Self-compacting concrete (or self-consolidating concrete) (SCC) was first developed in 1986 by a materials scientist in Japan. Since concrete pouring and finishing often requires a human component (i.e. a vibrator) to ensure that the concrete sets without issue, and because the Japanese found themselves with a shortage of skilled labor, SCC became an attractive alternative. Conventional SCC combines usual concrete ingredients with binders and admixtures to generate a pre-fabricated, uniform mixture that remains consistent throughout the transportation, application, and setting process. However, these additional additives increase the price of SCC to uneconomical proportions, except in cases where concrete 1) must be installed in difficult, hard to reach areas; 2) must be applied quickly; and/or 3) should exhibit higher strength and efficiency (e.g. in areas susceptible to seismic activity). In addition, without the need of vibrators, the application of SCC can help diminish the prevalence of on-site hearing-related injuries.
In the past decade, civil engineers and materials scientists have begun to integrate nano-particles, most notably nano-silicon dioxide (or nano-silica) (NS), in SCC. Results show that NS (along with existing binders) may outperform and exhibit higher efficiency than other types of binders such as silica fume (or micro silica) alone. One recent study examines whether NS can offset the negative consequences of superabsorbent polymer (SAP) in concrete. The results show that NS with SAP can improve mechanical performance, yield stress, and viscosity, but changes in flexural strength depend on concrete age and other environmental factors.
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