Recent Advances in - Self-Compacting Concrete

Self Compacting concrete plays a very important role in the construction industry these days where time and cost saving are of prime concern. In the field of advance concrete research, SCC contributes a revolutionary part for the development. A lot of research all over the world is being carried out to explore all the possible applications and properties of SCC. It finds wide scope in the construction of various structures which play a vital role in country's development as well as future aspects of advanced technology. SCC is considered as a future concrete maintaining all concrete's durability, less labour, speedier construction, high strength and characteristics and meeting expected performance requirements. It will allow the engineers/designers to design and build structures that last a century and beyond

Sakshi Gupta, Dept. of Civil Engineering, ASET, Amity University Haryana, Gurugram, India

Arlanda Airport Control Tower
In line of advanced concrete technology and research self-compacting concrete (SCC) contribute an innovative role for the development and its implementations worldwide. SCC, also known as self-leveling concrete (Super-workable concrete and Self-consolidating concrete), is defined as highly flowable, non-segregating concrete, not require any mechanical vibration and has the capability to compact itself by its self-weight. SCC is classified by a low yield stress, filling ability, passing ability, segregation resistant, designed rheological workability, high deformability, high durability and high strength dense micro-structure. It is one of the type of high performance concrete (HPC) and sometimes known as High performance self-compacting concrete (HPSCC) which might use different replacement materials like silica fume, flyash, nano-silica and various other replacement materials [1]. The basic principle of SCC is shown in Figure 1.

The infrastructural projects are large, complex and robust these days and requires complex formwork and reinforcement detailing which demands handling the field constraints, with better concreting conditions and the concrete which can easily flow around the reinforcement and into all corners and junctions of formwork without any mechanical compaction (vibrators). This will avoid the void formation or honeycombing as well as save a lot of time, cost and energy (even the workforce).

Fig 1 Basic Principle SCCFigure 1: Basic Principle of SCC

Recent Advances in SCC

Nano-SiO2, a cement-based material, is used as nano-filler in the cement matrix where the total porosity is reduced at nano-scale which make it multi-functional nano-technological material and the concrete with nano-silica performs as a designed self-compacting concrete [2-18]. One of the considerations with reference to the elastic performance of SCC is its inferior stiffness propensity in comparison to conventional concretes (CC) but it is designed in a way to perform much better results as a high performance concrete [19]. Only a few researches carried out experimental studies for determining the fresh properties, hard properties and micro-structural properties with nano-silica. Different theories are evolved from their experimental data. A number of researchers reported dissimilar and inconsistent optimal amounts of nano-silica with some noteworthy effects that need a lot of concentration in the further research/studies [20-25]. Figure 2 (a) and (b) depicts the complex architectural structures constructed using SCC.

Complex architectural structureFigure 2: Complex architectural structure with intricate geometrical configuration (a) Bhurj Khalifa, Dubai and (b) LNG tank, Osaka Gas Company, Tokyo (

Among the all nano-material's, Nano-SiO2 is the most abundantly used nano-material in the cement replacement and concrete to increase the performance. In this modernized world of advance infrastructure, it is essential to establish a high strength, stable, strong, sustainable and environment-friendly cementitious composites [26]. Concretes incorporated with nano-silica results in the formation of denser and compact micro-structure with fewer amount of calcium hydroxide crystals [20, 27-28]. It also results in higher compressive strength [20-21, 29-31], intensification in tensile strength and bending strength [21, 31-32] and acceleration of hydration [33-34] as presented by various researchers in their work.

SCC, a concrete of high workability, has the quality of self-healing without segregation and bleeding [35-36]. For the earthquake resistant structures, bridges, skyscrapers and industrial foundation high strength concrete is needed, this kind of concrete perform as a Ultra High Performance for multi-purpose to make high performance reinforced concrete structure (RCC) [37-42]. In the current scenario of modern construction SCC contributes a vital role to fulfill the demand of modern architectural and complex indeterminate structural construction having intricate geometrical configuration. One can easily say that it is a kind of 'Future Concrete'.

Comparison Between Conventional and SCC

The comparison between the SCC and CC with respect to various technical aspects is presented in Table 1.

