Air Entraining Concrete

Air Entraining Concrete

Air entraining concrete is a unique and widely used material in the construction industry. Its ability to introduce tiny air bubbles into the concrete mix makes it a highly durable and versatile material for various construction applications. In this article, we will delve into the properties, benefits, and applications of air entraining concrete, as well as the methods of incorporating air into the concrete mix. Whether you are a construction professional or simply curious about the science behind this essential building material, this article will provide valuable insights into the world of air entraining concrete.

Characteristics of Air Entraining Concrete

Air entraining concrete (AEC) is a special type of concrete with increased resistance to freeze-thaw cycles and improved workability. This technology has become an important aspect of modern concrete construction, particularly in cold weather regions, due to its unique characteristics that enhance the durability and performance of concrete. As a civil engineer, it is crucial to understand the properties and benefits of AEC to effectively incorporate it in construction projects.

Listed below are some notable characteristics of air entraining concrete:

1. Increased Durability: Perhaps the most significant characteristic of AEC is its ability to resist the effects of repeated freeze-thaw cycles. When water freezes, it expands, causing internal pressure within the concrete. This pressure can lead to cracking, spalling, and even structural damage. However, in AEC, the tiny air bubbles dispersed throughout the concrete act as relief points for this pressure, preventing the development of cracks and increasing the overall durability of the concrete.

2. Improved Workability: AEC has improved workability compared to conventional concrete. The incorporation of air bubbles reduces the surface tension between the cement and water, making the concrete more fluid and easier to handle. This makes it ideal for construction in difficult-to-reach areas or in projects with complex designs.

3. Reduced Bleeding and Segregation: AEC has a smaller particle size and higher cohesion compared to regular concrete. This results in reduced bleeding and segregation, as well as improved stability, which helps in maintaining a consistent mix throughout the project.

4. Enhanced Strength and Workability: AEC typically has a lower water-cement ratio, resulting in higher strength and lower permeability. This makes it ideal for projects that require high strength, such as high-rise buildings, bridges, and water retaining structures.

5. Better Resistance to Sulfate Attack: Sulfate attack is a common problem in concrete structures built in areas with high sulfate content in the soil. AEC’s increased durability helps prevent damage caused by sulfate exposure, making it a suitable choice for construction in such areas.

6. Decreased Shrinkage: AEC has a lower shrinkage rate compared to conventional concrete. This results in less cracking and reduced long-term maintenance costs for the structure.

7. Improved Pumpability: Due to its high workability and reduced bleeding, AEC is suitable for pumping operations and can be placed more quickly and efficiently than regular concrete. This makes it a preferred choice for large-scale projects.

In conclusion, as a civil engineer, understanding the characteristics of air entraining concrete and its benefits is crucial to utilize it effectively in construction projects. The unique properties of AEC make it a valuable addition to the construction industry, providing enhanced durability, workability, and strength to concrete structures.

Advantages of Air Entraining Cement

There are several advantages of using air entraining cement in construction projects. As a civil engineer, it is important to understand these benefits in order to make informed decisions when selecting the appropriate building materials. Here are some of the advantages of air entraining cement:

1. Improved Workability: Air entraining cement contains tiny air bubbles that act as lubricants, making the concrete mix more workable. This results in easier placement and compaction of the concrete mix, reducing the amount of effort required during the construction process.

2. Increased Durability: The tiny air bubbles created by air entraining agents act as a cushioning effect, absorbing the expansion and contraction stresses caused by temperature changes. This helps in preventing cracking and spalling, thereby increasing the overall durability of the concrete structure.

3. Resistance to Freezing and Thawing: When water freezes, it expands, leading to damage and cracks in the concrete. Air entraining cement provides resistance to such damage by allowing the water to expand into the air voids, reducing the internal pressure build-up.

4. Improved Finish: Air entraining agents help in enhancing the surface finish of the concrete, resulting in a smoother and more aesthetically pleasing appearance. This is especially beneficial for exposed or decorative concrete surfaces.

5. Better Chemical Resistance: The tiny air bubbles in air entraining cement help in reducing the permeability of concrete. This makes the concrete more resistant to chemical attacks, making it suitable for structures that are in contact with aggressive chemicals.

6. Improved Cohesion: Air entraining cement increases the cohesion within the concrete mix, ensuring that the ingredients are evenly distributed. This improves the overall strength and stability of the concrete structure.

7. Cost-effective: Although air entraining cement is slightly more expensive than regular cement, its numerous benefits make it a cost-effective choice in the long run. It reduces the need for maintenance and repairs, resulting in cost savings for the project.

In conclusion, the use of air entraining cement offers several advantages in terms of improved workability, durability, resistance to freezing and thawing, improved finish, chemical resistance, cohesion, and cost-effectiveness. As a civil engineer, incorporating air entraining cement in construction projects can lead to superior quality and longer-lasting structures.

Disadvantages of Air Entraining Cement

As a civil engineer, it is important to understand the various types of cement available in the construction industry, including air entraining cement. While air entraining cement has its advantages, it also comes with notable disadvantages that must be considered before use.

1. Reduced compressive strength: One of the main disadvantages of air entraining cement is that it reduces the compressive strength of concrete compared to non-air entrained cement. This is because the air voids created by the entrained air can weaken the bond between the cement paste and aggregates, resulting in lower compressive strength.

2. Increased permeability: Air entraining cement can also increase the permeability of concrete, making it more susceptible to water and chemical penetration. This can lead to premature deterioration of the concrete, reducing its durability and lifespan.

3. Higher water demand: The use of air entraining cement can increase the water demand of concrete due to the need for additional water to create the air voids. This can lead to a lower water-cement ratio, which can affect the concrete’s strength and workability.

4. Potential for excessive air voids: Improperly proportioned air entraining cement can result in excessive air voids, which can have a negative impact on the concrete’s strength and durability. This is especially problematic in structural elements such as beams and columns.

5. Adverse weather conditions: Air entraining cement can be sensitive to adverse weather conditions such as high humidity and low temperatures. This can affect the effectiveness of the added air-entraining agent, leading to potential issues with the concrete’s properties.

6. Complex mix design: Compared to non-air entraining cement, the mix design process for air entraining cement is more complex and requires careful consideration of factors such as water-cement ratio, air content, and air-entraining agent dosage. This can increase the complexity and cost of concrete production.

In conclusion, although air entraining cement can improve the frost resistance and durability of concrete, it also has its limitations and potential drawbacks. As a civil engineer, it is crucial to carefully evaluate the disadvantages of air entraining cement and its suitability for a particular project before making a decision on its use.


In conclusion, air entraining concrete is a crucial material in modern construction due to its ability to improve durability, reduce cracking and enhance workability. It is continually being developed and improved upon to meet the ever-changing demands of the construction industry. The proper selection and use of air entraining agents, along with proper mixture design, can result in highly durable and resilient concrete structures. As the demand for sustainable and long-lasting construction materials increases, the adoption of air entraining concrete is expected to grow. With its numerous benefits and advancements, it is clear that air entraining concrete will continue to play a significant role in modern construction for years to come.

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