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The Role of Fly Ash in Bendable Concrete

Discuss about the Waste and Supplementary Cementitious Materials.

Bendable concrete has been an important technology that is used in the construction of upcoming hybrid buildings. This choice in improved concrete mixtures is due to the additional effects that PVA and fly ash have on concrete mixes. The literature written below showcases the importance of adding PVA and fly ash to concrete. The addition of these components influences the fresh concrete properties such as bleeding and segregation, workability and water demand, curing, concrete hydration and setting time. Also, effects can be seen on the hardened concrete with PVA and fly ash proportions in that the creep, compressive stress and other mechanical properties are affected. Additional effects that PVA and fly ash have on bendable concrete include influence on concrete carbonation, freeze-thaw resistance, permeability and drying shrinkage. Bendable concrete also is affected by superplasticizers. All in all, the development of this type of concrete has had its influence on cost hence the literature also makes an analysis of bendable concrete cost. This is according to (Concrete, 1980). The cell structure of PVA is as below;

The introduction of fly ash into concrete was due to the following reasons;

  • It could be blended into cement making the pozzolan Portland cement that could be used to replace the normally used Portland cement.
  • Fly ash has the possibility of being used in partial fine aggregate replacement or in the mix proportions of cement.
  • Fly ash could be used in the introduction of more components, admixtures in the plants that make concrete.

The use of fly ash is mostly in structural concrete to about a 60% possible replacement in cement for required attainable properties. The properties can influence both the hardened and fresh concrete state. Due to the use of cement in many energy and cost-intensive concrete component, the high content introduction of fly ash into normal concrete for replacement in any cement proportion by the fly ash is majorly due to economics (Ali S. , 2018). This assists in the reduction of disposal cost for utility companies as well as its impact on the environment in general. The other advantage that comes with this addition is energy conservation as well as required resources in the production of cement replacement (Ali S. , 2018). Fly ash can be used in part in form of tine aggregate as well as in part cementitious component as it possesses pozzolanic properties. The fresh concrete rheological properties, as well as the finish, strength, durability and porosity in the hardened concrete, are affected by the added fly ash content (Ali S. , 2018). In the fresh bendable concrete mixture, the fly ash added has fine aggregate with a viscosity that reduces the required water content for the intended flow or consistency, this is according to (Mehdi & Robert, 2016).

The Role of PVA in Bendable Concrete

According to (Ali & Jay, 2016), the selection of use of PVA in bendable concrete is due to the existing high performance as well as the low cost that the fibre brings. The fibre’s hydrophilic nature imposes a great challenge in the design of the bendable concrete in that the used PVA is rapture susceptible in that it misses being pulled out. This is due to its high bonding strength to the cement matrix. The use of PVA fibres in bendable concrete is due to the inclusive structural strength that the fibre possesses. This property is important in the control of shrinkage in the bendable concrete. As much as there is an increase in the structural strength of the bendable concrete with partial replacement of cement with PVA, previously used reinforcing steel cannot be fully replaced. The fibre only helps in part improvement of bendable concrete’s strength properties (Meg, 2008).

The addition of PVA is not only limited to the improved mechanical properties of the bendable concrete but extends to the conservation of the environment. According to (Blaine, Transmaterial Next: A Catalog of Materials that Redefine Our Future, 2017) the fibre does not pollute the environment. It also makes the concrete weather resistant as it possesses an alkali thereby proving the importance of the distinct molecular structure it possesses. The addition of PVA allows good affinity of cement with an effective prevention and suppression of development and formation of cracks. The PVA also adds the resistance of the bendable concrete to seismic activity.

Generally, according to (Minhua & Andreas, 2017), fly ash has the ability to reduce the setting time of bendable concrete. However, fly ash has a lesser influence on the setting time compared to the influence caused by cement fineness. Water content paste, as well as ambient temperature, also have a greater influence on setting time than fly ash. In case agents that reduce water content are used, the original setting time is increased appreciably thereby leading to an achievement of plastic solidification. This defines the bendable concrete setting as the process through which the concrete attains rigidity.  

