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Acids and sulphates, can only penetrate concrete when dissolved in water and even aggressive gases only react with the cement hydrates in the presence of water. Two agents associated with the deterioration of concrete are carbon dioxide and chlorides. 4. It should be pointed out that carbon dixoxide (CO 2 ), which causes carbonation, is in practice positively beneficial to concrete since carbonated concrete is stronger and more resistant to penetration by aggressive agents. The confusion arises because excessive carbonation is associated with poor concrete and the benefits of carbonation are not sufficient to turn it into good concrete.

In practice, therefore, sulphate attack from external sources is manifested as a progressive weakening and disintegration of the surface. With very porous materials it is possible for the sulphate to be absorbed to such an extent that disruption takes place more generally but such a mechanism is normally only observed in laboratory experiments. As a consequence, concrete which has been damaged by contact with sulphates can be repaired by removal of the outer weakened layers until sound concrete low in sulphates has been reached.

4. When the rate of evaporation of bleed water is faster than the bleeding rate, an effect called ‘plastic shrinkage’ can occur. The removal of water Deterioration of concrete Fig. 5 Void under reinforcing bar due to plastic settlement of fresh concrete. Fig. 6 Plastic settlement over reinforcing. g. by settlement, then cracks will result. Plastic shrinkage cracking is most common on flat slabs placed during hot or windy weather which are not protected almost immediately after laying. A particularly severe form of plastic shrinkage cracking occurs when concrete is placed on a high-suction substrate.

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