A Different Perspective for Investigation of PCC Pavement Deterioration, HR-2074, 1995

(1995) A Different Perspective for Investigation of PCC Pavement Deterioration, HR-2074, 1995. Transportation, Department of


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Portland Cement Concrete (PCC) pavement has served the State of Iowa well for many years. The oldest Iowa pavement was placed in LeMars in 1904. Beginning in 1931, many miles of PCC pavement were built to "get out of the mud". Many of these early pavements provided good performance without deterioration for more than 50 years. In the late 1950s, Iowa was faced with severe PCC pavement deterioration called D cracking. Research identified the cause of this deterioration as crushed limestone containing a bad pore system. Selective quarrying and ledge control has alleviated this problem. In 1990, cracking deterioration was identified on a three-year-old pavement on US 20 in central Iowa. The coarse aggregate was a crushed limestone with an excellent history of performance in PCC pavement. Examination of cores showed very few cracks through the coarse aggregate particles. The cracks were predominately confined to the matrix. The deterioration was identified as alkali-silica reactivity (ASR) by a consultant. To investigate the cause of the deterioration, the Iowa DOT and Iowa State University jointly purchased a high resolution, low vacuum Hitachi Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) with an energy dispersion detector. Subsequent evaluation identified no concentration of silica gel (silicon-Si), but did identify substantial amounts of sulfur-S and aluminum-AL (assumed to be ettringite) in the air voids. Some of these voids have cracks radiating from them leading us to conclude that the ettringite filled voids were a center of pressure causing the crack. The ettringite in the voids, after being subjected to sodium chloride (NaCl), initially swells and then dissolves. This low vacuum SEM research of PCC pavement deterioration supports the following conclusions: (1) A low vacuum SEM and an energy dispersion detector are very important for proper evaluation of PCC pavement deterioration; (2) There are instances today where PCC pavement deterioration is mistakenly identified as ASR; (3) Ettringite initially expands when subjected to NaCl; and the ettringite filled voids are a center-of-pressure that cracks the PCC; and (4) The deterioration of some current premature PCC pavement distress locations is caused by factors related to the formation of excessive ettringite.

Item Type: Departmental Report
Keywords: Alkali silica reactions, Concrete pavements, Crushed limestone, D cracking, Defects, Electron microscopy, Ettringite, Pavement cracking, Pavement distress, Pavements, Porosity, Portland cement concrete, Sodium chloride, Swelling
Subjects: Transportation > Pavements
Transportation > Pavements > Concrete
Transportation > Roads and highways
Transportation > Design and Construction
ID Code: 17126
Deposited By: Iowa DOT Library
Deposited On: 06 Jun 2014 17:48
Last Modified: 15 Jan 2015 12:40
URI: https://publications.iowa.gov/id/eprint/17126