Large-Scale Testing of Low-Strength Cellular Concrete for Skewed Bridge Abutments
Low-strength cellular concrete consists of a cement slurry that is aerated prior to placement. It remains a largely untested material with properties somewhere between those of soil, geofoam, and typical controlled low-strength material (CLSM). The benefits of using this material include its low density, ease of placement, and ability to self-compact. Although the basic laboratory properties of this material have been investigated, little information exists about the performance of this material in the field, much less the passive resistance behavior of this material in the field.In order to evaluate the use of cellular concrete as a backfill material behind bridge abutments, two large-scale tests were conducted. These tests sought to better understand the passive resistance, the movement required to reach this resistance, the failure mechanism, and skew effects for a cellular concrete backfill. The tests used a pile cap with a backwall face 5.5 ft (1.68 m) tall and 11 ft (3.35 m) wide. The backfill area had walls on either side running parallel to the sides of the pile cap to allow the material to fail in a 2D fashion. The cellular concrete backfill for the 30<°ree> skew test had an average wet density of 29.6 pcf (474 kg/m3) and a compressive strength of 57.6 psi (397 kPa). The backfill for the 0<°ree> skew test had an average wet density of 28.6 pcf (458 kg/m3) and a compressive strength of 50.9 psi (351 kPa). The pile cap was displaced into the backfill area until failure occurred. A total of two tests were conducted, one with a 30<°ree> skew wedge attached to the pile cap and one with no skew wedge attached.It was observed that the cellular concrete backfill mainly compressed under loading with no visible failure at the surface. The passive-force curves showed the material reaching an initial peak resistance after movement equal to 1.7-2.6% of the backwall height and then remaining near this strength or increasing in strength with any further deflection. No skew effects were observed; any difference between the two tests is most likely due to the difference in concrete placement and testing.