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Reuse of Waste Ferrochrome Slag in the Production of Mortar with Improved

Thermal and Mechanical Performance

Article  in  Journal of Materials in Civil Engineering · May 2018

DOI: 10.1061/(ASCE)MT.1943-5533.0002345


0 237

5 authors, including:

Khalifa S. Al-Jabri H. Shoukry

Sultan Qaboos University Housing and Building National Research Center


Sobhi Nasir Hossam Hassan

Sultan Qaboos University Sultan Qaboos University


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Reuse of Waste Ferrochrome Slag in the Production
of Mortar with Improved Thermal and
Mechanical Performance
K. Al-Jabri 1; H. Shoukry 2; Ibrahim S. Khalil 3; Sobhi Nasir 4; and Hossam F. Hassan 5

Abstract: This study focuses on the reuse of waste ferrochrome (FeCr) slag as a partial replacement for sand in the production of cement
mortar with improved thermal and mechanical properties. Sand was replaced by FeCr slag in different percentages ranging from 0 up to 20%
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(by weight). The flowability test was performed to evaluate the mortar’s behavior in a fresh state. Tests for the compressive strength, flexural
strength, drying shrinkage, thermal conductivity, and specific heat of the blended mortars have been conducted according to ASTM standards
at 3, 7, and 28 days of curing. X-ray diffraction (XRD) was utilized to examine the phase composition. The scanning electron microscope
(SEM) was used for inspecting the microstructure changes of the hardened samples. The results revealed considerable improvements in the
compressive and flexural strengths; improvement ratios of about 33 and 39% were attained respectively at 20% FeCr slag replacement after
28 days of curing. The drying shrinkage generally decreased with increasing replacement of sand by FeCr slag. FeCr slag acts to increase both
the thermal conductivity and specific heat effectively. FeCr slag caused remarkable modifications in the microstructure of the blended
mortars. DOI: 10.1061/(ASCE)MT.1943-5533.0002345. © 2018 American Society of Civil Engineers.
Author keywords: Mortar; Ferrochrome (FeCr) slag; Compressive strength; Flexural strength; Drying shrinkage; Thermal conductivity;

