What is Portland Cement
There are so many ingredients that go into making ready mix concrete. Of these Portland cement is chemically the most complex and probably the most difficult to manufacture or produce, but also the most important. To produce a single barrel of Portland cement requires more than 100 pounds of coal or 1400 cubic feet or more of gas. Despite the complexities involved in the manufacturing process, the finished product is so fine that it can pass through a 100,000 openings psi screen that is capable of holding water. In fact the raw materials are delivered to the plant in large rocks which is then broken down into smaller pieces before they are grinded into fine powder.
Portland cement making requires large equipment and stringent quality control norms. Despite this, the cement prices have been remarkably low. Now, this is not something which is very easy to accomplish. This has been possible through improvements to modern machinery and technological innovations. Even extensive automation also has a major role to play in keeping the prices down.
History of Portland Cement
Until a few decades back, a cement plant needed a large contingent of workers to take care of the equipment and ensure that it remained in peak working condition at all times. However, the working conditions in cement plants were very unattractive as the air was filled with lot of fine dust which affected the respiratory health of workers working inside the plant. Further, plants used to have a number of moving conveyor lines and large moving equipment. Apart from these, workers also had to contend with intense heat which made working in cement plants quite unsafe and dangerous.
Today, modern cement plants are highly efficient and use technology to ensure that the working conditions are safe and clean. Plants use modern control systems and the latest automated equipment to ensure that fine dust particles released into the atmosphere is at a very low percentage. Safety programs have ensured that accident rates in the cement industry are one of the lowest when compared to other heavy manufacturing industries.
How is Portland cement made? Well, despite all the innovations in technology and machinery, the basic manufacturing process of cement remains more or less the same. Portland cement comprises of lime and silica along with small quantities of other materials like aluminum, gypsum and iron oxide. The basic materials are then combined chemically under very high temperatures and then ground into fine powder. At different stages of the manufacturing process, small quantities of other materials are also added in order to facilitate grinding, control the setting time and other purposes.
Normally, plants that manufacture Portland cement are often situated nearer to places where basic cement making materials are available. These cement plants may be located nearer to large deposits of limestone, shale, shells, clay, blast furnace slag, silica sand or iron oxide. Finally, Portland cement is used as a far as cement is considered and it is used in a variety of construction applications like residential buildings, commercial buildings, etc.
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