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Construction and Building Materials 169 (2018) 252–260

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Draining capability of single-sized pervious concrete

Ivanka Netinger Grubeša a,⇑, Ivana Barišić a, Vilma Ducman b, Lidija Korat b
Faculty of Civil Engineering Osijek, Josip Juraj Strossmayer University of Osijek, Vladimira Preloga 3, 31000 Osijek, Croatia
ZAG Ljubljana, Dimičeva 12, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia

h i g h l i g h t s

 Hydrologic and mechanical properties of pervious concrete were studied.

 The optimal aggregate type from the hydrologic point of view is diabase.
 An aggregate of sharp grain edges allows the water to pass smoothly through the pore system.
 A coarser aggregate fraction results in better hydraulic and mechanical properties.

a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t

Article history: Six mixtures of single-sized pervious concrete were prepared with three different types of aggregates
Received 21 August 2017 (dolomite, diabase, and steel slag from a Croatian landfill near the town of Sisak) and with two different
Received in revised form 17 February 2018 aggregate fractions (4–8 mm and 8–16 mm). Each pervious concrete mixture contained 10% of sand from
Accepted 3 March 2018
the Drava River. The hydrologic properties of the pervious concrete mixtures are compared in order to
Available online 6 March 2018
define the aggregate type that will ensure the best drainage properties. The draining capability was tested
by three methods: the constant head and falling head methods on the small samples, and the standard
test method for testing the infiltration rate of in-place pervious concrete by ASTM C 1701-09. The possi-
Pervious concrete
bility of pervious concrete application as a surface layer in pavement construction in the European area is
Hydrologic properties estimated according to the achieved mechanical properties. The optimal aggregate type for preparing
Mechanical properties pervious concrete from the hydrologic point of view is diabase because of its sharp grain edges, which
X-ray microtomography allow the water to pass smoothly through the pore system. None of the studied mixtures satisfied the
SEM analysis set criteria on the mechanical properties of concrete for the surface layer of pavements in the
European area. However, it is observed that the coarser aggregate fraction will result in better hydraulic
and mechanical properties of pervious concrete.
Ó 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction needs to be cured until reaching the required strength. Pervious

concrete as a material was used for the first time in 1852 [5] and
Pervious/permeable/no-fines concrete is a material with the patented in 1980 [6]. Although it is not a new technology, pervious
same basic components as the standard concrete but designed to concrete is receiving renewed interest today. The typical properties
have high porosity, with void content between 11% and 35% of pervious concrete presented below are based on recent and
[1,2]. A pervious concrete mixture is composed of cement, water, older literature, which reflects the continuous interest of research-
and coarse aggregate, with or without a small amount of fine ers in this topic.
aggregate [3]. Since pore connectivity is essential for the pervious
concrete function, its compaction is restricted [4] because it can a) Good drainage properties. The permeability of pervious con-
result in a layer of cement paste at the bottom of the concrete crete, because of its high porosity, is in the range of 2–6 mm/
structure that would negatively affect permeability. The installa- s [2,7]. Contrary to regular concrete, pervious concrete pre-
tion of pervious concrete into the pavement is similar to the instal- vents water from pooling on horizontal surfaces and, if prop-
lation of asphalt. However, unlike the asphalt, pervious concrete erly designed, positively affects the surrounding soil and
groundwater quality [8]. Owing to its drainage properties,
pervious concrete is used in the construction of shoulders,
⇑ Corresponding author. bases, and subbases of roads.
E-mail address: (I.N. Grubeša).
0950-0618/Ó 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
I.N. Grubeša et al. / Construction and Building Materials 169 (2018) 252–260 253