Introduction construction applications is found to be helpful in saving landfill

space and reducing the demand for extraction of natural raw materi-
Over recent decades, there has been a quick increase in industrial als (Rakshvir and Barai 2006; Taha and Nounu 2008). Various types
waste and by-product generation due to the progressive growth rate of solids like glass, plastic, and demolished concrete have been also
of the population, development of industry and technology, and the considered for sand or aggregate partial replacement in the produc-
growth of consumerism (Al-Jabri et al. 2009). With the growing tion of sustainable concrete as reported by Batayneh et al. (2007).
environmental pressure to reduce waste and pollution, intensive This study affirmed that the three types of waste materials could
research studies have been conducted to explore all suitable reuse be reused effectively as partial substitutes for sand or coarse aggre-
methods (Alwaeli and Nadziakiewicz 2012). Fly ash, silica fume, gates in concrete mixtures. The effect of using copper slag as a
and slag were considered as waste materials. Mostly, concrete pre- replacement of fine aggregate on the strength properties of concrete
pared with such materials showed enhanced mechanical strength and has been examined for various proportions of copper slag from 0 to
improved workability and durability compared to conventional con- 100% in concrete (Ishimaru et al. 2005). The test results indicated
crete (Al-Jabri and Shoukry 2014). Construction waste, blast furnace that compressive strength of concrete increased by 55% at 40%
slag, coal fly ash, and bottom ash have been approved in many places replacement of fine aggregate by copper slag. It was also observed
as alternative aggregates in bridges, roads, pavements, foundations, that flexural strength at 28 days is higher than the control mix (with-
and building construction (Lim and Chu 2006). The utilization of out replacement) for 20% replacement of fine aggregates by copper
industrial solid waste as a partial substitution of raw materials in slag; the flexural strength of concrete increased by 14%. It was
mentioned in this study that compressive and flexural strengths were
increased due to the high toughness of copper slag.
Professor, Dept. of Civil and Architectural Engineering, College Ferrochrome (FeCr) slag is a by-product from the production of
of Engineering, Sultan Qaboos Univ., P.O. Box 33, Al-Khoud 123,
ferrochrome, an essential component in the stainless steel industry.
Oman (corresponding author). Email:; kaljabri68@ Between 1.1 and 1.6 t of slag is produced for each ton of FeCr
Researcher, Housing and Building National Research Center, (Niemela and Kauppi 2007). The annual world production of FeCr
87 El-Tahrir St., Dokki, P.O. Box 1770, Cairo, Egypt. slag is around 11.8 million tons (Moodie 2016) with an annual in-
3 creasing rate of about 3–5% (Acharya and Patro 2016; Moodie
Associate Researcher, Housing and Building National Research
Center, 87 El-Tahrir St., Dokki, P.O. Box 1770, Cairo, Egypt. 2016). In Oman, there are two FeCr plants producing about
Director and Professor, Earth Science Research Centre, Sultan Qaboos 355,000 t of FeCr slag annually (Al-Jabri 2017). This quantity
Univ., Al-Khoud 123, Oman. is expected to increase in the future. The majority of this by-product
Associate Professor, Dept. of Civil and Architectural Engineering, is not utilized in a beneficial manner and is currently being dumped.
College of Engineering, Sultan Qaboos Univ., P.O. Box 33, Al-Khoud
Dumping of FeCr slag in the landfills causes environmental prob-
123, Oman.
Note. This manuscript was submitted on March 16, 2017; approved on
lems associated with the scarcity of landfilling area and the risk of
January 19, 2018; published online on May 18, 2018. Discussion period leaching of hazardous elements such as Cr(VI) leading to contami-
open until October 18, 2018; separate discussions must be submitted for nation of the soil and ground water. The exhaustive consumption of
individual papers. This paper is part of the Journal of Materials in Civil natural aggregates in the construction industry and road projects
Engineering, © ASCE, ISSN 0899-1561. has led to the depletion of natural resources at an alarming rate.

© ASCE 04018152-1 J. Mater. Civ. Eng.

