Why Concrete is used more than steel in Structures?

Although concrete is not strong as much as steel, but its use more than steel in structure has three primary reasons.

  1. Concrete possess excellent resistance to water unlike wood and ordinary steel, the ability of concrete to withstand the action of water without serious deterioration makes it ideal material for building structures to control, store and transport water. The use of plain concrete for dams, canal linings, and pavements is common everywhere in the world. Structural components exposed to wet, like piles, foundations, footings, floors, beams, columns, roofs, exterior walls and pipes area unit oftentimes engineered with RCC or pre-stressed concrete. Durability of RCC or pre-stressed concrete structure depends upon the durability of concrete to aggressive water in severe industries and natural environments.
  2. Fresh concrete has its characteristics to give any shape and size of the structure when placing in the formwork or mold. Therefore, its use in structure has the benefit of easiness for the formation of any components with its required size and shape.
  3. It is cheaper and most readily available material at any part of the world.

Use of concrete in structure has some significant merits over steel

Maintenance: Since concrete does not corrode, needs no surface treatment. And its strength increases with time, its structure requires much less maintenance. In other hand, steel structures need costly surface treatments to avoid corrosion and deterioration from offshore environment.

Fire Resistance: Concrete has very good fire resistance capacity over other structural materials like steel and timber. Steel fails its resisting capacity in high temperature and timber burns out.

Resistance to Cyclic Loading: The fatigue strength of steel is greatly influenced by local stress field in welding joints, corrosion pitting and sudden changes in geometry. ie. from thin web to thick frame connections. In most code of practice, the allowable concrete stresses are limited to about 50% of the ultimate strength. so, the fatigue strength of concrete is generally not a problem.

Use of concrete in structures is now common in the world. Use of concrete with steel, as called Reinforced Cement Concrete (RCC) or only Reinforced Concrete (RC).
Reinforced Cement Concrete played extraordinary role to develop new infrastructures in this modern world.

Followings are some examples of the use of concrete in structures:

  1. Building: Various structural (i.e. foundation, column, beam, slab,staircase etc.) and nonstructural components
  2. Dam: Mass concrete
  3. Airport: pavement and other structural parts
  4. Road: pavement and retaining walls
  5. Bridge: pier and super structures
  6. Steel structure: Foundation base of steel towers
  7. Steel Frame High Rise Buildings: Foundation and shear walls
  8. Tunnel / Underground Structures: heavy concrete segments
  9. Slope Stabilization: Ground retaining structures
  10. Offshore Structure: Various marine structures for oil/gas extraction and heavy weight concrete to protect from tsunami
  11. Nuclear Shield: Heavy weight concrete.
  12. Refractory: High temperature application.
  13. Fire Proofing: Widely used in fireproofing of steel structure.
  14. Reinforced/ precast/ pre-stressed concrete components: Various new technology of use of concrete, making its use more popular & wider.

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