Reactive Powder Concrete (RPC), which is also known as Ultra-High Performance Concrete (UHPC), is a combination of portland cement, silica fume, quartz flour, fine silica sand, high-range water reducer, water, and optional additives. The Portland Cement Association explains that reactive powder concrete is “extremely workable, durable and yields ultra-high strengths without using coarse aggregates. Reaching compressive strengths of 30,000 pounds per square inch (psi), this new-age concrete also has tensile strength with the inclusion of steel and synthetic fibers.” The micro structure of RPC is optimized by precise graduation of all particles in the mix to give it maximum density.
An article on the Concrete Portal website explains that Reactive Powder Concrete (RPC) is “a developing composite material that will allow the concrete industry to optimize material use, generate economic benefits, and build structures that are strong, durable, and sensitive to environment.” When researchers compare the physical, mechanical, and durability properties of RPC to HPC (High Performance Concrete), studies show RPC offering “better strength (both compressive and flexural) and lower permeability compared to HPC.”
HPC is designed to be more durable and sometimes stronger than conventional concrete and is a mixture of cement, water, and aggregate as well as mineral components and chemical admixtures with specific characteristics. Achieving its maximum compressive strength, the coarse aggregate in the HPC prevents it from going further. In the case of RPC, the coarse aggregate is removed to provide the concrete with an even better compressive strength. Along with very fine powders of cement, sand, quartz powder and silica fume, a RPC mix may contain steel fibers and a superplasticizer.
RPC was developed by P. Richard and M. Cheyrezy and first produced in the early 1990s in France at the Bouygues’ Laboratory. The first project to use RPC was the Sherbrooke Bridge, a pedestrian bridge in Canada.
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