J. Mater. Civ. Eng., 2018, 30(8): 04018152

Therefore, searching for new viable materials in lieu of natural ag- gradient, therefore it could be recommended for massive structures
gregate has become imperative. Research studies conducted on like bridges and related structures (Xu and Chung 2000a, b). Gen-
FeCr slag indicated that it possesses the required properties of ag- erally, the equivalent thermal conductivity of cementitious compo-
gregates (Moodie 2016; Acharya and Patro 2016; Al-Jabri 2017). sites is quite dependent on the volume fraction and corresponding
Moodie (2016) reported that the use of FeCr slag in lieu of natural properties of each of the constituents (Lee 2007; Osiroff and
aggregate in road construction resulted in 30–50% reduction in the Hasselman 1991; Shoukry et al. 2016a, b). The thermal conduc-
amount of natural aggregate required during construction, which tivity of concrete and mortar can be easily controlled, i.e., reduced
led to an added benefit of speeding up the construction process or raised, by replacing one or more of its components with ther-
and a reduction in the number of work hours required for the con- mally insulating or conductive materials. Previous work on increas-
struction project. Other studies reported the beneficial use of FeCr ing the thermal conductivity of concrete involved the use of an
slag as an aggregate in concrete (Al-Jabri 2017). Therefore, the uti- aggregate with a higher thermal conductivity (Schneider 1988).
lization of FeCr slag in beneficial applications satisfies the objectives Metal sand with high thermal conductivity has been found to in-
of the sustainable development strategies in saving the environment crease the overall thermal conduction of mortar or concrete
and paying special attention to prevention, control, and remedy. (Shin and Kodide 2012; Uysal et al. 2004). An investigation into
Although many previous studies investigated the use of waste metal thermal performance of IOS blended mortar has been performed by
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sands such as copper slag, aluminum sand, and iron ore sand (IOS) Liu et al. (2015) in which IOS was utilized as an aggregate at differ-
and slag as a replacement of fine aggregate on the mechanical ent replacement ratios; furthermore, the effects of water–cement
strength of cement mortar and concrete, few research studies have ratio, total sand–cement ratio, and river sand–iron ore sand ratio
been carried out regarding reuse the ferrochrome slag in the construc- have been examined. The IOS cement mortar showed high thermal
tion industry. Furthermore, studies about the thermal properties of conductivity performance. The developed mortar presented in this
metal sand cement mortars are limited. paper characterized with high thermal conductivity facilitates its
Recently, FeCr slag has been successfully utilized in road pave- applications in the fields of chemical industries, petroleum pipeline,
ments, road bases, and road subbases. FeCr slag is safely utilized in deicing and snow melting, and heating. This work represents an
landfills In South Africa. Due to its high refractory compounds con- attempt to enhance the thermal properties including thermal con-
tent and superior strength, the FeCr slag can be applied in many ductivity and specific heat and mechanical performance of cement
ways including construction building materials, road construction, mortar through the reuse of FeCr slag as a partial replacement
and landfilling. (Yılmaz and Karasahin 2010). Zelić (2005) inves- for sand.
tigated the properties of concrete pavements prepared with ferro-
chromium slag as concrete aggregate. The results showed that
the 28-day compressive strength of the concrete made with original Experimental Testing Program
unfractioned slag and with standard limestone as aggregate reached
the values of 57 and 36.7 MPa, respectively. The properties of con-
crete under combined effects of fly ash as cement replacement and Materials
ferrochrome slag as aggregate substitution were investigated by The cement used in this study was ordinary portland cement (OPC)
Gencel et al. (2012). Cement was replaced with fly ash at the ratio (CEM I 42.5 N). There were two types of fine aggregates: natural
of 10, 20, and 30% by weight, whereas coarse limestone aggregates siliceous sand passing through a 2.36-mm sieve and with a specific
were replaced with coarse ferrochromium aggregate at the ratio of gravity of 2.60 and FeCr slag aggregate. The FeCr slag was bought
25, 50, and 75% by weight. The results from the study revealed that from the Al Tamman Indsil Company (ATIC) in Sohar city, Oman.
ferrochromium aggregates increased the strength of concrete and The water cooled–air cooled ratio was about 70%:30%. The par-
also the abrasive and wear resistance, but it has negligible influence ticle size distribution of both the sand and the as-received granu-
on the porosity and water absorption of concrete. A study carried lated FeCr slag is presented in Fig. 1. The grain size of FeCr slag
out on the effect of microsilica addition within a low cement ca- used in this study was also adjusted to range from 0.06 to 2.36 mm
stables matrix of calcined bauxite and ferrochrome slag showed by using a US standard Sieve No. 8. The amount of material pass-
that slag containing castables achieved good thermal properties ing this sieve was about 85% of the as-received batch.
such as thermal shock resistance, permanent linear change, and py-
rometric cone equivalent (Kumar et al. 2014). A number of re-
searchers (Nadeen and Pofale 2012; Panda et al. 2013; Susheel 100
et al. 2016; Sathwik et al. 2016) studied the properties of normal- 90
and high-strength concrete made with FeCr slag as an aggregate
substitute. The results indicated that replacement of fine aggregate 80
Percentage passing, %

with FeCr slag up to 75% has improved the strength of concrete 70

compared with conventional concrete. 60
The desired thermal characteristics of cementitious materials are Sand FeCr-Slag
closely related to their applications in buildings, bridges, and other
structures. Evidently, increasing the thermal conductivity is helpful 40
in dissipating heat from concrete structures and reducing the effects 30
of thermal stresses. Moreover, reducing the thermal conductivity is
useful for thermal insulation applications (Xu and Chung 2000a, b).
The temperature gradient within the concrete structures is respon- 10
sible to a large extent for the internal thermal stresses that cause the 0
disintegration in mechanical strength and hence durability. Bridges 0.1 1 10 100
are the most likely structures to show temperature difference be- Sieve size, mm
tween their top and bottom surfaces. Concrete with high thermal
Fig. 1. Particle size distribution of sand and FeCr slag aggregate.
conductivity can dissipate a portion of heat and reduce temperature

© ASCE 04018152-2 J. Mater. Civ. Eng.

