It's Concrete!

Cicely Enright

All About the Material

By Cicely Enright

Concrete, that ancient yet modern construction material, takes center stage in Significance of Tests and Properties of Concrete and Concrete-Making Materials, STP 169D. Chapter 1, "The Nature of Concrete," by Richard A. Helmuth and Rachel J. Detwiler, puts it this way: "For thousands of years, mankind has explored the versatility of materials that can be molded in a plastic state and then hardened into strong, durable products." Today, concrete is a product composed of many materials, and its qualities, properties and applications are explored in Chapters 2 through 56.

These are aspects of a work that has been expanded and updated several times since ASTM International first published the reference in 1956. Joseph F. Lamond, a consulting engineer and co-editor with James Pielert of this latest in the STP 169 series, says, "This publication covers the properties of concrete and concrete-making materials, providing an excellent resource on testing concrete and the significance of test results."

Anthony Fiorato, Ph.D., P.E., a consultant based in Barrington, Ill., gives an example of how the work has pointed him in the right direction to evaluate a case of premature concrete deterioration. The information on alkali-carbonate rock reaction in the book served as a primary resource: "It provided the critical first step - a clear understanding of relevant factors and a sound basis for moving forward," Fiorato says.

The 56 chapters and more than 600 pages of STP 169D are divided into six parts addressing diverse aspects of concrete: general, freshly mixed concrete, hardened concrete, concrete aggregates, other concrete making materials and specialized concretes. Throughout, the work references ASTM test methods, practices, specifications, terminology and guides.

Individual chapters serve as a reference on a particular subject and as training for those involved with concrete materials. Those involved with testing hardened concrete can check the chapter on that subject; those who work with specialized concrete will have interest in any of the chapters on specialized concretes, from ready mixed concrete or preplaced aggregate concrete to roller-compacted concrete or polymer-modified concrete and mortar.

In his regular contact with members - and their customers - at the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association in Silver Spring, Md., Colin Lobo, Ph.D., P.E., senior vice president of the NRMCA Engineering Division, has used STP 169D chapters to provide information on aggregate quality, strength and durability tests, and the ready mixed concrete specification to provide background and understanding of the intent of the standards. "The STP is a good reference on the evolution and intent of the various standards for concrete and concrete materials," Lobo says.

According to Lamond, one or two - and sometimes more - authors with expertise in the subject contributed each chapter. Chapters covering diverse aspects of the material were reviewed according to ASTM peer review procedures, and subcommittees in ASTM Committee C09 on Concrete and Concrete Aggregates participated in the review process for subjects they address in their work. Any civil engineer, ready mixed concrete producer or user, concrete aggregate producer or user, concrete testing laboratory or civil engineering professor involved with concrete would use this publication.

As the technology and testing for concrete have changed, and as C09 and its subcommittees have updated specifications and test methods to reflect these changes, STP 169D has also changed to reflect how this time-honored material has evolved.

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