Effects of Lithium Nitrate Admixture on Early Age Concrete Behavior
Millard, Marcus J.
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Alkali silica reaction (ASR), a reaction which occurs between reactive siliceous mineral components in the aggregate and the alkaline pore solution in concrete, is responsible for substantial damage to concrete structures in the U. S. and across the world. Lithium admixtures, including lithium nitrate (LiNO3), have been demonstrated to mitigate ASR damage, and are of particular interest for use in concrete airfield pavement construction, where ASR damage has been recently linked to the use of certain de-icing chemicals. Although the effectiveness of lithium admixtures at ASR-mitigation is well-researched, relatively less is known regarding the potential effects, including negative effects, on overall concrete behavior. The goal of this research is to better understand the influence of LiNO3 admixture on early age concrete behavior, and to determine if a maximum dosage rate for its use exists. Isothermal calorimetry, rheology and bleed water testing, time of setting, chemical shrinkage, autogenous shrinkage, free and restrained concrete shrinkage, and compressive and flexural strength were measured for pastes and concretes prepared with a range of LiNO3 dosages (i.e., 0, 50, 100, 200, and 400% of the recommended dosage). In addition, the interaction of LiNO3 with cement was evaluated by comparing results obtained with six cements of varying alkali and tricalcium aluminate (C3A) contents. Additionally, one of these cements, was examined alone and with 20% by weight Class F fly ash replacement. Results indicate that the hydration of the tricalcium silicate and tricalcium aluminate components of cement are accelerated by the use of LiNO3, and that low alkali cements (typically specified to avoid damage by ASR) may be particularly susceptible to this acceleration. However, inclusion of Class F fly ash at 20% by weight replacement of cement (also common in applications where ASR is a concern) appears to diminish these possibly negative effects of LiNO3 on early age hydration acceleration and heat generation. Dosages higher than the current standard dosage of LiNO3 may have minor effects on fresh concrete workability, causing slight decreases in Bingham yield stress, corresponding to slightly higher slump. Fresh concrete viscosity may also be affected, though more research is necessary to confirm this effect. LiNO3 had no effect on quantity of bleed water in the mixes tested. Generally, LiNO3 had no effect on initial and final setting times, although increasing dosages caused faster set times in the lowest alkali (Na2Oeq = 0.295%) cement examined. In shrinkage testing, higher LiNO3 dosages appeared to cause initial expansion in some sealed paste specimens, but in all cases the highest dosage led to greater autogenous shrinkage after 40 days. In concrete specimens, however, the restraining effect of aggregates diminished shrinkage, and no effect of the LiNO3 was apparent. In no cases, with any dosage of lithium tested, with or without fly ash replacement, did restrained shrinkage specimens show any cracking. Strength testing produced mixed results, with laboratory specimens increasing in 28-day compressive strength, but companion specimens cast in the field and tested by an outside laboratory, exhibited lower 28-day compressive strength, with increasing lithium dosages. Flexural specimens, also cast in the field and tested by an outside laboratory, appeared to show an increase in 28-day flexural strength with increasing lithium dosages. However, because of the conflicting results when comparing the various strength data, further research is necessary for conclusive evidence of LiNO3 effects on concrete strength.