The Many Faces of RCC

by Kenneth Hansen, Principal and Sr. Vice President; Schnabel Engrg. in Englewood, CO,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 2001, Vol. 71, Issue 4, Pg. 48-53

Document Type: Feature article


The Chinese government, under an aggressive move to boost its hydroelectric power output, is building an extensive system of dams nationwide. Chinese engineers have developed innovative ways of working with roller-compacted concrete (RCC) in both main dams and cofferdams in the process of this massive undertaking. Blessed with many competent rock foundation sites, Chinese infrastructure engineers have achieved considerable savings in cost and time using RCC methods. One such method is the extensive use of RCC for arch dams. The soon-to-be-completed Shapai Dam in the Sichuan Province, for example, will be the highest RCC arch dam in the world, with a height of 423 ft (129 m) and a base of 92 ft (28 m)�just 21 percent of its height. The dam is distinguished by a three-centered, single-curvature arch. Another notable use of RCC is in the cofferdams for the controversial, yet-to-be-built Three Gorges Dam. These cofferdams are themselves among the largest such structures in the world. But the Chinese dam innovation that has perhaps attracted the greatest attention is the use of grout-enriched RCC (GE-RCC) for upstream faces of main dams. To accomplish this, engineers have had to design new methods of GE-RCC placement, vibration, and transport.

Subject Headings: Arch dams | Dams | Cofferdams | Innovation | Hydro power | Concrete dams | Vibration

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