Construction Materials Group



RJ Lee Group’s concrete materials experts and our accredited, industry-leading laboratory can consult with you to determine the root cause for a broad range of concrete construction defects and durability-related distresses. Our knowledge of how concrete materials fail can help you avoid similar issues in new construction through improvements in specifications, mixture designs, and construction methods. We can provide training to aggregate and concrete producers to help navigate best practices to mitigate the risk of aggregate reactions, including alkali-silica reaction (ASR) and oxidation of pyrrhotite and other iron sulfides.

Our concrete materials experts thrive on challenging projects and are backed by the resources of the full RJ Lee Group team of expert chemists, mineralogists, materials scientists, and metallurgists.

Our clients include:

  • Owners (commercial and government agencies)
  • Structural engineers and architects
  • Concrete producers (QC and technical services)
  • Contractors
  • Universities

 

Concrete Durability

“. . . . if a structure is not sufficiently strong, it makes little difference what other attributes it has. One might also say that its strength is essential and otherwise unimportant." – Hardy Cross, “Standardization and Its Abuse," Essays by Hardy Cross, 1952

With modern portland cements and construction practices, the words of Hardy Cross are more relevant than ever. The strength of concrete is critical, yet strength requirements alone may not ensure the durability of a structure to maintain its properties through its intended service life. Concrete durability issues typically manifest themselves years after construction and require specialized expertise to diagnose. Investigations of structures in the field can yield information about symptoms and the extent of damage, but a laboratory investigation is needed to determine the root cause and mechanism of damage. This information is critical to engineers tasked with designing repairs and estimating the remaining service life of structures.

 

Petrographic Analysis and More

We are the only USACE-validated laboratory for petrographic examination of concrete in the northeastern and mid-Atlantic regions. Our experts use standard methods, including optical (ASTM C856) and modern scanning electron microscopy (ASTM C1723) techniques, to quickly and accurately determine the root causes of concrete failures and distresses. With petrographic analysis, we can help you:

  • Identify the most common causes of concrete failure:
  • Determine the “as-built" concrete mix design:
    • Identify supplementary cementitious materials (especially those with unique or unusual additives)
    • Water-to-cementious materials ratio (w/cm)
    • Aggregates
  • Determine actual construction practices
    • Placing and finishing issues
    • Retempering (adding water at the jobsite)
    • Curing
    • Consolidation
  • Analysis of aggregates prior to construction
    • Petrographic characterization (ASTM C295)
    • Total sulfur analysis (LECO)
    • Iron staining potential of lightweight aggregates (ASTM C641)

Submitting samples for petrographic examination? Read Chief Petrographer April Snyder’s tips on what information to provide with the sample(s) and what you can learn from petrographic analysis of concrete. 

Submit A Sample – Click Here

 

Related Services

Our industrial forensics approach combines expertise in corrosion and concrete to support engineering firms. We help engineers complete structural condition assessments of reinforced concrete structures, evaluate historical construction for adaptive reuse, and much more:

  • Chemical analysis of construction materials for chlorides (ASTM C1152 and ASTM C1218), sulfates, organic contaminants, and metals.
  • Chemical analysis of cements (ASTM C114) and fly ashes (ASTM C311)
  • Architectural coatings, membranes, and paints
  • In-house physical tests for freeze thaw durability (ASTM C666), air void system characteristics (ASTM C457), and porosity and chloride permeability tests (ASTM C1202).
  • In-situ nondestructive testing of concrete structures, including UPV (ASTM C597), impact-echo (ASTM C1383), and rebound hammer (ASTM C805).

 

Forensic Investigations and Litigation Support

RJ Lee Group concrete materials experts have extensive experience in all phases of forensic investigations and legal disputes, and are backed by the firm’s litigation support team.

  • Site visits and sample collection
  • Forensic laboratory investigations
  • Evidence preservation and chain of custody
  • Expert report preparation
  • Pre-trial discovery
  • Document review
  • Mediation and arbitration
  • Expert deposition and courtroom testimony

 

Innovation and Professional Service

Our concrete materials experts don’t just stay abreast of the latest developments in their field, they actively define the state-of-the-art!

We actively partner with universities on cutting-edge research. Recent projects include:

  • Vibro-acoustic NDE of ASR-Affected Concrete
    Lead University – Vanderbilt University
    Sponsoring Agency: US Department of Energy
  • Online Monitoring System for Concrete Structures Affected by Alkali-Silica Reaction (ASR)
    Lead University – University of Nebraska-Lincoln
    Sponsoring Agency: US Department of Energy
  • Boron Concrete for Active Formation of Lithium as Mitigation of Neutron-Induced Expansion and Passive Neutron Absorption
    Lead University – University of Florida
    Sponsoring Agency: Advanced Research Projects – Energy (ARPA-E)

Our experts hold leadership roles and actively contribute to the following technical organizations by developing industry standards, best practices guides, and new test methods:

  • American Concrete Institute (ACI)
  • ASTM International
  • RILEM

For more information on construction material and petrographic analysis, please call us at 1.800.860.1775, option 1, then 5, then 4, or click below.

Contact Construction

 

Expert Profiles

April E. Snyder, Chief Petrographer and Concrete Materials Laboratory Manager

Eric R. Giannini, Ph.D., P.E. (VA), Principal Investigator

Richard J. Lee, Ph.D., CEO and Consulting Scientist

 

Learn More

Read blog posts, case studies and more about Construction & Building Materials here.

Learn more about our Construction & Building Materials services here.