J. Mater. Civ. Eng., 2018, 30(8): 04018152

Table 1. Oxide composition of cement and FeCr slag aggregate
Oxide (%)
Material SiO2 Al2 O3 Fe2 O3 CaO MgO SO3 Na2 O K2 O Cr2 O3 Loss on ignition
OPC 20.92 4.69 3.30 64.21 2.57 0.67 0.11 0.02 — 3.5
FeCr slag 29.14 23.21 4.01 6.13 20.86 0.039 0.14 0.04 12.59 4.06

The chemical compositions of OPC and FeCr slag were l is the sampling length on a surface, n is the total number of
analyzed by X-ray fluorescence (XRF); the oxide compositions sampling points, and Zi is the coordinate of sampling point i in
analyses are illustrated in Table 1. FeCr slag contains three major the Z direction, as shown in Fig. 4
chemical components—alumina, silica, and magnesia—and in- Z
cludes an appreciable amount of chromium (about 12.6%). The 1 l 1X n
Ra ¼ jZðxÞjdx or Ra ≈ jZ j ð1Þ
mineralogical phase compositions of fine sand and FeCr slag were l 0 n i¼1 i
examined by X-ray diffractometer (XRD) as shown in Fig. 2. The
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XRD pattern of the sand confirms its siliceous nature (i.e., quartz is The Ra values for the fine sand and FeCr slag aggregates were
predominantly present). The XRD pattern of FeCr slag indicated 36.0 and 142.8 μm, respectively. Each value was the mean of 10
the presence of dominant mineral phases like the metallic phase aggregates’ measurements, and the coefficients of deviation for
of magnesiochromite (MgCr2 O4 ) and chromoferride, and silicate each kind of coarse aggregates were 3.3 and 4.1%, respectively.
phases like forsterite (Mg2 SiO4 ), and fayalite (Fe2 SiO4 ). As clear
from the XRD pattern, the peak broadening from 2θ: 15–35 points
Samples Preparation
to the presence of amorphous phase (aluminosilicate) (Shoukry
et al. 2016a, b). Table 2 presents some of the physical properties The mortar was prepared using a cement–sand weight ratio of
of FeCr slag and natural sand. 1:2.75 and a water–binder ratio of 0:485. Fine sand was partially
Since the surface roughness of the aggregate has significant in- replaced by various ratios of FeCr slag at 0, 5, 10, 15, and 20% by
fluence on the bond strength of the interfacial transition zone (ITZ), weight. The study proposed to partially replace the sand with FeCr
the scanning electron microscope (SEM) integrated with Scandium slag up to 20% only to avoid increasing the MgO content in the
image analysis software was used to investigate surface micro- prepared mortars. Increasing the MgO content may hinder the ce-
roughness of the aggregates and the results are shown in Fig. 3. ment hydration. A rotary mixer was used for mixing. With a view to
It can be seen from Fig. 3 that the particle shape of the sand is partly achieve a constant degree of flowability among the prepared blends,
rounded. However, the slag particles are irregular angular; further- the blended mortar samples were cast using water of standard con-
more, the slag aggregates exhibited relatively rough surfaces as sistency. Cubes with dimensions of 50 × 50 × 50 mm were pro-
compared with sand grains, which have smooth surfaces. duced for the compressive strength test, prisms with dimensions
The roughness of the aggregate surface was assessed by the index of 40 × 40 × 160 mm were prepared for the flexural strength, ther-
Ra , which was calculated from Eq. (1) (Rao and Prasad 2002), where mal conductivity, and specific heat tests, and samples with dimen-
sions of 280 × 25.4 × 25.4 mm were created for drying shrinkage
measurement. Compressive strength, flexural strength, and drying
shrinkage tests were conducted on three samples per mix, and the
mean value was reported. The fresh mixes were maintained in
molds for 24 h after casting; then they were removed and kept
to cure under water for 3, 7, and 28 days.

