The History of Concrete: From Ancient Times to the Present

Named after the strong building stones found in Portland, England, Portland cement was a revolutionary form of building material. Its invention dates back to 1300 BC, when builders in the Middle East discovered that coating the exterior of their fortresses with crushed clay and the walls of their houses with a thin, wet layer of burnt limestone created a hard, protective surface. This was not concrete, but it was the beginning of cement development. In 1824, Joseph Aspdin invented Portland cement by burning finely ground chalk and clay until carbon dioxide was removed. He named his cement Portland, after a rock quarry that produced very strong stone.

This cement was the precursor to modern concrete. A mason in Andernach, Germany, then tried to mix volcanic ash called trass with lime mortar. The resulting material was waterproof and strong, and this chain reaction initiated by the discovery would lead to the creation of modern cement. Reinforced concrete gave the material a new life when it was pioneered in France in the mid-19th century and popularized by California-based engineer Ernest Ransome. The ancient Romans made concrete in much the same way we do today. They made cement by mixing dried limestone with water.

To thicken the mixture, they added volcanic pozzolana, ground rocks and sand. In a semi-liquefied state, the mixture was poured into carved wooden molds to create smooth and strong concrete pieces. The popularity of polished concrete has skyrocketed in recent years and is now used in retail stores and even residential homes. Archaeologists have even wondered whether an early form of concrete can be found in the Egyptian pyramids. Concrete waste was once routinely sent to landfills for disposal, but recycling is becoming more common due to improved environmental awareness, government laws and economic benefits. In general, modern concrete can last around a century without major repairs or replacements, according to Concrete Planet. Like plastic, concrete has transformed construction and advanced human health.

One example is Assembly Hall in India, which looks like a flying saucer and can accommodate more than 16,000 people in a perfect concrete circle. After the collapse of the Roman Empire, the use of concrete became rare until it was redeveloped in the mid-18th century. In 1915, Matte Trucco built the five-story Fiat-Lingotti Autoworks in Turin out of reinforced concrete. Proper curing of concrete leads to higher strength and lower permeability and prevents cracking when the surface dries prematurely. Today, concrete overlays are manufactured by mixing polymer resins with cement and are widely used for their decorative appeal. Ordinary masons advanced technology, and a fraudster played a crucial role in the development of concrete recipes. Energy requirements for concrete transport are low because it is produced locally from local resources, which are usually manufactured within 100 kilometers of the job site. If the surface of the concrete pour is isolated from outside temperatures, the heat of hydration will prevent it from freezing.

Like that other wonderful man-made material, plastic, transformed concrete construction and advanced human health.

Jack Brown
Jack Brown

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