Ancient Roman Concrete Stronger Than Modern

Published: July 21, 2017 By: Greg Devine

The newly discovered secret to Roman water-based structures’ strength could help today’s builders reinvent modern concrete. For over 1,500 years, their structures still remain standing – and the secret has been revealed.

The Romans were discovered to use a mix of volcanic ash, lime (calcium oxide), seawater and lumps of volcanic rock, which held together piers, breakwaters and harbors. In fact, the concrete from the ancient water-based structures remarkably became stronger over time. This is due to the seawater reacting with the volcanic material creating new minerals that reinforced the concrete. Modern concrete should not change once it hardens, otherwise proving that any reaction with the material can cause damage.

American Mineralogist, Marie Jackson made an even deeper discovery which revealed that lime particles within the core contained the mineral aluminous tobermorite – a rare substance that is hard to make. While the development of methods that use common volcanic products will be a challenge, it will be sure to bring extreme improvements to the reinvent modern day concrete.

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