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Fire Safety Journal 42 (2007) 516522


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Effects of elevated temperatures on properties of concrete


Omer Arioz
Faculty of Engineering and Architecture, Department of Civil Engineering, Anadolu University, Iki Eylul Campus, 26555 Eskisehir, Turkey
Received 2 May 2006; received in revised form 21 November 2006; accepted 10 January 2007
Available online 26 March 2007

Abstract
Concrete material in structures is likely exposed to high temperatures during re. The relative properties of concrete after such an
exposure are of great importance in terms of the serviceability of buildings. This paper presents the effects of elevated temperatures on
the physical and mechanical properties of various concrete mixtures prepared by ordinary Portland cement, crushed limestone, and river
gravel. Test samples were subjected to elevated temperatures ranging from 200 to 1200 1C. After exposure, weight losses were determined
and then compressive strength test was conducted. Test results indicated that weight of the specimen signicantly reduced with an
increase in temperature. This reduction was very sharp beyond 800 1C. The effects of water/cement (w/c) ratio and type of aggregate on
losses in weight were not found to be signicant. The results also revealed that the relative strength of concrete decreased as the exposure
temperature increased. The effect of high temperatures on the strength of concrete was more pronounced for concrete mixtures produced
by river gravel aggregate. The results of the physical and mechanical tests were also combined with those obtained from differential
thermal analysis, and colour image analysis.
r 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Concrete; Fire; Elevated temperatures; Strength

1. Introduction
Concrete is possibly exposed to elevated temperatures
during re or when it is near to furnaces and reactors [16].
The mechanical properties such as strength, modulus of
elasticity and volume stability of concrete are signicantly
reduced during these exposures. This may result in
undesirable structural failures [310]. Therefore, the
properties of concrete retained after a re are of still
importance for determining the load carrying capacity and
for reinstating re-damaged constructions [11]. When
exposed to high temperature, the chemical composition
and physical structure of the concrete change considerably.
The dehydration such as the release of chemically bound
water from the calcium silicate hydrate (CSH) becomes
signicant above about 110 1C [12]. The dehydration of the
hydrated calcium silicate and the thermal expansion of the
aggregate increase internal stresses and from 300 1C microcracks are induced through the material [11]. Calcium
Tel.: +90 222 321 35 50x6615; fax: +90 222 323 95 01.

E-mail address: oarioz@anadolu.edu.tr.


0379-7112/$ - see front matter r 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.resaf.2007.01.003

hydroxide [Ca(OH)2], which is one of the most important


compounds in cement paste, dissociates at around 530 1C
resulting in the shrinkage of concrete [4,5,13]. The re is
generally extinguished by water and CaO turns into
[Ca(OH)2] causing cracking and crumbling of concrete
[13]. Therefore, the effects of high temperatures are
generally visible in the form of surface cracking and
spalling [3,7,9,1416]. Some changes in colour may also
occur during the exposure [17]. The alterations produced
by high temperatures are more evident when the temperature surpasses 500 1C. Most changes experienced by
concrete at this temperature level are considered irreversible [1]. CSH gel, which is the strength giving compound
of cement paste, decomposes further above 600 1C. At
800 1C, concrete is usually crumbled and above 1150 1C
feldspar melts and the other minerals of the cement paste
turn into a glass phase [11]. As a result, severe microstructural changes are induced and concrete loses its
strength and durability.
Concrete is a composite material produced from
aggregate, cement, and water. Therefore, the type and
properties of aggregate also play an important role on the

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O. Arioz / Fire Safety Journal 42 (2007) 516522

