History of Concrete

History of Concrete

Properties of Concrete

Types of Concrete

Applications of Concrete


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History of Concrete

Concrete is a manmade building material that looks like stone. Combining cement with aggregate and sufficient water makes concrete. Water allows it to set and bind the materials together. Different mixtures are added to meet specific requirements. Concrete is normally reinforced with the use of rods or steel mesh before it is poured into moulds. Interestingly, the history of concrete finds evidence in Rome some 2000 years back. Concrete was essentially used in aqueducts and roadway construction in Rome.

It is said that the Romans used a primal mix for their concrete. It consisted of small gravel and coarse sand mixed with hot lime and water, and sometimes even animal blood. To trim down shrinkage, they are known to have used horsehair. Historical evidence states that the Assyrians and Babylonians used clay as the bonding material. Even ancient Egyptians are believed to have used lime and gypsum cement for concrete. Lime mortars and gypsums were also used in building the world-acclaimed pyramids.

However, Romans are known to have made wide usage of concrete for building roads. It is interesting to learn that they built some 5,300 miles of roads using concrete. Concrete is a very strong building material. Historical evidence also points that Romans used Pozzalana, animal fat, milk and blood as admixtures for building concrete.

The first recorded fact points to the year 1756 when John Smeaton, an engineer made the present day concrete by mixing coarse aggregate (pebbles) and powered brick and mixed it with cement. In 1793, he built the Eddystone Lighthouse in Cornwall, England with the use of hydraulic cement. Another major development took place in the year 1824. An English inventor Joseph Aspdin invented Portland cement. He made concrete by burning grounded chalk and finely crushed clay in a limekiln till the carbon dioxide evaporated, resulting in strong cement.

It was in Germany that the first systematic testing of concrete took place in 1836. The test measured the tensile and compressive strength of concrete. Another main ingredient of concrete is aggregate and includes sand, crushed stone, clay, gravel, slag and shale. Concrete that uses imbedded metal is called reinforced concrete or Ferroconcrete. It was Joseph Monier who first invented reinforced concrete in 1849. He was a Gardner who made flowerpots and tubs of reinforced concrete with the use of iron mesh. The reinforced concrete thus combined the tensile power of metal and the compression strength of concrete for tolerating heavy loads. He received a patent for this invention in the year 1867.

In 1886, the first rotary kiln was introduced in England that made constant production of cement. In 1891, George Bartholomew made the first concrete street in Ohio, USA. By 1920s, concrete found major usage in construction of roads and buildings. It was in 1936 that the first concrete dams Hoover and Grand Cooley were built.

There has been no looking back for concrete since its modern development. Known as the strongest building material, concrete has found major uses in dams, highways, buildings and many different kinds of building and construction.

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