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Cement plant 03

A cement plant in Kenmore, Washington.

06 Contes cimenterie

Lafarge cement plant in Contes, (France)

Obourg JPG01

Holcim cementry in Obourg (Belgium).

Uniland cement factory garraf sitges spain 2010

UNILAND cementry in Vallcarca, Garraf, (Spain)

In the most general sense of the word, a cement is a binder, a substance which sets and hardens independently, and can bind other materials together. The word "cement" traces to the Romans, who used the term "opus caementicium" to describe masonry which resembled concrete and was made from crushed rock with burnt lime as binder. The volcanic ash and pulverized brick additives which were added to the burnt lime to obtain a hydraulic binder were later referred to as cementum, cimentum, cäment and cement.

Cement used in construction is characterized as hydraulic or non-hydraulic. Hydraulic cements (e.g. Portland cement) harden because of chemical reactions that do not involve "drying out"; they can harden even underwater or when constantly exposed to wet weather. The chemical reaction that results when the dry cement powder is mixed with water produces hydrates that are not water-soluble. Non-hydraulic cements (e.g. lime and gypsum plaster) must be kept dry in order to gain strength.

The most important use of cement is the production of mortar and concrete—the bonding of natural or artificial aggregates to form a strong building material which is durable in the face of normal environmental effects.

Concrete should not be confused with cement because the term cement refers only to the dry powder substance used to bind the aggregate materials of concrete. Upon the addition of water and/or additives the cement mixture is referred to as concrete, especially if aggregates have been added.

History of the origin of cementEdit

Early usesEdit

It is uncertain where it was first discovered that a combination of hydrated non-hydraulic lime and a pozzolan produces a hydraulic mixture (see also: Pozzolanic reaction), but concrete made from such mixtures was first used on a large scale by Roman engineers.[1] They used both natural pozzolans (trass or pumice) and artificial pozzolans (ground brick or pottery) in these concretes. Many excellent examples of structures made from these concretes are still standing, notably the huge monolithic dome of the Pantheon in Rome and the massive Baths of Caracalla.[2] The vast system of Roman aqueducts also made extensive use of hydraulic cement.[3] The use of structural concrete disappeared in medieval Europe, although weak pozzolanic concretes continued to be used as a core fill in stone walls and columns.

Modern cementEdit

Modern hydraulic cements began to be developed from the start of the Industrial Revolution (around 1800), driven by three main needs:

  • Hydraulic renders for finishing brick buildings in wet climates
  • Hydraulic mortars for masonry construction of harbor works etc., in contact with sea water.
  • Development of strong concretes.

In Britain particularly, good quality building stone became ever more expensive during a period of rapid growth, and it became a common practice to construct prestige buildings from the new industrial bricks, and to finish them with a stucco to imitate stone. Hydraulic limes were favored for this, but the need for a fast set time encouraged the development of new cements. Most famous was Parker's "Roman cement."[4] This was developed by James Parker in the 1780s, and finally patented in 1796. It was, in fact, nothing like any material used by the Romans, but was a "Natural cement" made by burning septaria - nodules that are found in certain clay deposits, and that contain both clay minerals and calcium carbonate. The burnt nodules were ground to a fine powder. This product, made into a mortar with sand, set in 5–15 minutes. The success of "Roman Cement" led other manufacturers to develop rival products by burning artificial mixtures of clay and chalk.

John Smeaton made an important contribution to the development of cements when he was planning the construction of the third Eddystone Lighthouse (1755-9) in the English Channel. He needed a hydraulic mortar that would set and develop some strength in the twelve hour period between successive high tides. He performed an exhaustive market research on the available hydraulic limes, visiting their production sites, and noted that the "hydraulicity" of the lime was directly related to the clay content of the limestone from which it was made. Smeaton was a civil engineer by profession, and took the idea no further. Apparently unaware of Smeaton's work, the same principle was identified by Louis Vicat in the first decade of the nineteenth century. Vicat went on to devise a method of combining chalk and clay into an intimate mixture, and, burning this, produced an "artificial cement" in 1817. James Frost,[5] working in Britain, produced what he called "British cement" in a similar manner around the same time, but did not obtain a patent until 1822. In 1824, Joseph Aspdin patented a similar material, which he called Portland cement, because the render made from it was in color similar to the prestigious Portland stone.

All the above products could not compete with lime/pozzolan concretes because of fast-setting (giving insufficient time for placement) and low early strengths (requiring a delay of many weeks before formwork could be removed). Hydraulic limes, "natural" cements and "artificial" cements all rely upon their belite content for strength development. Belite develops strength slowly. Because they were burned at temperatures below 1250 °C, they contained no alite, which is responsible for early strength in modern cements. The first cement to consistently contain alite was made by Joseph Aspdin's son William in the early 1840s. This was what we call today "modern" Portland cement. Because of the air of mystery with which William Aspdin surrounded his product, others (e.g. Vicat and I C Johnson) have claimed precedence in this invention, but recent analysis[6] of both his concrete and raw cement have shown that William Aspdin's product made at Northfleet, Kent was a true alite-based cement. However, Aspdin's methods were "rule-of-thumb": Vicat is responsible for establishing the chemical basis of these cements, and Johnson established the importance of sintering the mix in the kiln.

