Why Was Roman Concrete More Eco Friendly 2000 Years Ago?

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Why Was Roman Concrete More Eco Friendly 2000 Years Ago
Why Was Roman Concrete More Eco Friendly 2000 Years Ago? Photo © Adobe Stock (under license)

We found a fascinating article with some good news about recent research into ancient Roman concrete.

Modern concrete is considered to be one of the biggest contributors to environmental damage – due to the large amount of Carbon Dioxide released in its production. An analysis of the ingredients of Roman concrete has led scientists to understand how it could be used as an environment-saving alternative.

Well, the Roman technology is proven to last when it comes to concrete – because some of it is still around today! The awe-inspiring dome of the Pantheon is one of the best examples of its creative use; it is the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world! Isn’t that astonishing? If you want to see it there are some good pictures in the gallery here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pantheon,_Rome

The secret to the recipe for concrete that can stand for millennia, and even set underwater, is the addition of volcanic ash (Pozzolan) to the mix; this has the effect of creating crystals within the concrete as it sets, giving it great strength. Pozzolan is sometimes used in a mix for lime mortar, which is often found in older buildings across Europe and has been known to last for hundreds of years. Lime mortar is sometimes preferred over modern sand / cement mortar – especially with softer types of building stone; because it can actually move with a building – this is down to it’s amazing property to “heal” itself – if it is cracked, the lime mortar will react with the air and gradually expand to fill the crack!

Related: 20 Eco-Friendly Tips To Help Save The Planet

Apart from the readily available sand, volcanic ash and seawater, all that is needed is some hydrated lime, which is made by heating limestone to 900 degrees Celsius. So it may be that the Romans discovered their concrete after a volcanic eruption; because all of the ingredients are right there – along with the fire.

Let’s hope that we can learn from these rediscovered secrets of the past and take steps towards a more natural way of doing things. If human beings insist on making so much concrete, we would do well to make use of the Roman technology… but we’ll have to do our best to make structures that are pleasing to the eye, as they could be around for a very long time!

Here’s the link to the full tutorial: http://www.treehugger.com/green-architecture/roman-concrete-was-lot-greener-stuff-we-make-today.html

There’s also a short video clip showing how to make concrete the way the Romans did – it’s child’s play so make sure you have your bucket and spade at the ready!

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One thought on “Why Was Roman Concrete More Eco Friendly 2000 Years Ago?

  1. something else not commonly known is that the romans also used blood to mix up their concrete. i think you would find a lot of folk complaining about that.

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