How does concrete work?
One of the most integral materials in the construction industry today, concrete is vital to many building projects the world over. Despite its commonplace in the majority of the buildings surrounding us every day, many do not know exactly how this material works. Here, we explain a little more about how concrete is created and exactly how it works.
How is it made?
Modern concrete is a composite material, made of a filler and a binder which in turn are made of four central components:
- Portland cement
Cement is produced first through the quarrying of limestone, whereby crushers break the blasted limestone to small pieces. Then, this limestone is mixed with clay, sand and iron ore and is ground together, forming a homogenous powder. The mixture is heated on a kiln, allowing the materials to react, before travelling down the cylinder and progressing through four stages of transformation. Water and aggregates are added, and thus the process of making concrete is set off.
These are all vital ingredients in any concrete mix, though further materials can be added to change the core properties of the concrete. These include:
Accelerators: These speed up the hydration (hardening) of the wet concrete, and are often used in colder temperature to allow the concrete crew shorter periods between placing and finishing concrete.
Retarders: These do the opposite, slowing the hydration of the wet concrete to allow for instances in which the concrete may otherwise set too quickly, such as in particularly hot climates.
Air entraining agents: Adding tiny air bubbles to the concrete, these help concrete resist freezing and thawing cycles, and subsequently reduce the risk of cracking and damage to the concrete.
Plasticisers and superplasticisers: These improve the workability of the concrete during the wet stage in order to allow the concrete to flow more easily.
Pigments: These are used to change the colour of the concrete for purely aesthetic purposes.
Fly ash: This can replace up to half of the Portland cement needed in a cement mix, and will create higher strength, as well as improved chemical resistance and durability.
GGBS or GGBFS: This can also replace part of the Portland cement, improving strength and durability of concrete.
Silica Fume: This can also replace part of the Portland cement, improving concrete strength, abrasion resistance and corrosion resistance to a variety of chemicals, particularly salts.
Once the right levels of different components have been decided upon, and the concrete has been formed, it can then be pumped or placed into the relevant area within the construction project, before being set and, thus, creating the surfaces required.
Here at Concrete Drilling Services, we know the importance of high quality, durable concrete. Serving customers throughout Bolton, Manchester and Liverpool, we are proud to lend our years of experience towards providing high quality concreting services to projects of all sizes. For more information on any of our services, or to arrange for concrete drilling or cutting at your project, get in touch with our friendly team of professionals today – we’ll be happy to help, whatever the enquiry.