Testing and Analysis Techniques

Compressive Strength
A universal compression instrument was used to conduct the com-
pressive strength test according to ASTM C109 (ASTM 2016). The
loading rate was adjusted to 1 kN=s.

Flexural Strength
This test was performed according to ASTM C348-08 (ASTM
2008) on 40 × 40 × 160 mm prisms.
Fig. 2. XRD patterns of natural sand and FeCr slag.

Drying Shrinkage
Table 2. Physical properties of FeCr slag and natural sand The drying shrinkage test was performed as a function of curing
Property FeCr slag Natural sand
age. Stainless steel contact nails were fixed at each end along
the length of the test sample in a manner that the exterior tips
Specific gravity 2.85 2.67 of the two contact nails were outside the sample and the interior
Thermal conductivity (W=m · K) 0.96 0.27 tips were dipped inside the sample and were separated by a distance
Water absorption (%) 0.63 0.74
of 280 mm, which was the gauge length for drying shrinkage strain

© ASCE 04018152-3 J. Mater. Civ. Eng.

J. Mater. Civ. Eng., 2018, 30(8): 04018152

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Fig. 3. SEM micrographs and three-dimensional surface topography images of sand and FeCr slag.

Demirboga 2003; Log and Gustafsson 1995). Typically, a probe

for this measurement consists of dual needles (one acts as a heater
and the other is a detector) 1.3 mm in diameter × 3 cm long, with
6 mm spacing. When heat is applied, a current passes through the
heated needle for a set heating time, and temperature is measured in
the detector needle, 6 mm distant during heating and during the
cooling period following heating. Analysis of the sensor tempera-
Fig. 4. Surface profile and Ra . (Data from Rao and Prasad 2002.) ture determines the thermal conductivity. The analysis of the tem-
perature versus time relationship for the separated probes (in the
dual probe) yields information on diffusivity and heat capacity
as well as conductivity. In this study, a KD2 Pro [Meter group
measurement. The measurements were made in accordance with (formerly Decagon), Washington] thermal properties analyzer
ASTM C596-01 (ASTM 2001). was used to evaluate the specific heat and the thermal conductivity.
Two parallel grooves were created for three prisms of every mix
X-Ray Diffraction during the period of initial setting by dipping two metal needles
The phase composition and decomposition analysis was studied by having the same dimensions of the measuring probe with the
XRD. A Shimadzu X-600 (Kyoto, Japan) diffractometer using aid of a 6-mm spacer; paraffin was used to avoid the bonding
CuKα radiation (40 kV, 30 mA, λ ¼ 0.1543 nm) recorded the dif- of metal needles with the cement paste and to help the simple re-
fraction patterns from 5° ≥ 2θ ≥ 90° with a scan rate of 1° min−1 . moval of these needles at the time of test. To avoid the influence of
moisture content on thermal conductivity results, the test samples
were dried at 80°C for 24 h before testing. Thermal grease is im-
Scanning Electron Microscopy portant to avoid the contact thermal resistance of the probe.
To investigate the phase composition and microstructural character-
istics for the blended mortars, a scanning electron microscope
equipped with an energy-dispersive spectroscopy (EDS) unit Results and Discussion
(Model JSM 6360, Jeol, Tokyo, Japan) was used. Freshly fractured
pieces were used for SEM analysis. Flow Properties
In order to assess the mortar’s behavior in a fresh state, the flow-
Thermal Properties
ability test was conducted using a flow table methodology accord-
The transient line heat source method for determining thermal con- ing to BS EN 1015-3 (BSI 1999) other than the used flow mold
ductivity and specific heat capacity of cement-based structures has dimensions (40 mm in height, internal diameter was 80 mm at
been used effectively in many previous studies (Kim et al. 2003; the base 80 mm and 70 mm at the top). Fig. 5 presents the variation

© ASCE 04018152-4 J. Mater. Civ. Eng.

