Here are some bizarre facts about concrete, a durable and versatile material that everyone uses, from our kitchen tables to the streets we drive daily.
Concrete Usage is Staggering
With more than 10 billion tons of concrete production annually, concrete is the most consumed material—other than water. With three tons used for every person globally, twice as much concrete in construction compared to all other building materials.
In the U.S. alone, this number is more than 500 million tons. Worth more than $37 billion, the concrete industry employs more than two million in the United States. With cement as its main ingredient, it is also responsible for 8% of its carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
Facts About Concrete Since 600 B.C.
Although the ancient Romans were not the first to mix mud and straw or make mortar, they were the first to use concrete in most of their buildings. They successfully used a mixture of volcanic ash from Mount Vesuvius, lime, and seawater to create the mixture and wrap it in wooden molds.
The Roman engineer Vitruvius wrote about four types of “pozzolan” – black, gray, red, and white. The Romans understood the illegible properties of this new building material and used it to build their port of Cosa.
Even more impressive is the Roman Pantheon, which is made entirely of concrete, without a reinforcing steel supporting structure. Nevertheless, the imposing 142-foot-tall dome still stands today. It is a large concrete building and has withstood earthquakes and other natural disasters for more than 2,000 years.
World’s Largest Concrete
The Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River in China is the largest concrete dam, with a height of 185 meters and 2,309 meters. The project was built for 17 years, from 1994 to 2006, and cost $ 37 billion. Workers used about 21 million cubic yards of cement to build the world record.
The dam’s reservoir holds water like Lake Superior, a hydroelectric power plant that can produce an incredible 22,500 MW of electricity.