Strength Developments and Deformation Characteristics of MMA-Modified Vinyl Ester Polymer Concrete
© The Author(s) 2018
Received: 3 September 2017
Accepted: 26 October 2017
Published: 30 January 2018
This study investigated the strength developments and deformation characteristics of methyl methacrylate (MMA)-modified vinyl ester polymer concrete, with MMA contents and curing temperatures as test variables. To lower the viscosity of the vinyl ester resin applied as a binder, an MMA monomer was added. In this study, the developed 168-h compressive and flexural strengths were 43.8–77.2 and 18.2–21.8 MPa, respectively. Also, these values decreased as MMA contents increased and curing temperatures decreased. The coefficient of thermal expansion ranged from 10.82 × 10−6 to 14.23 × 10−6/°C, and it decreased as an MMA content increased. The ultimate compressive strain ranged from 0.00391 to 0.00494, which decreased with an increase in MMA contents and notably decreased with a decrease in curing temperatures. The modulus of elasticity tended to decrease as MMA contents increased and curing temperatures decreased.
Concrete-polymer composites are generally one of three classifications, i.e., polymer-modified (or cement) concrete (PCC), polymer concrete (PC), or polymer-impregnated concrete (PIC) (Chandra and Ohama 1994). Both PCC and PC have been in commercial use since the 1950s and PIC has been in use since the 1970s (Mehta and Monteiro 2006). The representative characteristic of polymer concrete is rapid hardening. The hardening time of polymer concrete is much faster than the hardening time of ordinary portland cement concrete. Therefore, by applying polymer concrete, the curing time of cast-in-place applications can be reduced and the productivity of precast construction products can be enhanced. Hence, it is applied for cast-in-place applications and precast construction applications such as building panels, utility boxes, and underground junction boxes. Also, polymer concrete is employed mainly as a patching material to fill minor damages and to overlay damaged concrete bridge pavement surfaces (Chandra and Ohama 1994; Fowler 1989).
The binder principally used to produce polymer concrete is a thermosetting resin (e.g., unsaturated polyester, epoxy, acrylic, and vinyl ester). Also, apparent differences existed in the physical and mechanical properties depending on the type of binder (Haddad et al. 1983; Hyun and Yeon 2012; Ohama 1973). In addition, studies to improve the properties of these binders have been actively conducted (Hyun and Yeon 2012; Son and Yeon 2012).
In this study, vinyl ester resin was chosen as a binder. Due to its excellent chemical and corrosion resistances coupled with outstanding heat resistance, it is suitable for practical applications, such as in swimming pools, sewer pipes, and solvent storage tanks (Cao and Lee 2003; Cook et al. 1997).
An MMA monomer used in this study as a reforming agent has low viscosity, and thus is effective in lowering the viscosity of generally high viscosity resins. Also, it not only has excellent chemical and corrosion resistances but also high bond strengths (Hyun and Yeon 2012). By taking the advantages of vinyl ester resin and an MMA monomer, it is possible to lower the viscosity of the binder, as well as improve workability and various properties of polymer concrete. However, despite these advantages of MMA monomer-modified vinyl ester resin, there are few existing studies except for research on evaluating the setting shrinkage characteristics of MMA-modified vinyl ester polymer concrete (Choi et al. 2016).
Thus, in this study, polymer concrete using MMA monomer-modified vinyl ester resin is applied as a binder to examine the effects of MMA contents and curing temperatures on compressive strengths, flexural strengths, the coefficient of thermal expansion, and the modulus of elasticity. The ultimate purpose of this study is to examine the strength developments and deformation characteristics at various MMA contents and curing temperatures. Hence, the fundamental material properties determined in this study can be referred to by designers or contractors who have decided to apply vinyl ester polymer concrete in both cast-in-place and precast construction applications.
2.1 Vinyl Ester Resin
Properties of vinyl ester resin.
Density (25 °C)
Viscosity (20 °C, mPa·s)
Styrene content (%)
2.2 MMA Monomer
Properties of MMA monomer.
