After analyzing the mineral components of a concrete breakwater sample dating back to 37 B.C., researchers have discovered that the secret to superior Roman concrete – one of the world’s most durable construction materials – lies in its unique mineral formulation and production technique.
“The Romans made concrete by mixing lime and volcanic rock. For underwater structures, lime and volcanic ash were mixed to form mortar, and this mortar and volcanic tuff were packed into wooden forms,” according to an announcement of the findings. “The seawater instantly triggered a hot chemical reaction. The lime was hydrated – incorporating water molecules into its structure – and reacted with the ash to cement the whole mixture together.”
Today’s concrete and the one that’s been in use for nearly 200 years, doesn’t utilize the Roman mixture of lime-and-ash that made their formula a unique and stable binder.
It’s not that modern concrete from today’s cement isn’t durable. In fact, it’s so good that, according to International Cement Review, we used 3,312 Mt in 2010, up 10.4% from the year before. Over 2011 and 2012, global consumption of cement rose to 3,585 Mt and 3,736 Mt, respectively.
The issue, as the researchers’ findings indicate, is that cement manufacturing accounts for 7% of the carbon dioxide that industry puts into the air. Using much less lime and making it from limestone heated at a much lower temperature, the Romans required less fuel. Scientists believe that if the cement industry adopted these Roman materials and techniques it could revolutionize the building industry by producing a sturdier, less CO2-intensive concrete.
Of course, should we adopt the materials and techniques utilized by the ancient Romans, efficient industrial vacuum systems will remain a key element in cement manufacturing, especially when the world uses billions of tons of the material each year.
Cement and dust, or more appropriately particulate matter, can easily invade machinery and equipment, leading to machinery malfunctions and breakdowns. At the least, this causes downtime, an inefficient product line, and more repairs. Worse, failing to keep a work environment clean can lead to poor employee health and lower quality of the final product without contamination. Industrial vacuum systems are critical to keeping a plant clean, thereby reclaiming product while meeting health and safety needs.