One of the key factors affecting the successful production of strain-hardening cement-based composites (SHCC) is the nature of fine quartz aggregates. The elevated cost of SHCC preparation is considered as a limiting parameter. The incorporation of natural fine aggregates of different particle sizes can be one of the most cost-effective methods to produce SHCC locally. Two different types of local natural sands abundantly available in the Arabian Peninsula were used in the preparation of SHCC. The effect of these sands on the tensile response of SHCC under the effect of different strain rates was investigated. Three strain rates of 7.7x10-5, 1.5x10-4 and 1.5x10-3 s-1 were applied during the assessment of the direct tensile properties of SHCC samples made of natural sands. The results have shown that the use of natural sands provides an effective strain capacity. Microstructural analysis of SHCC mixtures has revealed the existence of two reaction mechanisms during PVA pullout of SHCC mixture with natural sands under direct tensile tension. Therefore, the incorporation of natural sands was proven to carry potential properties to SHCC mixtures that reduce their cost and encourage their production in a broad scale.
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