J. Mater. Civ. Eng., 2018, 30(8): 04018152

of flow value with FeCr slag percentages. As can be seen from
Fig. 5, incorporating ferrochromium aggregate in the cement mor-
tar slightly decreased the flow (spread) of mortar, i.e., reduced
workability. This may be explained by the higher surface area
of angular FeCr slag aggregates with rough texture, which requires
more water for a standard workability than rounded sand. In other
words, the FeCr slag blended mortars attain the standard consis-
tency at higher water–cement ratios than ordinary mortar.

Mechanical Properties
Figs. 6(a and b) present the development in compressive and flexu-
ral strengths of cement mortars containing 0, 5, 10, 15, and 20%
FeCr slag hydrated for 3, 7, and 28 days. It is clear from Fig. 6 that
FeCr slag enhanced both the compressive and flexural strengths at
Fig. 5. Variations of flow spread as a function of FeCr slag ratio.
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early and later ages of hydration; the maximum strength was


3 days 7 days 28 days


Compressive strength, MPa






0 5 10 15 20
(a) FeCr- slag percentage, %

y = 0.0628x + 3.2672
R² = 0.9833
Flexural strength, MPa

R² = 0.9746

2.5 R² = 0.9446
3 days
2 7 days
28 days
Linear (3 days)
Linear (7 days)
Linear (28 days)
0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20
(b) FeCr- slag percentage, %

Fig. 6. Variations in the (a) compressive strength; and (b) flexural strength of cement mortars incorporating 0, 5, 10, 15, and 20% FeCr slag hydrated
for 3, 7, and 28 days.

© ASCE 04018152-5 J. Mater. Civ. Eng.

J. Mater. Civ. Eng., 2018, 30(8): 04018152

observed for the mixes with the highest FeCr slag percentage. Con- mechanical behavior of MgO concrete structures is stable (Fang
siderable enhancements of about 33 and 39% were obtained for 2004; Li 1998, 2000). Drying shrinkage is responsible for a portion
compressive and flexural strengths, respectively, at 28 days of hy- of the total deformation that is observed in hardened cement–based
dration. The enhancement in compressive and flexural strengths is structural members; therefore, decreasing the drying shrinkage will
attributed to the high toughness of FeCr slag aggregates. The ag- be helpful in improving the structural performance and will result in
gregate surface roughness has a direct effect on the interfacial bond enhanced durability characteristics.
strength; the aggregates that have rough surfaces can achieve high
bond strength (Hong et al. 2014). Furthermore, the rough aggre- Thermal Properties
gates exhibit a high critical aggregate fracture energy release rate
as reported by Tread and Buyukozturk (1998). Due to the high The variations in thermal conductivity and specific heat of the ce-
roughness and irregularities of the slag surfaces, the hydration ment mortars incorporating 0, 5, 10, 15, and 20% FeCr slag at
products of cement can penetrate the cavities or fine wrinkles of 28 days of hydration are shown in Fig. 8. Both thermal conductivity
the aggregate surface, acting as several hooks binding both matrix and specific heat increase with increasing FeCr slag content and the
and aggregate, known as mechanical interlacing (Hong et al. 2014; improvement ratios reached 26 and 29%, respectively, at 20% FeCr
Tread and Buyukozturk 1998). In addition, as mentioned previ- slag. The thermal conductivity is the product of the density, specific
