Assyrians and Babylonians were perhaps the first to use clay as cementing material. In ancient monuments, e.g. forts, places of worship and defence structures, stones have been invariably used as a construction material with lime as the binder.Records show that Egyptians have used lime and gypsum as cementing materials in the famous pyramids. Vitruvius, a Roman scientist, is believed to be the first to have the know how about the chemistry of the cementitious
In 1845, Issac C. Johnson invented the cement by increasing the temperature at which the mixture of limestone and clay were burned to form clinker. This cement was the prototype of the modern Portland cement. From then onwards, a gradual improvement in the properties and qualities of cement has been made possible by researchers in U.S.A., U.K., France and Germany.
Cements in a general sense are adhesive and cohesive materials which are capable of bonding together particles of solid matter into a compact durable mass. For civil engineering works, they are restricted to calcareous cements containing compounds of lime as their chief constituent, its primary function being to bind the fine (sand) and coarse (grits) aggregate
Cements used in construction industry may be classified as hydraulic and non hydraulic. The latter does not set and harden in water such as non-hydraulic lime or which are unstable in water, e g. Plaster of Paris. The hydraulic cement set and harden in water and give a product which is stable. Portland cement is one such.
Cement can be manufactured either from natural cement stones or artificially by using calcareous and argillaceous materials. The examples of natural cements are Roman cement, Puzzolana cement and Medina cement and those of artificial cement are Portland cement and special cements.
Today cement finds extensive use in all types of construction works; in structures where high strength is required e.g. bridge piers, light houses, lofty towers, and large structures such as bridges, silos, chimneys. And also in structures exposed to the action of water, e.g. reservoirs, dams, dock yards etc. Cement mortar, concrete, reinforced brick work, artificial stones, plastering, pointing and partition walls are routinely used in buildings.
The use of cement over various applications in construction are listed below:
- Cement slurry is used for filling cracks in concrete structures.
- Cement is used for R.C.C. in which forms core structure of the house.
- Cement mortar is used for masonry work, plastering, pointing, flooring 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.
- It is used in concrete for laying floors, roofs and constructing lintels, beams, stairs, pillars, column etc.
- It is used where hard surface is required to protect exposed surfaces of structures against the destructive agents of the weather and certain organic or inorganic chemicals.
- It is used for piles, fencing posts, electric poles.
- It is used in the preparation of foundations, water tight floors, footpaths, courts for various sports etc.
Cement is so wonderful construction material that it helpful to solve and construct the difficult and challenging site condition like, construction under water, construction in saline soil, structure where you need to reuse formwork immediately and so on.