However, the concrete setting time can be controlled by reaction of chemicals that occur between the compounds found in cement which include; belite, alite, aluminate, water and aluminoferrite. If the reaction happens faster, it would mean faster time required for setting and vice-versa (Blaine, Transmaterial Next: A Catalog of Materials that Redefine Our Future, 2017).

Control of Concrete Setting Time

The inclusion of PVA into bendable concrete leads to a rapid setting time. The increased speed in setting time, however, has to coincide with the required bendable concrete properties which are the workability, durability and bendable concrete shrinkage. Hence, influencing the age strength factor of the bendable concrete. A fast strength development in the early stage of the bendable concrete together with reasonable time with no effect on workability is one of the proposed features of bendable concrete. This is the key requirement in bendable concrete for structures in places with high temperature. If all these are attained and PVA is added to this bendable concrete, there would be no formation of cracks as the concrete would be of high quality (Fu-Tung, 2004).

According to (Marshall, 2012), in the use of bituminous fly ash, the concrete in the study would have a reduced amount of required water in a given workability degree in contrast to the normally required amount in a paste lacking fly ash. Using an air entraining agent as well as superplasticizers would lead to an increased effect. There is an increased workability that happens due to an added sub-bituminous fly ash that replaces average 50 percent concrete cement content. This is reported in a number of concrete mixes. The big factor that influences ash effect on workability comes from the particle proportion that is coarser than fly ash sizing up to 45 pm. It has been reported that substituting 50 percent of the cement mass with fine ash particulate would lead to a reduction in demand for water to an average 25 percent. Smaller particles of fly ash that are spherical, less than 45 pm, would, however, lead to reduced required water in green concrete. The ball bearing that is spherical fly ash configuration contributes to concrete workability mixes in 1 and a half times the cement order with silvery configuration. With the mix containing ash, there could be an increase in workability to the point of possible decrease of content of sand as well as an increased content of coarse aggregate. Hence, a reduction in the surface requirement in the cementitious coating. The reduced surface area of the mixture, reduced required water allows increased efficiency in using cementitious materials as well as coarse aggregates in forming strong bonds. This is shown below;mand for water as well as an improved concrete workability. Workability is the ease of placing, handling, transporting, finishing as well as compacting of fresh concrete. An improvement occurs due to smooth, small strands of PVA. The strands contained in PVA have the smoothness and small sizes making them are the ball bearing concrete mixes. In general, similar slump concrete containing PVA have increased workability than the plain concrete. This means that an achievement of a similar slump, the concrete containing PVA would require less amount of water than plain concrete. During concrete vibration, concrete containing PVA would flow and consolidate with greater efficiency than plain concrete. Additionally, the use of PVA in bendable concrete leads to an improved cohesion and reduction of concrete segregation. If PVA replaces cement or sand in a mixture, it leads to an impartment of improved cement finish (Marshall, 2012). Generally, PVA is used in concrete with fine aggregate to improve the fresh-state workability (Marshall, 2012).

Improving Workability and Durability with PVA

According to (Breno & Jose, 2015), in high proportions of fly ash, the strength of concrete get affected, mostly this comes from poor curing conditions. Poor curing is not heavily felt until the bendable concrete is about 8 Days since the test cylinders were able to retain sufficient residual water allowing continued hydration. However, unprotected dry curing of concrete specimens having about 40 percent replacement of cement by sub-bituminous fly ash can lead to a loss of 30-60% of water via evaporation in a duration of 50 hours after casting. This is possible when the point of getting cured is performed at 50 as well as 10 percent relative humidity. Other than the loss in strength as the water evaporated, it is known that a combination of the low temperature of curing as well as the cooling effect of evaporating water during low humidity reduces the hydration rate, therefore, increasing strength. The reason for curing concrete in an enclosed surrounding mostly in low temperatures has to be stressed for mitigation of evaporation in the hours after concrete pouring.

According to (Pierre-Claude, 2011), going with the curing definition that is a provision of required temperature, moisture quantity, as well as time for the purpose of allowing the quicker concrete gain of strength. Curing can improve the short-term strength of concrete, elimination of cracks due to surface drying shrinkage and a reduction of cracking due to long-term shrinkage. The reaction that is caused by the addition of PVA is the absorption of water from the surrounding environment that has moisture thereby leading to the achievement of bendable concrete hydration. Such an added property hence solves the cement hydration degree in that the hydration is lowered due to self-curing or no curing. The PVA has a high affinity for water, therefore, makes the bendable concrete absorb more moisture from the atmosphere hence providing water needed for bendable concrete curing.

