2021 TCA Research

TCA’s research efforts for 2020 saw the continuation of some earlier research projects undertaken with Tennessee universities and the initiation of what we like to call Practical Research. With the addition of John Pearson, PE as TCA’s Director of Technical Services our goal is to utilize Mr. Pearson’s expertise and TCA’s new campus to perform research with immediate, practical utilization for ready mix producers.

TCA submitted a research proposal to the RMC Foundation in 2020 to measure how quickly concrete carbonates when exposed to atmospheric CO2. This proposal was approved in 2021 - TCA is proposing to take measurements of actual concrete placements utilized in the construction on our new office building that will take place in 2022, with these measurements continuing over the next decade. Carbonation of existing concrete in the built environment is a “hot button” issue in sustainable construction and could give concrete another significant advantage over competing construction products.

Building on prior research, 2021 saw the completion of a final phase CRED research at Tennessee Technological University that studied the impact of various levels of curing on concrete’s resistance to damage from freeze thaw and chemical attack. The paper summarizing this research is titled “Going Beyond ACI 332: Commercial / Residential Enhanced Durability Concrete: Phase III The Effect of Limited Curing”. The draft summary of this report can be viewed here.

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Presentation of TCA’s Practical Research on acceptance testing (completed in 2020) was presented by Mr. John Pearson, PE (TCA’s Technical Director) at the 2021 (in-person) Tennessee Engineering Conference to help engineers better understand the realities of acceptance testing on many projects and to encourage their assistance in improving compliance of acceptance testing with approved ASTM standards.

Mr. Pearson also supervised an additional round of testing for field curing and initial cylinder temperatures with one of TCA’s member ready mix producers to gather more data.

Our first Practical Research project focused on the proper storage of acceptance cylinders under field conditions. The required conditions for storage of acceptance cylinders is well known but rarely achieved in the real world. Responsibility for achieving and maintaining those conditions in the field is slippery in spite of being well-defined in the testing standards, much to the frustration of ready mix producers everywhere. The goal of our research was to document whether or not some common field practices could actually maintain compliance with the testing standards during the heat of Tennessee summer weather.

Mr. Pearson explains how we conducted the research in the video below and the chart summarizes the findings of our initial tests. Click here to see the full report. We plan to further validate our data by working with undergraduate engineering programs across Tennessee to have them conduct similar testing protocols and then collect that data. In addition to gathering more data, we feel this will be a powerful lesson about what works (and what doesn’t!) when it comes to meeting specification requirements for acceptance cylinders.

For engineers and specifiers who are currently practicing, Mr. Pearson has put together a presentation using this data to reinforce the importance of meeting the specification requirements. The presentation was presented at two virtual conferences in 2020.