To all our die-hard civil engineering fans out there … this is the final instalment of our series on dam concrete, by Dr Jon Belkowitz. This follows on the articles focusing on the Hoover Dam (links below) and is a quick summary of the factors that affect dam concrete design.
What are the Factors that Influence Dam Concrete Design?
In the construction of a concrete dam, there’s a large amount of concrete in one place. And don’t forget the infrastructure such as spillways, perhaps hydroelectric equipment, revetment walls and so on. This large quantity of concrete is positioned in a comparatively small localised area.
With such a concentration of localised concrete, there is the risk of thermal curing shock during the initial curing. The change of heat generation by such a large amount of concrete can lead to significant early cracking and subsequent structural weakness. Pouring methodologies must include provision for cooling.
Then there is what we might call physical attack, caused by the movement of the contained water.
The concrete in dams is of course subject to the same environmental and chemical attacks of any other exposed concrete. ASR (alkali-silica reactivity) is a significant ongoing issue with many concrete dams – opening up avenues for contamination and an accellerated cycle of deterioration.
Watch and enjoy as Dr Jon summarizes these factors in this quick overview.
What factors are shared with other infrastructure?
Depending on structure size and location, you may be surprised how many similar risks are attached to other infrastructure such as bridges and wharves.
For example, ‘physical’ attack by water movement is a factor in marine structures in the splash zone.
And ASR is far too common in Australasia.
How can we protect the concrete?
As mentioned in the video, colloidal silica hydrogels are ideal for protecting concrete structures in aggressive environments.
Hydrogel treatments arrest the movement of moisture and moisture-borne contamination, thereby impeding the deterioration cycle.
Pro-active maintenance by the use of colloidal silica hydrogel treatments can prove to save significant later repair costs.
Intrigued? Get in touch! We’d love to discuss your specific requirements for infrastructure preservation and maintenance.
Enhance the service life! Reduce ongoing maintenance costs! Or best of all, protect the structure from the first day if possible!
Here are the links to the Hoover Dam videos:
How did they build the Hoover Dam?
Hoover Dam concrete analysis
The difference between dam concrete and residential concrete