Many ancient scholars praised the Roman concrete used in harbors, calling it strong and impenetrable. This is proven by the fact that many Roman buildings are still erect to the present day. To understand how this concrete achieved such longevity, researchers started studying it, and published their results in the journal American Mineralogist.
- Roman concrete has an internal structure which allows it to last for millennia.
- Using the same technique to produce it is a bit tough.
- Switching from modern concrete to Roman concrete would also help the environment.
Roman concrete is a mix of lime (or calcium oxide) and volcanic rock. Researchers hope that, by discovering its mysteries, they will be able to build another durable material for buildings which will last for another 2,000 years.
They took samples of Roman concrete, studied its molecular vibrations with the help of Raman spectroscopy, X-rayed it, and discovered the internal composition of the material. Inside of it, they discovered aluminous tobermorite crystals and phillipsite.
Scientists think these materials were the result of seawater. After it seeped into the structure of the concrete, the minerals provided by volcanic rock have been turned into these stronger materials, which made concrete more resistant. This technology is effective, although it is opposed to our modern-day technique.
Nowadays, builders use cement to keep concrete’s components together. These components, called aggregates, are in danger of expanding over time and making the structure weaker. But, thanks to these tobermorite crystals, Roman concrete can last for millennia.
Unfortunately, producing artificial tobermorite is quite challenging. The only known methods so far involve high temperature, and discovering ways to produce these crystals at lower temperatures would be a scientific breakthrough.
Apart from durability, creating Roman concrete has other benefits as well. Around 5 percent of CO2 emissions all over the globe result from the production of modern concrete. Therefore, revolutionizing our building techniques would help the environment as well.
Image Source: Flickr