The Process of Making and Placing Concrete

Concrete is one of the most common construction materials in the world. Each cubic foot can hold up to 3,000 pounds, so it’s no wonder that architects and builders love its strength and durability. But what makes it so popular isn’t just its brute force; it also adapts to almost any form and continues to get stronger even after it dries. The cement in concrete reacts with water, creating a matrix that bonds and hardens to create a durable, long-lasting material.

The first step in the process of making concrete involves proportioning and mixing together all of the ingredients. This is usually done in a large industrial facility called a concrete plant. After the mixture is made, it must be placed quickly to avoid losing its strength. This can be accomplished using hoppers, chutes, buckets and other methods that vary depending on the type of concrete mixture and its application.

Once the concrete has undergone hydration, it’s ready to be placed. It can be poured from above through a machine called a tremie, or it may be placed in precast forms that are designed for the intended structure. Once it is placed, it must be protected from weather and other environmental factors in order to cure properly. This can be done through a variety of techniques, including covering it with wet fabrics or spraying it with curing agents.

Concrete is very resource-intensive to make. It takes a lot of energy to produce cement, which is derived from the pulverized coal that burns in power plants. It takes a large amount of water to mix and place concrete, which can strain supplies for drinking and irrigation in many places around the world. Concrete is also a contributor to the urban heat island effect, absorbing sunlight and trapping gases from cars and air-conditioners.

For all of these reasons, some architects are urging the concrete industry to shift its focus to more sustainable designs. They argue that we’re already at or approaching “peak concrete,” and it’s time to move on to more functional alternatives.

However, it’s hard to see a viable alternative to concrete in the short term. Steel and asphalt require more energy to produce than concrete, and wood is being depleted faster than it can grow. Unless something is done about these problems soon, we’re likely to continue building in concrete for a while longer. The solution, then, is to use more sustainable practices in the production of concrete — including a greater use of renewables, improved energy efficiency, and substituting some of the clinker with gypsum or other less polluting materials. It’s a big task, but one that needs to be addressed quickly if we want to prevent the planet from reaching a point of no return. Read the full article by Anthony Thistleton in The Guardian. Then browse concrete products and services on Thomas Supplier Discovery Platform. If you’re ready to find a new concrete supplier, start searching now.