b) High noise absorption properties. Owing to its high porosity, strength and, consequently, their abrasion resistance. Fur-
pervious concrete is able to reduce environmental noise. ther, runoff water that flows into pervious concrete in cold
Noise and noisy environment can cause various kinds of dis- weather and freezes can lead to pressure build up on the
eases related to living in such an unpleasant environment. thin cement paste coating area, which makes pervious con-
This has been widely researched and many studies have crete not suitable for dry-freeze conditions. Studies on the
proved the connection between traffic noise and cardiovas- improvement of the resistance of pervious concrete to
cular, neuro-vegetative, and other diseases [9,10]. The noise freeze-thaw cycles have found that the addition of long
resulting from the interaction between tire and pavement is macrofibers increases its freeze-thaw (F-T) resistance [28],
being increasingly recognized as a significant environmental as does the usage of an air-entraining admixture [29], silica
issue, and it has become a major problem in urban areas. The fume with super plasticizers [30] or tire chips and crumb
noise produced by a moving vehicle largely depends on the rubber [31]. In exploitation, when small material such as dirt
geometrical properties of the road surface. This is the main and fine sand are carried by storm water in the exploitation
reason why current research is focused on finding new through the pores of pervious concrete, the debris can even-
methods for reducing noise at its place of origin, the road tually reduce the effectiveness of the drainage and perme-
surface, through the observation of the behavior of different ability of the concrete. Such clogging could then lead to
pavement types and their composition. The studies have flooding and the concrete being susceptible to extensive
shown that modification of the type and/or texture of pave- freeze-thaw cycles [32].
ment surface can result in significant tire/pavement noise
reductions and that the proper selection of the pavement Although the composition of pervious concrete seems simple, it
surface can be an appropriate noise abatement procedure is not easy to achieve good mechanical properties and a satisfac-
[11]. Concrete pavements are generally a worse choice com- tory pore system at the same time. Decreasing the water to cement
pared to asphalt pavements considering the tire/road noise ratio and increasing the cement amount in the concrete mixture
impact. The only type of concrete surface course that can will result in better mechanical properties in the case of regular
be considered as ‘‘quiet” is pervious concrete. The key factors concrete. However, the increment of the amount of cement in per-
that determine the efficiency of pervious concrete in absorb- vious concrete will reduce or even completely prevent its ability to
ing sound are the porosity that can be accessed by the sound infiltrate water, which is its main advantage. This paper studies the
waves, pore size, pore aperture size, and thickness of the possible application of pervious concrete as a surface pavement
porous layer. An acoustically efficient material is that with layer in Europe. Guided by the idea that single-sized aggregates
smaller pore sizes and high pore confinement [12]. Marolf in pervious concrete will result in high sound absorption capacity
et al. studied the effect of aggregate size and gradation on [13], the authors focus on single-sized aggregate pervious mixtures
the acoustic absorption of pervious concrete and they with three different aggregate types. The hydrologic properties of
reported that pervious concrete mixtures with single-sized six pervious concrete mixtures are compared in order to determine
aggregates provide substantial improvement in sound the aggregate type that will ensure the best drainage properties.
absorption compared to conventional concrete [13]. The potential of pervious concrete application as a surface layer
c) Ability to reduce urban heat islands. Heat island refers to the in pavement construction in the European area is evaluated
development of higher urban temperatures within an urban according to the achieved mechanical properties.
area, compared to the temperatures of the surrounding sub-
urban and rural areas. This phenomenon has an important
impact on the energy consumption of buildings for cooling 2. Experimental program
purposes. Various studies have shown that the cooling
energy consumption of buildings may have doubled because 2.1. Material characterization
of the significant increase in urban temperatures [14–16].
Many recent studies have shown that paved surfaces play In this study, six mixtures of pervious concrete were prepared
a determinant role in the overall urban thermal balance with three different types of aggregate (dolomite, diabase, and
[17,18]. In permeable pavements, water passes to the soil steel slag from a Croatian landfill near the town of Sisak) and with
through the material voids/pores. It evaporates when the two different aggregate fractions (4–8 mm and 8–16 mm). The
temperature of the material increases, contributing to a porosity and pore size distribution of the prepared aggregates were
lower temperature of the pavement surface. determined by means of mercury intrusion porosimetry (MIP). Par-
d) Poor mechanical properties. Pervious concrete mixtures can ticles having a size of approximately 1 cm3 of each of the prepared
develop compressive strengths in the range of 2.8–28 MPa aggregates were dried in an oven for 24 h at 110 °C, and then ana-
[7,19,20] and flexural strengths generally ranging between lyzed by means of a MIP Autopore IV 9500 equipment (Micromet-
1 MPa and 3.8 MPa [7]. The low strength of pervious con- rics). The results are presented in Table 1. The appearance of the
crete is the reason for its limited application in construction aggregate grains is shown in Fig. 1.
of high traffic highways. In order to address this issue, Each pervious concrete mixture contained 10% sand from the
research with different, new components in pervious con- Drava River. The grain size distribution of the aggregates was
crete is being conducted worldwide [3,21,22]. determined according to EN 933-1:2012 [33], and the aggregate
e) Low abrasion and freeze-thaw resistance. Pervious concrete fractions were classified according to HRN EN 12620:2013 [34],
has some durability issues related to abrasion and freeze-
thaw cycles, which deter its wider application. The abrasion
Table 1
resistance of concrete depends on its paste hardness, aggre- Porosity and medium pore size of the three used aggregates.
gate hardness, and aggregate/paste bond [23]. Many
researchers agree that there is a general relation between Aggregate Porosity Average pore size Density (excluding pores)
(%) (mm) (g/mL)
abrasion resistance and compressive strength—by increasing
the strength of concrete, the effects of abrasion are reduced Slag 7.0019 0.1204 3.8924
Diabase 1.2241 0.1428 2.8969
[24,25]. Test results shown in [26,27] have confirmed that
Dolomite 1.1221 1.0032 2.8322
adding latex to concrete mixtures is a way of improving their
254 I.N. Grubeša et al. / Construction and Building Materials 169 (2018) 252–260