William Aspdin's innovation was counter-intuitive for manufacturers of "artificial cements", because they required more lime in the mix (a problem for his father), because they required a much higher kiln temperature (and therefore more fuel) and because the resulting clinker was very hard and rapidly wore down the millstones which were the only available grinding technology of the time. Manufacturing costs were therefore considerably higher, but the product set reasonably slowly and developed strength quickly, thus opening up a market for use in concrete. The use of concrete in construction grew rapidly from 1850 onwards, and was soon the dominant use for cements. Thus Portland cement began its predominant role.

Types of modern cement Edit

Portland cement Edit

Main article: Portland cement

Cement is made by heating limestone (calcium carbonate), with small quantities of other materials (such as clay) to 1450°C in a kiln, in a process known as calcination, whereby a molecule of carbon dioxide is liberated from the calcium carbonate to form calcium oxide, or quicklime, which is then blended with the other materials that have been included in the mix . The resulting hard substance, called 'clinker', is then ground with a small amount of gypsum into a powder to make 'Ordinary Portland Cement', the most commonly used type of cement (often referred to as OPC).

Portland cement is a basic ingredient of concrete, mortar and most non-speciality grout. The most common use for Portland cement is in the production of concrete. Concrete is a composite material consisting of aggregate (gravel and sand), cement, and water. As a construction material, concrete can be cast in almost any shape desired, and once hardened, can become a structural (load bearing) element. Portland cement may be gray or white.

Portland cement blendsEdit

These are often available as inter-ground mixtures from cement manufacturers, but similar formulations are often also mixed from the ground components at the concrete mixing plant.[7]

Portland blastfurnace cement contains up to 70% ground granulated blast furnace slag, with the rest Portland clinker and a little gypsum. All compositions produce high ultimate strength, but as slag content is increased, early strength is reduced, while sulfate resistance increases and heat evolution diminishes. Used as an economic alternative to Portland sulfate-resisting and low-heat cements.[8]

Portland flyash cement contains up to 30% fly ash. The fly ash is pozzolanic, so that ultimate strength is maintained. Because fly ash addition allows a lower concrete water content, early strength can also be maintained. Where good quality cheap fly ash is available, this can be an economic alternative to ordinary Portland cement.[9]

Portland pozzolan cement includes fly ash cement, since fly ash is a pozzolan, but also includes cements made from other natural or artificial pozzolans. In countries where volcanic ashes are available (e.g. Italy, Chile, Mexico, the Philippines) these cements are often the most common form in use.

Portland silica fume cement. Addition of silica fume can yield exceptionally high strengths, and cements containing 5-20% silica fume are occasionally produced. However, silica fume is more usually added to Portland cement at the concrete mixer.[10]

Masonry cements are used for preparing bricklaying mortars and stuccos, and must not be used in concrete. They are usually complex proprietary formulations containing Portland clinker and a number of other ingredients that may include limestone, hydrated lime, air entrainers, retarders, waterproofers and coloring agents. They are formulated to yield workable mortars that allow rapid and consistent masonry work. Subtle variations of Masonry cement in the US are Plastic Cements and Stucco Cements. These are designed to produce controlled bond with masonry blocks.

Expansive cements contain, in addition to Portland clinker, expansive clinkers (usually sulfoaluminate clinkers), and are designed to offset the effects of drying shrinkage that is normally encountered with hydraulic cements. This allows large floor slabs (up to 60 m square) to be prepared without contraction joints.

White blended cements may be made using white clinker and white supplementary materials such as high-purity metakaolin.

Colored cements are used for decorative purposes. In some standards, the addition of pigments to produce "colored Portland cement" is allowed. In other standards (e.g. ASTM), pigments are not allowed constituents of Portland cement, and colored cements are sold as "blended hydraulic cements".

Very finely ground cements are made from mixtures of cement with sand or with slag or other pozzolan type minerals which are extremely finely ground together. Such cements can have the same physical characteristics as normal cement but with 50% less cement particularly due to their increased surface area for the chemical reaction. Even with intensive grinding they can use up to 50% less energy to fabricate than ordinary Portland cements.[11]

Non-Portland hydraulic cementsEdit

Pozzolan-lime cements. Mixtures of ground pozzolan and lime are the cements used by the Romans, and can be found in Roman structures still standing (e.g. the Pantheon in Rome). They develop strength slowly, but their ultimate strength can be very high. The hydration products that produce strength are essentially the same as those produced by Portland cement.