2. Research signicance
The effect of cement paste on the behaviour of concrete
subjected to elevated temperatures has been widely
researched. However, studies about the aggregate effects
on the concrete behaviour at elevated temperatures are
scarce in the technical literature. The results of DTA and
colour image analysis carried out on cement pastes have
been combined in order to dene the changes in the
mechanical properties of concrete subjected to elevated
temperatures. The author believes that the detailed
investigation carried out on the effect of locally available
materials on the re performance of concrete will be very
useful to concrete technology.
3. Experimental study
Four different concrete mixtures were prepared by using
ordinary Portland cement, crushed limestone aggregate
and siliceous river gravel with maximum size of 15 mm.
The mineralogical composition of the cement and the
aggregate properties are given in Tables 1 and 2,
respectively. The gradation curves of the crushed limestone
and river gravel aggregates are given in Fig. 1. Concrete
mix proportions were determined according to the relevant
Turkish Standard TS 802 [19]. The designations, proportions, and some properties of the concrete mixtures are
given in Table 3.
Cubes of 70  70  70 mm were cast using prepared
concrete mixtures and then cured in water for 28 days.
Afterwards, they were air-dried in the laboratory for 6 days
and oven-dried at 105 1C for 24 h. Finally, the specimens

Table 1
Some properties and the mineralogical composition of the Portland
cement
Property
Loss on ignition (%)
Insoluble residue (%)
Magnesium oxide (MgO) (%)
Sulphur trioxide (SO3) (%)
Chlorine (%)
Specic surface (cm2/g)
Initial setting time (min)
Final setting time (h : min)
Volume stability (Le Chatelier) (mm)

3.36
0.57
0.94
2.52
0.01
3372
60
10:00
1.0

Mineralogical composition
C3S (3 CaO  SiO2) (%)
C2S (2 CaO  SiO2) (%)
C3A (3 CaO  Al2O3) (%)
C4AF (4 CaO  Al2O3  Fe2O3) (%)

38.95
30.55
9.91
11.98

Table 2
Properties of aggregates
Type of aggregate

Specic gravity

Water
absorption (%)

Crushed
limestone
Coarse
Fine

2.60
2.44

1.37
2.56

River gravel
Coarse
Fine

2.70
2.60

1.00
0.55

100
80
Percent Passing

properties of concrete exposed to elevated temperatures.


The strength degradations of concretes with different
aggregates are not same under high temperatures [2,18].
This is attributed to the mineral structure of the aggregates.
Quartz in siliceous aggregates polymorphically changes at
570 1C with a volume expansion and consequent damage.
In limestone aggregate concrete, CaCO3 turns into CaO at
800900 1C, and expands with temperature. Shrinkage may
also start due to the decomposition of CaCO3 into CO2 and
CaO with volume changes causing destructions [17].
Consequently, elevated temperatures and re may cause
aesthetic and functional deteriorations to the buildings.
Aesthetic damage is generally easy to repair while
functional impairments are more profound and may
require partial or total repair or replacement, depending
on their severity [7].
In this experimental investigation, the effect of elevated
temperatures on the physical and mechanical properties of
concrete mixtures produced by different water/cement (w/
c) ratios and different types of aggregates were extensively
examined. The changes in the cement paste subjected to
elevated temperatures were analysed by differential thermal
analysis (DTA), and colour image techniques and the
results were combined.

517

60
40
Limestone

River gravel

20
0
0

10

12

14

16

Sieve Size (mm)


Fig. 1. Gradation curves of the crushed limestone and river gravel
aggregates.

were subjected to elevated temperatures ranging from 200


to 1200 1C for 2 h. The heating rate was 20 1C/min. After
such a treatment, the specimens were allowed to cool with a
rate of 2 1C/min. Then, the specimens were stored in dry
condition at room temperature for 2 h until testing. The
loss in weight and compressive strength of the specimens

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Table 3
Designations, mix proportions and some properties of the concrete mixtures
Mixture

CL05
CL06
RG04
RG05
a

Mix proportions (kg/m3)

Some properties

Coarse
aggregate

Fine aggregate

Cement

Water

w/c ratio

Type of aggregate

Compressive
strengtha (MPa)

716
653
819
753

716
653
819
753

500
500
500
500

250
300
200
250

0.5
0.6
0.4
0.5

Crushed limestone

52
44
52
39

River gravel

The compressive strengths of the mixtures are obtained from unheated specimens.

