Characterization of air voids in fresh cement paste through ultrasonic nondestructive testing
Kmack, Richard Matthew
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The objective of this research is the pursuit of a better characterization method for the air voids - particularly air-entrained voids - in fresh cement-based materials through the use of ultrasonics. The use of air-entraining agents (AEA's) to incorporate a stable network of air voids into fresh cement paste is common practice in the concrete industry. These particular air voids significantly improve durability of hardened cement paste through mitigation of stresses associated with freezing and thawing cycles. It is understood that the performance of entrained air voids in cement paste is dependent on their size and distribution, or spacing factor. However, conventional methods for qualifying air content, such as the Pressure, Volume, and Gravimetric Methods, only measure total air volume and cannot assess size or spacing. In this investigation, using matched pairs of transducers, ultrasonic pulses were transmitted through fresh cement paste specimens (0.0\% up to 0.6\% AEA by weight of cement). The received signals were recorded every five minutes during the first six hours and then every fifteen minutes thereafter. Analysis shows strong distinctions between specimens with and those without the AEA. Further research is needed into the distinctions among specimens with the AEA. However, the data suggest correlations between Vicat setting times, heat of hydration, and autogenous strain and ultrasonic metrics such as pulse velocity and peak frequency of the signal. The findings of this research should be most appropriate as a foundation for an inversion process and improved air-entrainment detection methods.