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The Fundamentals of Concrete

By: Eric Wilson

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When it comes to concrete many different factors come into place. What the
best concrete mix would be; is one that is easy to place, strong enough to meet the
needs of the application, durable for the life of the floor or wall, and that will look good
when youre done with your decorative efforts[1]. In the making of concrete there are
three main ingredients, cement, aggregate (fine and course), and water. These are just
some of the factors and items that go into the making of good concrete. But it doesnt
stop there, many uses of concrete would not have been discovered if not for the failures
of the first uses of concrete.
These materials combined have the strength to build some of the most
spectacular buildings in modern and post-modern architecture. Making good concrete is
not only an art but also a science, and one of the most important parts of this process is
in the proportioning of the ingredients. The first ingredients are cement and water.
These two materials when mixed together make a glue like effect that holds the
aggregate together. As stated by the Portland Cement Association (PCA), The quality
of the paste determines the character of the concrete. The strength of the paste, in turn,
depends on the ratio of water to cement. The water-cement ratio is the weight of the
mixing water divided by the weight of the cement. High-quality concrete is produced by
lowering the water-cement ratio as much as possible without sacrificing the workability
of fresh concrete, allowing it to be properly placed, consolidated, and cured [2]. Along
with water and cement, concrete cannot be made without aggregate. Although there are
many different types, shapes, and sizes of aggregates, there is a generality to what is
used in most building elements. As said by Haseeb Jamal, a civil engineer at
WebTechTix, Since larger Aggregate sizes have relatively smaller surface areas (for
the cement paste to coat) and since less water means less cement, it is often said that
one should use the largest practicable Aggregate size and the stiffest practical mix.
Most building elements are constructed with a maximum Aggregate size of to 1,
larger sizes being prohibited by the closeness of the reinforcing bars [3]. With all of
these materials in mind, the PCA has determined that, A properly designed mixture
possesses the desired workability for the fresh concrete and the required durability and
strength for the hardened concrete. Typically, a mix is about 10 to 15 percent cement,
60 to 70 percent aggregate and 15 to 20 percent water. Entrained air in many concrete
mixes may also take up another 5 to 8 percent [2]. Even with all of the science and
math behind making and mixing concrete, it is very rare to make a 100 percent perfect
mix of concrete.
One of the first major uses of concrete was the building of the Pantheon. Built
by Romes Emperor Hadrian and completed in 125 AD, the Pantheon has the largest
un-reinforced concrete dome ever built. The dome is 142 feet in diameter and has a 27foot hole, called an oculus, at its peak, which is 142 feet above the floor [4]. This
building was and still is one of the greatest build master pieces to date that is built with
concrete. A more recent master piece made out of concrete is the Hoover Dam. In

Eric wilson

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January 16, 2015

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1935, the Hoover Dam was completed after pouring approximately 3.250,000 yards of
concrete, with an additional 1,110,000 yards used in the power plant and other damrelated structures [4]. As the years went on, advancements in the uses of concrete
expanded to be used in unimaginable buildings, for example the Burj Khalifa in Dubai
was built using reinforced concrete and hold the record of the tallest building in the
world. Standing at 2,717 feet tall the concrete used had to of been on an all new level of
perfection. We use concrete on a day-to-day basis. Everything from roads, to buildings,
to bridges. Everyday someone needs concrete to build the next master piece.
In conclusion, concrete has many amazing uses. Although making the perfect
concrete is difficult the ending result can be beautiful or as strong as an ox. Concrete
will forever be a major part of the industrial world and will continue to advance to even
greater heights.

Eric wilson

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January 16, 2015

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Wilson

Eric wilson

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January 16, 2015