Density (25 °C)
Viscosity (20 °C, mPa·s)
Molecular weight (g/mol)
Properties of MEKPO.
Specific gravity (25 °C)
Properties of cobalt naphthenate.
Density (25 °C)
Boiling point (°C)
2.5 Aggregate and Filler
Physical properties of aggregate.
Apparent specific gravity
Bulk density (kg/m3)
Moisture content (%)
Properties of ground calcium carbonate.
Bulk density (g/cc)
Moisture content (%)
Mean grain size (μm)
Retained percentage of 325 mesh sieve
Chemical components of ground calcium carbonate (unit: %).
3.1 Determination of Mixture Proportions
Binder formulations and mixture proportions of polymer concrete.
Binder content (wt%)
Fine aggregate (wt%)
Cobalt naphthenate (phrb)
100 (276a):0 (0a)
97.5 (258a):2.5 (7a)
95.0 (240a):5.0 (13a)
3.2 Strength Test
The compressive strength test was conducted according to ASTM C 579 (Standard test Method for the Compressive Strength of Chemical-Resistant Mortars, Grouts, Monolithic Surfacings, and Polymer Concretes), and the flexural strength test was conducted pursuant to ASTM C 293 (Standard Test Method for the Flexural Strength of Concrete). In this study, ∅5 × 10 cm cylindrical specimens were used for the compressive strength test, and 4 × 4 × 16 cm prism specimens were used for the flexural strength test. The strength test was conducted using a 20-t universal testing machine (Instron 8502).
3.3 Coefficient of the Thermal Expansion Test
3.4 Modulus of Elasticity Test
4 Results and Discussion
4.1 Compressive Strength
As shown in Fig. 4, the compressive strengths tended to decrease as MMA contents increased from 0–2.5 and 5 wt%. As a result, the range of the decreased compressive strength at the age of 168 h was 2.4–6.2 MPa. This compressive strength decreased with an increase of an MMA content appears to be due to the phase separation phenomenon (the repulsive force occurring between the interfaces of different materials and preventing complete synthesis) (Hyun and Yeon 2012).
In previous studies, Hyun and Yeon (2012) stated that in UP-MMA polymer concrete, an increase in an UP-MMA ratio (ratio of UP to MMA) to 8:2, 7:3, and 6:4 led to a decrease in the compressive strength. Patel et al. (1990) stated that an increase in the styrene monomer content of vinyl ester resin resulted in larger strength reductions, similar to the results of this study.
Figure 5 shows the compressive strength changes according to the curing temperatures (20, 10, 0, and − 10 °C). According to Fig. 5, lower curing temperature led to a notable decrease in the compressive strength. The extent of the compressive strength reduction according to the curing temperature was greatest at 3 h, and gradually decreased over time. The notable characteristics of the compressive strength development were that a lower curing temperature led to a sharp increase in compressive strength at an early age whereas it led to a lower compressive strength at 3 h.
At 168 h, the compressive strengths (at curing temperature of 20 and − 10 °C) were 77.2 and 49.7, 76.0 and 48.8, and 74.8 and 43.8 MPa with MMA contents of 0, 2.5, and 5 wt%, respectively, indicating a 28.5 MPa reduction on average. These results show that the curing temperature had a significant effect on the strength development of MMA-modified vinyl ester polymer concrete. In particular, at the age of 168 h, the measured compressive strength was lowest at 43.8 MPa with an MMA content of 5 wt% and a curing temperature of − 10 °C, which was much higher than the 28-day compressive strength for portland cement concrete (4.8 MPa) and high-performance concrete (30.6 MPa) at − 5 °C curing temperature (Cook et al. 1997). This study result shows that MMA-modified vinyl ester polymer concrete develops the high strength (even at a low temperature).
In addition, Fig. 7 shows that the relative gains of the compressive strengths were compared with criteria of a curing temperature (20 °C) from the age of 3 h to the age of 168 h. The results show that the relative gains of the compressive strengths regarding 10 °C curing temperature were from 40.6 to 86.4%. Plus, the relative gains of the compressive strengths regarding 0 °C curing temperature were from 10.6 to 75.3%. Moreover, the relative gains of the compressive strengths for − 10 °C curing temperature were from 5.8 to 62.5%. Thus, these results show a notably lower relative gain with a decrease in curing temperatures.