Table 1: Comparison of Conventional Concrete with High-Performance Self-Compacting Concrete
Technical Aspects High Performance Self-Compacting Concrete (HPSCC) Conventional Concrete (CC)
Self-Compaction Yes No
Cost and Time-Effectiveness Yes No
Self-healing Qualities  Yes No
Noise Pollution No High (due to Vibration
Skilled Labour Not Required Required
Resistance to Segregation Yes No
Micro-Structure Dense Not dense
Voids/ Honey- Combing Negligible Yes
High Strength High Strength Low Strength in comparison  to SCC
Serviceability High Durable Low Durable in comparison

Advantages of SCC

The advantages of SCC have been summarized below:
  • It sets automatically i.e. eliminating the need of vibration.
  • It has a designed rheological workability.
  • It having the quality of segregation resistance.
  • It has a well-defined quality of high flowability, passing ability and filing ability (improving the filling capacity of immensely congested structural members).
  • It is a high performance concrete with high durability.
  • It has a low yield stress and high deformability.
  • It is a cost-effective & time–effective concrete as per field applications.
  • Reduction in noise pollution and is eco-friendly (e.g. suitable for urban application where noise is a community concern).
  • It doesn't require skilled labours and reduces the number of labour at the site.
  • SCC has dense micro-structure which raises the strength and durability of structures built using SCC.
  • It has negligible pores and voids ratio.
  • It provides high serviceability and ultra-strength to structure.
  • It is designed in such a way that it resists seismic load, wind forces, blast loads, debris impact loads, hydrostatic and hydrodynamic in even harsh conditions.
  • It facilitates constructability and ensuring good structural performance.
  • It even reduces the equipment wear.
  • It produces superior surface finishes.
Future of SCC

Arlanda Airport TowerFigure 3: Arlanda Airport Control Tower, Stockholm, Sweden
In the field of advance concrete research, SCC contributes a revolutionary part for the development. SCC is impending out of its infancy. In pre-cast concrete industry, SCC has a large impact due to its high performance. SCC offers much compensation and can be effortlessly produced and controlled. A lot of research all over the world is being carried out to explore all the possible applications and properties of SCC. Self-compacting concrete finds wide scope in the construction of various structures which play a vital role in country's development as well as future aspects of advanced technology.
  • Hybrid RCC Structures such as Shear Walls, Concrete Bracings, in-fill Tubes, etc.
  • Building Infrastructure such as schools, government buildings, hospitals, shopping complex, etc.
  • Bridges and their various components like anchorages, arch, beams, girders, tower, pier, joint between pier & girder and others.
  • Transportation Infrastructures and Box Culverts.
  • Concrete filled steel tubes.
  • Tunnel Linings and immersed tunnels.
  • Dams (Concrete).
  • High Performance Structures which resist seismic load, wind forces, blast loads, debris impact loads, hydrostatic and hydrodynamic in harsh conditions.
  • Hydraulic Structures like Water Tank, Waste Water Plant, Canal and River Regulatory Structures.
Worldwide Utilization and Application of SCC

The importance and its usage of SCC have been found out from various literatures [37-42]. In the current scenario of modern construction, SCC plays an important role to fulfill the demand of modern architectural and complex indeterminate structural construction having complex geometrical configurations. Now, in the existing days of heavy and large modern reinforced concrete construction having complex formwork and reinforcement demanding to handle the field's multi-faceted constraints, with better concreting conditions. The utilization and application of SCC in various countries is described:

  • In France, ready-mix concrete industry utilizes SCC to provide a noise free concrete which can be used 24 hours a day in urban areas [46].
  • Sweden implemented the SCC in the construction of various structures such as bridges, tunnels, foundations and in many more infrastructures. The usage of SCC by Sweden's precast and ready-mix industry was almost 10% of total concrete convention in 2003 [51].
  • Arlanda Airport Control Tower, Stockholm, Sweden (Figure 3) is an excellent example of the use of SCC. SCC was used in order to achieve the concreting speed and to ensure high-quality concrete placing without vibration. The reduced noise level during the placing of the concrete enabled concreting during the night time as well [52].
  • In the Netherlands, SCC is predominantly preferred in the pre-cast industry. SCC is used to construct Pre-cast slabs, beams, walls, columns, arches and bridge elements, etc. More recently, fiber reinforced SCC has been used in the production of lighter & thinner floor elements [52].
  • SCC has been utilized in Norwegian highway structures. [53].
  • In UK, an official initiative has been taken by The Concrete Society to expand the use of SCC to replace normal concrete [54].
Fig 4 and 5 PASCHAL plant premises in Aarhus and The Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge, Japan

