious material content: kg/m3
(b)
Figure 7. Slump (a) and VKelly index (b) versus binder content
(Taylor et al. 2015a)
4·5
Box test visual rate
4·0
3·5
3·0
2·5
2·0
1·5
1·0
Green zone
0·5
0
0·50
1·00
1·50
2·00
2·50
3·00
3·50
4·00
VKelly index: cm/s½
Figure 8. Box test visual rate versus VKelly index
&
&
primary intent is to be used in the laboratory for helping
mixture design.
The test yielded low multi-operator variations (up to 8·3%).
The data collected to date indicate that a VKelly index in
the range 2·0–3·0 cm/s1/2 is a suitable region for slipform
paving concrete mixtures.
Acknowledgements
This paper was extracted and expanded based on a National
Concrete Pavement Technology Center published research
304
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