Cement, concrete, all the building products in all the world – you might not find them that interesting on the surface (pun intended)! However, there’s actually a lot of history behind cement, on the whole, and much of it is ancient! Therefore, before you start assuming that cement is all a load of grey gloop that keeps things stuck together, be sure to take a look at a few facts and figures. You might already be a cement aficionado, however! In which case – you might be able to teach us a thing or two!
In this fact file, we’re going to take a look at just how important cement actually is. Did you know that there are actually multiple different types and strengths? Do you know how far back cement actually goes? Again – your life may not be ruled by the existence of this everyday construction standard, but it’s more fascinating than you might think.
Hold firm – pun, again, intended – as we guide you through these interesting facts about cement as a material which might just surprise you. Did you know that cement and concrete aren’t actually one and the same? If not, we have more facts and stats heading your way, so stick around and read on.
Cement is a material mostly known as a ‘binder’. Mixing cement with other materials causes the reaction of ‘binding’ to form other products.
Cement is a manufactured product created by combining several ingredients. This happens in varying degrees, which result in one of several types of cement available to use for different purposes.
Ingredients of cement may include chalk, shale, limestone, marl, iron ore, bauxite, and sand.
Joseph Aspdin, working at his father’s cement manufacturing company in Leeds in 1824, patented the famous ‘Portland Cement’, which is still used today.
It is thought a ‘cement’ was first regularly used by the Romans. They added lime to volcanic ash and pulverised rock to form ‘bricks’ with a regular shape.
To make cement, the basic ingredients must be mined. If necessary, they are sometimes cut and then transported for chemical processing. This usually happens at a mill, where ‘grinding’ makes particles smaller to make ‘mixing’ easier.
Cement is the main ingredient of concrete.
The first concrete to be used in Britain, was recorded between 1817 and 1822, by Sir Robert Smirke. Known as a pioneer of the use of cast iron and concrete, he was first recorded as using concrete at the British Museum, the London Custom House, and the Milbank Penitentiary.
Portland Cement is the one most used to create concrete in the UK. Mixed with water and some additional aggregates, it is made into a paste which, as the saying goes, ’sets like concrete’.
After water, cement is the most widely used commodity in the world.
Used in construction all over the world, cement is a valued reliable substance which is easily recognisable and easy to use. It also has a very long shelf life.
Cement in concrete is the most favoured product for the construction of buildings. It is resistant to both fire and water.
It’s important to understand that there are actually key differences between concrete and cement! In fact, there’s about 15% cement, at most, in concrete. There’s more water at around 20%, most of the time!
It can be moulded to form almost any desired shape. It’s also easy to repair, too!
30% of the roads in America are made of concrete, where it is preferred to Asphalt. Though more expensive, it also lasts longer and is far more environmentally friendly.
Cement was used in the construction of ‘acoustic mirrors’ during World War Two. The concrete monitors detected enemy aircraft by reflecting sound.
Built along Britain’s coast, some acoustic mirrors can still be seen today.
Portland Cement is chosen to form the concrete for many underwater structures, including tunnels, pipes, dams, and sewers.
It was used in the construction of the world’s largest structure made of concrete, in China. The Three Gorges Dam, located at the Yangtze River, was built between the years 1994 and 2006.
Concrete’s name is said to be Roman in origin. It comes from ‘Concretus’, which apparently translates from Latin as ‘grow together’!
China, India, and the USA are the three largest producers of cement in the world.
The Portland Cement Association of the US represents 92% of the cement in production country-wide.
In 2015, the US produced 82.8 billion tonnes of cement. This was worth $9.8 Billion in revenue!
However, Canada, Greece, and China all export cement to the US, too.
Natural cement is made from limestone. It is known for its high clay content.
Skyscrapers built with cement based concrete are often constructed with mixing equipment on the ground or placed at various stages on platforms nearer to the top. The liquid concrete is then ‘piped’ up to the place where it is needed.
Once poured, it is left to set before weight can be added.
Seven different ‘strengths’ of concrete were used in the construction of the world’s tallest tower as of 1975. Rising 859 feet and 2 inches above street level, the tower is located in Chicago and goes by the name of Water Tower Place. It houses shops, a hotel, offices, and other residences.
Some of the cement used in the construction of that tower formed concrete of a strength never used before! It was prepared especially for the construction of that building at 9000 PSI.
Amongst the different types of cement on the market are ‘Ordinary Portland Cement’, ‘Port Pozzolana’, Blast Furnace Slag Cement, Sulphates Resisting Cement, Quick Setting Cement, Rapid and Extra Rapid Hardening Cement, and Low Heat Cement. That’s a lot of choice!
In 2015, a five year prediction of the growth in the market for cement in the UK was forecast to be approximately 3.9% (on decline).
Do you have any interesting or fun facts about cement that we’ve missed? Share them here in the comments section below!