According to (Blaine, Transmaterial Next: A Catalog of Materials that Redefine Our Future, 2017) an addition of fly ash in bendable concrete reduces bleeding. Adding fly ash increases cohesion in the concrete mixture. The fine size of fly ash particles causes an increase in the total volume and surface area of the concrete and cementitious materials. An increase in surface area is caused by an increase in bonding particles thereby increasing the concrete’s cohesion. An addition of fly ash affects the concrete’s cohesion causing the mixture of bendable concrete to be homogenous. Hence, fly ash components make the concrete less prone to segregation and bleeding.

The Effect of Fly Ash on Concrete Strength

According to (Ali S. , 2018), the addition of PVA leads to a reduction in segregation and bleeding. The PVA fibres are known to increase the adhesive property of bendable concrete. The compositions in the bendable concrete are bonded more with the increase in PVA fibre. All in all, the decrease of segregation and bleeding increase the concrete workability.


In bendable concrete hydration, the cement used contains various compounds these are; belite, alite, aluminate, water and aluminoferrite. These compounds react with water. By the process of solid state hydration and solution hydration, cement can be hydrated. Belite and alite are the compounds that react similarly to produce calcium silicate hydrate as well as calcium hydroxide.

The formation of calcium silicate hydrate influences the paste cement bonding that has an effect on durability, strength and shrinkage. Aluminate, on the other hand, has an immediate reaction with water leading to a release of heat. This existence of a fast process of hydration requires an added material so that the process slows down.

The addition of gypsum has the ability to control the aluminate hydration process. The process of hydrating aluminate leads to a production of first stage ettringite as well as monosulfoaluminte that happens in the second stage. The aluminferrite has a reaction that is similar to aluminate. However, the reaction in this compound is a bit slow with a lesser heat production.

 According to (Rafat & Paulo, 2018) bendable concrete containing fly ash has an exothermic hydration process. This is called heat hydration. The heat hydration process makes the bendable concrete heat up. Temperature changes due to heat hydration in concrete construction are however insignificant as this heat is emitted to the surrounding environment such as the soil. However, in massive construction of bendable concrete, this heat fails to be readily released, hence, causing the internal area of the concrete to heat up. According to (Meg, 2008)this intense heat hydration, affects the durability of concrete in that there is a possibility of thermal cracking in the bendable concrete.

According to (Edward, 2008) the addition of PVA into bendable concrete has led to the formation of coat that reacts in that there is the formation of multifilament reinforcements. These reinforcements have cement particles which are not hydrated composed among the fibre. The non-hydrated cement particles can then be exposed for hydration thereby ensuring bigger hydration portion for the bendable concrete. The bendable concrete, therefore, forms a continuous structure that is well hydrated. This source shows that the addition of PVA into bendable concrete paves way for uniform hydration of the concrete.

Curing Bendable Concrete with PVA

The use of PVA and fly ash in the bendable concrete has some effects on the compressive strength, on creep as well as other mechanical properties such as flexural strength. This kind of properties can be achieved as time goes by when the bendable concrete matures. As opposed to conventional concrete that has the maximum strength in 28 days, bendable concrete has its strength properties increasing as it matures with an indefinite limit. However, the rate of strength increase reduces as time goes by.

In regards to all these unique features, bendable concrete is, therefore, the better option than conventional concrete and the mentioned hardened concrete features are discussed below. There are other mechanical features that can be researched on but the main properties are the ones being discussed below.

The development of strength rate in concrete containing fly ash depends on the proportion of mixture, curing conditions, properties as well fly ash type, temperature and used admixtures. Fly ash with bituminous content invariably leads to a contribution of long-term gain in strength of concrete that is greater than fly ash having sub-bituminous content. There is a relatively more information that exists on characteristics of strength in concrete with fly ashes of class F. According to (Gajanan, 2011)concrete that has about 50% low calcium fly ash with bituminous replacement as well as the superplasticizer agents can be able to develop 60MPa strength of compression at 28 days. It also can develop around 20-30MPa in 3 days. A combined use of admixtures agents that reduce water and fly ash in practice can lead to a development of great concrete strength more than 48 Mpa in 28 days. Making this concrete has had it supplication in high rise column buildings. In concrete having high strength, the pozzolanic action of fly ash could provide an increased strength in late 56-91 days. According to (Alan, David, & David, 2016), this increased strength cannot be reached with the use of normal Portland cement.

