Five years ago, when the staff at Northwestern University's Center for Advanced Cement-Based Materials (ACBM), organized its first conference on self-consolidating concrete (SCC), it was primarily an academic affair.

Most attendees were industry researchers and university faculty who had an interest in spreading the technology from theory to laboratory. While that first attendee list inicluded a few notable concrete industry visionaries, the industry-at-large considered SCC to be a novel item with some specific applications.

But this November's gathering will be very different. Now that SCC has been gaining acceptance from North American producers, the event will be an industry show and tell. The center's Dr. Surendra Shah and conference organizers have recognized this transformation by focusing on a range of topics that will assist producers and contractors in incorporating SCC into mainstream construction.

SCC 2008: Challenges and Barriers to Application, the Third North American Conference on the Design and Use of Self-Consolidating Concrete will be held from Nov. 10–12, in Chicago. Organizers estimate more than 350 leaders from the cement and concrete area, representing industry, academic, and government organizations, will attend to learn from more than 150 presentations.

Raising awareness

“The organizing committee's goals are to raise awareness of diverse issues hindering the acceptance and utilization of SCC in the field, transfer knowledge to participants so that they can be better equipped to overcome those barriers, and promote a greater interaction between North American researchers and international users of SCC,” says Richard Garza, ACBM's manager.

Topics will include: Architectural and Precast Concrete, Precast SCC, Formwork Pressure, Emerging Technologies, Sustainability and Green SCC, Mechanical Properties and Performance, Mix Designs, Case Studies/Field Experiences, and others.

Notably this year, producers have been given front and center attention, as two from this group will give keynote addresses. Norm Wood, vice president, RMX Quality Assurance and New Product Development-Western Canada, Lafarge Canada Inc., will speak on “SCC: Barriers to Acceptance.”

In his presentation, Wood plans to discuss the barriers he has experienced in promoting SCC. Over the years, Wood notes that the ready-mixed concrete industry has introduced many new products to customers. “These new systems have potential to revolutionize the entire industry. However, to move forward, many barriers to acceptance must be overcome,” he says.

Wood brings a practical view to the event, as he was charged with getting Lafarge's SCC mix working in western Canada. Wood can also speak on global issues, as he participates on six different steering committees for new products that Lafarge is investigating worldwide.

While SCC acceptance in ready-mixed concrete has been slow, precast producers have been very receptive to the benefits associated with the flowing mixes. SCC use has had a tremendous impact on the precast/prestressed concrete market over the last 10 years. More than 35% of all precast concrete manufactured by precast and prestressed producers uses SCC, according to a recent U.S. industry survey.