Evaluation of the Environmental, Material, and Structural Performance of Recycled Aggregate Concrete
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Concrete is the most commonly used building material in the construction industry, and contributes to 52% of construction and demolition waste in Canada. Recycled concrete aggregate (RCA) is one way to reduce this impact. To evaluate the performance of coarse and granular (fine and coarse) RCA in structural concrete applications, four studies were performed: an environmental assessment, a material testing program, a shear performance study, and a flexural performance study. To determine the environmental benefits of recycled aggregate concrete (RAC), three case studies were investigated using different populations and proximities to city centres. Environmental modelling suggested that RCA replacement could result in energy savings and greenhouse gas emission reductions, especially in remote areas. Tests were performed to determine if the volumetric replacement of up to 30% coarse RCA and 20% granular RCA is suitable for structural concrete applications in Canada. Fresh, hardened, and durability properties were evaluated. All five (5) of the RCA mixes showed equivalent material performance to the control mixes and met the requirements for a structural concrete mix. The five (5) RAC mixes were also used in structural testing. One-way reinforced concrete slab specimens were tested to failure to evaluate the shear and flexural performance of the RAC members. Peak capacities of and crack formation within each member were analyzed to evaluate the performance of RAC compared to conventional concrete. The shear capacity of specimens made from four (4) of the five (5) RAC mixtures was higher or equivalent to the control specimens. Specimens of the concrete mixture containing the highest content of recycled aggregate, 20% volumetric replacement of granular RCA, had shear capacities 14.1% lower, and exhibited cracking at lower loads than the control. The average flexural capacities of all RAC specimens were within 3.7% of the control specimens. Results from this research provide evidence that up to 30% coarse recycled concrete aggregate and 10% granular recycled aggregate may be incorporated into structural concrete mixtures without altering the behaviour of the structure. Concrete containing 20% volumetric replacement of the natural aggregate with granular RCA should be designed with special consideration of the shear performance.