Further beyond 7-8 weeks, every mixture of concrete having fly ash possess great strength in comparison with straight mixtures of cement of similar content of cement. Fly ashes of class C mostly the ones manufactured in old power plants with large coarser particles proportions can reduce the development of strength rate. For information on high fly ash with sub-bituminous of 35-50% cement replacement by weight had an attainment of 80-100% in strength to an equivalent concrete that is plain after a 90-day proper curing. The attained strength in concrete containing fly ash mixture has more markings after around 28-day initial. According to (Günther, Bernhard, & Jan, 2018) a mixture of concrete containing 0-75% fly ash with sub-bituminous content increase the flexural strength of bendable concrete to about 30% in 91 and 28 days.

Reducing Bleeding with Fly Ash

According to (Hordijk & Lukovi?, 2017), there is a slight increase of flexural strength in bendable concrete while there is a bigger increase in compressive strength as compared to the plain concrete of similar maturity and amount of the mixes. In addition, the splitting tensile strength, as well as the flexural strength in mixes containing class F fly ash, would produce slighter strength properties.

The use of PVA in concrete in partial replacement of cement has the ability to reduce the early-age strength. However, given time, the mixes of such proportions allow the concrete to gain strength. This is due to the continuous chemical reaction that goes on for almost six months

In contrast, normal concrete only gains its strength completely in 28 days without further increase. Hence, the PVA content in concrete makes the concrete achieve ultimate strength not achievable by normal concrete. The PVA percentage in partial replacement of cement helps in the development of concrete strength. This is due to the ultimate compressive strength attainability achievability. However, the use of 50% high volume replacement of PVA leads to a reduction of concrete strength. Many types of research make a comparison of various mixes of concrete having varying cement to PVA. This is according to (Jacques & François, 2013).


Mechanical performance of cement containing PVA can be reached at by a test on the flexural strength. This test can be made use of by implementing the Modulus of Rapture as well as the proportionality limit that is the highest load in the period of elasticity.

In the above equations, P is the test load while L is the distance difference between the used supports. And b is the sample’s width measured in mm; as well as sample’s thickness that is measured in mm. the content of PVA influences the flexural strength of the bendable concrete. Instead of the concrete cracking, the concrete would bend thereby making it withstand greater quantity of load.

The carbonation due to fly ash also increases flexural resistance. An almost double increase in LOP can be seen in the use of fly ash with the MOR increasing significantly. The carbonation has an influence on the matrix of the bendable concrete with an improvement in resistance and rigidity. However, bendable concrete reduces the capacity of the deformation since there is minimized cracking other than the concrete exhibiting self-healing property. This is according to (Konstantin & Surendra, 2015).

The partial use of fly ash instead of cement lacks important effects on the strength of the tensile, concrete’s elastic modulus and flexural strength. The existence of fly ash in concrete causes a slight increase in the concrete’s elastic modulus. In some circumstances, replacement of high cement percentage by fly ash causes a fraction of fly ash to go through the process of hydration making them behave as though they are fine aggregate as they have low porosity. This leads to increase in concrete’s elastic modulus. In regards to compressive strength, at early stages, the elastic modulus is low while high at later stages. The use of high amounts of fly ash in concrete causes the flexural longevity to increase as well as the concrete’s tensile strength since the continued process of hydration for ample time results to the strong bond between the aggregate and cement paste. This is according to (Robert, 2017).

Information regarding Class F fly ash shows negligible influence on the concrete creep property. With an increase in replacement level, past the 15%, mixes of fly ash have an exhibition of slight creep greatness when compared to plain concrete. Recovery in creep of concrete having fly ash in replaced cement proportions levelling to 15% are found to vary around 23-43% of respective 150 days creep. In greater levels of cement replacement, there is a reduced creep recovery. The overall behaviour, as well as the relation of time and creep for plain as well as concrete with fly ash, are similar. This is according to (Vaclav, 2013). 

