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In the most general sense of the word, cement is a binder, a substance which sets and hardens independently, and can bind other materials together. The name "cement" goes back to the Romans who used the term "opus caementitium" to describe masonry which resembled concrete and was made from crushed rock with burnt lime as binder. The volcanic ash and pulverized brick additives which were added to the burnt lime to obtain a hydraulic binder were later referred to as cementum, cimentum, ca"ment and cement. Cements used in construction are characterized as hydraulic or non-hydraulic.

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 which is durable in the face of normal environmental effects.

Hydraulic cements

Hydraulic cements are materials that set and harden after being combined with water, as a result of chemical reactions with the mixing water, and that, after hardening, retain strength and stability even under water. The key requirement for this strength and stability is that the hydrates formed on immediate reaction with water be essentially insoluble in water. Most construction cements today are hydraulic, and most of these are based on Portland cement, which is made primarily from limestone, certain clay minerals, and gypsum in a high temperature process that drives off carbon dioxide and chemically combines the primary ingredients into new compounds. Non-hydraulic cements include such materials as (non-hydraulic) lime and gypsum plasters, which must be kept dry in order to gain strength, and oxychloride cements, which have liquid components. Lime mortars, for example, "set" only by drying out, and gain strength only very slowly by absorption of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to re-form calcium carbonate through carbonatation.

Setting and hardening of hydraulic cements is caused by the formation of water-containing compounds, which form as a result of reactions between cement components and water. The reaction and the reaction products are referred to as hydration and hydrates or hydrate phases, respectively. As a result of the immediate start of the reactions, a stiffening can be observed which is very small in the beginning but which increases with time. The point at which the stiffening reaches a certain level is referred to as the start of setting. Further consolidation is called setting, after which the phase of hardening begins. The compressive strength of the material then grows steadily, over a period that ranges from a few days in the case of "ultra-rapid-hardening" cements to several years in the case of ordinary cements.


Portland cement

Cement is made by heating limestone with small quantities of other materials (such as clay) to 1450°C in a kiln. 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 gray or white.

Portland cement blends

These 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.

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.

Portland Flyash Cement contains up to 30% fly ash. The flyash is pozzolanic, so that ultimate strength is maintained. Because flyash addition allows a lower concrete water content, early strength can also be maintained. Where good quality cheap flyash is available, this can be an economic alternative to ordinary Portland cement.

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.

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".

Non-Portland hydraulic cements

Pozzolan-lime cements. Mixtures of ground pozzolan and lime are the cements used by the Romans, and are to 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 (CA in Cement chemist notation) and Mayenite Ca12Al14O33 (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. 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 free lime. As with any natural material, such cements have very variable properties.

Geopolymer cements are made from mixtures of water-soluble alkali metal silicates and aluminosilicate mineral powders such as fly ash and metakaolin.

Fuels and raw materials

A cement plant consumes 3,000 to 6,500 MJ 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.

CE (Conformite Europeenne) certifies conformity with the standards of European Union. TSE (Turk Standartlar Enstitusu) certifies conformity with the standards of Turkey GOST (Gosudarstvennyy Standart) certifies conformity with the standards of Commonwealth of Independent States which includes Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Georgia, and Turkmenistan REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) certifies conformity with the chemicals standards of European Union. SONCAP (Standard Organisation of Nigeria Conformity Assessment) certifies conformity with the standards of Nigeria. SII (Standards Institution of Israel) certifies conformity with the standards of Israel. ANEOR (Spanish Association of. Standardization and Certification) certifies conformity with the standards of Spain. API (American Petroleum Isntitute) certifies conformity with the standards of US petroleum and natural gas industry
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