Fig. 2. Surface texture of the concrete samples exposed to elevated temperatures.

were examined. The cement paste matrix was also


examined by DTA and colour image analysis after
exposure. Colour images of the cement pastes subjected
to various temperatures were performed by spectrophotometer.
4. Result and discussions
The damage to the concrete after being subjected to high
temperatures can be roughly detected by observing the
concrete surface. Thus, assessment of re-damaged concrete usually starts with visual observation of colour
change, cracking and spalling of concrete surface [5]. Fig.
2 illustrates the concrete surfaces after treatment at
elevated temperatures. There was no visible effect on the
surface of the specimens heated up to 400 1C. The concrete
started to crack when the temperature increased to 600 1C
but the effect was not signicant at that temperature level.
The cracks became very pronounced at 800 1C and
extensively increased at 1000 1C. The specimens completely
decomposed and lost their binding properties after

exposure to 1200 1C where the spalling of the samples


due to excessive cracking was observed. This was attributed
to continuous crack formation. Gluekler cited by Sakr
states that failure of heated concrete surface occurs most
likely by crack formation parallel to the hot surface,
degradation of concrete strength and pressuration of
concrete pores [2]. It is stated that spalling may cause a
violent effect to re-exposed concrete reducing the load
bearing capacity of a construction [15,16]. Furthermore,
the explosive thermal spalling is characterised as explosively breaking of concrete into pieces, often without
advance notice [8].
The effect of elevated temperatures on the weight loss of
the concrete specimens is shown in Fig. 3. It increased with
temperature increase. These losses were about 5% and
45% after subjecting to 200 and 1200 1C, respectively. The
reduction in weight gradually increased up to 800 1C,
however, there was a sharp jump in loss in weight loss
beyond 800 1C. The weight loss in concrete during exposure
to elevated temperatures can be related to the change in the
mechanical properties of the concrete. Topcu et al. [20]

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O. Arioz / Fire Safety Journal 42 (2007) 516522

50

Limestone, w/c=0.5
River gravel, w/c=0.4

120
100
Relative Strength (%)

Loss in Weight (%)

Limestone, w/c=0.6
River gravel, w/c=0.5

Limestone, w/c=0.6
Limestone, w/c=0.5
River gravel, w/c=0.5
River Gravel, w/c=0.4

40

519

30

20

10

80
60
40
20
0

0
0

200

400

600

800

1000

1200

Temperature (C)
Fig. 3. Weight loss of the concrete specimens subjected to elevated
temperatures.

found that the cement paste loses its binding property due
to the evaporation of water in CSH structure [20]. The
effect of w/c ratio and type of aggregate on the weight loss
of the concrete samples was not found to be signicant.
Somewhat higher losses were observed for higher w/c ratios
of concrete mixtures prepared by both crushed limestone
and river gravel aggregates. It was most probably caused
by the fact that the water content of the mixture Increases
with respect to w/c ratio. It was also found that somewhat
lower losses in weight values were measured on concretes
produced with river gravel aggregate.
The compressive strength values of unheated samples
produced from four different concrete mixtures ranged
between 39 and 52 MPa. As it was expected, the
compressive strength of the concrete mixtures prepared
by lower w/c ratios gave higher strength for both types of
aggregates. However, that of concrete mixture produced by
crushed limestone aggregate was higher than that produced
by river gravel even though their w/c ratios were 0.5 (Table
3). This can be attributed to the composition of the river
gravel aggregate which contains siliceous aggregates.
The relative compressive strength values of the concrete
mixtures after exposure are presented in Fig. 4. The relative
strength was calculated as the percent retained strength of
concrete with respect to the strength of the unheated
specimen. The relative strength of concrete signicantly
decreased after exposure. For crushed limestone aggregate
concrete, relative compressive strength slightly decreased
until heating a temperature of 600 1C and there was a sharp
reduction in relative strength beyond that point. For
example, the relative strengths of concretes were 90% and
30% when the concrete was heated to 600 and 800 1C,
respectively. It is interesting that the 90% strength
remaining at 600 1C is rather more compared to other test
results, where the upper limit usually is 80% and the
average much less. This was most probably caused by
testing of the concrete too early after cooling. It seems that
the decomposition of crushed limestone aggregate concrete
starts at a temperature of around 600 1C. The relative

