Wednesday October 21, 2021’s Smile of the Day: Portland Cement

On this Day:

In 1824, Joseph Aspdin patented Portland cement in Yorkshire, England.

Portland cement is the most common type of cement in general use around the world as a basic ingredient of concrete, mortar, stucco, and non-specialty grout. It was developed from other types of hydraulic lime in England in the early 19th century by Joseph Aspdin, and is usually made from limestone. It is a fine powder, produced by heating limestone and clay minerals in a kiln to form clinker, grinding the clinker, and adding 2 to 3 percent of gypsum. Several types of portland cement are available. The most common, called ordinary portland cement (OPC), is grey, but white portland cement is also available. Its name is derived from its resemblance to Portland stone which was quarried on the Isle of Portland in Dorset, England. It was named by Joseph Aspdin who obtained a patent for it in 1824. However, his son William Aspdin is regarded as the inventor of “modern” portland cement due to his developments in the 1840s.

Portland cement is caustic, so it can cause chemical burns. The powder can cause irritation or, with severe exposure, lung cancer, and can contain a number of hazardous components, including crystalline silica and hexavalent chromium. Environmental concerns are the high energy consumption required to mine, manufacture, and transport the cement, and the related air pollution, including the release of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, dioxin, NOx, SO2, and particulates. Production of Portland cement contributes about 10% of world carbon dioxide emissions. The International Energy Agency has estimated that cement production will increase by between 12 and 23% by 2050 to meet the needs of the world’s growing population.  There are several ongoing researches targeting a suitable replacement of portland cement by supplementary cementitious materials.

The low cost and widespread availability of the limestone, shales, and other naturally-occurring materials used in Portland cement make it one of the lowest-cost materials widely used over the last century. Concrete produced from Portland cement is one of the world’s most versatile construction materials.

Portland cement was developed from natural cements made in Britain beginning in the middle of the 18th century. Its name is derived from its similarity to Portland stone, a type of building stone quarried on the Isle of Portland in Dorset, England.

The development of modern Portland cement (sometimes called ordinary or normal portland cement) began in 1756, when John Smeaton experimented with combinations of different limestones and additives, including trass and pozzolanas, relating to the planned construction of a lighthouse, now known as Smeaton’s Tower. In the late 18th century, Roman cement was developed and patented in 1796 by James Parker. Roman cement quickly became popular, but was largely replaced by Portland cement in the 1850s. In 1811, James Frost produced a cement he called British cement. James Frost is reported to have erected a manufactory for making of an artificial cement in 1826. In 1811 Edgar Dobbs of Southwark patented a cement of the kind invented 7 years later by the French engineer Louis Vicat. Vicat’s cement is an artificial hydraulic lime, and is considered the “principal forerunner” of Portland cement.

The name Portland cement is recorded in a directory published in 1823 being associated with a William Lockwood and possibly others. In his 1824 cement patent, Joseph Aspdin called his invention “Portland cement” because of its resemblance to Portland stone. However, Aspdin’s cement was nothing like modern Portland cement, but was a first step in the development of modern Portland cement, and has been called a “Proto-Portland Cement”.

William Aspdin had left his father’s company, to form his own cement manufactory. In the 1840s William Aspdin, apparently accidentally, produced calcium silicates which are a middle step in the development of Portland cement. In 1848, William Aspdin further improved his cement. Then, in 1853, he moved to Germany, where he was involved in cement making. William Aspdin made what could be called “Meso-Portland Cement” (a mix of Portland cement and hydraulic lime). Isaac Charles Johnson further refined the production of “Meso-Portland Cement” (middle stage of development), and claimed to be the real father of Portland cement.

In 1859, John Grant of the Metropolitan Board of Works, set out requirements for cement to be used in the London sewer project. This became a specification for Portland cement. The next development in the manufacture of Portland cement was the introduction of the rotary kiln, patented by Frederick Ransome in 1885 (U.K.) and 1886 (U.S.); which allowed a stronger, more homogeneous mixture and a continuous manufacturing process. The Hoffmann “endless” kiln which was said to give “perfect control over combustion” was tested in 1860, and showed the process produced a better grade of cement. This cement was made at the Portland Cementfabrik Stern at Stettin, which was the first to use a Hoffmann kiln. The Association of German Cement Manufacturers issued a standard on Portland cement in 1878.

Portland cement had been imported into the United States from Germany and England, and in the 1870s and 1880s, it was being produced by Eagle Portland cement near Kalamazoo, Michigan. In 1875, the first Portland cement was produced in the Coplay Cement Company Kilns under the direction of David O. Saylor in Coplay, Pennsylvania. By the early 20th century, American-made Portland cement had displaced most of the imported Portland cement.