heat, and thermal diffusivity. Therefore, the increment in all three
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ously, FeCr slag has small amounts of amorphous silica, which par-
ticipates in the pozzolanic reaction, consuming some of the calcium quantities contributes to an increase in the thermal conductivity
hydroxide (CH) liberated during cement hydration and creating (Xu and Chung 1999). In this study, the enhanced thermal conduc-
supplementary amounts of calcium silicate hydrate (CSH). This tivity was achieved by the increase in the specific heat. Basically,
in turn improves the bond between FeCr slag aggregate and cement the enhancement in thermal properties could be attributed to the
paste and forms a dense hardened cement matrix and hence con- unique thermal characteristics of FeCr slag as compared with natu-
tributes to the mechanical strength of mortar. ral sand, which exhibits less specific heat and thermal conductivity
coefficients. The high amounts of MgO and Cr2 O3 in FeCr slag are
responsible for its high thermal conductivity. The increase in ther-
Drying Shrinkage mal conductivity of FeCr slag blended mortars agree with findings
The variations in drying shrinkage of cement mortars incorporating of a previous study on enhancing the thermal conductivity of mor-
0, 5, 10, 15, and 20% FeCr slag at 3, 7, and 28 days of hydration are tar through the use of an iron ore slag aggregate (Uysal et al. 2004).
shown in Fig. 7. As compared with the plain ordinary mortar, the Furthermore, increases in the specific heat and thermal conductivity
drying shrinkage decreases as the percentage of FeCr slag increases. of cement paste by up to 50 and 38%, respectively, have been pre-
The drying shrinkage decreased by about 42% at 28 days of curing viously achieved utilizing various admixtures, such as silane and
when 20% FeCr slag was used as sand replacement. The hydration of silica fume (Xu and Chung 2000a, b). Finally, the enhancement
MgO present in FeCr slag may help to explain the effect of shrinkage in specific heat could be helpful for increasing the temperature sta-
reduction in the blended mortars. The hydrated MgO is made of bility of cement and concrete structures; furthermore, increasing the
magnesium hydroxide, MgðOHÞ2 . Because MgðOHÞ2 has a larger thermal conductivity of cement and concrete structures is helpful in
volume than its constituents, this process results in volume expan- reducing temperature gradients and hence the thermal stresses.
sion, which partially compensates for contraction due to curing (Chui
et al. 1992). The formation of MgðOHÞ2 has been confirmed by Phase Composition Analysis by XRD
SEM and EDS. The expansion is proportional to the quantity of Fig. 9 shows the XRD charts for the plain and FeCr slag mortars at
MgO; therefore, the reduction in drying shrinkage is significant at 28 days of hydration. The compounds detected in all samples are the
the 20% replacement level. The expansion of FeCr slag blended mor- main hydration products calcium silicate hydrate and calcium
tars is irreversible due to the irreversibility of hydration reaction of hydroxide along with calcium carbonate and quartz. The magnesium
magnesia. Long-term studies have demonstrated that because the hy- hydroxide phase was detected in the FeCr slag blended mortars
dration process is irreversible and the MgðOHÞ2 phase is stable, the