200

400

600

800

1000

1200

Temperature (C)
Fig. 4. Relative Strength of the concrete mixtures after exposure to
elevated temperatures.

strengths of concrete specimens after exposure to 1000 and


1200 1C were measured as 13% and 6%, respectively, in the
present study. The test results also showed that the relative
strength of the concrete was not signicantly affected by w/
c ratio of the mix irrespective to the aggregate type. Hertz
states that w/c ratio has no effect on compressive strength
losses during a ring down to a value of almost 0.4 due to
the evaporation of excess water [11]. The reductions in
compressive strength of concrete when exposed to elevated
temperatures can be attributed to the dehydration of
concrete by driving out of free water and fraction water of
hydration of concrete due to high temperatures
[1,2,18,20,21]. It should be noted that the expansion of
aggregate plays an important role on the reduction of
compressive strength of concrete after exposure to elevated
temperatures. The test results revealed that the relative
strength of concrete exposed to elevated temperature was
signicantly inuenced by the type of aggregate in the
concrete mixture. The effect of temperature on the relative
strength of concrete was more pronounced for concrete
mixtures produced by river gravel aggregate. This can be
attributed to the composition of the siliceous river gravels.
Hertz states that siliceous aggregates expand the most and
give the greatest damage. Limestone aggregates have lower
thermal expansion than siliceous aggregates and a concrete
made with limestone suffers less damage than a siliceous
concrete [11]. For example, there was a signicant
difference between the relative strengths of concretes with
limestone and river gravel when the exposure temperature
was 600 1C. The relative strengths at that temperature level
were 90% and 50% for limestone concrete and river gravel
concrete, respectively. For river gravel concrete mixtures,
the relative strength gradually but signicantly reduced
when the temperature increased. The relative strengths of
river gravel mixtures were measured as 0% after heating to
1200 1C.
Different researchers found similar results regarding the
effects of elevated temperatures on the properties of
concrete. The researchers found that one of the main

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O. Arioz / Fire Safety Journal 42 (2007) 516522

520

effects of high temperatures on concrete structures was the


reduction in compressive strength of concrete
[5,8,10,18,2224]. Yuzer et al. [17] observed serious changes
in the mechanical properties of Portland cement mortars
exposed to elevated temperatures. They found that
decreases in compressive strength of Portland cement
mortars started at 600 1C in air cooled samples. In their
research, the losses were 55% at 900 1C. Xiao and Konig
[8] stated that the compressive strength of ordinary
concrete started to decrease drastically when the temperature reached above 400 1C, and at 800 1C, the strength loss
was about 80%. According to Chan et al. [21], the range
between 400 and 800 1C was critical to the strength loss.
Savva et al. [18] observed that at a temperature over
600 1C, all tested concretes suffered deterioration and only
a small part of the initial strength was left, ranging from
7% to 25% for all mixtures [18]. The researchers also
stated that the concrete with different aggregate does not
behave the same in its strength degradation under high
temperature. However, below 500 1C, the difference be-

100

Loss in Strength (%)

80

60
Limestone, w/c=0.6
Limestone, w/c=0.5
River gravel, w/c=0.5
River Gravel, w/c=0.4

40

20

0
0

10

20

30

40

50

Loss in Weight (%)


Fig. 5. Relationship between the losses in strength and weight of concrete
samples.

