Additives to increase the sustainability of concrete paving blocks

  • Vireen Limbachiya

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The aim of this study was to break through current limits with cement substitutes in concrete paving block and introduce high levels of cementitious constituents. As well as meeting the current strength and durability requirements stated in BS EN 1338:2003 the study reported on the effect of materials variability and leaching properties.

The cementitous materials used to replace Portland cement (PC) were Pulverised Fuel Ash (PFA also known as Fly Ash), Ground Granulated Blast Furnace Slag (GGBS), Metakaolin (MK), Silica fume (SF), Glass Powder (GP), Basic Oxygen Slag (BOS) and By Pass Dust (BPD). The first phase of the study analysed 11 groups of ternary cement paste blends using Minitab, a statistical programme to help determine mix designs and optimised mix.

Analysis of ternary cement pastes in the first phase concluded that mixes containing GGBS over PFA produced greater strengths at early ages. Mixes confirmed that PC-GGBS-GP provided good strengths due to the SiO2 content within GP providing secondary CSH gel. PC-GGBS-BPD provided good strengths due to SO3 within BPD activating the GGBS through sulphates. The best results in forms of strength were found in PC-GGBS-SF and PC-GGBS-BOS ternary pastes. The fine particles along with the high SiO2 content of SF provided greater pozzolanic reactivity and a greater matrix densification.

Fourteen of the best mixes were then taken into the second phase. This is when concrete paving blocks were made from these mixes with the method that was developed at Coventry University. The two mixes with the greatest splitting tensile strength consisted of varying levels of PC-GGBS-SF and were known as the candidate mixes. The durability criteria set out in BS EN 1338:2003 was met, however the minimum strength requirement was not. The candidate mixes were still chosen to be produced in the factory as the manufacturing and curing procedure in the factory was more effective and efficient in comparison to the laboratory procedure. The site trial successfully achieved the minimum requirements for the mechanical properties and durability performance stated in BS EN 1338:2003 and reduced the cement content of concrete paving blocks by 40% wt of PC, with a ternary blend consisting of 60% PC, 25% GGBS and 15%SF.

Analysis of material variability was conducted on PFA (regulated commercially available replacement) and BPD (replacement waste material). Results showed that when using regulated commercially available cementitious constituents the chemical composition of the material should be within a given range (For replacement by weight of 10%, 20%, 30%, difference in main oxide should be no greater than 1%, 2.5% and 3.5% respectively) and for the waste material the chemical composition (Limits as stated for regulated commercially available material) as well as fineness (Replacement by weight of 5% and 10% should not have a variability in average particle size of more than 15μm) should be within a range.

The two candidate mixes were finally tested for their leaching properties against a leachate that was derived from used oil concentrations. The increase in permeability with the use of GGBS and SF lead to the block absorbing less of the leachate in comparison to the control mix.

The study set out to introduce high levels of cementitious constituents in concrete paving blocks. Although it is known that high levels of replacement would cause deterioration, this was done in order for the study to create a database in which the company could refer to and determine which constituents performed well and what the maximum level of replacement could be. The study successfully replaced PC by 40% with 25% GGBS and 15% SF. With blocks actually producing greater strengths than the control mix (100% PC) at 28 days and meeting all the minimum requirements that were set out in BS EN 1338:2003.
Date of Award2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Coventry University
SupervisorEssie Ganjian (Supervisor) & Peter Claisse (Supervisor)


  • sustainability
  • concrete paving blocks

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