Fig. 1. Appearance of the aggregate grain; dolomite, diabase, and steel slag.

as follows: fractions 4–8 mm and 8–16 mm of steel slag as 2.2. Testing of hardened concrete specimens
GC90/15, fraction 4–8 mm of diabase as GC85/15, fraction 8–11
mm of diabase of GC 90/15, fraction 4–8 mm of dolomite as GC At 28 days, the properties of the hardened pervious concrete
90/10, fraction 8–16 mm of dolomite as GC 85/15, and sand (0–2 specimens were tested as follows:
mm) as GF85.
The densities of the used crushed dolomite aggregate, diabase,  The compressive strength was tested on cube specimens of 15-
steel slag, and sand were 2.75, 2.91, 3.21 and 2.65 kg/dm3, respec- cm edge length with a constant loading rate of 0.5 MPa/s
tively, according to EN 1097-6:2013 [35]. For all mixtures, the according to EN 12390-3:2009 [39].
effective water to cement ratio was 0.33, and it was prepared with  The density and void content (total porosity) were tested on the
tap water. The cement was ordinary Portland cement, CEM II/A-M same specimens as compressive strength, according to the stan-
(S-V) 42.5 N according to EN 197-1:2011 [36], with a density of 3.0 dard ASTM C1754/C1754M-12:2012 [40]. In addition, the
kg/dm3 according to EN 196-6:2010 [37]. The cement content was porosity was determined by the Avizo Fire 3D image analysis
300 kg/m3 for all mixtures. Table 2 presents the proportions of all software, which is based on two-dimensional X-ray images
constituents in the mixtures. from X-ray computed microtomography (MicroXCT-400, Xra-
The aggregates used for preparing concrete were first saturated dia). A macro 0.39X objective was used for structure identifica-
and then surface-dried. This was achieved in an artificial way, by tion of the individual specimens (4.5 cm of cylinder diameter in
dipping the aggregates into a water tank for 24 h, taking them all specimens and 5 or 6 cm height, depending on the speci-
out, and then wiping excess water from their surface. Aggregates, men). The X-ray energy was set to values of 140 kV and 125
cement, and water were mixed together for 5 min in a pan mixer mA for all samples, and 1600 projection images were taken from
(DZ 100VS, Diemwerke). Three specimens were prepared to deter- different viewpoints; the pixel resolution was 39 mm, depending
mine the properties. The specimens of all concrete mixtures were on the specimen. The threshold segmentation method and the
cast with a compacting rod by rodding 25 times. All specimens characterization of different pore spaces was determined with
were extracted from the mounds 24 h after casting and placed in the Avizo Fire 3D image analysis software, a process already
a water tank for 27 days at a temperature of 20 °C ± 5 °C according described by Korat et al. [41] and Henry et al. [42], where the
to EN 12390-2:2009 [38]. pore space was determined according to the 6-point connectiv-

Table 2
Mixture compositions.

