Sustainable Concrete Structures using Recycled Concrete Aggregate: Short-Term and Long-Term Behavior Considering Material Variability

Doctoral Dissertation


The use of recycled concrete aggregate (RCA) in the U.S. has mostly been limited to non-structural applications such as roadway sub-base. To advance this sustainable material as replacement for coarse natural aggregates (e.g., gravel) in structural applications, a fundamental understanding of the behavior of RCA concrete is needed while also incorporating the variability in RCA properties. To this end, this dissertation investigates the short-term and long-term structural behavior of RCA concrete through material and member level experiments, accompanying analytical models, and statistical investigations. Three RCA concrete mix design methods utilizing up to 100% (i.e., full) direct volume aggregate replacement, direct weight replacement, and equivalent mortar replacement are compared. To represent the variability in material properties, sixteen RCA sources from the midwestern U.S are used.

The research vision is to use RCA with minimal deviation or additional processing from current practice for conventional reinforced concrete structures. The material level tests show that direct volume replacement is the best method to design RCA concrete mixes because this simple method results in a consistent volumetric yield and workability as conventional concrete. While there is a decrease in the concrete strength and stiffness as a result of RCA, the dissertation proposes design relationships to pre-qualify the RCA (using the aggregate water absorption and deleterious material content) to achieve specific concrete strength and stiffness performance criteria.

RCA has a much greater effect on concrete stiffness than strength; and thus, increased deflections may be a greater limitation. Based on creep and shrinkage experiments, the dissertation develops adjustment factors for conventional concrete creep and shrinkage models to predict the deformations of RCA concrete. These models are validated using the long-term deflections from eighteen reinforced concrete beam test specimens. The beams are subsequently tested under ultimate loads to experimentally and analytically investigate the flexural, shear, and bond failure in RCA concrete. The measured long-term beam deflections are also used to validate a new time-dependent concrete material model for the OpenSees structural analysis program. This model is then extended to parametric Monte Carlo investigations to determine the service-load behavior of beams and columns incorporating the variability in RCA properties.


Attribute NameValues
  • etd-10092013-203527

Author Adam Knaack
Advisor Dr. Yahya Kurama
Contributor Dr. Ashley Thrall, Committee Member
Contributor Dr. David Kirkner, Committee Member
Contributor Dr. Yahya Kurama, Committee Chair
Contributor Dr. Kapil Khandelwal, Committee Member
Degree Level Doctoral Dissertation
Degree Discipline Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences
Degree Name PhD
Defense Date
  • 2013-08-23

Submission Date 2013-10-09
  • United States of America

  • Structural Behavior

  • Concrete

  • Creep

  • Shrinkage

  • Recycled Concrete Aggregate

  • Sustainability

  • Time-Dependent Deflection

  • University of Notre Dame

  • English

Record Visibility and Access Public
Content License
  • All rights reserved

Departments and Units


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