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What is shrinkage in concrete?

Reinforced concrete is a widely used material in construction because of its strength and durability. However, it is prone to several types of shrinkage that can affect its performance and structural integrity over time. Here are some different types of shrinkage in reinforced concrete:



1.Plastic Shrinkage:

Plastic shrinkage occurs during the first few hours after placing the concrete. It is caused by the rapid evaporation of water from the surface of the concrete. When the surface of the concrete dries out faster than the rest of the concrete, it shrinks, creating cracks. This type of shrinkage can be prevented by reducing the rate of evaporation by using shading or a curing compound.


2.Drying Shrinkage:

Drying shrinkage occurs over time as the concrete dries and loses moisture. This type of shrinkage can be caused by a variety of factors, including low humidity, high temperatures, and exposure to wind. The amount of drying shrinkage depends on the mix design, water-cement ratio, and environmental conditions.


3. Carbonation Shrinkage:

Carbonation shrinkage occurs as a result of carbon dioxide in the air reacting with the calcium hydroxide in the cement paste to form calcium carbonate. This reaction causes the cement paste to shrink, leading to cracking and reduced durability. Carbonation shrinkage is more common in structures located in urban areas with high levels of air pollution.


4. Autogenous Shrinkage:

Autogenous shrinkage is caused by the self-desiccation of the cement paste as it sets and hardens. This type of shrinkage occurs because the cement particles consume water during the hydration process, leading to a reduction in volume. Autogenous shrinkage can be reduced by using cement with a lower water-cement ratio.


5. Creep:

Creep is a time-dependent deformation that occurs in concrete under sustained load. It is caused by the slow movement of the cement paste over time, leading to an increase in the length of the concrete member. Creep can be minimized by using low water-cement ratio concrete, reducing the applied load, and controlling the environmental conditions.


Understanding the types of shrinkage in reinforced concrete is essential for designing durable and long-lasting structures. Proper mix design, curing techniques, and construction practices can help minimize the effects of shrinkage and ensure the structural integrity of the reinforced concrete.

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