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Cement & The Romans

The hydraulic cement used by the Roman builders was a cement that hardened rather slowly but reached high strength values and was very resistant to seawater.

In common with their modern counterparts, Roman builders would predominately have used locally occurring building materials. Building materials are heavy and it is not practical or economic to transport cartloads of pozzolanic cement over long distances. However, quicklime could be readily made at many locations throughout the Roman Empire, wherever limestone was available - thus facilitating local manufacture of cements made with either lime alone or with a combination of lime and fired clay. In Britain for example, it is reported that most of the Roman concrete appeared to be a lime concrete. Lime concrete was suitable for most purposes and in some cases had strengths in excess of 14N/mm2 - which compares well with the strengths of modern general-purpose structural concretes which lie between 25 N/mm2 and 50 N/mm2.

Cement when combined with sand and water produced mortar for bonding brick or stone or for rendering walls. Similarly, combining cement with gravel or broken stone and sand and water produced concrete. Typically, Roman concrete was used as infill material for walls, piers, terraces or arches, etc that were faced with stonework or marble slabs. In many cases, the facing stone was erected first to provide the formwork into which the concrete was poured.

The Romans occasionally required a lightweight concrete as for example when constructing the dome of the Pantheon or the arches of the Colosseum in Rome. Such lightweight concrete was made by casting large jars into the wall or arch or in later times by using lightweight crushed pumice rock as an aggregate.

The use of concrete largely disappeared in line with the decline of the Roman Empire and was only revived in these islands in the middle of the 18th Century, firstly for lighthouses and later for dockworks, tunnels, bridges and factory floors associated with the advent of the Industrial Revolution. The modern Portland cement was patented by William Aspdin in 1824, the name Portland cement chosen because, when set, Aspdin thought it resembled Portland stone in colour. Concrete made with Portland cement is today’s dominant building material of the developed world.

Sound Absorbant Materials

Sound Absorbent Materials can be incorporated in building structures either in compressed state or in suspended state or in free state. In compressed state, they are provided between the load bearing panels of ceiling and floor. In suspended state, they are provided in the form of slabs fastened to ceiling so as to provide an air space. In free state, they are provided in compressed or loose manner.

According to the nature of absorbing sound, the sound absorbent materials can be classified as follows: 1. Porous Materials: This type includes lightweight concrete with porous aggregate, foam glass, etc. 2. Porous cum elastic materials: This type includes porous materials with an elastic backing. 3. Baffle Materials: This type includes thin panels from veneer, rigid wood fibre slabs, solid cardboard etc. 4. Perforated Material: This type includes perforated panels and slabs. The holes may be of equal diameter or different diameters and they may be symmetrically arranged or located at random on the surface of panels or slabs.