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10 interesting facts about concrete

Concrete is one of the most popular and versatile building materials on the planet, which is probably why ancient Romans relied on it, using it to build what remains as one of the world’s best-preserved historical buildings, the Pantheon. Here are some more interesting facts about concrete.

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  1. The ancient Romans were the first to develop concrete as a building material. Roman builders mixed lime, water and volcanic ash from Mount Vesuvius and called the concrete “pozzolana”.
  2. The Pantheon was built using concrete. The dome on the Pantheon is still the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome.
  3. In 1874, Joseph Aspdin, an Englishman who worked as a bricklayer, tried to make his own cement. After many trials and errors, he finally developed a cement for which he received a patent. To make the cement, he pulverised limestone and clay and then burnt the mixture. He then ground the burned mixture into an ultra fine powder, which he named Portland Cement because the colour was similar to quarried stone from the Isle of Portland off the English coast.
  4. The main ingredient in Portland Cement is lime. Lime is made from limestone, natural chalk or seashells by burning off the carbon dioxide with air between 1 100° C and 1 200° C.
  5. Concrete is a very popular material because the aggregate and water are usually available everywhere.
  6. Reinforcing steel must be used when tensile strength is needed in concrete.
  7. Concrete can be easily shaped. Curved pieces or ornamental pieces are possible because concrete can be poured and cast.
  8. Reinforced concrete has high resistance to fire and water, and is the only material used for underwater structures such as dams and submerged bridge piers.
  9. Concrete is also used for high-rise buildings. The Trump International Hotel and Tower is the largest concrete structure in the world. This 98-storey building is over 423 metres tall.
  10. Concrete may continue to strengthen for decades. The conversion of calcium hydroxide in the concrete into calcium carbonate from absorption of CO2 over several decades strengthens the concrete and makes it more resistant to damage.

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