In the most general sense of the word, a cement is a binder, a substance that 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 resembling modern concrete that was made from crushed rock with burnt lime as binder. The volcanic ash and pulverized brick additives that were added to the burnt lime to obtain a hydraulic binder were later referred to as cementum, cimentum, cäment and cement.

Lafarge cement plant in Contes, France. Author: Myrabella

Lafarge cement plant in Contes, France.

Cement used in construction is characterized as hydraulic or non-hydraulic. Hydraulic cements (e.g.,Portland cement) harden because of hydration, chemical reactions that occur independently of the mixture's water content; they can harden even underwater or when constantly exposed to wet weather. The chemical reaction that results when the anhydrous cement powder is mixed with water produces hydrates that are not water-soluble. Non-hydraulic cements (e.g., lime and gypsumplaster) must be kept dry in order to retain their 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 that is durable in the face of normal environmental effects.

Concrete should not be confused with cement, because the term cement refers to the material used to bind the aggregate materials of concrete. Concrete is a combination of a cement and aggregate.

History of the origin of cement

Early uses

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 by the Ancient Macedonians[1][2] and three centuries later on a large scale by Roman engineers.[3] 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 monolithicdome of the Pantheon in Rome and the massive Baths of Caracalla.[4] The vast system of Roman aqueducts also made extensive use of hydraulic cement.[5]

Although any preservation of this knowledge in literary sources from the Middle Ages is unknown, medieval masons and some military engineers maintained an active tradition of using hydraulic cement in structures such as canals, fortresses, harbors, and shipbuilding facilities.[6][7] The technical knowledge of making hydraulic cement was later formalized by French and British engineers in the 18th century.[6]

Modern cement

Modern hydraulic cements began to be developed from the start of the Industrial Revolution (around 1800), driven by three main needs:
  • Hydraulic cement render (stucco) 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".[8] 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,[9] 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.

Setting time and "early strength" are important characteristics of cements. 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[10] 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 counterintuitive for manufacturers of "artificial cements", because they required more lime in the mix (a problem for his father), a much higher kiln temperature (and therefore more fuel), and 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.

In the US the first large scale use of cement was Rosendale cement a natural cement mined from a massive deposit of a large dolostone rock deposit discovered in the early 19th century near Rosendale, New York. Rosendale cement was extremely popular for the foundation of buildings (e.g., Statue of Liberty, Capitol Building, Brooklyn Bridge) and lining water pipes. But its long curing time of at least a month made it unpopular after World War One in the construction of highways and bridges and many states and construction firms turned to the use of Portland cement. Because of the switch to Portland cement, by the end of the 1920s of the 15 Rosendale cement companies, only one had survived. But in the early 1930s it was soon discovered that Portland cement while it had a faster setting time was not as durable, especially for highways, to the point that some states stopped building highways and roads with cement. An engineer, Bertrain H. Wait, whose company had worked on the construction of the New York Cities Catskill Aqueduct, and was impressed with the durability of Rosendale cement, came up with a blend of both Rosendale and synthetic cements which has the good attributes of both: it was highly durable and had a much faster setting time. Mr. Wait convinced the New York Commissioner of Highways to construct an experimental section highway near New Paltz, New York, of one sack of Rosendale to six sacks of synthetic cement, and it was proved a success and for decades hence the Rosendale-synthetic cement blend became common use in highway and bridge construction.[11]

Types of modern cement

Portland cement

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 grey or white.

Portland cement blends

Portland cement blends 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.[12]

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.[13]

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.[14]

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.[15]

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 that 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.[16]

Non-Portland hydraulic cements

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.[17][18] 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 cement

Cement sets when mixed with water by way of a complex series of hydration chemical reactions still only partly understood. The different constituents slowly hydrate and crystallise while the interlocking of their crystals gives to cement its strength. 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. The time it takes for cement to set varies; and can take anywhere from twenty minutes for initial set, to twenty-four hours, or more, for final set.

