characterization of concrete; modulus of elasticity; restrained drying shrinkage; tensile creep; variable restraint frame
An innovative variable restraint frame is proposed to characterize the viscoelastic behavior of concrete under tensile stresses induced by restraints to shrinkage deformations (mainly due to drying). Two concrete specimens with the same cross section are used, subjected to equal thermal and moisture conditions: one is made of plain concrete, to assess the “free” deformations due to shrinkage and temperature; the other is reinforced with two steel threaded rods, which induce a manually controlled axial restraint to shrinkage. The restrained specimen is installed on a reaction frame, being stretched in force control mode. The concrete and the rods are instrumented with strain gauges and temperature sensors, which allow separation of the different components of concrete strains with the aid of equations based on equilibrium and compatibility conditions. This permits identifying the elastic and tensile creep concrete strains, as well as the concrete tensile stresses induced by the restrained shrinkage. The device also allows assessing the concrete modulus of elasticity during the test and remains operational even upon concrete cracking, features of great interest for the intended material characterization.