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The Secret Behind Ancient Roman Concrete

09 Oct 2017, Posted by F.A. in Concrete Facts, Concrete Forms
concrete forms for sale Rome | Forming America

The modern world was built on the foundation of steel-reinforced concrete. For all its wonders, contemporary concrete isn’t as strong as its ancient Roman predecessor.  

Roman concrete structures have stood the test of time, surviving harsh conditions for 2,000 years. Scientists have devoted research to understanding the unique composition of Roman concrete.  

Their findings have revealed how an ancient civilization was able to produce such advanced, persistent structures. Here is what led to current confusion, the discovery, and the modern implications for concrete and concrete forms for sale. 

Concrete Conundrum 

From geologists to engineers, people have tried in vain to replicate the strength of Roman concrete. Scientists have dissected and broken down samples, trying to understand how it was made. What they discovered was the presence of some foreign minerals in the mixture. 

Scientists were unsure how the Romans were inserting this ingredient without compromising the structure. The trick is that the Romans weren’t mixing the added mineral in at all; it was being created from a chemical reaction. This is a process engineers hope to replicate in the near future. 

The Discovery 

Water typically destroys modern day steel-reinforced concrete structures. It uses an initial reaction to bond the rebar and mixture, but is designed to resist any other kinds of change. This stagnant method of thought was part of the reason the new understanding of concrete took so long. 

The Romans didn’t use a stagnant method; they used an adaptive one. The ancient mixture included volcanic ash along with the limestone, which reacted with the salt water in a beneficial way. The structures crack, allowing for water to seep in, but instead of weakening and rusting, it strengthens. 

The mixture of ash, salt water, and the other ingredients causes a reaction that fills the new cracks with a sturdy mineral. The exact formulation is unknown, but the implications of its discovery are substantial.  

A New Strength 

Developers and engineers are using recent findings to develop a concrete “healing” spray. The liquid replicates the reaction discovered in Roman concrete and applies into to current structures. The mixture seeps into damaged concrete and causes a reaction that results in the concrete being strengthened. 

The reason this research on standing ancient structures is so important because of the implications it has for future projects. The average life of concrete structures today is nowhere near the millenniums some historical structures have achieved. Advancements in mixtures and reparability could lead to many more structures with notable longevity. 

The secret behind ancient Roman concrete is on the brink of being solved. Cutting-edge developments could mean builders can create structures that survive for thousands of years. For more information about concrete, forms, or any current project needs, Forming America is here to help. Contact us, or call 1-888-933-1304 today.