The use of PVA in concrete is not a certain show of better creep properties than the normally used concrete. The contents of PVA and fly ash make the concrete gain strength in time. For example, loading a freshly made concrete structure would make it creep more. This is not the case when the same type of structure was built lacking PVA fibres, this is according to (Ali & Jay, 2016). This process comes in as the introduction of PVA fibres makes a retardation of cement hydration process. The concrete in this early state lacks enough gained strength while loading of the same type of structure at a later stage where the creep is reduced more than concrete mix made from the normal mixture. The strength is gained as time goes by hence creep is reduced more. High fly ash volume and PVA fibre introduced concrete go through less creep behaviour when this is compared concrete that is conventionally used for similar strength. The introduced PVA fibre reduces the content of water in concrete; this is according to (Recep, Hediye,, & Yusuf, 2017).

The use of PVA and fly ash in bendable concrete in the cement’s partial replacement has an effect on the concrete properties. The durability properties improve with optimum PVA and fly ash addition. Concrete’s durability can be judged by many properties. These properties include; drying shrinkage, permeability, freeze-thaw resistance and concrete carbonation, this is according to (Irvine, 2016).

According to (Blaine, Material Strategies: Innovative Applications in Architecture, 2013), concrete has to be relatively impervious for the purpose of allowing it to sustain external and internal causes that may lead to concrete failure after many years of being exposed to the environment. The concrete’s lifespan is possible to reduce by an adverse addition of PVA due to adverse environmental effects. External causes may be chemical or physical in nature. These include; abrasion, extreme temperature, weathering or chemical action that act on hydrates of cement and aggregates as well as reinforcement corrosion in structural concrete. There may occur internal causes due to the adverse addition of PVA fibre coming from material choices or inappropriate material combination that may lead to the concrete deteriorating. In all these cases, the absence of concrete durability is excessive permeability. Reduced permeability means increased durability; this is according to (Kumar & J., 2013).

With the definition of permeability being ease of transmission of water through concrete, the relationship between durability and permeability will be inverted. For example, in case the concrete’s permeability reduces, the durability would increase. Permeability in concrete has been influenced by numerous factors since the development of concrete. Such influential factors include; aggregate grading, water content and amount of materials in cement. When hydration in occurring, the calcium hydroxide in cement that is water soluble is produced. The addition of PVA in concrete as partial cement replacement or additive would cause an increased bonding in the bendable concrete; this is according to (Viktor, Volker, & Petr, 2017).

In the early stages, concrete having fly ash contain low or high calcium replacement of fly ash in levels of 50% since the materials that are cementitious have more permeability than concrete without them. This trend is mostly found to change after the duration of 180 days most probably due to pozzolanic activity caused by fly ash in bendable concrete. The spaces in the paste of cement containing fly ash are partially filled with hydrated products that have the tendency of reducing the permeability of concrete and mortar contained in the paste; this is according to (Seyhan, John, & Abid, 2018).

The process of adding fly ash would not significantly have an influence on the resistance to free thaw in concrete if strength and air content are maintained at a constant. Concrete that has fly ash in it at 20% cement replacement usually has superiority in case of freeze-thaw attack when compared to concrete lacking fly ash. In mixes that have higher replacements, the damage in scaling occurs in concrete having fly ash mixes after around 150 to 200 cycles of freeze-thaw, this is according to (Brebbia, Rang, & Northwood, 2017).

Air entrainment is the property that greatly influences the freeze-thaw resistance of plain concrete and flies ash concrete mixes. The main effect of fly ash it to take an increased demand in the entraining agent for specific entrained air percentage in concrete so that it withstands a frost attack. Hence, when a known comparison are presented with similar air and strength contents, there lacks an apparent difference in the durability of freeze-thaw of non-fly ash and fly ash bendable concrete.


