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What is concrete admixtures?

Chemical concrete admixtures are materials in the form of powder or fluids that are added to the concrete to give it certain characteristics not obtainable with plain concrete mixes.They are ingredients other than water, aggregates, hydraulic cement, and fibers. Their functions and purposes are including improved quality, acceleration or retardation of setting time, enhanced frost and sulphate resistance, control of strength development, improved workability, and enhanced finishability. In normal use, admixture dosages are less than 5% by mass of cement and are added to the concrete at the time of batching/mixing.


concrete admixtures

The common types of concrete admixtures are as follows:

  • Superplasticizers (also called high-range water-reducers) are a class of plasticizers that have fewer deleterious effects and can be used to increase workability more than is practical with traditional plasticizers. Compounds used as superplasticizers include sulfonated naphthalene formaldehyde condensate, sulfonated melamine formaldehyde condensate, acetone formaldehyde condensate and polycarboxylate ethers.


  • Accelerators speed up the hydration (hardening) of the concrete. Typical materials used are CaCl2, Ca(NO3)2 and NaNO3. However, use of chlorides may cause corrosion in steel reinforcing and is prohibited in some countries, so that nitrates may be favored. Accelerating admixtures are especially useful for modifying the properties of concrete in cold weather.


  • Retarders slow the hydration of concrete and are used in large or difficult pours where partial setting before the pour is complete is undesirable. Typical polyol retarders are sugar, sucrose, sodium gluconate, glucose, citric acid, and tartaric acid.


  • Air entraining agents add and entrain tiny air bubbles in the concrete, which reduces damage during freeze-thaw cycles, increasing durability. However, entrained air entails a trade off with strength, as each 1% of air may decrease compressive strength by 5%.If too much air becomes trapped in the concrete as a result of the mixing process,


  • Defoamers can be used to encourage the air bubble to agglomerate, rise to the surface of the wet concrete and then disperse.


  • Plasticizers increase the workability of plastic or "fresh" concrete, allowing it be placed more easily, with less consolidating effort. A typical plasticizer is lignosulfonate. Plasticizers can be used to reduce the water content of a concrete while maintaining workability and are sometimes called water-reducers due to this use. Such treatment improves its strength and durability characteristics.


  • Pigments can be used to change the color of concrete, for aesthetics.


  • Corrosion inhibitors are used to minimize the corrosion of steel and steel bars in concrete. Bonding agents are used to create a bond between old and new concrete (typically a type of polymer) with wide temperature tolerance and corrosion resistance.


  • Pumping aids improve pumpability, thicken the paste and reduce separation and bleeding.




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