Mechanical Strength and Water Transport Properties of Concrete Containing Treated Recycled Aggregates

Brian Jacks Odero1, *, Raphael N. Mutuku2, Timothy Nyomboi3, Zachary A. Gariy4
1 Pan African University Institute of Basic Sciences, Technology and Innovation, Nairobi, Kenya
2 Technical University of Mombasa, Mombasa, Kenya
3 Kenya Urban Roads Authority, Nairobi, Kenya
4 Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Nairobi, Kenya

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© 2022 Odero et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Pan African University Institute of Basic Sciences, Technology and Innovation, Nairobi-Kenya; Tel: +067-5870001-4; E-mail:



The objective is to determine the effect of treated RCA on the mechanical strength of hardened concrete, and determine the influence of treated RCA on water transport within the matrix of hardened concrete.


The study aims to use pozzolanic concentration of cement and RHA slurry to pretreat coarse RCA for full replacement of NCA for sustainable concrete production.


One of the common modes of disposal of construction waste is strained landfills. This study proposes a constructive way of recovering the coarse aggregates of recycled aggregates from laboratory concrete waste taken through a focused treatment process with pozzolan. The study aims to replace the proportions of the cement slurry to treat and replace with rice husk ash (RHA) for the modification of recycled concrete aggregate (RCA) and replace fully natural coarse aggregate (NCA) for sustainable concrete production. One of the main challenges of recycled concrete aggregate (RCA) is the fractured surface, which often results in reduced strength and loss of concrete durability. The strength of concrete with RCA is principally influenced by the fractured hardened paste attached to the surface, predominantly characterized by voids and gaps resulting from its production using a mechanical method. High water penetration within and around the aggregate matrix due to the presence of micro- and macro-cracks results in strength and durability deterioration of concrete.


This study addresses these problems by specifying aggregate treatment with a pozzolanic slurry of cement and RHA. This was conducted in two (2) phases; first, to determine the optimum proportion of cement slurry concentration (0, 20, 40, 60, 80, and 100%), and second, to increase the silicate formation in cement slurry by substituting the proportions of cement with RHA (0, 5, 10, and 15%). The performance of concrete was evaluated by mechanical strength (compressive and split tensile strength) at 7, 28, and 56 days and water transport within the concrete (surface suction and submergence) at 28 and 56 days of curing age.


The use of cement slurry treatment at various concentrations generally increased compressive strength at 28 days compared to untreated RCA. The findings show that at a 20% concentration of cement slurry, the increase in compressive strength is 38.4%. Upon replacement of cement in treatment slurry of RCA with 5% RHA, the increase in compressive strength was 61%, while the split tensile strength increased by 10.2%. The amount of water absorbed was observed after 30 minutes of full submergence in water, indicating that samples with 20% cement concentration at 28 days resulted in the lowest water absorption of 2.01%. However, with the replacement of 5% RHA, the water absorption slightly increased to 2.3%, but still less than the requirement of 3.5%. The corresponding test results for water suction by capillarity, initial and secondary sorptivity coefficients (Si and Ss) were found to be 0.0330mm/√sec. (1.98mm/√hr.) and 7.95×10−4mm/√sec. (0.04mm/√hr.) respectively, all less than 6mm/√hr requirement. This improved performance was attributed to the increased strength and structure of the interfacial transition zone (ITZ) around the RCA.


Based on the results of mechanical strength and water transport, characteristics of the new concrete were improved when coarse RCAs were pretreated with 20% pozzolanic concentration containing cement and RHA. The use of a pozzolanic treatment slurry containing 15% cement and 5% RHA to treat coarse RCA can produce concrete with characteristics similar to those of natural concrete aggregates. This study presents a methodological utilization and improvement of RCA wastes for field application.

Keywords: Pozzolanic material, Treatment concentration, Compressive strength, Water absorption, Sorptivity, RCA.