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  • Zoe Buhl

The World's 2nd Most Consumed Resource: Concrete

Concrete is the most widely used man-made product in the world and is second only to water as the worlds most consumed resource according to the World Cement Association. It has been around for thousands of years and is part of iconic historical buildings such as the Colosseum in Rome and Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia. As populations, cities and economies grow, demand is also expected to rise.

Concrete is made of water aggregate and cement, usually in powder form, that acts as a binding agent when mixed with water and aggregates. Cement is made by first crushing and heating limestone along with clay or shale. The milled raw materials are then fired in a rotating kiln at 1450 degrees C and emerge from the kiln as a powder.

Concrete Vs. Asphalt

Asphalt and concrete are both strong materials that can be used to pave, but they have differing benefits. While concrete uses cement as the adhesive binder, asphalt consists of small aggregates and sand mixed into an oil-based binder. Which application is used can depend on many factors including cost, climate, timing, and more.

Asphalt cools down and hardens fast, meaning the surface can typically be driven on in about 24 hours. It’s also typcally a less expensive option that is easier to maintain using seal coat, resurfacing, repairing. Concrete paving can last longer than asphalt, and asphalt paved surfaces tend to require more maintenance than concrete, but the maintenance is easier to do.

Asphalt is also designed to shrink and expand, so it is less impacted by extreme pressure, temperature, or surface movement. However, concrete holds up better under weight and pressure of heavy traffic, so it is less prone to dips and rutting, meaning it is a favorite for freeway construction.

Concrete Uses

Common uses of concrete include:

Residential and Commercial Buildings: Concrete is used to build commercial buildings, small residential buildings, and even high-rise buildings because it is more economic than steel buildings and requires less maintenance. It is also easier to control the heat transfer from inside to outside and vice versa which reduces the energy consumed.

Roads and Driveways: The long-lasting service time for concrete roads makes it a strong choice of material for the construction of roads and driveways.

Concrete Dams: Dams are used to store water and produce electricity. The loads imposed on the dam due to water pressure are very intense, so concrete’s high strength and unit weight make it a suitable material for dam construction.

Foundations: High- and low-rise building foundations are usually constructed using reinforced cement concrete, due to its huge load-carrying capacity.

Concrete Bridges: Reinforced concrete strength, durability, ductility, weather resistance, fire resistance, and long-lasting life cycle makes the concrete the best solution for constructing the bridges.

Read about Milestone’s concrete work here:

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