American Society of Civil Engineers

Water Absorption and Critical Degree of Saturation Relating to Freeze-Thaw Damage in Concrete Pavement Joints

by Wenting Li, (Graduate Research Assistant, School of Materials Science, Southeast Univ., Nanjing 211189, China, and Graduate Research Assistant, School of Civil Engineering, Purdue Univ., West Lafayette, IN. E-mail:, Mohammad Pour-Ghaz, M.ASCE, (Assistant Professor, Dept. of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering, North Carolina State Univ., Campus Box 7908, 431C Mann Hall, Raleigh, NC 27695; formerly, Graduate Research Assistant, School of Civil Engineering, Purdue Univ., West Lafayette, IN. E-mail:, Javier Castro, (Assistant Professor, School of Engineering, Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile, Casilla 306, Correo 22, Santiago, Chile. E-mail:, and Jason Weiss, (corresponding author), M.ASCE, (Professor, Director of Pankow Materials Laboratory, Purdue Univ., West Lafayette, IN. E-mail:

Journal of Materials in Civil Engineering, Vol. 24, No. 3, March 2012, pp. 299-307, (doi:

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Document type: Journal Paper
Abstract: Fluid ingress is a primary factor that influences freeze-thaw damage in concrete. This paper discusses the influence of fluid ingress on freeze-thaw damage development. Specifically, this paper examines the influence of entrained air content on the rate of water absorption, the degree of saturation, and the relationship between the saturation level and freeze-thaw damage. The results indicate that whereas air content delays the time it takes for concrete to reach a critical degree of saturation it will not prevent the freeze-thaw damage from occurring. The results of the experiments show that when the degree of saturation exceeds 86–88%, freeze-thaw damage is inevitable with or without entrained air even with very few freeze-thaw cycles.

ASCE Subject Headings:
Concrete pavements
Freeze and thaw

Author Keywords:
Acoustic emission
Air content
Concrete pavement
Degree of saturation
Pavement joint
Water absorption