  • One of the first most advanced uses of SCC in Japan is the construction of the Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge system (Figure 5) and its deck slab in Japan that constructed well and opened in April 1998 [46-48].
  • SCC was implemented to accelerate the placement of the 290000m³ of concrete in the 2 anchorages of the bridge and also reduced the construction time [49].
  • Current application of SCC in Japan is the construction of latticework and tunnel linings (Figure 6). The usage of SCC limits bleeding and laitance at the joints thereby preventing cold joints [50]. United States of America
  • There are the wide ranges of SCC design and its implementation in USA.
  • One of the examples is the construction of the Trump Tower (Figure 7) in New York City. While construction, concrete had to be poured between closely placed reinforced elements in sub-zero weather and the use of high-strength SCC was thus, imperative.
  • Another application in the US was the construction of houses in Houston [54].
  • A mixture of a low compaction energy concrete, tentatively called slip-form self-consolidating concrete, was developed at Iowa State University. This was done to reduce the premature cracking in slip-form paving due to internal vibration causing over-consolidation [55].

Figure 6: Tunnel lining construction in JapanFigure 6: Tunnel lining construction in Japan
The various applications of SCC in China are as follows:
  • UHP-SCC with high rise pumping technology has been proven to satisfy the practical needs in the construction of 411m West Tower project in Guangzhou [56].
  • New Station of Chinese Centre Television (Figure 8), an important landmark in Beijing, is constructed using SCC [56].
  • Tower A of the International Trade centre, Phase three, the highest building in Beijing is also constructed using SCC [57].
  • The outer shell of the National Stadium in Beijing is also made using SCC [57]. Australia
  • Twin Bridges over Tarcutta Creek (Figure 9), Hume Highway Tarcutta Alliance, New South Wales, Australia used SCC for its sub-structure [58].
  • Railway Underbridge over Boundary Street at Roseville, New South Wales, Australia (Figure 10) used SCC and the SCC mix design included ballast aggregates and high dose of supplementary cementitious materials to minimize heat of hydration [58].

  • The guidelines of Deutscher Ausschuss fur Stahlbeton (German commission for reinforced concrete) which regulates the manufacturing and casting of SCC came into effect since December 2004 in Germany.
  • In the BMW plant in Leipzig as well as the phaeno science centre in Wolfsburg, each more than 4000m3 of SCC was used.
  • Special building elements used in various buildings in Germany made in precast construction using SCC: columns with a geometrically complex design and bubble decks produced with powder type SCC with flyash (BBS Bitter Beton Systeme, Goch) (Figure 11& 12) [59-60].
Twin BridgeFigure 9: Twin bridges over Tarcutta Creek (Courtesy: Hume Highway Tarcutta Alliance) [58]
Development of SCC in India
  • The advancements of SCC are measured as the greatest development in construction industry due to its several unequal benefits as it performs as a multi-purposed high performance concrete. In India, this advance technology is yet to realize its full potential and use.
  • Many institutions, researchers, and companies have been working on SCC Technology. Example: Central Road Research Institute (CRRI) 2005, New Delhi, has been working since the year 2000 and carried out momentous research work on several aspects of SCC.
  • SCC technology was a known since the time Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) was planning for vast enlargement of power generation within a squat period of time. This idea will save time, cost, enhance quality, durability and above all, a greener concept.
  • SCC has been used in the construction of Kaiga nuclear power plant [61] as well as Delhi Metro in India.
  • Due to various advantages of SCC, many companies in India are utilizing SCC for speedy completion of the construction work.
railway lineFigure 10: Red circle depicting the Girder constructed under operating railway line (Courtesy: Rail Corp) [58]

SCC represents the recent advancement in concrete technology. The application of SCC is mainly a contribution towards an enhancement of the concrete technologically, economically and ecological/social forms at the manufacturing of the concrete. SCC came as an answer to the raised conditions of RCC buildings durability and high-quality stable and polished surface of architectural concrete. Presently, it is very ardently and widely used material in construction sites as well as manufacturing of precast members. Practical applications extend from large infrastructure project such as bridges, tanks, retaining walls, tunnels, etc. onto architectural buildings. Thus, SCC is considered as a future concrete and will allow the engineers/designers to design and build structures that last a century and beyond.

Bubble decks

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