Cement is a commonly used binding material in the construction. The cement is obtained by burning a mixture of calcarious (calcium) and argillaceous (clay) material at a very high temperature and then grinding the clinker so produced to a fine powder. It was first produced by a mason Joseph Aspdin in England in 1924. He patented it as portland cement.
Types of Portland Cement
In addition to ordinary portland cement there are many varieties of cement. Important varieties are briefly explained below:
(i) White Cement: The cement when made free from colouring oxides of iron, maganese and chlorium results into white cement. In the manufacture of this cement, the oil fuel is used instead of coal for burning. White cement is used for the floor finishes, plastering, ornamental works etc. In swimming pools white cement is used to replace glazed tiles. It is used for fixing marbles and glazed tiles.
(ii) Coloured Cement: The cements of desired colours are produced by intimately mixing pigments with ordinary cement. The chlorium oxide gives green colour. Cobalt produce blue colour. Iron oxide with different proportion produce brown, red or yellow colour. Addition of manganese dioxide gives black or brown coloured cement. These cements are used for giving finishing touches to floors, walls, window sills, roofs etc.
(iii) Quick Setting Cement: Quick setting cement is produced by reducing the percentage of gypsum and adding a small amount of aluminium sulphate during the manufacture of cement. Finer grinding also adds to quick setting property. This cement starts setting within 5 minutes after adding water and becomes hard mass within 30 minutes. This cement is used to lay concrete under static or slowly running water.
(iv) Rapid Hardening Cement: This cement can be produced by increasing lime content and burning at high temperature while manufacturing cement. Grinding to very fine is also necessary. Though the initial and final setting time of this cement is the same as that of portland cement, it gains strength in early days. This property helps in earlier removal of form works and speed in construction activity.
(v) Low Heat Cement: In mass concrete works like construction of dams, heat produced due to hydration of cement will not get dispersed easily. This may give rise to cracks. Hence in such constructions it is preferable to use low heat cement. This cement contains low percentage (5%) of tricalcium aluminate (C3A) and higher percentage (46%) of dicalcium silicate (C2S).
(vi) Pozzulana Cement: Pozzulana is a volcanic power found in Italy. It can be processed from shales and certain types of clay also. In this cement pozzulana material is 10 to 30 per cent. It can resist action of sulphate. It releases less heat during setting. It imparts higher degree of water tightness. Its tensile strength is high but compressive strength is low. It is used for mass concrete works. It is also used in sewage line works.
(vii) Expanding Cement: This cement expands as it sets. This property is achieved by adding expanding medium like sulpho aluminate and a stabilizing agent to ordinary cement. This is used for filling the cracks in concrete structures.
(viii) High Alumina Cement: It is manufactured by calcining a mixture of lime and bauxite. It is more resistant to sulphate and acid attack. It develops almost full strength within 24 hours of adding water. It is used for under water works.
(ix) Blast Furnace Cement: In the manufacture of pig iron, slag comes out as a waste product. By grinding clinkers of cement with about 60 to 65 per cent of slag, this cement is produced. The properties of this cement are more or less same as ordinary cement, but it is cheap, since it utilise waste product. This cement is durable but it gains the strength slowly and hence needs longer period of curing.
(x) Acid Resistant Cement: This cement is produced by adding acid resistant aggregated such as quartz, quartzite, sodium silicate or soluble glass. This cement has good resistance to action of acid and water. It is commonly used in the construction of chemical factories.
(xi) Sulphate Resistant Cement: By keeping the percentage of tricalcium aluminate C3A below five per cent in ordinary cement this cement is produced. It is used in the construction of structures which are likely to be damaged by alkaline conditions. Examples of such structures are canals, culverts etc.
(xii) Fly Ash Blended Cement: Fly ash is a byproduct in thermal stations. The particles of fly ash are very minute and they fly in the air, creating air pollution problems. Thermal power stations have to spend lot of money to arrest fly ash and dispose safely. It is found that one of the best way to dispose fly ash is to mix it with cement in controlled condition and derive some of the beneficiary effects on cement. Now-a-days cement factories produce the fly ash in their own thermal stations or borrow it from other thermal stations and further process it to make it suitable to blend with cement. 20 to 30% fly ash is used for blending.
Fly ash blended cements have superior quality of resistance to weathering action. The ultimate strength gained is the same as that with ordinary portland cement. However strength gained in the initial stage is slow. Birla plus, Birla star, A.C.C. Suraksha are some of the brand name of blended cement.
Properties of Portland Cement (Ordinary)
(i) Chemical properties: Portland cement consists of the following chemical compounds:
- Tricalcium silicate 3CaO.SiO2 (C3S) 40%
- Dicalcium silicate 2CaO.SiO2 (C2S) 30%
- Tricalcium aluminate 3CaO.Al2O3 (C3A) 11%
- Tetracalcium aluminate 4CaO.Al2O3.Fe2O3 (C3AF) 11%
There may be small quantities of impurifies present such as calcium oxide (CaO) and magnesium oxide (MgO). When water is added to cement, C3A is the first to react and cause initial set. It generates great amount of heat. C3S hydrates early and develops strength in the first 28 days. It also generates heat. C2S is the next to hydrate. It hydrates slowly and is responsible for increase in ultimate strength. C4AF is comparatively inactive compound.
(ii) Physical properties: The following physical properties should be checked before selecting a portland cement for the civil engineering works. IS 269–1967 specifies the method of testing and prescribes the limits: (a) Fineness (b) Setting time (c) Soundness (d) Crushing strength.
(a) Fineness: It is measured in terms of percentage of weight retained after sieving the cement through 90 micron sieve or by surface area of cement in square centimeters per gram of cement. According to IS code specification weight retained on the sieve should not be more than 10 per cent. In terms of specific surface should not be less than 2250 cm2/gm.
(b) Setting time: A period of 30 minutes as minimum setting time for initial setting and a maximum period of 600 minutes as maximum setting time is specified by IS code, provided the tests are conducted as per the procedure prescribed by IS 269-1967.
(c) Soundness: Once the concrete has hardened it is necessary to ensure that no volumetric changes take place. The cement is said to be unsound, if it exhibits volumetric instability after hardening. IS code recommends test with Le Chatelier mould for testing this property. At the end of the test, the indicator of Le Chatelier mould should not expand by more than 10 mm.
(a) Crushing strength: For this mortar cubes are made with standard sand and tested in compression testing machine as per the specification of IS code. The minimum strength specified is 16 N/mm2 after 3 days and 22 N/mm2 after 7 days of curing.
Uses of Cement
Cement is used widely for the construction of various structures. Some of them are listed below:
- Cement slurry is used for filling cracks in concrete structures.
- Cement mortar is used for masonry work, plastering and pointing.
- Cement concrete is used for the construction of various structures like buildings, bridges, water tanks, tunnels, docks, harhours etc.
- Cement is used to manufacture lamp posts, telephone posts, railway sleepers, piles etc.
- For manufacturing cement pipes, garden seats, dust bins, flower pots etc. cement is commonly used.
- It is useful for the construction of roads, footpaths, courts for various sports etc.