Concrete is a material widely used in building industry and consists of cement, coarse aggregates (like crushed stone or natural gravel) and fine aggregates (like sand) bound together by chemical process known as hydration. Its production requires large amount of water to facilitate the hydration and to form concrete in a workable state that can be poured, compacted and finished. However, too much water leads to a decrease in concrete strength. The use of superplasticizer allows a reduction in the water requirement without affecting its workability.
Superplasticizers are hydrophilic admixtures that fluidize concrete mixtures at low water/cement ratio. They can be derived from natural or synthetic sources. There are a number of different types of superplasticizers in the market, including naphthalenesulfonate/formaldehyde polymers (NSF), lignosulfates, and yeast fermentation waste (YFW). NSF is commonly used in Europe as it is based on an economical source—naphthalene.
The NSF superplasticizer increases the water reduction up to 30% and produces concrete with great flowability. Its lateral chains have a strong bond with cement particles resulting in the formation of a stable colloidal suspension. Moreover, the NSF superplasticizer also reduces segregation and bleeding of concrete.
Besides, NSF superplasticizers also have a very limited impact on the initial setting time of the concrete. While lignosulfonate superplasticizers retard the set of concrete by about an hour. They also improve the early strength development of concrete allowing shorter heat-curing periods and the use of smaller water/cement ratios in precast units.
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