Safety issues

Bags of cement routinely have health and safety warnings printed on them because not only is cement highly alkaline, but the setting process is exothermic. As a result, wet cement is strongly caustic and can easily cause severe skin burns if not promptly washed off with water. Similarly, dry cement powder in contact with mucous membranes can cause severe eye or respiratory irritation. Cement users should wear protective clothing.[19][20][21]

Cement industry in the world

See also: List of countries by cement production
In 2010 the world production of hydraulic cement was 3,300 million tonnes. The top three producers were China with 1,800, India with 220 and USA with 63.5 million tonnes for a combined total of over half the world total by the world's three most populated states.[22]

Global Cement Production in 2010. Author: Propubs
Global Cement Production in 2010

For the world capacity to produce cement in 2010 the situation was similar with the top three states (China, India and USA) accounting for just under half the world total capacity.[23]

Global Cement Capacity in 2010. Author: Propubs
Global Cement Capacity in 2010

Cement output in 2004

Cement output in 2004


"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 tonnes shipped out and has been in steady decline ever since. Only 5.18 million tonnes 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."[24]

In 2006 it was estimated that China manufactured 1.235 billion tonnes of cement, which was 44% of the world total cement production.[25] "Demand for cement in China is expected to advance 5.4% annually and exceed 1 billion tonnes 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."[26]

In 2010, 3.3 billion tonnes of cement was consumed globally. Of this, China accounted for 1.8 billion tonnes. [27]


See also: Cement in Africa

Environmental impacts

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 emissions

Cement manufacturing releases CO2 in the atmosphere both directly when calcium carbonate is heated, producing lime and carbon dioxide,[28] and also indirectly through the use of energy if its production involves the emission of CO2. The cement industry is the second largest CO2 emitting industry behind power generation. 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.[29] The amount of CO2 emitted by the cement industry is nearly 900 kg of CO2 for every 1000 kg of cement produced. [30] The high proportion of carbon dioxide produced in the chemical reaction leads to large decrease in mass in the conversion from limestone to cement. So, to reduce the transport of heavier raw materials and to mimimize the associated costs, it is more economical for cement plants to be closer to the limestone quarries rather than to the consumer centers.[31]

In certain applications, lime mortar, reabsorbs the same amount of CO2 as was released in its manufacture, and has a lower energy requirement in production than mainstream cement. Newly developed cement types from Novacem[32] and Eco-cement can absorb carbon dioxide from ambient air during hardening.[33] Use of the Kalina cycle during production can also increase energy efficiency.

Heavy metal emissions in the air

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,[34]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. As of 2011 in the United States, cement kilns are "legally allowed to pump more toxins into the air than are hazardous-waste incinerators."[35]

Heavy metals present in the clinker

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 materials

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.[36]