Cement sets when mixed with water by way of a complex series of chemical reactions still only partly understood. The different constituents slowly crystallise, and the interlocking of their crystals gives cement its strength. Carbon dioxide is slowly absorbed to convert the portlandite (Ca(OH)2) into insoluble calcium carbonate. After the initial setting, immersion in warm water will speed up setting. Gypsum is added as an inhibitor to prevent flash (or quick) setting.

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. Concrete can be used in the construction of structural elements like panels, beams, and street furniture, or may be cast-in situ for superstructures like roads and dams. These may be supplied with concrete mixed on site, or may be provided with ‘ready-mixed’ concrete made at permanent mixing sites. Portland cement is also used in mortars (with sand and water only), for plasters and screeds, and in grouts (cement/water mixes squeezed into gaps to consolidate foundations, road-beds, etc.).

When water is mixed with Portland cement, the product sets in a few hours, and hardens over a period of weeks. These processes can vary widely, depending upon the mix used and the conditions of curing of the product, but a typical concrete sets in about 6 hours and develops a compressive strength of 8 MPa in 24 hours. The strength rises to 15 MPa at 3 days, 23 MPa at 1 week, 35 MPa at 4 weeks, and 41 MPa at 3 months. In principle, the strength continues to rise slowly as long as water is available for continued hydration, but concrete is usually allowed to dry out after a few weeks and this causes strength growth to stop.

Due to the high temperatures inside cement kilns, combined with the oxidising (oxygen-rich) atmosphere and long residence times, cement kilns are used as a processing option for various types of waste streams; indeed, they efficiently destroy many hazardous organic compounds. The waste streams also often contain combustible materials which allow the substitution of part of the fossil fuel normally used in the process.

Waste materials used in cement kilns as a fuel supplement:

  • Car and truck tires – steel belts are easily tolerated in the kilns
  • Paint sludge from automobile industries
  • Waste solvents and lubricants
  • Meat and bone meal – slaughterhouse waste due to bovine spongiform encephalopathy contamination concerns
  • Waste plastics
  • Sewage sludge
  • Rice hulls
  • Sugarcane waste
  • Used wooden railroad ties (railway sleepers)
  • Spent cell liner from the aluminium smelting industry (also called spent pot liner)

Portland cement manufacture also has the potential to benefit from using industrial byproducts from the waste stream. These include in particular:

  • Slag
  • Fly ash (from power plants)
  • Silica fume (from steel mills)
  • Synthetic gypsum (from desulfurisation)

(per Wikipedia)

First, a Story:

I was mixing concrete with my wife the other day.  She said that we should put something special into the mix that meant a lot to us.  

I asked why, so she I said “it’ll be cement-amental”

Second, a Song:

Bulee “Slim” Gaillard (January 9, 1911[1] – February 26, 1991), also known as McVouty, was an American jazz singer and songwriter who played piano, guitar, vibraphone, and tenor saxophone.

Gaillard was noted for his comedic vocalese singing and word play in his own constructed language called “Vout-o-Reenee”, for which he wrote a dictionary. In addition to English, he spoke five languages (Spanish, German, Greek, Arabic, and Armenian) with varying degrees of fluency.

He rose to prominence in the late 1930s with hits such as “Flat Foot Floogie (with a Floy Floy)” and “Cement Mixer (Put-Ti-Put-Ti)” after forming Slim and Slam with Leroy Eliot “Slam” Stewart. During World War II, Gaillard served as a bomber pilot in the Pacific. In 1944, he resumed his music career and performed with notable jazz musicians such as Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and Dodo Marmarosa.

In the 1960s and 1970s, he acted in films—sometimes as himself—and also appeared in bit parts in television series such as Roots: The Next Generations.

In the 1980s, Gaillard resumed touring the circuit of European jazz festivals. He followed Dizzy Gillespie’s advice to move to Europe and, in 1983, settled in London, where he died of cancer on 26 February 1991, after a long career in music, film and television, spanning nearly six decades (per Wikipedia).

Władziu Valentino Liberace (May 16, 1919 – February 4, 1987) was an American pianist, singer, and actor. A child prodigy born in Wisconsin to parents of Italian and Polish origin, he enjoyed a career spanning four decades of concerts, recordings, television, motion pictures, and endorsements. At the height of his fame from the 1950s to 1970s, he was the highest-paid entertainer in the world with established concert residencies in Las Vegas and an international touring schedule. He embraced a lifestyle of flamboyant excess both on and off stage, earning the nickname “Mr. Showmanship” (per Wikipedia).

Here is Liberace performing Slim Gaillard’s “Cement Mixer (Put-Ti-Put-Ti)”.   I hope you enjoy this!


Thought for the Day:

“Food is the great connector, and laughs are the cement. If we go out to eat and have a nice meal, that’s one thing. If we can share a laugh, now we’re friends.” – Philip Rosenthal

Have a great day!

Dave & Colleen

© 2021 David J. Bilinsky and Colleen E. Bilinsky

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