Air void characterization in fresh cement paste through ultrasonic attenuation using an immersion procedure

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Darraugh, Natalie Ainsworth
Jacobs, Laurence J.
Kurtis, Kimberly E.
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The most prevalent method for the prevention of freeze-thaw and salt scaling damage in cement based materials is through the entrainment of air voids using air entraining chemical admixtures (AEA's). However, the common field methods for measuring air content in fresh concrete cannot distinguish between entrained and entrapped air voids, and the actual air content in the hardened concrete can vary from that determined by these tests due to a variety of factors such as workability, placing operations, consolidation efforts, and environmental conditions. Previous research has shown the ability of ultrasonic attenuation to distinguish between entrained and entrapped air voids in hardened cement paste, providing a foundation for an inversion procedure to calculate the size and volume content of the two scatterer sizes. While additional challenges are present with measurements in fresh paste, the use of an immersion setup can overcome the limitations of cement paste containment vessels and provide a means to measure air content from batching to placement. An immersion apparatus to monitor ultrasonic wave attributes including attenuation in fresh cement paste is designed and built. Results comparing air entrained and non-air entrained cement pastes are presented. Ultrasonic wave attributes are studied as a function of time and level of chemical air entrainer. Finally, recommendations are made to improve the accuracy of the immersion apparatus in order to develop an in situ, quality control procedure to quantify the air content of fresh cement paste from batching to placement.
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