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Project Description

Client: Eric Angulo Location: Anacortes, WA Surface Area: 5km

How did we benefit from the use of silica fume in concrete in this project? Industrial by-products have been used as supplementary cementitious materials in the production of concrete for over fifty years, and silica fume, a by-product of the ferrosilicon industry, is one of the most effective pozzolanic materials available today. It is frequently added to the concrete as an individual ingredient or as part of cement/fly ash blends to reduce water demand and reduce plant maintenance costs while also increasing strength and durability. We used and benefited from silica fume in the concrete for the project. What is Silica Fume? Silica fume is a by-product of iron smelting. This material contains more than 40% amorphous silica, which makes it highly pozzolanic. Therefore, when mixed with cement or cementitious materials, it creates durable and high-strength concrete that has been used for decades in construction projects around the world. Silica fume can be added directly to a concrete mix at a rate of 4–12 pounds per cubic yard depending on project requirements. It may also be blended into portland cement as an alternative to fly ash. Since the addition of fly ash was mandated by legislation in many states across America, there has been a shift toward using silica fume as an alternative. In order to achieve maximum benefits from adding silica fume to your concrete mixes, keep these tips in mind: It should be mixed thoroughly with Portland cement before adding water; otherwise you will not see significant increases in strength and durability properties. Silica Fume In Portland Cement Portland cement and silica fume can be blended together to form a pozzolanic cement. This material produces highly durable concrete with increased resistance to freeze-thaw cycles, as well as significant improvements in mechanical properties such as tensile strength and compressive strength compared to traditional portland cement concrete. Additionally, since there are no regulatory limitations on how much of each component can be added to create pozzolanic cement, it may be used to boost the early age compressive strength of concrete mixes. For all these reasons, many countries have started using silica fume in their native concretes over recent years. Benefits of Adding Silica Fume Although silica fume is not typically added to concrete on its own, it can be used as a substitute for Portland cement. It has several benefits that make it attractive to concrete producers, including increased strength and durability. In addition, when compared with using portland cement alone, silica fume provides cost savings from lower fuel consumption needed to produce a given amount of final product. Another benefit of adding silica fume is how it reacts with water to form silicon-oxygen tetrahedral molecules instead of hydroxyls—the resulting process creates greater longevity in structures by providing better protection against freezing and thawing cycles. That said, there are some considerations you should take into account before opting to include silica fume in your mix. One of these factors involves mixing silica fume into existing concrete—its pozzolanic properties may lead to an increase in compressive strength after one month, but excessive use may lead to cracks due to thermal shock.

The Challenges

There are many challenges that come with working with silica fume concrete.

One of the most important things to remember about working with this material is that it’s not something you can work with the same way you would if you were working with traditional concrete or even other types of cement-based materials.

If you don’t keep that in mind, you may find yourself frustrated and disappointed because the product hasn’t performed to your expectations or hasn’t performed as well as you would have liked it to.