The ability to assess rheological properties of neat cement grout, such as those used in structural repair and for filling post-tension ducts, is of special interest for the evaluation of the ease of pumping, spreading into place, and filling of narrow spaces. There is an increasing need to identify dependable and simple test methods that can characterize the consistency of specialty cement grouts and reflect variations in rheological properties during handling and placement. Several tests can be used to evaluate the rheological characteristics of a cement grout suspension, including precise methods for the determination of rheological parameters and simple procedures to assess fluidity. Rheological properties can be accurately determined by using a coaxial cylinder viscometer. However, the use of such a viscometer is mainly limited to the laboratory, and simple methods including the mini-slump spread and the modified Marsh cone tests are usually employed in the field to verify the consistency for quality control.
This paper attempts to establish relationships between rheological parameters and fluidity values obtained using simple test methods. Relationships are also determined between the wash-out resistance of structural cement grout and various fluidity and rheological parameters. The derived relationships are based on a wide variety of cement grouts covering up to 210 data points. The various grouts were prepared with W/C ranging between 0.30 and 0.50, Type I and III portland cements, as well as various silica fume replacement values (up to 8% by mass), blast-furnace slag contents of 20 to 60%, fly ash substitutions of 10 to 30%, and limestone filler replacements of up to 30%. The investigated grouts incorporated melamine- and naphthalene-based high-range water reducer, welan gum and cellulose-based viscosity-modifying admixtures, as well as set-retarding admixture.
Test results highlight the difficulties of relying on a single empirical test to evaluate the fluidity of a given grout. Correlations between various simple measurements of fluidity and wash-out mass loss and apparent viscosities determined at different shear rates indicate that the mini-slump and wash-out mass loss measurements correspond well to viscosities determined at low-shear rates (5.1 s-1). In contrast, the modified Marsh cone measurement corresponds well to viscosity determined at high-shear rates ranging between 340 and 510 s-1. Because of the pseudo-plastic behavior of structural cement grouts, field quality control tests should include fluidity assessment at low and high shear rates to adequately evaluate the rheological behavior of the grouts.