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Brief History of Cement -

Brief History of Cement

Brief History of Cement

There is hardly any other product that has so greatly contributed to the growth of modern human civilization as Cement. The massive urban infrastructure that we see today across the world would have been unthinkable without cement. Cement is the root substance that has given the essential element of strength and durability to our houses, schools, offices and other buildings so that we can occupy them with peace of mind.

The word Cement literally means a substance that can bind material together and can acquire strength on hardening. The cement as we know today is a specialized building material which is a result of various innovations over the past and is made in sophisticated manufacturing facilities.

Its use associated with ancient civilizations…

The oldest use of cement dates back to the thousands of years old Egyptian civilization. The Egyptians used natural cement made by combining limestone and gypsum for the construction of their massive and highly impressive pyramids. The fact that the Egyptian Pyramids have proudly stood the test of time over such a long period of human history is a testimony to the phenomenal strength of cement. However it must be stated that the ancient Egyptian cement was very different from the cement in use today.

Later in the Roman era, the concept of cement advanced further. Romans used a combination of slaked lime with Pozzolana, a volcanic ash from Mount Vesuvius. The Romans made many impressive structures using this cement. The Basilica of Constantine is one popular example of Roman construction in which they used such cement mortar.

The Eddystone Lighthouse…

In eighteenth century England, John Smeaton, a British engineer, was assigned the task of re-constructing the Eddystone Lighthouse, a structure that had witnessed repeated structural failure. In 1756, Smeaton conducted a number of experiments that led to the discovery that cement made from limestone containing a considerable proportion of clay would harden under water. Based on this discovery, Smeaton rebuilt this lighthouse in 1759 and this time, it stood strong for 126 years.

Subsequently, until the early part of the nineteenth century, large quantities of natural cement was used, that was made with a combination of naturally occurring lime and clay.

The first patent for cement…

In 1824, Joseph Aspdin, a British mason obtained a patent on his hydraulic cement formula that closely resembled the modern cement as we know today. He called this cement Portland Cement, and it was made through the proportionate mixing, burning and the subsequent grinding of a combination of clay and limestone.

Cement as we know today…

Cement went through many more improvements and developments in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The industrial revolution and the subsequent development of the rotary kiln paved the way for huge and sophisticated cement manufacturing plants. These plants possess the capability of a homogenous mixing and intense heating of the raw material thus vastly improving the quality of the cement produced. The sophisticated quality-testing equipment employed by modern cement plants further helps in ensuring the quality of the cement produced.

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