Extend Service Life of Concrete Bridges Decks with Internal Curing

Project Details







Priscilla Ukpah, Hani Nassif


New Jersey Department of Transportation; Federal Highway Administration


Bridge decks, Concrete bridges, Concrete curing, Life cycle costing, Lightweight aggregates, Service life



Project description

Proper curing of the concrete during the hydration process plays a vital role in the durability and longevity of the service life of concrete structures. Conventional curing techniques adopted for bridge decks are applied externally through wet-burlaps, thermal insulators, or membranes. Due to the large surface areas of bridge decks and pavement concrete, these external methods are not always effective in providing sufficient moisture to support the long-term hydration of the concrete cementitious matrix. This leads to plastic shrinkage cracks, a considerable loss of strength, and abrasion resistance. Even though strength development on the concrete surface is adversely affected by improper external curing, long-term durability is a much more significant concern. IC-HPC offers a unique approach to more durable and sustainable concrete. IC-HPC is produced by incorporating highly absorptive materials such as pre-wetted lightweight aggregate (LWA), super absorbent polymers, or chemical admixtures. These materials readily desorb water into the cementitious matrix during hydration, promoting internal humidity and boosting concrete to offer its maximum potential, especially with the loss of external curing efficiency. To evaluate the efficiency of internally cured concrete for New Jersey bridge structures, the framework of this research proposes two main phases. Phase I consist of an extensive review of other neighboring states’ DOT’s specifications, lessons learned, and challenges of the current practices for IC-HPC in the US. Afterward, Phase II is aimed to; (1) conduct a laboratory testing program tailored to evaluate the use of LWA to produce more durable concrete, (2) assess the technical feasibility of implementation of IC-HPC, and (3) perform LCCA for the benefits expected. This research is devoted to promoting the application and production of IC-HPC in NJ.