Thus, compared to ordinary portland cement concrete (with a water/cement ratio of 0.6), whose compressive strength development was 11, 41, and 68% at 1, 3, and 7 days, respectively (Neville 1997), polymer concrete had the high compressive strength even at a very early age.
According to the previously mentioned results, the relative gains of compressive strengths of MMA-modified vinyl ester polymer concrete decreased with an increase of MMA contents and a decrease in curing temperatures, and curing temperatures had a more sensitive effect than MMA contents on strength developments.
4.2 Flexural Strength
4.3 Coefficient of Thermal Expansion
Test results of the thermal expansion coefficient.
MMA content (wt%)
Coefficient of thermal expansion (× 10−6/°C)
Mean (× 10−6/°C)
The thermal expansion coefficient test results from this study were lower than those of previous studies (UP-MMA polymer concrete’s coefficient of thermal expansion was 21.6 × 10−6 to 31.2 × 10−6/°C, epoxy polymer mortar was 28.60 × 10−6/°C, unsaturated polyester polymer mortar was 23.00 × 10−6/°C, and PMMA polymer mortar was 21.50 × 10−6/°C) (Omata et al. 1995; Yeon and Yeon 2012) and were similar to the results for ordinary portland cement concrete (11.1 × 10−6/°C) (Omata et al. 1995).
4.4 Modulus of Elasticity
The static modulus of elasticity for a material under tension or compression is given by the slope of the stress–strain curve for concrete under uniaxial loading. Since the stress–strain curve for portland cement concrete is nonlinear, three types of elastic modulus existed: tangent modulus, secant modulus, and chord modulus. In this study, compressive loading was applied, and the secant modulus, among those three types, was defined. The secant modulus is given by the slope of a line drawn from the origin to a point on the curve corresponding to a 40% stress of the failure load (Mehta and Monteiro 2006).
Test results of the elastic modulus (unit: × 104 MPa).
Curing temperature (°C)
MMA 0 wt%
MMA 2.5 wt%
MMA 5 wt%
Lastly, Table 10 shows that the modulus of elasticity ranged from 2.24 × 104 to 2.90 × 104 MPa. The elastic modulus values tended to decrease as MMA contents increased and curing temperatures decreased. These elastic modulus values are lower than that of portland cement concrete (3.6 × 104 MPa) when the development of a compressive strength is 60 MPa (Neville 1997) and that of UP-MMA polymer concrete (2.8 × 104 to 3.3 × 104 MPa) (Yeon and Yeon 2012).
According to the results of compressive strength tests, the range of the compressive strength was between 43.8 and 77.2 MPa at the age of 168 h. The identified range of the compressive strength of MMA-modified vinyl ester polymer concrete was lower than the compressive strength range of other types of polymer concrete. Also, the compressive strength tended to decrease with an increase in MMA contents and a decrease in curing temperatures.
The flexural strength test results showed that the range of flexural strength was between 18.2 and 21.8 MPa at the age of 168 h. The flexural strengths also decreased when MMA contents were increased and the curing temperatures were decreased.
The coefficients of thermal expansion were 14.23 × 10−6, 13.25 × 10−6, and 10.82 × 10−6/°C for 0, 2.5, and 5 wt% MMA contents, respectively, showing a decrease with an increase in MMA contents.
According to the results of strain measurements, the ultimate strain varied between 0.00391 and 0.00494. The measured strains tended to decrease with an increase in MMA contents and to notably decrease with a decrease in curing temperatures. The values were similar to or slightly lower than those of other types of polymer concrete.
The range of the elastic modulus was between 2.24 × 104 and 2.90 × 104 MPa. It was found that the modulus of elasticity decreased with an increase in MMA contents and a decrease in curing temperatures. The values were lower than those of ordinary portland cement concrete or other types of polymer concrete.
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