News Brief

Making Better Concrete: Guidelines to Using Fly Ash for Higher Quality, Eco-Friendly Structures

by Bruce King, P.E. 2005, Green Building Press. San Rafael, California. Paperback, 52 pages, $20.

Using coal flyash to replace 50% or more of the portland cement in concrete mixes is a huge opportunity for designers and builders—a way to get better concrete with a significantly smaller ecological footprint (see


Vol. 8, No. 6). But designing concrete mixes well isn’t a simple matter, and using large amounts of flyash increases the importance of properly designing and pouring the concrete.

Making Better Concrete argues for using lots of flyash, but it does so with the precautions and warnings of an engineer who has been doing it long enough to have learned some lessons. “If you don’t plan to control water content and cure the concrete well, throw this book away; it will do you no good,” cautions King in a typical statement.

Making Better Concrete covers all the basics, beginning with a history of flyash and pozzolans and descriptions of all the common (and some not-so-common) materials with pozzolanic properties. King then explains how they work, how to specify them, and how to work with the resulting mix on the jobsite. The book wraps up with a summary of the performance and environmental benefits of using flyash and a series of appendices containing sample mixes and listings of useful resources. Best of all, the entire text has King’s friendly, self-effacing, and humorous voice, which makes it as easy to read as anything this technical could be.

Making Better Concrete will be of great value to architects who are trying to figure out whether and how to use high-flyash concrete and need just enough of an understanding to ask their engineers good questions. Especially useful is a summary of the applications in which high flyash mixes are a no-brainer (mostly those in which early strength gain is not important and curing conditions are not challenging), when they are possible but require special attention, and when they are not a good fit. Engineers, in turn, will find this book a useful introduction—though before they actually start specifying high-flyash mixes, they’ll need some of the more technical documents listed in the appendix.

Published May 3, 2006

Malin, N. (2006, May 3). Making Better Concrete: Guidelines to Using Fly Ash for Higher Quality, Eco-Friendly Structures. Retrieved from

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