Slag-lime cements. Ground granulated blast furnace slag is not hydraulic on its own, but is "activated" by addition of alkalis, most economically using lime. They are similar to pozzolan lime cements in their properties. Only granulated slag (i.e. water-quenched, glassy slag) is effective as a cement component.

Supersulfated cements. These contain about 80% ground granulated blast furnace slag, 15 % gypsum or anhydrite and a little Portland clinker or lime as an activator. They produce strength by formation of ettringite, with strength growth similar to a slow Portland cement. They exhibit good resistance to aggressive agents, including sulfate.

Calcium aluminate cements are hydraulic cements made primarily from limestone and bauxite. The active ingredients are monocalcium aluminate CaAl2O4 (CaO · Al2O3 or CA in Cement chemist notation, CCN) and mayenite Ca12Al14O33 (12 CaO · 7 Al2O3 , or C12A7 in CCN). Strength forms by hydration to calcium aluminate hydrates. They are well-adapted for use in refractory (high-temperature resistant) concretes, e.g. for furnace linings.

Calcium sulfoaluminate cements are made from clinkers that include ye'elimite (Ca4(AlO2)6SO4 or C4A3\bar \mathrm{S} in Cement chemist's notation) as a primary phase. They are used in expansive cements, in ultra-high early strength cements, and in "low-energy" cements. Hydration produces ettringite, and specialized physical properties (such as expansion or rapid reaction) are obtained by adjustment of the availability of calcium and sulfate ions. Their use as a low-energy alternative to Portland cement has been pioneered in China, where several million tonnes per year are produced.[12][13] Energy requirements are lower because of the lower kiln temperatures required for reaction, and the lower amount of limestone (which must be endothermically decarbonated) in the mix. In addition, the lower limestone content and lower fuel consumption leads to a CO2 emission around half that associated with Portland clinker. However, SO2 emissions are usually significantly higher.

"Natural" cements correspond to certain cements of the pre-Portland era, produced by burning argillaceous limestones at moderate temperatures. The level of clay components in the limestone (around 30-35 %) is such that large amounts of belite (the low-early strength, high-late strength mineral in Portland cement) are formed without the formation of excessive amounts of free lime. As with any natural material, such cements have highly variable properties.

Geopolymer cements are made from mixtures of water-soluble alkali metal silicates and aluminosilicate mineral powders such as fly ash and metakaolin.

The setting of cementEdit

Cement sets when mixed with water by way of a complex series of chemical reactions still only partly understood. The different constituents slowly crystallise and the interlocking of their crystals gives to cement its strength. Carbon dioxide is slowly absorbed to convert the portlandite (Ca(OH)2) into insoluble calcium carbonate. After the initial setting, immersion in warm water will speed up setting. In Portland cement, gypsum is added as a compound preventing cement flash setting.

Environmental impactsEdit

Cement manufacture causes environmental impacts at all stages of the process. These include emissions of airborne pollution in the form of dust, gases, noise and vibration when operating machinery and during blasting in quarries, and damage to countryside from quarrying. Equipment to reduce dust emissions during quarrying and manufacture of cement is widely used, and equipment to trap and separate exhaust gases are coming into increased use. Environmental protection also includes the re-integration of quarries into the countryside after they have been closed down by returning them to nature or re-cultivating them.

CO2 emissionsEdit

Cement manufacturing releases CO2 in the atmosphere both directly when calcium carbonate is heated, producing lime and carbon dioxide,[14] and also indirectly through the use of energy, particularly if the energy is sourced from fossil fuels. The cement industry produces about 5% of global man-made CO2 emissions, of which 50% is from the chemical process, and 40% from burning fuel.[15] The amount of CO2 emitted by the cement industry is nearly 900 kg of CO2 for every 1000 kg of cement produced. [16]

In certain applications, lime mortar, reabsorbs the CO2 chemically released in its manufacture, and has a lower energy requirement in production. Newly developed cement types from Novacem[17] and Eco-cement can absorb carbon dioxide from ambient air during hardening.[18]

Heavy metal emissions in the airEdit

In some circumstances, mainly depending on the origin and the composition of the raw materials used, the high-temperature calcination process of limestone and clay minerals can release in the atmosphere gases and dust rich in volatile heavy metals, a.o, thallium,[19] cadmium and mercury are the most toxic. Heavy metals (Tl, Cd, Hg, ...) are often found as trace elements in common metal sulfides (pyrite (FeS2), zinc blende (ZnS), galena (PbS), ...) present as secondary minerals in most of the raw materials. Environmental regulations exist in many countries to limit these emissions.

Heavy metals present in the clinkerEdit

The presence of heavy metals in the clinker arises both from the natural raw materials and from the use of recycled by-products or alternative fuels. The high pH prevailing in the cement porewater (12.5 < pH < 13.5) limits the mobility of many heavy metals by decreasing their solubility and increasing their sorption onto the cement mineral phases. Nickel, zinc and lead are commonly found in cement in non-negligible concentrations.