Characteristics C1 C2 C3 C4 C5 C6
Water/cement proportion (w/c) 0.33 0.33 0.33 0.33 0.33 0.33
Cement [kg] 300.0 300.0 300.0 300.0 300.0 300.0
Water [kg] 99.0 99.0 99.0 99.0 99.0 99.0
Aggregate [kg] 1783.7 1783.7 1877.5 1877.5 2053.3 2053.3
Sand 0–2 mm [%–kg] 10 178.4 10 178.4 10 187.8 10 187.8 10 205.3 10 205.3
Dolomite 4–8 mm [%–kg] 90 1605.3 — — — — — — — — — —
Dolomite 8–16 mm [%–kg] — — 90 1605.3 — — — — — — — —
Diabase 4–8 mm [%–kg] — — — — 90 1687.7 — — — — — —
Diabase 8–11 mm [%–kg] — — — — — — 90 1687.7 — — — —
Steel slag 4–8 mm [%–kg] — — — — — — — — 90 1848 — —
Steel slag 8–16 mm [%–kg] — — — — — — — — — — 90 1848
Total [kg] 2182.7 2182.7 2276.5 2276.5 2452.3 2452.3
I.N. Grubeša et al. / Construction and Building Materials 169 (2018) 252–260 255

ity rule in which voxels with a common face are considered of mixture C2 is higher than the total porosity of mixture C1. Com-
connected. Total porosity of pervious concrete is the sum of paring the same property for pervious concrete mixtures made of
closed (isolated) porosity and open (connected) porosity. The diabase and steel slag, is can be seen that the total porosity of mix-
connectivity of pores was defined as the ratio of volume of con- tures C3 and C4 is similar, as in the case of mixtures C5 and C6.
nected pore space and volume of total pore space [43]. Regarding the porosity, there is no general conclusion in relation
 The flexural strength was tested on prism specimens measuring to whether the aggregate size influences the total porosity of the
10  10  40 cm by loading them with a constant rate of 0.05 specimens. The pore space characteristics of pervious concretes,
MPa/s according to EN 12390-5:2002 [44]. obtained by microtomography, are summarized in Table 4, which
 The draining capability was tested by three methods. This is presents the values of total volume of solid material and pore
because standard laboratory test method is not existing and space, volume of connected pore space (pores that are connected
only field test method (for in-place material) is defined but also to others and to the external surface), and volume of isolated pore
for comparison and analyses of its applicability. The constant space (pores that are not connected to the external surface). The
head (CH) and falling head (FH) methods were used on the values show that the total porosity of mixture C2 is higher than
small samples and the standard test method was used for test- that of mixture C1, higher in the mixture C3 than in C4, and lower
ing the infiltration rate of in-place pervious concrete according in mixture C5 compared to mixture C6. Owing to the 6-point con-
to ASTM C 1701-09 [45]. The CH method applies a steady water nectivity rule, all specimens have mostly open (connected) poros-
flow through the sample, establishing a constant hydraulic ity, and the isolated pore space is slightly higher in the case of
potential and measuring (weighting) the water volume flowing mixtures C5 and C6. This can be explained by the rustic surface
through the sample at a designed time interval. The FH method of the steel slag used as an aggregate in these two mixtures, and
is based on the time required for a certain water column to drop the large amount of entrapped pores within the aggregate (visible
through the sample, determined by recording the time interval in Figs. 2, 8 and 9), which further resulted in a lower value of pore
during this dropping process. The standardized method connectivity.
described in ASTM C 1701-09 determines the field water- As expected, the density of pervious concrete mixtures (Table 3)
infiltration rate of in-place pervious concrete by recording the depended on the total porosity obtained and the aggregate type.
run-off time of a certain water volume through a defined area Mixtures with higher total porosity have lower values of density
of a porous concrete pavement. Within this research, pervious and mixtures with aggregates of higher density achieved higher
concrete slabs measuring 50  50  5 cm were used for simula- values of concrete density (the steel slag aggregate has higher den-
tion of inbuilt pavement. sity than diabase, and diabase has higher density than dolomite).
 The microstructure and chemical composition of the polished Regarding flexural strength, it is unanimously concluded that
cross-sections of the pervious concrete specimens were exam- this property is improved if small size aggregate is used, which is
ined by the back-scattered electron image mode of low vacuum in agreement with the conclusion given in [46]; thus, between
scanning electron microscopy (SEM), using JEOL 5500 LV mixtures prepared with the same type but different sizes of aggre-
equipment. gate, the highest value is obtained if the concrete is prepared with
a 4–8 mm fraction. However, this conclusion cannot be derived for
compressive strength. Mixtures with dolomite achieved higher
3. Results and discussion value of compressive strength when a finer fraction was used in
concrete preparation, while mixtures with diabase and steel slag
The results of the testing in 2.2 are given in Tables 3 and 4 and achieved higher value of compressive strength when a coarser frac-
Figs. 2–9. tion was used. Thus, the conclusion presented in [47], which claims
Comparing the results listed in Table 3 for pervious concrete that the use of a small size aggregate improves compressive
mixtures made with dolomite, it is visible that the total porosity strength, was not confirmed here.

