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Is it desirable to use concrete of very high strength i.e. exceeding 60MPa? What are the potential problems associated with such high strength concrete?

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To increase the strength of concrete, say from 40MPa to 80MPa, it definitely helps in improving the structural performance of the structure by producing a denser, more durable and higher load capacity concrete. The size of concrete members can be significantly reduced resulting in substantial cost savings. However, an increase of concrete strength is also accompanied by the occurrence of thermal cracking. With an increase in concrete strength, the cement content is increased and this leads to higher thermal strains. Consequently, additional reinforcement has to be introduced to control these additional cracks caused by the increase in concrete strength. Moreover, the ductility of concrete decreases with an increase in concrete strength. Attention should be paid during the design of high strength concrete to increase the ductility of concrete. In addition, fire resistance of high strength concrete is found to be less than normal strength concrete as suggested by Odd E. Gjorv (1994).

Though the tensile strength of high strength concrete is higher than that of normal concrete, the rate of increase of tensile strength is not proportional to the increase of compressive strength. For normal concrete, tensile strength is about one-tenth of compressive strength. However, for high strength concrete, it may only drop to 5% of compressive strength.

Moreover, owing to a low aggregate content of high strength concrete, creep and shrinkage increases.

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This question is taken from book named – A Self Learning Manual – Mastering Different Fields of Civil Engineering Works (VC-Q-A-Method) by Vincent T. H. CHU.

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