GGBS, also known as ground granulated blast-furnace slag, is a byproduct of the iron and steel industry. This fine powder is obtained by rapidly cooling molten slag from blast furnaces. GGBS is a valuable addition to concrete, with its unique properties enhancing the overall performance and durability of the material. In this article, we delve into the reasons why GGBS is used in concrete and explore its various benefits.

1. Improved Strength and Durability

GGBS contributes to the strength and durability of concrete in several ways. Firstly, it reacts with calcium hydroxide (a byproduct of cement hydration) to form additional calcium silicate hydrate (CSH), a key binding agent in concrete. This further hydration leads to the formation of a denser microstructure, reducing porosity and enhancing the overall strength of the concrete.

Secondly, GGBS can improve the long-term strength of concrete by reducing the risk of alkali-silica reaction (ASR). ASR is a potentially damaging chemical reaction between certain types of reactive silica in aggregates and alkalis present in cement. This reaction can cause concrete to expand, crack, and deteriorate over time. GGBS, with its low alkali content, helps mitigate ASR, ensuring the long-term integrity of concrete structures.

2. Enhanced Workability and Cohesion

GGBS positively affects the workability and cohesion of concrete. The fine particles of GGBS act as tiny ball bearings, reducing friction between aggregate particles. This results in a smoother, more cohesive mix that is easier to place and consolidate. GGBS also helps retain moisture in the concrete, preventing rapid stiffening and extending the working time, which is particularly beneficial in hot weather or when pumping concrete over long distances.

3. Reduced Heat of Hydration

The heat of hydration is the amount of heat released during the chemical reactions that occur when cement and water mix. Excessive heat of hydration can cause thermal cracking, especially in large concrete pours. GGBS, with its lower heat of hydration compared to cement, helps control the temperature rise in concrete, reducing the risk of thermal cracking. This is particularly important in mass concrete structures, such as dams, bridge piers, and foundations.

4. Increased Resistance to Sulfate Attack and Acidic Environments

GGBS imparts increased resistance to sulfate attack and acidic environments to concrete. Sulfates present in soil and groundwater can react with the calcium hydroxide in concrete, forming expansive compounds that can cause cracking and deterioration. GGBS, with its lower calcium hydroxide content, reduces the susceptibility of concrete to sulfate attack. Additionally, GGBS helps neutralize acids, protecting concrete structures exposed to aggressive environments, such as industrial areas or coastal regions.

5. Reduced Environmental Impact

Using GGBS in concrete has environmental benefits. GGBS is a byproduct of the iron and steel industry, and its utilization reduces the need for virgin materials, conserving natural resources. Additionally, GGBS helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions by replacing a portion of cement in concrete. Cement production is a carbon-intensive process, and using GGBS can significantly reduce the carbon footprint of concrete construction.


GGBS is an effective and versatile material that offers numerous benefits when used in concrete. Its ability to enhance strength, durability, workability, and resistance to various environmental factors makes it a valuable addition to concrete mixes. Furthermore, GGBS is environmentally friendly, contributing to the sustainability of the construction industry. With its proven track record of performance, GGBS is widely used in various construction projects, from residential buildings to major infrastructure projects, ensuring the longevity and resilience of concrete structures.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the typical replacement level of GGBS in concrete?
GGBS can replace up to 50% of cement in concrete without compromising its strength and performance. The optimal replacement level depends on the specific application and local conditions.

2. How does GGBS affect the setting time of concrete?
GGBS generally extends the setting time of concrete compared to concrete without GGBS. This extended setting time can be beneficial in hot weather or when pumping concrete over long distances, as it allows more time for proper placement and consolidation.

3. Can GGBS be used in all types of concrete?
GGBS can be used in a wide variety of concrete applications, including structural concrete, pavements, precast concrete, and mass concrete. However, it is not recommended for use in certain specialized applications, such as high-strength concrete or concrete exposed to high temperatures.

4. Are there any special considerations for using GGBS in concrete?
When using GGBS in concrete, it is important to ensure proper curing to achieve the desired strength and durability. Additionally, GGBS may affect the color of concrete, resulting in a slightly darker shade.

5. How does GGBS compare to other supplementary cementitious materials (SCMs)?
GGBS has several advantages over other SCMs, such as fly ash and silica fume. It has a higher reactivity, leading to improved strength development, and is less susceptible to variations in quality. Additionally, GGBS is generally more cost-effective than other SCMs.



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