When you think of concrete, you might think of things like retaining walls or even back patios, but this material is far more interesting than that. From how it got its name to the numerous way it’s used, concrete is versatile, popular, and mind-blowing. Below are six facts about concrete that are as impressive as they are interesting.
- It’s the Most Popular Building Material in the World
You probably already know that concrete is everywhere. Almost every city and village on the Earth makes use of concrete in some way. You may not have known that it’s used more than any other material in the world, though. All it requires is some cement, water, and the right aggregates to fit into any project. More than 20 billion tons of it is used every year, with China alone consuming more than half that amount annually.
- Concrete was Invaluable During World War II
Technology has improved drastically since World War II, but back in those days, the military relied heavily on sound and sonar to detect the presence of enemy submarines and aircraft alike. Concrete was utilized as something of an echo chamber that could pick up the sounds of approaching aircraft from nearly 30 miles away. That’s impressive for the timeframe!
- Concrete is a Roman Word
The Romans named it concrete. Its Latin root word, concretus, has no direct-to-English translation, but it meant something like condensed or compact. This word was the perfect passive participle of the Latin word consecrere in which con- means “together” and crescere means “to grow.” The English word “consecrate” also comes from the Latin consecrere.
- Concrete Gets Stronger Over Time (Limits Apply)
Concrete doesn’t reach its full potential as soon as it appears dry on the outside. In fact, it takes about a month for poured concrete to reach 90% of its full strength, and it continues to grow stronger for decades. This is due to a chemical reaction in which calcium hydroxide absorbs carbon dioxide to become calcium carbonate, which is a much harder and stronger material. There’s even some research to suggest that bacteria living within the porous concrete can lend to its strength.
- There are 16 Million Cubic Meters of Concrete in the Three Gorges Dam
China’s Three Gorges Dam in the Hubei Province is more than just the largest dam in the world. It’s also a feat of human workmanship and the largest concrete pour in a single project. It took 17 years in total to build the dam, and it still holds strong today. No other manmade project even comes close.
- Concrete is Older Than You Might Think
Many of today’s concretes are relatively new, but that’s only due to the aggregates used. In some parts of the world, such as Israel, concrete formed by itself about 12 million years ago. In Ancient Egypt, the workers who built the Great Pyramid of Giza used a form of concrete. However, as you may have guessed, it was the Romans who truly perfected the material. The Pantheon was built almost 2000 years ago and is still the largest completely unsupported concrete structure on the planet.
Concrete is everywhere in today’s world; from the roads you drive on your morning commute to the foundation under your home. While many people don’t give it a second thought, it has an incredibly rich and awe-inspiring history, and it continues to be the world’s building material of choice to this day. At American Rock Products, we have pride in our association with concrete and how it has shaped our world. Give us a call today and we’ll use it to shape yours as well!