Use of alternative fuels and by-products materialsEdit

A cement plant consumes 3 to 6 GJ of fuel per tonne of clinker produced, depending on the raw materials and the process used. Most cement kilns today use coal and petroleum coke as primary fuels, and to a lesser extent natural gas and fuel oil. Selected waste and by-products with recoverable calorific value can be used as fuels in a cement kiln, replacing a portion of conventional fossil fuels, like coal, if they meet strict specifications. Selected waste and by-products containing useful minerals such as calcium, silica, alumina, and iron can be used as raw materials in the kiln, replacing raw materials such as clay, shale, and limestone. Because some materials have both useful mineral content and recoverable calorific value, the distinction between alternative fuels and raw materials is not always clear. For example, sewage sludge has a low but significant calorific value, and burns to give ash containing minerals useful in the clinker matrix.[20]

Cement industryEdit

File:2004cement (hydraulic).PNG

In 2002 the world production of hydraulic cement was 1,800 million metric tons. The top three producers were China with 704, India with 100, and the United States with 91 million metric tons for a combined total of about half the world total by the world's three most populous states.[21]


"For the past 18 years, China consistently has produced more cement than any other country in the world. [...] (However,) China's cement export peaked in 1994 with 11 million tons shipped out and has been in steady decline ever since. Only 5.18 million tons were exported out of China in 2002. Offered at $34 a ton, Chinese cement is pricing itself out of the market as Thailand is asking as little as $20 for the same quality."[22]

In 2006 it was estimated that China manufactured 1.235 billion metric tons of cement, which was 44% of the world total cement production.[23] "Demand for cement in China is expected to advance 5.4% annually and exceed 1 billion metric tons in 2008, driven by slowing but healthy growth in construction expenditures. Cement consumed in China will amount to 44% of global demand, and China will remain the world's largest national consumer of cement by a large margin."[24]

Cement Production

See alsoEdit


  1. Hill, Donald: A History of Engineering in Classical and Medieval Times, Routledge 1984, p106
  3. Aqueduct Architecture: Moving Water to the Masses in Ancient Rome
  4. A J Francis, The Cement Industry 1796-1914: A History, David & Charles, 1977, ISBN 0-7153-7386-2, Ch 2
  5. Francis op. cit., Ch 5
  6. Hewlett op. cit., Ch 1
  7. Kosmatka, S.H.; Panarese, W.C. (1988). Design and Control of Concrete Mixtures. Skokie, IL, USA: Portland Cement Association. pp. 17, 42, 70, 184. ISBN 0-89312-087-1. 
  8. U.S. Federal Highway Administration. "Ground Granulated Blast-Furnace Slag". Retrieved 2007-01-24. 
  9. U.S. Federal Highway Administration. "Fly Ash". Retrieved 2007-01-24. 
  10. U.S. Federal Highway Administration. "Silica Fume". Retrieved 2007-01-24. 
  11. SINTEF Civil and Environmental Engineering, Cement and Concrete, N-7465 Trondheim, Norway. "Mechanism for performance of energetically modified cement EMC". 
  12. Bye G.C. (1999), Portland Cement 2nd Ed., Thomas Telford, 1999, ISBN 07277-2766-4, pp. 206-208
  13. Zhang L., Su M., Wang Y., Development of the use of sulfo- and ferroaluminate cements in China in Adv. Cem. Res. 11 N°1, pp. 15-21.
  14. EIA - Emissions of Greenhouse Gases in the U.S. 2006-Carbon Dioxide Emissions
  15. The Cement Sustainability Initiative: Progress report, World Business Council for Sustainable Development, published 2002-06-01
  16. Mahasenan, Natesan; Steve Smith, Kenneth Humphreys, Y. Kaya (2003). "The Cement Industry and Global Climate Change: Current and Potential Future Cement Industry CO2 Emissions". Greenhouse Gas Control Technologies - 6th International Conference. Oxford: Pergamon. pp. 995–1000. ISBN 9780080442761. Retrieved 2008-04-09. 
  17. Novacem | Imperial Innovations
  18. Jha, Alok (2008-12-31). "Revealed: The cement that eats carbon dioxide
    . The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2010-04-28.
  19. "Factsheet on: Thallium". Retrieved 2009-09-15. 
  20. Guidelines for the Selection and Use of Fuels and Raw Materials in the Cement Manufacturing Process, World Business Council for Sustainable Development, published 2005-06-01.
  22. Asia Times January 7, 2004
  23. China now no. 1 in CO2 emissions; USA in second position: more info, NEAA, published 2007-06-19. Retrieved 2007-07-20.
  24. Nov 1, 2004

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit

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