Who invented cement?
The first data on the use of cement in construction date back to around the 2nd century BC. A mixture of lime with volcanic ash, pumice and tuff from the slopes of Vesuvius was used by the Romans as a binder in the construction of stone structures. Roman builders also made individual elements of structures from cement, but its strength left much to be desired.
In 1824, Joseph Aspdin developed a modern Portland cement, which in a mixture with sand, gravel and water could already be used as a building material - concrete. It withstands compression well, but stretching leads to its destruction. And iron beams, on the contrary, work fine in tension and poorly in compression. The idea of combining these virtues came to the minds of several people almost simultaneously. In the early 1850s, Jean-Louis Lambault built several small boats using concrete reinforced with iron mesh in the south of France.
The Briton William Wilkinson in 1854 was the first to use concrete panels reinforced with iron beams in the construction of a two-story house in Newcastle. Around the same time, another builder, François Quagnier, experimented with reinforced concrete in France - he was the first to link steel reinforcement to floors with wall panels. But in mass practice, a new material was introduced by a man who had nothing to do with construction.The invention of reinforced concrete became one of the most important events in the history of construction.
Joseph Monier was appointed gardener of the greenhouse in the Tuileries Garden near the Louvre in 1846. To transplant orange trees into the greenhouse for the winter, he needed strong garden tubs. Monier made several such tubs of concrete (cement with sand, ash, ground brick), but they cracked all the time. Therefore, he strengthened their walls with iron rods.
At that time, it was believed that iron elements at temperature extremes would quickly destroy concrete, but over the course of three years not a single tub was out of order! After this, Monnier switched to water tanks and other landscape design elements from new material. In 1867, he demonstrated reinforced concrete at an international exhibition in Paris and received the first patent for the use of material in artificial ponds. The first patent was followed by others - on pipes and pools (1868), building panels (1869), bridge structures (1873), beams and sleepers (1878).
In 1875, under the leadership of Monnier, a small reinforced concrete bridge was built in the castle of Chazelle. And in 1879, German civil engineer Gustav Weiss bought the rights to all Monier’s patents and improved its design, shifting the reinforcement to the side of the greatest tensile load (Monier was not an engineer and did not delve into such subtleties). Thus, Gustav Weiss took the last step towards modern reinforced concrete, which soon captured construction sites around the world.The article “The Gray Bone of Civilization” was published in the journal Popular Mechanics (No. 9, September 2013). I wonder how a nuclear reactor works and can robots build a house?
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