Composite construction material / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Concrete is a composite material composed of aggregate bonded together with a fluid cement that cures over time. Concrete is the second-most-used substance in the world after water, and is the most widely used building material. Its usage worldwide, ton for ton, is twice that of steel, wood, plastics, and aluminium combined..
When aggregate is mixed with dry Portland cement and water, the mixture forms a fluid slurry that is easily poured and molded into shape. The cement reacts with the water through a process called concrete hydration that hardens it over several hours to form a hard matrix that binds the materials together into a durable stone-like material that has many uses. This time allows concrete to not only be cast in forms, but also to have a variety of tooled processes preformed. The hydration process is exothermic, which means ambient temperature plays a significant role in how long it takes concrete to set. Often, additives (such as pozzolans or superplasticizers) are included in the mixture to improve the physical properties of the wet mix, delay or accelerate the curing time, or otherwise change the finished material. Most concrete is poured with reinforcing materials (such as steel rebar) embedded to provide tensile strength, yielding reinforced concrete.
In the past, lime based cement binders, such as lime putty, were often used but sometimes with other hydraulic cements, (water resistant) such as a calcium aluminate cement or with Portland cement to form Portland cement concrete (named for its visual resemblance to Portland stone). Many other non-cementitious types of concrete exist with other methods of binding aggregate together, including asphalt concrete with a bitumen binder, which is frequently used for road surfaces, and polymer concretes that use polymers as a binder. Concrete is distinct from mortar. Whereas concrete is itself a building material, mortar is a bonding agent that typically holds bricks, tiles and other masonry units together.