Retarders Admixture in Concrete | Accelerators in Concrete


A retarder is an admixture that slows down the chemical process of hydration so that concrete remains plastic and workable for a longer time than concrete without the retarder. 

Retarders are used to overcome the accelerating effect of high temperature on setting properties of concrete in hot weather concreting. The retarders are used in casting and consolidating large number of pours without the formation of cold joints. They are also used in grouting oil wells. Oil wells are sometimes taken upto a depth of about 6000 meter deep where the temperature may be about 200°C. The annular spacing between the steel tube and the wall of the well will have to be sealed with cement grout. Sometimes at that depth stratified or porous rockstrata may also require to be grouted to prevent the entry of gas or oil into some other strata. For all these works cement grout is required to be in mobile condition for about 3 to 4 hours, even at that high temperature without getting set. Use of retarding agent is often used for such requirements. 

Sometimes concrete may have to be placed in difficult conditions and delay may occur in transporting and placing. In ready mixed concrete practices, concrete is manufactured in central batching plant and transported over a long distance to the job sites which may take considerable time. In the above cases the setting of concrete will have to be retarded, so that concrete when finally placed and compacted is in perfect plastic state.

Retarding admixtures are sometimes used to obtain exposed aggregate look in concrete. The retarder sprayed to the surface of the formwork, prevents the hardening of matrix at the interface of concrete and formwork, whereas the rest of the concrete gets hardened. On removing the formwork after one day or so, the unhardened matrix can be just washed off by a jet of water which will expose the aggregates. The above are some of the instances where a retarding agent is used. 

Perhaps the most commonly known retarder is calcium sulphate.

 It is interground to retard the setting of cement. The appropriate amount of gypsum to be used must be determined carefully for the given job. Use of gypsum for the purpose of retarding setting time is only recommended when adequate inspection and control is available, otherwise, addition of excess amount may cause undesirable expansion and indefinite delay in the setting of concrete

.In addition to gypsum there are number of other materials found to be suitable for this purpose. They are: starches, cellulose products, sugars, acids or salts of acids. These chemicals may have variable action on different types of cement when used in different quantities. Unless experience has been had with a retarder, its use as an admixture should not be attempted without technical advice. Any mistake made in this respect may have disastrous consequences.

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Common sugar is one of the most effective retarding agents used as an admixture for delaying the setting time of concrete without detrimental effect on the ultimate strength.

 Addition of excessive amounts will cause indefinite delay in setting. At normal temperatures addition of sugar 0.05 to 0.10 per cent have little effect on the rate of hydration, but if the quantity is increased to 0.2 per cent, hydration can be retarded to such an extent that final set may not take place for 72 hours or more. Skimmed milk powder (casein) has a retarding effect mainly due to sugar content.

Other admixtures which have been successfully used as retarding agents are Ligno sulphonic acids and their salts, hydroxylated carboxylic acids and their salts which in addition to the retarding effect also reduce the quantity of water requirement for a given workability.

 This also increases 28 days compressive strength by 10 to 20 per cent. Materials like mucic acid, calcium acetate and a commercial products by name “Ray lig binder” are used for set retarding purposes. These days admixtures are manufactured to combine set retarding and water reducing properties. They are usually mixtures of conventional water reducing agents plus sugars or hydroxylated carboxylic acids or their salts. Both the setting time and the rate of strength build up are effected by these materials. This is shown in below Table.


Retarding Plasticizers 

It is mentioned earlier that all the plasticizers and superplasticizers by themselves show certain extent of retardation. Many a time this extent of retardation of setting time offered by admixtures will not be sufficient. Instead of adding retarders separately, retarders are mixed with plasticizers or superplasticizers at the time of commercial production. Such commercial brand is known as retarding plasticizers or retarding superplasticizers. ASTM type D is retarding plasticizers and ASTM type G is retarding superplasticizer. In the commercial formulation we have also retarding and slump retaining version. 

Retarding plasticizers or superplasticizers are important category of admixtures often used in the Ready mixed concrete industry for the purposes of retaining the slump loss, during high temperature, long transportation, to avoid construction or cold joints, slip form construction and regulation of heat of hydration.

One must be careful in the selection of such ready made retarding admixtures. On account of heterogeneous nature and different molecular weight of retarders used with plasticizers, they tend to separate out. It happens when sugar solution is used as cheap retarders. When retarders like gluconate is used such separation or settlement of retarders do not happen. It is cautioned that such retarding plasticizers should always be shaken thoroughly or well stirred before use. There are cases that settlement of retarders from rest of the ingredients causing excessive retardation and failure of structures.

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Accelerating admixtures are added to concrete to increase the rate of early strength development in concrete to 

  • permit earlier removal of formwork;
  • reduce the required period of curing; 
  • advance the time that a structure can be placed in service; 
  • partially compensate for the retarding effect of low temperature during cold weather concreting;
  • in the emergency repair work

In the past one of the commonly used materials as an accelerator was calcium chloride. But, now a days it is not used. Instead, some of the soluble carbonates, silicates fluorosilicates and some of the organic compounds such as triethanolamine are used. Accelerators such as fluorosilicates and triethanolamine are comparatively expensive.

The recent studies have shown that calcium chloride is harmful for reinforced concrete and prestressed concrete. It may be used for plain cement concrete in comparatively high dose. The limits of chloride content in concrete is given in chapter on Durability of Concrete. 

Some of the accelerators produced these days are so powerful that it is possible to make the cement set into stone hard in a matter of five minutes are less. With the availability of such powerful accelerator, the under water concreting has become easy. Similarly, the repair work that would be carried out to the waterfront structures in the region of tidal variations has become easy. The use of such powerful accelerators have facilitated, the basement waterproofing operations. In the field of prefabrication also it has become an invaluable material. As these materials could be used up to 10°C, they find an unquestionable use in cold weather concreting.

Some of the modern commercial accelerating materials are Mc-Schnell OC, Mc-Schnell SDS, Mc-Torkrethilfe BE, manufactured by Mc-Bauchemic (Ind) Pvt. Ltd. MC-Torkrethilfe BE is a material specially formulated to meet the demand for efficient and multifold properties desired for sprayed concrete and shotcreting operations. A field trial is essential to determine the dose for a given job and temperature conditions when the above materials are used.

Accelerating Plasticizers 

Certain ingredients are added to accelerate the strength development of concrete to plasticizers or superplasticizers. Such accelerating superplasticizers, when added to concrete result in faster development of strength. 

The accelerating materials added to plasticizers or superplasticizers are triethenolamine chlorides, calcium nutrite, nitrates and flousilicates etc. 

The accelerating plasticizers or accelerating superplasticizers manufactured by well known companies are chloride free.

retarder admixture in concrete
physical requirement according to IS 9103 - 1999

commonly used retarder in cement

accelerator admixture examples
Specification for various types of admixtures according to ASTM 494-82

calcium chloride accelerator

plasticizers specification
Specification for various types of admixtures according to BS 5075 part 1-1982
plasticizers example
Specification for superplasticizing admixtures according to BS 5075 part 3-1985

plasticizers and superplasticizers
some of commerical plasticizers and super plasticizers in india

plasticizers and superplasticizers in india

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