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Concrete: Modern Engineering for an Ancient Material

By Scott Jenkins |

Novel additives, improved understanding of cement chemistry and thoughtful mix design are making modern concrete increasingly sustainable, durable and versatile Concrete’s origins can be traced back to the ancient world. For example, many believe that missionaries in North America learned to make natural cement from native peoples in Mexico, and a form of cement-based concrete was used to build iconic structures like the Colosseum and Pantheon in Ancient Rome. Despite its long history, concrete continues to experience significant levels of technical innovation, driven by increasing demand for more durable, more sustainable and higher-performing materials. Modern concrete manufacturers and users seek greater durability for longer-lasting structures, higher environmental sustainability from manufacture to use, and products with properties more closely tailored to specific applications. To achieve gains in these areas, the concrete industry has focused on three broad areas: leveraging the chemistry of cement to achieve desired performance and environmental properties; devising new concrete mix designs that improve durability, functionality, aesthetics and other properties; and developing new additives to modify concrete behavior both…
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