Table 3
Results of hardened concrete tests.

Characteristics C1 C2 C3 C4 C5 C6
Compressive strength [MPa] 21.1 25.04 10.87 15.57 10.31 15.8
SD [MPa] 1.04 1.62 0.23 1.08 0.98 0.45
Flexural strength [MPa] 3.21 2.41 2.33 2.01 1.72 1.59
SD [MPa] 0.24 0.01 0.18 0.24 0.07 0.14
Density [kg/m3] 1994 1948 1847 1927 2037 2124
SD [kg/m3] 23 9 14 42 40 46
Total porosity [%] 24 27 31 30 29 29
SD [%] 1.1 0.4 0.8 1.8 1.7 2.8
Permeability – FH method [cm/s] 2.31 2.32 2.89 4.81 1.55 2.93
SD [%] 3.29 1.06 0.34 1.34 2.47 2.01
Permeability – CH method [cm/s] 2.15 3.07 1.84 2.53 1.28 2.00
SD [%] 1.76 2.16 1.39 3.16 1.41 2.36
Infiltration rate – ASTM C 1701-09 [cm/s] 0.14 0.28 0.57 1.11 0.26 0.85

Table 4
Summary of pore space characteristics of pervious concretes obtained by microtomography.

Characteristics C1 C2 C3 C4 C5 C6
Total porosity [%] 14.1 22.0 26.7 22.7 19.3 29.0
Connected porosity [%] 14.0 21.9 26.6 22.67 18.8 28.5
Isolated porosity [%] 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.5 0.5
Connectivity of pores 0.996 0.990 0.999 0.999 0.975 0.983
256 I.N. Grubeša et al. / Construction and Building Materials 169 (2018) 252–260

Fig. 2. XZ slice images of samples C1-C6 determined by X-ray micro-tomography.

Fig. 3. Three-dimensional images (pore shape) of samples C1-C6 determined by X-ray micro-tomography, where grey color indicates connected pore space and yellow
indicates isolated pore space.

Additionally, scanning electron microscope (SEM) analyses A rough surface could be beneficial for compressive strength owing
were performed to check the variations in the interfacial zone to the interlocking effect of cement paste and aggregate. As can be
between cement paste and different types of aggregates, because seen in Figs. 4–9, there are no signs of cement paste segregation or
this could be the weakest area in terms of mechanical properties. densification in any of the cases. However, at higher magnification
I.N. Grubeša et al. / Construction and Building Materials 169 (2018) 252–260 257

Fig. 4. SEM images of sample C1 (magnification 50 and 200).