See also

  1. ^Macedonians created cement three centuries before the Romans, BBC News Europe
  2. ^Heracles to Alexander The Great: Treasures From The Royal Capital of Macedon, A Hellenic Kingdom in the Age of Democracy, Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, University of Oxford
  3. ^ Hill, Donald: A History of Engineering in Classical and Medieval Times, Routledge 1984, p. 106.
  4. ^Pure natural pozzolan cement.
  5. ^Aqueduct Architecture: Moving Water to the Masses in Ancient Rome.
  6. ^ ab Sismondo, Sergio. An Introduction to Science and Technology Studies. John Wiley and Sons, 2009. 2nd edition, illustrated. 256 pages (page 142). ISBN 978-1-405-18765-7.
  7. ^ Mukerji, Chandra. Impossible engineering: technology and territoriality on the Canal du Midi. Princeton University Press, 2009. Illustrated edition. 304 pages (page 121). ISBN 978-0-691-14032-2.
  8. ^ A.J. Francis, The Cement Industry 1796–1914: A History, David & Charles, 1977, ISBN 0-7153-7386-2, Chap. 2.
  9. ^ Francis op. cit., Chap. 5
  10. ^ Hewlett op. cit., Chap. 1
  11. ^"Natural Cement Comes Back", October 1941, Popular Science
  12. ^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.
  13. ^U.S. Federal Highway Administration. "Ground Granulated Blast-Furnace Slag". Retrieved 2007-01-24.
  14. ^U.S. Federal Highway Administration. "Fly Ash". Retrieved 2007-01-24.
  15. ^U.S. Federal Highway Administration. "Silica Fume". Retrieved 2007-01-24.
  16. ^SINTEF Civil and Environmental Engineering, Cement and Concrete, N-7465 Trondheim, Norway. %7C Cement and Concrete Research 35 (2005) 315– 323. "Mechanism for performance of energetically modified cement EMC".
  17. ^ Bye G.C. (1999), Portland Cement 2nd Ed., Thomas Telford, 1999, ISBN 0-7277-2766-4, pp. 206–208
  18. ^ 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.
  19. ^CIS26 – cement. (PDF) . Retrieved on 2011-05-05.
  20. ^"Mother left with horrific burns to her knees after kneeling in B&Q cement while doing kitchen DIY". Daily Mail (London). 2011-02-15.
  21. ^Pyatt, Jamie (2011-02-15). "Mums horror cement burns". The Sun (London).
  22. ^United States Geological Survey. "USGS Mineral Program Cement Report. (Jan 2011)".
  23. ^ Edwards, P; McCaffrey, R. Global Cement Directory 2010. PRo Publications. Epsom, UK, 2010.
  24. ^ Li Yong Yan China's way forward paved in cement, Asia Times January 7, 2004
  25. ^China now no. 1 in CO2 emissions; USA in second position: more info, NEAA, published 2007-06-19. Retrieved 2007-07-20.
  26. ^China's cement demand to top 1 billion tonnes in 2008, CementAmericas, Nov 1, 2004
  27. ^www.worldcoal.org/coal/uses-of-coal/coal-cement/
  28. ^EIA – Emissions of Greenhouse Gases in the U.S. 2006-Carbon Dioxide Emissions
  29. ^The Cement Sustainability Initiative: Progress report, World Business Council for Sustainable Development, published 2002-06-01
  30. ^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.
  31. ^Chandak, Shobhit. "Report on cement industry in India". scribd. Retrieved 21 July 2011.
  32. ^Novacem | Imperial Innovations
  33. ^Jha, Alok (2008-12-31). "Revealed: The cement that eats carbon dioxide". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2010-04-28.
  34. ^"Factsheet on: Thallium". Retrieved 2009-09-15.
  35. ^Berkes, Howard (2011-11-10). "EPA Regulations Give Kilns Permission To Pollute : NPR". NPR.org. Retrieved 2011-11-17.
  36. ^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.

Further reading
  • Aitcin, Pierre-Claude (2000). "Cements of yesterday and today: Concrete of tomorrow". Cement and Concrete Research30 (9): 1349–1359. doi:10.1016/S0008-8846(00)00365-3.
  • van Oss, Hendrik G.; Padovani, Amy C. (2002). "Cement Manufacture and the Environment, Part I: Chemistry and Technology". Journal of Industrial Ecology6 (1): 89–105. doi:10.1162/108819802320971650.
  • van Oss, Hendrik G.; Padovani, Amy C. (2003). "Cement Manufacture and the Environment, Part II: Environmental Challenges and Opportunities". Journal of Industrial Ecology7 (1): 93–126. doi:10.1162/108819803766729212.
  • Friedrich W. Locher: Cement : Principles of production and use, Düsseldorf, Germany: Verlag Bau + Technik GmbH, 2006, ISBN 3-7640-0420-7
  • Javed I. Bhatty, F. MacGregor Miller, Steven H. Kosmatka; editors: Innovations in Portland Cement Manufacturing, SP400, Portland Cement Association, Skokie, Illinois, USA, 2004, ISBN 0-89312-234-3
  • "Cement Industry Is at Center of Climate Change Debate" article by Elizabeth Rosenthal in the New York Times October 26, 2007
  • Neville, A.M. (1996). Properties of concrete. Fourth and final edition standards. Pearson, Prentice Hall. ISBN 0-582-23070-5. OCLC 33837400.
  • Taylor, H.F.W. (1990). Cement Chemistry. Academic Press. p. 475. ISBN 0-12-683900-X.

External links

Convince yourself of our products for your applications.

We recommend the following products for your process medium:

hose pinch valves

knife-gate valve

butterfly valves

ball valves