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Ordinary Portland Cement - Tests, Properties, Manufacture & Uses

Definition of OPC

Cement can be defined as the bonding material having cohesive & adhesive properties which makes it capable to unite the different
construction materials and form the compacted assembly.

Ordinary/Normal Portland cement is one of the most widely used type of Portland Cement.

The name Portland cement was given by Joseph Aspdin in 1824 due to its similarity in colour and its quality when it hardens like
Portland stone.Portland stone is white grey limestone in island of Portland, Dorset.

Composition of OPC

The chief chemical components of ordinary Portland cement are:

 calcium
 silica
 alumina
 iron

Calcium is usually derived from limestone, marl or chalk while silica, alumina and iron come from the sands, clays & iron ores. Other
raw materials may include shale, shells and industrial byproducts.

Basic Composition: Contents %

 CaO 60-67
 SiO2 17-25
 Al2O3 3-8
 Fe2O3 0.5-6.0
 MgO 0.5-4.0
 Alkalis 0.3-1.2
 SO3 2.0-3.5

The chief compound which usually form in process of mixing:

 1-triclcium silicate (3CaO.SiO2)

 2-Dicalcium silicate (2CaO.SiO2)
 3-tricalcium aluminates (3CaO.Al2O3)
 4-tetracalcium aluminoferrite (4CaO.Al2O3.Fe2O3)

Production & Manufacturing:

Today, Ordinary Portland cement is the most widely used building material in the world with about 1.56 billion tones produced each
year. Annual global production of Portland cement concrete is around 3.8 million cubic meters per year. In Pakistan; cement
production will go beyond 45 million tons per year in the next two years


A. Raw Materials
 Calcareous (material having content of lime)
 Argillaceous (material having contents of silica & alumina)
 Gypsum
B. Process

Cement is usually manufactured by two processes:

 Wet process
 Dry process

These two processes differ in operation but fundamentals of both these processes are same. In Pakistan, most of the factories use
Wet Process for the production of cement. There are five stages in manufacturing of cement by wet process:

1. Crushing and grinding of raw material - In this phase, soft raw materials are first crushed into suitable size. This is done
usually in cylindrical ball or tube mills containing the charge of steel balls

2. Mixing the material in proportion - In this part, the powdered limestone is mixed with the clay paste in proper proportion
(75%=lime stone; clay=25%). The mixture is then grounded and made homogenous by mean of compressed gas. The
resulting material is known as slurry having 35-40% water.

3. Heating the prepared mixture in rotary kiln - Slurry is then introduced in rotary kiln with help of conveyor. The rotary
kiln consists of large cylinders 8 to 15 feet in diameter & height of 300-500 feet. It is made with steel & is usually lined
inside with firebricks. Kiln rotates at the rate of 1-2 revolution per minute. In rotary kiln, slurry is passed through different
zones of temperature. This whole process in kiln usually covers 2 to 3 hours.

Different temperature zones are as under:

a. Preheating Zone - In this zone, temperature is kept at 500 degree Celsius & usually the moisture is removed &
clay is broken into silica, aluminum oxide, iron oxide.
b. Decomposition Zone - Temperature is raised up to 800 degree Celsius. In this zone lime stone decomposes into
lime and CO2.
c. Burning Zone - In this zone temperature is maintained up to 1500 degree Celsius and the oxides formed in
above zones combine together and form respective silicate, aluminates & ferrite.
d. Cooling Zone - This is last stage where the whole assembly cooled is up to 150 to 200 degree Celsius

4. Grinding the heated product known as clinker - The product which is obtained from the rotary kiln is known as the
cement Clinker. Clinker is usually in the form of greenish black or grey colored balls.

5. Mixing and grinding of cement clinker with gypsum - The Cement Clinker is then air cooled. The required amount of
Gypsum (5 %) is ground to the fine powder, and then mixed with the Clinker. Finally cement is packed in bags and then
transported to the required site.


When ordinary Portland cement is mixed with water its chemical compound constituents undergo a series of chemical reactions that
cause it to set. These chemical reactions all involve the addition of water to the basic chemical compounds. This chemical reaction
with water is called "hydration". Each one of these reactions occurs at a different time and with different rates. Addition of all these
reactions gives the knowledge about how Ordinary Portland cement hardens and gains strength. Those compounds and their role in
hardening of cement are as under:
 Tricalcium silicate (C3S): Hydrates and hardens rapidly and is largely responsible for initial set and early strength.
Ordinary Portland cements with higher percentages of C3S will exhibit higher early strength.
 Dicalcium silicate (C2S): Hydrates and hardens slowly and is largely responsible for strength increases beyond one week.
 Tricalcium aluminate (C3A): Hydrates and hardens the quickest. It liberates a large amount of heat almost immediately and
contributes somewhat to early strength. Gypsum is added to Ordinary Portland cement to retard C3A hydration. Without
gypsum, C3A hydration would cause ordinary Portland cement to set almost immediately after adding water.
 Tetracalcium aluminoferrite (C4AF): Hydrates rapidly but contributes very little to strength. Most ordinary Portland
cement color effects are due to C4AF.


It is used for general construction purposes where special properties are not required. It is normally used for the reinforced concrete
buildings, bridges, pavements, and where soil conditions are normal. It is also used for most of concrete masonry units and for all uses
where the concrete is not subject to special sulfate hazard or where the heat generated by the hydration of cement is not objectionable.
It has great resistance to cracking and shrinkage but has less résistance to chemical attacks.

Tests On Ordinary Portland Cement

 Fineness test
 Soundness test
 Setting time test
 Strength tests
 Compressive strength test
 Tensile strength test
 Flexural strength test
 Specific gravity test
 Consistency test
 Heat of hydration test
 Loss of ignition test

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS OF Ordinary Portland Cement:

There are lots of environmental impacts of Cement on our ecology. One of the major problems is emission of CO2 from the Cement
industry. It is found that world yearly 1.6 billion tons production of cement covers 7% of carbon dioxide’s yearly production. As CO2
is harmful for human health and also for the wild life. It causes many respiratory problems like asthma, bronchitis, and nasal

The cement manufacturing industry is labor intensive and uses large scale and potentially hazardous manufacturing processes. The
industry experiences accident rates that are high compared with some other manufacturing industries. There are a number of hazards
inherent to the cement production process. Some examples for health hazards are:

 Exposure to dust and high temperatures;

 Contact with allergic substances; and
 Noise exposure.

And some examples for safety hazards:

 Falling / impact with objects

 1.2. Hot surface burns
 2.3. It is responsibility of the government to implement the laws as described in EPA (Environmental Protection
Agency) rule to protect both the environmental and human health.