Concrete is an essential building material in Nigeria and is widely used in construction projects ranging from simple residential buildings to complex infrastructure projects. One way to improve the performance of concrete is through the use of admixtures. Admixtures are substances that are added to concrete during mixing to improve its properties or reduce its cost. In this article, we will discuss five commonly used concrete admixtures in Nigeria.
Superplasticizers, also known as high-range water reducers, are admixtures that can reduce the amount of water required in a concrete mix while maintaining its workability. This leads to stronger, more durable concrete structures that require less maintenance. Superplasticizers work by dispersing the cement particles more effectively, allowing for better hydration and stronger bonds between the particles. This also results in a more cohesive concrete mix with less segregation.
Superplasticizers can be used in a wide range of concrete applications, including high-strength concrete, self-consolidating concrete, and precast concrete. They are especially useful in situations where there is limited access to water or where water needs to be conserved. Superplasticizers are available in different types, including sulfonated melamine formaldehyde (SMF) and sulfonated naphthalene formaldehyde (SNF) types.
Accelerators are admixtures that can speed up the setting and hardening of concrete, making it possible to achieve early strength development. This is especially useful in cold weather or when a project requires a faster turnaround time. Accelerators work by increasing the rate of the chemical reactions that take place during the cement hydration process, leading to faster setting and hardening of the concrete.
Commonly used accelerators in Nigeria include calcium chloride, sodium nitrite, and calcium nitrate. However, the use of calcium chloride is discouraged in reinforced concrete structures as it can cause corrosion of the steel reinforcement. Accelerators are commonly used in precast concrete, cold-weather concreting, and emergency repairs.
Retarders are admixtures that can slow down the setting of concrete, giving workers more time to work with the mix and reducing the risk of cracking or other defects. Retarders work by delaying the chemical reactions that take place during the cement hydration process, leading to slower setting and hardening of the concrete.
Commonly used retarders in Nigeria include lignosulfonates, gluconic acid, and citric acid. Retarders are useful in hot weather or when working with large volumes of concrete. They can also be used to improve the surface finish of concrete or to facilitate the placement of concrete in difficult locations.
4. Air-entraining agents
Air-entraining agents are admixtures that can add small, evenly distributed air bubbles to the concrete, making it more resistant to freeze-thaw damage and reducing the risk of cracking. This is especially important in areas with fluctuating temperatures or high humidity. Air-entraining agents work by stabilizing the air bubbles in the concrete mix, making them more resistant to collapse during the mixing and placing process.
Commonly used air-entraining agents in Nigeria include natural wood resins, synthetic surfactants, and fatty acid salts. Air-entraining agents are especially useful in concrete pavements, bridge decks, and other outdoor concrete structures exposed to the elements.
5. Corrosion inhibitors
Corrosion inhibitors are admixtures that can help protect the reinforcing steel in concrete from corrosion caused by exposure to water, salt, or other environmental factors. This can significantly extend the lifespan of concrete structures, making them more cost-effective over the long term. Corrosion inhibitors work by forming a protective layer around the reinforcing steel, preventing the penetration of water and other