Making beautiful high strength concrete is a daunting task made harder by our warm South Florida weather. This challenge will now be made easier because this week our water chiller was delivered.
Why chill the concrete mix water?
To make higher strength concrete requires that the cement mix cures properly. Technically we want all the cement to hydrate, and since the hydrating process produces heat, sometimes the water evaporates before it is used by the cement. When the water is not utilized in the hydration process the result is inferior concrete.
The simplest solution to improve hydration is to reduce the temperature of the mix to allow time for hydration before any evaporation occurs. Our new batch plant water chiller will drop the temperature of the mix.
Why not use ice to reduce concrete temperature?
Using ice to reduce the water temperature of a concrete mix creates a couple of problems. First, it is labor intensive to manually add ice from bags to our batch plant. More importantly, ice is nothing more than frozen water and adding water to a mix without appropriate controls increases the absorption and decreases the longevity of the concrete.
By using a water chiller, we put the chiller before the water intake of the batch plant and everything remains the same. No added labor and the water content of the concrete mix is computer controlled.
Added benefits of chilled water in concrete.
Concrete’s workability is improved when the mix is at a lower temperature. The concrete flows better and interacts more favorably with concrete releases. This alone is an excellent reason to chill the water.
Because the mix flows better, it means we can reduce the amount of water in the mix, and in broad terms, when there is less water, you get stronger and longer lasting concrete not prone to deterioration from our harsh elements of sun, wind and rain.