In 50% cement with replaced PVA, mixes that have such content relatively exhibit dynamic elasticity in modulus values at an excess 60% after finishing 300 cycles hence they have better durability. In 50 freeze-thaw cycles, there would be a reduced durability level.  There is no major difference in relative dynamic modulus in air-entrained concrete with high PVA portion mixes as well as the mixes that contain agents that reduce water and air entraining.  It is a general acceptance of that concrete with air entrainment makes the concrete frost resistant rendered. Concrete deterioration caused by freeze-thaw takes place when the voids present in the concrete in the study get filled with water. In the process of freeze-thaw of water, the water’s volume would increase by 9%. The volume expansion would lead to added pressure to the concrete. The concrete distressing may lead to grievous problems that can damage the concrete’s surface. Entrained voids in the air have an important role in the protection of concrete from damage by freeze-thaw. To add on this, PVA presence in mixtures of concrete improve the concrete’s resistance ability to cycles of freeze-thaw. In the above-mentioned discussion, the water content required is reduced by PVA fibre that causes a reduction in the entrance of water and bleeds channels. Considering the PVA fibre strands’ physical properties, numerous small voids are occupied by fly ash leading to decrease in the absorptivity of concrete. Additionally, as shown in the above sections, concrete containing PVA would have increased longevity in compressive strength when compared with normal concrete mixes. Therefore, this leads to the increased concrete ability to withstand the pressure produced by the cycles of freeze-thaw, this is according to (Abraham, Mohamad,, Saphwan, & Muthanna, 2017).

An analysis of PVA and fly ash would lead to half to two-thirds of Portland cement; the major influencing factor to the price of PVA and fly ash is their transportation. Contrary to cement, fly ash as well as PVA is not easily acquired in any state since their usage in structures of concrete is not yet popular. The price analysis of PVA and fly ash indicates that 9 million tonnes of these components are produced yearly by power plants fired by coal. On the other hand, about 90% of the produced value is considered waste with an average 10% of the quantity is used in many engineering application. Cement replacement with PVA and fly ash is an affordable act in the design of concrete. This is due to the reduction of the quantity of produced cement, therefore, the price is reduced as well as the disposal cost of PVA and fly ash waste, this is according to (Mohammad & Sarat, 2017).

This property heavily affects the structural performance of structures made of concrete. The definition of drying shrinkage can be the reduction in the concrete volume as water is lost (Davis, 2013). The tensile strength can be increased by drying shrinkage that has the ability of crack creation on the structures of concrete. There are many factors that determine the behaviour of drying shrinkage which include; the quantity and quality of cement paste as well as the quantity of water that exists in the mix; this is according to (Fernando, et al., 2017). Concrete containing the fly ash components normally has improved drying shrinkage than normal concrete due to the existence of fly ash in the mixture containing concrete. This lowers the required water hence, the reduction in the quantity of water in the mixture, this is according to (Giampaolo, J., S., & C., 2017).

According to (Mahmoud, 2018), the introduction of PVA into concrete forming the bendable concrete would lead to an increased strength of the concrete. The drying shrinkage is hastened and the strength increases with time. The concrete becomes better improved in performance. also, the content of water required would reduce.

Carbonation in concrete happens because of the chemical reaction taking place between calcium silicate, calcium hydroxide and aluminates in the hydrated conditions carbon IV oxide. This reaction leads to the production of calcium carbonate. When chlorides and carbon IV oxide enter the structure made of concrete it lowers the pH level to about 9. This occurrence leads to concrete corrosion.

The use of PVA in concrete by either replacing cement or their use as mineral additives play huge roles in the protection of the structure made of concrete from corroding. This happens due to the PVA ability to reduce the concrete’s permeability as well as increasing the concrete’s crack resistance ability. PVA in concrete indicate reduced carbonation than in normal concrete, this is according to (Mohd, Tee, Mohd, & Mohd, 2017).

Using plasticizers may lead to high strength in bendable concrete. The compressive strength can increase up to 22000 psi. The use of superplasticizers is also influential in fresh concrete or in structures involving reinforced concrete that is not easily accessible. In concrete flow, plasticizers have the following effect;

The early strength in bendable concrete can be enhanced by the use of superplasticizers at around 75%. The setting time can also be accelerated to about an hour faster than conventional concrete due to the chemical reactions that occur. In bendable concrete, the added water surface tension is not significantly affected. Also, the use of superplasticizers has the disadvantage of decreasing the workability of the cement due to increased slump loss as well as increased cement incompatibility.

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