tween concrete with siliceous aggregate and that with


calcium aggregate was found to be negligible [8].
The losses in concrete strength can be related to those in
weight of samples since the reductions in compressive
strength are attributed to the dehydration of concrete due
to high temperatures [1,2,18,20,21]. Fig. 5 indicates the
relationship between the losses in strength and weight of
concrete samples. It is clear that loss in strength increases
with increase in weight losses. The reduction in strength is
very sharp until 10% losses in weight. Almost 70% of the
strength is lost as the weight losses reached to just 10%.
When the losses in weight are more than 30%, almost 90%
of the strength is lost.
Cement paste plays an important role on the relative
strength of concrete subjected to elevated temperatures.
The results of the DTA/TG analysis carried out on cement
paste sample are shown in Fig. 6. The rst endothermic
peak observed at 114 1C indicates the dehydration of
cement paste by driving out of physically bound water. On
the other hand, the rst exothermic peak at nearly 300 1C
indicates probable gas releases. The second endothermic
peak observed at 490 1C is the calcium hydroxide peak. The
third endothermic peak at nearly 740 1C can be the
indicator for the second step of CSH gel dehydration.
The exothermic peak at 1097 1C may indicate the possible
generation of new phases due to such extremely high
temperatures. The mass changes are 6.5%, 4.0%,
5.8%, and 3.6% at the temperatures of 200, 390, 520,
770 1C, respectively. Handoo et al. [23] states that the
DTA/TGA technique can be applied for assessing redamaged concrete.
The relative strength of the concrete after exposure can
be primarily inferred by observing the colour of the
concrete. The results of colour image analysis conducted
on cement paste samples subjected to various temperatures
are given in Figs. 7 and 8. The intensity of the white colour
may not be generalised for various elevated temperatures.
The intensity of the yellow colour increased with increase
in exposure temperature. The green colour was observed

Fig. 6. DTA/TG pattern of cement sample.

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O. Arioz / Fire Safety Journal 42 (2007) 516522

80
White

Intensity

60

40

20

1200

1000

800

600

400

Unheated

200

Temperature (C)
Fig. 7. Results of colour image analysis (white).

10
Green
Red
Yellow

2. Concrete specimens subjected to a temperature of


1200 1C were completely decomposed.
3. The weight of the concrete specimens reduced signicantly as the temperature increased. This reduction was
gradual up to 800 1C. A sharp reduction in weight was
observed beyond 800 1C.
4. The effects of w/c ratio and aggregate type on the weight
losses were not signicant.
5. The relative strength of concrete reduced with increase
in exposure temperature.
6. The effect of w/c ratio of the mixture on the relative
strength was not signicant irrespective to aggregate
type.
7. The effect of high temperatures on the relative strength
of concrete was more pronounced for concrete mixtures
produced by river gravel aggregate. This can be
attributed to the siliceous composition of the river
gravels.
8. According to colour image analysis, intensity of the
yellow colour increased with increase in temperature
and red colour appeared when the temperature increased to 800 1C. Therefore, it seemed that the results
of colour image analysis may also be used to assess the
level of temperature to which the concrete was
subjected.

1200

1000

800

Thanks are due to Professor M. Tuncan, Prof. A.


Tuncan, and Professor B. Karasu and Research Assistant
I. Tore and Research Assistant H. Yurdakul of the
Anadolu University, for their collaboration relating to this
experimental study, and to Bachelor School student C.
Ozler for his invaluable contributions to several aspects of
the work reported in this paper. The author also would like
to thank to technician H. Unluce for her technical
contributions.

600

0
400

Acknowledgements

200

Unheated

Intensity

521

Temperature (C)
Fig. 8. Results of colour image analysis (green, red, yellow).

up to 600 1C and red colour appears at 800 and 1000 1C for


the cement paste samples tested in the present study. Li et
al. [22] found that the colour of the concrete does not
change when the specimens are subjected to 200 1C, while,
straw yellow, off-white, and red appear when the specimens
are exposed to temperature of 400, 800, and 1000 1C,
respectively.
5. Conclusions
The following conclusions may be drawn from the
present study:
1. In visual observation of concrete samples subjected to
elevated temperatures, it was noticed that the surface
cracks became visible when the temperature reached
600 1C. The cracks were very pronounced at 800 1C and
increased extremely when the temperature increased to
1000 1C.

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