Fig. 5. SEM images of sample C2 (magnification 50 and 200).

Fig. 6. SEM images of sample C3 (magnification 50 and 200).

(200) and in the case of diabase aggregate (Figs. 6 and 7) a certain (Table 1), and no interlocking effect is seen (Figs. 4 and 5) or
interlocking effect between the cement matrix and the aggregate is expected.
observed, with cement paste entering in the rough surface of the The concrete for pavement application is usually characterized
aggregate grain. To certain extent, this effect is also present in by its 28-day compressive strength, with a limiting value defined
the case of slag (Figs. 8 and 9). Slag exhibited the highest porosity by national standards. A strength class of C 25/30 at 28 days is suit-
among all three aggregates (Table 1), with very fine pores where able for most pavement applications, while for heavy-duty roads
the interlocking effect can also play a certain role. When dolomite and for freeze-thaw and de-icing agent exposure conditions, usu-
was used as aggregate, the boundary between cement and aggre- ally higher strength classes are required. According to the Euro-
gate grain is very clear, the porosity of the aggregate is negligible pean standards, concrete as a material for pavement application
258 I.N. Grubeša et al. / Construction and Building Materials 169 (2018) 252–260

Fig. 7. SEM images of sample C4 (magnification 50 and 200).

Fig. 8. SEM images of sample C5 (magnification 50 and 200).

Fig. 9. SEM images of sample C6 (magnification 50 and 200).

is characterized by its compressive strength class, which is deter- for pavement applications. According to ACI 522.1-13 Specifica-
mined and defined by the standards for regular concrete testing tions for Pervious Concrete Pavements, the compressive strength
EN 12390:3 and EN 206-1. The only minimum requirement for is not listed as acceptance criterion, and it is determined that part
concrete is its compressive strength, determined on cores as of the standard ASTM C94/94 M Standard Specification for Ready-
defined in EN 13877-2:2013 Concrete Pavements – Functional Mixed Concrete, among others dealing with strength test proce-
Requirements, in which is it recommended a minimum strength dures and characterization of regular concrete, is not applicable
class CC20 (characteristic core strength of 20 MPa) for functional for pervious concrete pavements. However, since there is no ASTM
reasons. Contrary to European standards, the American standards or EN standard test for compressive strength of pervious concrete,
distinguish between regular and pervious concretes as materials the standard tests for regular concrete are used. Thus, properly
I.N. Grubeša et al. / Construction and Building Materials 169 (2018) 252–260 259

placed pervious concrete pavements with compressive strengths of through the pore system. None of the here studied mixtures satis-
20.5 MPa and flexural strengths of more than 3.5 MPa are suitable fied the set criteria on mechanical properties of concrete for the
for most low-volume pavement applications [48]. Although mix- surface layer of pavements in the European area. It should be men-
tures C1 and C2 with dolomite aggregate satisfy the compressive tioned that the pervious concrete mixtures studied here were basic
strength of over 20.5 MPa, their flexural strengths are lower than compositions (aggregate, cement, and water). However, the
3.5 MPa. Thus, the perspective for further research lies in defining authors have noticed that a coarser aggregate fraction will result
a proper strength test procedure, strength enhancement, and qual- in better hydraulic and mechanical properties of pervious concrete.
ity and acceptance criteria definition. This observation will be used in their future studies on pervious
Analyzing the water permeability results presented in Table 3, concrete focusing them on coarse fractions of sharp grain aggre-
several conclusions can be drawn. All the three test methods gave gate, which will, in combination with some additional concrete
the same water permeability trends in the tested mixtures. The components such as latex, result in mechanical (and durability)
pervious concrete mixtures with coarse aggregate show the domi- properties satisfactory for its use in the surface layer of pavements.
nant permeability characteristics, regardless of the aggregate type,
which is in agreement with [46]. This result can be explained in
view of mix porosities (total porosity vs. closed pores). Although
total porosity is lower for coarse mixtures with dolomite and dia-
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