2.5 3000
1.1 2900
1 2.3 Thermal conductivity 2700
Thermal conductivity, W/m.k

2.2 Specific heat R² = 0.9843
Specific heat, KJ/m3.k

Drying shrinkage, %

2.1 2400
R² = 0.9816 2300
0.8 2
3 days
1.9 2100
0.7 7 days R² = 0.9956
28 days 1.8
0.6 Expon. (3 days)
R² = 0.9972 1.7 1800
Expon. (7 days)
Expon. (28 days) 1.6
R² = 0.9947 1.5 1500
0.4 0 5 10 15 20
0 5 10 15 20 FeCr- Slag percentage, %
FeCr- slag percentage, %
Fig. 8. Variations in thermal conductivity and specific heat of the
Fig. 7. Variations in drying shrinkage of cement mortars incorporating cement mortars incorporating 0, 5, 10, 15, and 20% FeCr slag at 28 days
0, 5, 10, 15, and 20% FeCr slag hydrated for 3, 7, and 28 days. of hydration.

© ASCE 04018152-6 J. Mater. Civ. Eng.

J. Mater. Civ. Eng., 2018, 30(8): 04018152

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Fig. 9. XRD patterns of plain and FeCr slag blended mortars at 28 days of hydration.

as a result of the hydration of magnesia. The magnesium hydroxide slag particles. The second mechanism is the formation of the
crystals oriented in the (1 1 0) plane found at 2θ ≈ 59° (Kumari et al. MgðOHÞ2 phase, which helps in minimizing the drying shrinkage
2009) is the phase responsible for expansion in mortar as discussed and hence reducing the structural defects in the matrix. Xiao et al.
previously. Furthermore, intensities of the peaks characterizing the (2013) concluded that the physical and chemical interactions that
CH phase in the FeCr slag blended mortars were found to be less occur between aggregate and the cement hydrates are responsible
than that of the plain ordinary mortar. This may be attributed to for the ITZ mechanical strength.
the partial consumption of CH by pozzolanic reaction with the amor-
phous silica present in the FeCr slag. Minimizing the CH content
contributes to enhanced strength and durability of concrete structures Conclusions
(Al-Salami et al. 2013).
The influence of FeCr slag as a partial replacement of sand on the
compressive and flexural strengths, drying shrinkage, specific heat,
Microstructure Characteristics and thermal conductivity has been investigated in this study; the
following conclusions can be drawn:
The SEM micrographs obtained for the plain and FeCr slag blended • Partial replacement of fine sand by 20% FeCr slag led to remark-
mortars at 28 days of hydration are shown in Fig. 10. The micro- able improvements in both compressive and flexural strengths
graph of the plain mortar shows the formation of gel-like CSH of mortar by about 33 and 39%, respectively, which can be at-
around the sand grains. MgðOHÞ2 microplates were observed in tributed to the high toughness of FeCr slag aggregates in addi-
all the FeCr slag blended mortars as confirmed by EDS. These plate- tion to the improved bond strength.
like crystals were formed by the hydration of MgO in the FeCr slag. • FeCr slag is very helpful in minimizing the drying shrinkage of
MgðOHÞ2 has a larger volume than its constituents; this process cement mortar. The drying shrinkage has decreased by about
compensates for contraction due to curing, i.e., reducing drying 42% when 20% FeCr slag is loaded. The volume expansion that
shrinkage. The MgðOHÞ2 content increases with the increase of FeCr occurred due to hydration of MgO in FeCr slag is responsible
slag replacements. As can be seen in Figs. 10(b and e), for the improvement in drying shrinkage.
crystalline MgðOHÞ2 particles with a length of about 50 μm are em- • Both thermal conductivity and specific heat increased with increas-
bedded in the CSH gel. Figs. 10(c and e) show the growth of ing FeCr slag percentage; enhancements by about 26 and 29%
MgðOHÞ2 crystals oriented to the aggregate’s side, i.e., modifying have been attained respectively at 20% FeCr slag. The enhance-
ITZ characteristics. Many previous studies concluded that both ment in the thermal properties could be attributed to the unique
the surface texture and the type of aggregates have great influence thermal characteristics of FeCr slag as compared with natural sand.
on the ITZ properties (Elsharief et al. 2003). FeCr slag improves the • The incorporation of FeCr slag resulted in great modification in
microstructure of the blended mortars by two mechanisms. The first the microstructural characteristics of blended cement mortars.
mechanism is the increase in the physical bond between the aggre- • The enhancement in the thermal properties of the mortar as a
gate and cement matrix due to the high surface roughness of FeCr result of FeCr slag replacement could be beneficial in increasing

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J. Mater. Civ. Eng., 2018, 30(8): 04018152

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Fig. 10. SEM micrographs of (a) ordinary mortar; and blended mortars with FeCr slag percentages of (b) 5%; (c) 10%; (d) 15%; and (e) 20%.

the temperature stability and reducing temperature gradients and Acknowledgments

thus reducing the thermal stresses in concrete structures.
• Future research on the application of FeCr slag in concrete The authors would like to express their gratitude to Petroleum
mixtures is recommended including the fresh and hardened Development Oman (PDO) and Sultan Qaboos University for
properties. providing financial support to the project under Contract No.

© ASCE 04018152-8 J. Mater. Civ. Eng.

J. Mater. Civ. Eng., 2018, 30(8): 04018152

CR/ENG/CIVL/14/09. Our thanks are extended to Al-Tamman Kumar, P. H., A. Srivastava, V. Kumar, M. R. Majhi, and V. K Singh. 2014.
Indsil Company for providing the ferrochrome slag used in the “Implementation of industrial waste ferrochrome slag in conventional
study. and low cement castables: Effect of calcined alumina.” J. Asian Ceram.
Soc. 2 (4): 371–379.
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“Synthesis, characterization and optical properties of MgðOHÞ2 micro-
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