Date of Award

2013

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Civil Engineering (PhD)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Advisor

David W Hand

Abstract

This dissertation established a standard foam index: the absolute foam index test. This test characterized a wide range of coal fly ash by the absolute volume of air-entraining admixture (AEA) necessary to produce a 15-second metastable foam in a coal fly ash-cement slurry in a specified time.

The absolute foam index test was used to characterize fly ash samples having loss on ignition (LOI) values that ranged from 0.17 to 23.3 %wt. The absolute foam index characterized the fly ash samples by absolute volume of AEA, defined as the amount of undiluted AEA solution added to obtain a 15-minute endpoint signified by 15-second metastable foam. Results were compared from several foam index test time trials that used different initial test concentrations to reach termination at selected times. Based on the coefficient of variation (CV), a 15-minute endpoint, with limits of 12 to 18 minutes was chosen. Various initial test concentrations were used to accomplish consistent contact times and concentration gradients for the 15-minute test endpoint for the fly ash samples.

A set of four standard concentrations for the absolute foam index test were defined by regression analyses and a procedure simplifying the test process. The set of standard concentrations for the absolute foam index test was determined by analyzing experimental results of 80 tests on coal fly ashes with loss on ignition (LOI) values ranging from 0.39 to 23.3 wt.%. A regression analysis informed selection of four concentrations (2, 6, 10, and 15 vol.% AEA) that are expected to accommodate fly ashes with 0.39 to 23.3 wt.% LOI, depending on the AEA type. Higher concentrations should be used for high-LOI fly ash when necessary. A procedure developed using these standard concentrations is expected to require only 1-3 trials to meet specified endpoint criteria for most fly ashes.

The AEA solution concentration that achieved the metastable foam in the foam index test was compared to the AEA equilibrium concentration obtained from the direct adsorption isotherm test with the same fly ash. The results showed that the AEA concentration that satisfied the absolute foam index test was much less than the equilibrium concentration. This indicated that the absolute foam index test was not at or near equilibrium. Rather, it was a dynamic test where the time of the test played an important role in the results. Even though the absolute foam index was not an equilibrium condition, a correlation was made between the absolute foam index and adsorption isotherms.

Equilibrium isotherm equations obtained from direct isotherm tests were used to calculate the equilibrium concentrations and capacities of fly ash from 0.17 to 10.5% LOI. The results showed that the calculated fly ash capacity was much less than capacities obtained from isotherm tests that were conducted with higher initial concentrations. This indicated that the absolute foam index was not equilibrium. Rather, the test is dynamic where the time of the test played an important role in the results. Even though the absolute foam index was not an equilibrium condition, a correlation was made between the absolute foam index and adsorption isotherms for fly ash of 0.17 to 10.5% LOI.

Several batches of mortars were mixed for the same fly ash type increasing only the AEA concentration (dosage) in each subsequent batch. Mortar air test results for each batch showed for each increase in AEA concentration, air contents increased until a point where the next increase in AEA concentration resulted in no increase in air content. This was maximum air content that could be achieved by the particular mortar system; the system reached its air capacity at the saturation limit. This concentration of AEA was compared to the critical micelle concentration (CMC) for the AEA and the absolute foam index.

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