A new model concrete for reduced-scale model tests of energy geo-structures

Davide Vitali, Anthony K. Leung*, Andrew Minto, Jonathan A. Knappett

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

5 Citations (Scopus)


Concrete energy geo-structures such as piles and diaphragm walls exhibit complex thermomechanical behaviour and interaction with the surrounding soil. Small-scale physical model tests including the use of geotechnical centrifuges have been utilised to study such soil-structure interaction. However, existing materials used to model concrete energy geo-structures do not simultaneously scale both the mechanical and thermal properties. This study attempts to develop a new material that could have representative thermal and mechanical behaviour of concrete. The new material is a plaster-based mortar with the addition of fine copper powder. It is revealed that adding copper powder from 0 to 6% (by volume) to the mortar resulted in a 90% increase in thermal conductivity. More importantly, such an addition was not found to cause significant increase or reduction of the mechanical strength, including both the unconfined compressive strength and modulus of rupture. These findings suggest that while the thermal properties of concrete can be properly scaled, the new type of mortar can maintain its ability to also correctly scale the mechanical behaviour of concrete simultaneously. This will allow the study of a range of geotechnical problems, where thermal properties and structural strength are important, such as slope reinforcement using concrete energy piles.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGeo-Chicago 2016
Subtitle of host publicationgeotechnics for sustainable energy: selected papers from sessions of Geo-Chicago 2016
EditorsArvin Farid, Anirban De, Krishna R. Reddy, Nazli Yesiller, Dimitrios Zekkos
Place of PublicationReston
PublisherAmerican Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9780784480137 (PDF)
Publication statusPublished - 11 Aug 2016
Externally publishedYes
EventGeo Sustainability & GeoEnvironment Conference 2016: Sustainability, Energy, and the Geoenvironment - Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers, Chicago, United States
Duration: 14 Aug 201618 Aug 2016

Publication series

NameGeotechnical special publication
PublisherAmerican Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)


ConferenceGeo Sustainability & GeoEnvironment Conference 2016
Abbreviated titleGEO Chicago 2016
Country/TerritoryUnited States
OtherThe theme of Geo-Chicago 2016 is Sustainability, Energy, and the Geoenvironment and it will feature the latest research advances and engineering practice innovations with a focus on characterization, modeling, design, construction, and field performance. The conference will include a wide range of knowledge-enhancing technical sessions, short courses, workshops, and technical tours. Around 600 U.S. and international participants from academia, industry, and government agencies are expected to attend the conference.


  • Mortars
  • Soil-pile interaction
  • Thermal properties
  • Concrete piles
  • Mechanical properties
  • Compressive strength
  • Thermal power
  • Geotechnical models


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