Concrete in first 24 hours of its life

Effect on strength and long term durability

In its first 24 hours concrete goes through tremendous transformations: from a highly deformable substance, through chemical and physical interactions, to a solid rock, which is gaining its mechanical and durability properties continuously well beyond first 24 hours. Nearly all the important properties of concrete are originated at this very early period of concrete life through formation of a microstructure, and creating “useful” minerals. But, unfortunately, sometimes these fundamentals are not fully appreciated or simply ignored. Gaining high construction speed and regular (daily) production turnaround take highest priorities in achieving economical efficiency. Any technological advances that are allowing for faster strength gain are adopted quickly. As the higher temperatures accelerate cement hydration, curing concrete at high temperatures is the most widely used. However, the most favourable cement hydration conditions for concrete achieving the best mechanical and durability properties are low to moderate temperatures and high humidity. However this would require more time than allowed by construction schedules. Finding the perfect balance is not easy and often not possible, but one should always know and remember what happens to concrete at the very first stage of concrete life is affecting formation of the long lasting engineering properties and durability performance of a concrete structure.

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