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Computers and Concrete
  Volume 3, Number 5, October 2006 , pages 301-312

Spatial dispersion of aggregate in concrete a computer simulation study
Jing Hu, Huisu Chen and Piet Stroeven

    Experimental research revealed that the spatial dispersion of aggregate grains exerts pronounced influences on the mechanical and durability properties of concrete. Therefore, insight into this phenomenon is of paramount importance. Experimental approaches do not provide direct access to three-dimensional spacing information in concrete, however. Contrarily, simulation approaches are mostly deficient in generating packing systems of aggregate grains with sufficient density. This paper therefore employs a dynamic simulation system (with the acronym SPACE), allowing the generation of dense random packing of grains, representative for concrete aggregates. This paper studies by means of SPACE packing structures of aggregates with a Fuller type of size distribution, generally accepted as a suitable approximation for actual aggregate systems. Mean free spacing , mean nearest neighbour distance (NND) between grain centres , and the probability density function of D3 are used to characterize the spatial dispersion of aggregate grains in model concretes. Influences on these spacing parameters are studied of volume fraction and the size range of aggregate grains. The values of these descriptors are estimated by means of stereological tools, whereupon the calculation results are compared with measurements. The simulation results indicate that the size range of aggregate grains has a more pronounced influence on the spacing parameters than exerted by the volume fraction of aggregate. At relatively high volume density of aggregates, as met in the present cases, theoretical and experimental values are found quite similar. The mean free spacing is known to be independent of the actual dispersion characteristics (Underwood 1968); it is a structural parameter governed by material composition. Moreover, scatter of the mean free spacing among the serial sections of the model concrete in the simulation study is relatively small, demonstrating the sample size to be representative for composition homogeneity of aggregate grains. The distribution of observed in this study is markedly skew, indicating a concentration of relatively small values of . The estimate of the size of the representative volume element (RVE) for configuration homogeneity based on NND exceeds by one order of magnitude the estimate for structure-insensitive properties. This is in accordance with predictions of Brown (1965) for composition and configuration homogeneity (corresponding to structure-insensitive and structure-sensitive properties) of conglomerates.
Key Words
    aggregates; computer-simulation; dispersion; SPACE; spacing, stereology.
Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences,rnDelft University of Technology, 2628 CN, Delft, The Netherlands

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