Thermo-mechanical behaviour of a novel lightweight concrete and its applicationin masonry walls

  • Adnan Al-Sibahy

Student thesis: Phd


The development of lightweight concretes has made a contribution to advances in structural design. It would be useful to further improve the mechanical properties of lightweight concrete formulations whilst enhancing their resistance to fire degradation and reduced thermal conductivity. Improving the sustainability of any new proposed lightweight concrete formulation is desirable, for example by the inclusion of waste stream components into the formulation.This thesis describes an investigation of the mechanical, thermal and fire resistance properties of a new type of expanded clay lightweight concrete formulation in which varying quantities of sand are replaced by crushed glass aggregate, in conjunction with the addition of metakaolin (which may be available as a waste component from the manufacture of paper) as a partial replacement for the cement. The investigation involved short and long-term laboratory testing of a range of mechanical and thermal properties of individual concrete formulations and small scale structural elements consisting of masonry blocks made from these formulations (so called wallettes). An extensive programme of Finite Element Analysis using Abaqus was also performed.The results obtained show that it is possible to produce a structural expanded clay lightweight concrete that possesses good thermal properties by incorporating of ground glass and metakaolin. Compressive and splitting tensile strengths, as well as the modulus of elasticity, increased with an increase in the metakaolin content, while concrete density decreased. Reductions in thermal conductivity and improvements in fire resistance criteria were also observed in comparison with conventional lightweight concrete mixtures. For example, measured thermal conductivity values ranged from 0.092 W/m.K to 0.177 W/m.K, and the insulation criterion (an indicator of resistance to fire) reached up to 110 minutes for a concrete member with a thickness of 29 mm. The highest resistance to the effects of high temperatures was observed for concrete mixes containing either 15% or 30% recycled glass with 10% metakaolin.The maximum axial loads at failure were 474 kN and 558 kN for reference and modified wallettes respectively, implying corresponding bearing capacities of 7.1 MPa and 8.3 MPa. The critical path of the failure mode was similar for all of the wallettes tested and normally began underneath the load point, then passed through the concrete blocks and head joint to reach the toe of the wallette. The masonry wallettes formulated using reference lightweight concrete blocks exhibited failure due to explosive spalling at 400 oC with no applied mechanical load, whereas the second type of masonry wallettes (the modified wallettes) did not show such behaviour.The results of Finite Element Analysis showed that the coefficient of thermal convection had the most influence upon the insulation criterion. From a structural perspective, the key parameters were the value of penalty stiffness and imperfections in wallette construction. In general, a close agreement between the measured and simulated results was observed for both the thermal and structural finite element models at ambient and high temperatures.
Date of Award31 Dec 2012
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorRodger Edwards (Supervisor)


  • Thermal behaviour
  • Masonry walls
  • Finite Element Analysis
  • Lightweight concrete
  • Recycled glass

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