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CE 221 (Construction Materials and Testing)



Pozzolan Cement

The ancient Romans have discovered that the addition of some volcanic earths
(Pozzolanas) to lime gave a product, which hardens under water (hydraulic). Derived from
Pozzouli, a village near Naples, Rome – famous for a particularly effective volcanic earth.
Chalks containing siliceous clays when burnt can be used for concreting.

Portland Cement

Through experiment, experience and practice, man has made Portland cement by
blending materials containing calcium, alumina, iron and silica. The inventor, Joseph
Aspdin, called it Portland cement because of its resemblance to a building stone quarried
on the isle of Portland.

A simple recipe for Portland cement could be as follows: take two parts of crushed
limestone; add one part clay or pulverized shale; add pinch of sandstones or iron ore; mix
thoroughly and grind up fine; run the material through a rotating kiln at a temperature from
1400°C to 1700°C until the raw materials change into a clinker (balls of residue); cool the
clinker; add a pinch of gypsum and grind very fine into Portland cement. An important
principle to remember about the cement-making process is the dehydration (drying out)
of the materials using intense heat.
When the cement is later mix with water, the process reverses to hydration
(combining the water) and the cement – water paste will become as hard as rock.

There are five types of Portland cement made for specific purposes. The
American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) provides for the physical and
chemical requirements for the following Portland cements under Designation C

Type I and IA: Suitable for all general uses such as pavement, sidewalks,
buildings, bridges, tanks, water pipes, etc.

Type II and IIA: Used when the acid or sulfate content of the groundwater or soil
is higher than the normal. It generates heat of hydration at a slower rate than Type
I. It may be used in large pier, heavy abutments and retaining walls.

Type III and IIIA: Gains strength faster and develops more heat of hydration than
the other Portland cements. You may want to use Type III if you are in a hurry to
strip forms and used them again. It could be used when you need to put the
concrete into service faster than normal. It can also be used in cold weather to
reduce the protection period needed.

Type IV: Since this type has a low heat of hydration, it is used in massive structures
such as large dams where the temperature rise during hardening may cause
serious problems.

Type V: This type is used where soils or groundwater have a high sulfate or acid
content. Structures exposed to coal mine drainage should be considered for Type

The Two Most Common Blended Cements

Type IS – Portland Furnace Slag (waste material from smelting)

Type IP – Portland Pozzolan Cement

Properties of Portland Cement:

Fineness of Cement

Affects heat released and the rate of hydration. Greater cement fineness
increases the rate at which cement hydrates and thus accelerates strength
development. It is measured by the Blaine Permeability Test or the 45 microns


Refers to the ability of a hardened paste to retain its volume after setting.
Lack of soundness of delayed destructive expansion is caused by excessive
amounts of hard-burned free magnesia.


Refers to the relative mobility of a freshly mixed cement paste or mortar to

its ability to grow. Both the normal consistency method and flows test method are
used to regulate water contents paste and mortars respectively, to be used in
subsequent test, both allow comparing dissimilar ingredients with the same flow.

Setting Time

To determine if cement sets according to the time limits specified in ASTM

C 150, tests are performed using either the Vicat Apparatus or a Gillmore Needle.
Initial set of cement paste must not occur too early, final set must not occur too
late. The setting time indicates that the paste is or is not undergoing normal
hydration reactions.

Compressive Strength

As specified in ASTM C 150 is that obtained from tests of standard 2-inch

mortar cubes tested in accordance with ASTM C 109. These cubes are made and
cured in prescribed manner using standard sand. Compressive Strength is
influenced by the cement type or more precisely, the composition and fineness of
False Set (ASTM C 451)

Paste method and the ASTM C 359, mortar method, is evidenced by a

significant loss of plasticity without the evolution of much heat shortly after mixing.

Heat of Hydration

A heat generated when cement and water react. The amount of heat
generated is dependent chiefly upon the chemical composition of the cement, with
C3A and C3S being the compounds primarily responsible for high heat of

Loss of Ignition

Is determined by heating the sample of known weight from 900°C to 1000°C

until a constant weight is obtained. Normally, a high loss of ignition is an indication
of pre-hydration and carbonation, which maybe caused by improper or prolonged
storage or adulteration during transport and transfer.

Specific Gravity

The specific gravity of Portland cement is generally about 3.15 and Portland
blast-furnace slag and Portland-pozzolan cements may have a 2.90 value of
specific gravity.

Weight of Cement

Most Portland cements are shipped in bulk by rail, truck or barge.

Pneumatic loading and unloading of the transport vehicle are the most popular
means of handling bulk cement. The actual density of bulk Portland cement can
vary considerably depending on how it is handled or stored. For this reason, good
practice has decreed that bulk cement must be weighed for each batched of
concrete produced.

Quality is commonly associated with excellence or a good product. There are two
elements that are necessary to attain a good quality of concrete; technical knowledge and
manual skills. To achieve high quality concrete, the technician must understand a few
fundamental rules and principles. Whenever a problem crops up on a concrete project,
you can usually go back to one of these basic rules for a reason or for an answer. When
both concrete technology and manual skills go together, we can get the degree of quality
needed by the designer and the builder.

Composition of Concrete

The two major components of concrete are the paste and mineral
aggregates (coarse and fine). Paste is the mixture of water and cement. In fresh
concrete, the individual particles of aggregate and cement are suspended and
separated by thin layers of water. This makes the mix plastic and workable. The
volume of paste, including air voids is about 30% and the volume of aggregates is
about 70% of the volume of concrete mix.

Requirements of Concrete

The principal requirements of hardened concrete are that it should have the
required strength, it should be uniform, watertight, resistant to wear, weather and
other destructive agencies, and it should not shrink excessively on wetting. Other
requirements are high resistance to fire, chemicals or abrasion.

Factors Affecting Strength of Concrete

The principal factors affecting the strength of concrete are: quality of

aggregate and cement, quality of mixing water and cement, curing conditions, time
of mixing and age. If the concrete is well cured at any particular age, the most
important single factor affecting strength is the water-cement ratio. The lower the
water-cement ratio, the greater the strength. The significant of the water-cement
ratio is underscored by the fact that it affects not only the compressive strength but
also the flexural strength, bond strength, durability and water-tightness.

The Hardening Process

When Portland cement is mixed with water to form a paste, the compounds
of the cement react with water to form cementitious products which adhere to each
other and to the intermixed fine and coarse aggregate, and become very hard. As
long as moisture is present, the reaction called hydration may continue for years
adding continually to the strength of the mixture.

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