Investigation of effects of Portland cement fineness and alkali content on concrete plastic shrinkage cracking

Kai Yang, Mingquan Zhong, Bryan Magee, Changhui Yang, Chong Wang, Xiaohong Zhu, Zhilu Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)
39 Downloads (Pure)


From a material viewpoint, modern concrete’s frequent propensity to plastic shrinkage cracking can be attributable to a combination of low water-binder ratio use and ever-changing properties of binding materials. To obtain a better understanding of this phenomenon, this paper explores the effects of cement fineness and alkali content on the plastic shrinkage cracking of concrete manufactured with two water-binder ratios. Results indicate that within the range 275–385 m2/kg, cement specific surface area is approximately directly and inversely proportional to hydration rate and evaporation rate respectively; a trend generally leading to higher plastic shrinkage and resulting areas of plastic cracking. Similar effects were observed for alkali contents which resulted in increased levels of plastic shrinkage. Furthermore, while decreasing crack tendency was noted as alkali content increased from 0.4 to 0.8% by mass of cement, further increases in alkali content caused significant decreases of compressive strength and slump; thereby lowering overall concrete performance. It is also found that plastic shrinkage cracking is closely related to the kinetics of plastic shrinkage. In summary, the experimental programme confirmed that cement with relatively low surface area (less than 340 m2/kg) and low alkali content (less than 0.8%) is preferred for modern concretes with minimal plastic cracking problems.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-290
JournalConstruction and Building Materials
Issue number30
Early online date2 Apr 2017
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 30 Jul 2017


  • Shrinkage
  • Concrete and cement
  • Concrete structures
  • Moisture loss


Dive into the research topics of 'Investigation of effects of Portland cement fineness and alkali content on concrete plastic shrinkage cracking'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this