Concrete Composition

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concrete composition

Concrete Composition

There are many types of concrete available, created by varying the proportions of the main ingredients below. In this way or by substitution for the cementitious and aggregate phases, the finished product can be tailored to its application with varying strength, density, or chemical and thermal resistance properties.

Aggregate consists of large chunks of material in a concrete mix, generally a coarse gravel or crushed rocks such as limestone, or granite, along with finer materials such as sand.

Cement, most commonly Portland cement, is associated with the general term “concrete.” A range of materials can be used as the cement in concrete. One of the most familiar of these alternative cements is asphalt concrete. Other cementitious materials such as fly ash and slag cement, are sometimes added as mineral admixtures (see below) – either pre-blended with the cement or directly as a concrete component – and become a part of the binder for the aggregate.

To produce concrete from most cements (excluding asphalt), water is mixed with the dry powder and aggregate, which produces a semi-liquid that workers can shape, typically by pouring it into a form. The concrete solidifies and hardens through a chemical process called hydration. The water reacts with the cement, which bonds the other components together, creating a robust stone-like material.

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Chemical admixtures are added to achieve varied properties. These ingredients may accelerate or slow down the rate at which the concrete hardens, and impart many other useful properties including increased tensile strength, entrainment of air, and/or water resistance.

Reinforcement is often included in concrete. Concrete can be formulated with high compressive strength, but always has lower tensile strength. For this reason it is usually reinforced with materials that are strong in tension, often steel.

Mineral admixtures are becoming more popular in recent decades. The use of recycled materials as concrete ingredients has been gaining popularity because of increasingly stringent environmental legislation, and the discovery that such materials often have complementary and valuable properties. The most conspicuous of these are fly ash, a by-product of coal-fired power plants, ground granulated blast furnace slag, and silica fume, a byproduct of industrial electric arc furnaces. The use of these materials in concrete reduces the amount of resources required, as the mineral admixtures act as a partial cement replacement. This displaces some cement production, an energetically expensive and environmentally problematic process, while reducing the amount of industrial waste that must be disposed of. Mineral admixtures can be pre-blended with the cement during its production for sale and use as a blended cement, or mixed directly with other components when the concrete is produced.

The mix design depends on the type of structure being built, how the concrete is mixed and delivered, and how it is placed to form the structure.

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