Concrete work can be challenging in climates such as the Middle East, where water evaporation can compromise the workability and strength of the concrete, writes Jose Vera-Agullo from Acciona. Vera-Agullo writes that Acciona added ice flakes to the concrete mixture during a recent project in the UAE, and the company also relied on wireless sensors to monitor the temperature of the concrete.



Building with concrete in very hot places, such as the Middle East, poses specific challenges. At high temperatures, the water in the concrete mix evaporates quickly, and this can affect the workability and strength once it sets.

A second risk in high temperatures concerns the chemical reaction that takes place once cement is mixed with sand, gravel, and water to form concrete.

This chemical reaction produces heat, and if the temperature of the mix rises above 70ºC and/or if the temperature difference between the concrete structure core and the surface goes above 20ºC, cracks could arise as the concrete sets, which weakens the resulting structure.

As a result, the temperature of the concrete mix must be carefully controlled throughout the building process and while it sets and cures to ensure the resulting structure is sound.

At ACCIONA, our global project teams work closely with our concrete specialists at the Technical Services Department in Madrid to optimise the temperature and hydration of the concrete mix and ensure that it meets the project’s technical requirements, including strength and durability.

Every project is different, which means that ACCIONA’s concrete specialists are much in demand, sometimes flying to the site of big projects to make their calculations.

They examine the quality of the local cement, the gravel and sand that will go into the input, the variation in temperature and humidity during the duration of the construction phase, as large, complex projects can take several years to complete.