On This Day
1824 – Portland cement is patented.
Portland cement is the most common type of cement in general use around the world as a basic ingredient of concrete, mortar, stucco, and non-specialty grout. It was developed from other types of hydraulic lime in England in the mid 19th century, and usually originates from limestone. It is a fine powder, produced by heating limestone and clay minerals in a kiln to form clinker, grinding the clinker, and adding 2 to 3 percent of gypsum. Several types of Portland cement are available. The most common, called ordinary Portland cement (OPC), is grey, but white Portland cement is also available. Its name is derived from its similarity to Portland stone which was quarried on the Isle of Portland in Dorset, England. It was named by Joseph Aspdin who obtained a patent for it in 1824. However, his son William Aspdin is regarded as the inventor of “modern” Portland cement due to his developments in the 1840s.
Portland cement is caustic, so it can cause chemical burns. The powder can cause irritation or, with severe exposure, lung cancer, and can contain some hazardous components, such as crystalline silica and hexavalent chromium. Environmental concerns are the high energy consumption required to mine, manufacture, and transport the cement, and the related air pollution, including the release of greenhouse gases (e.g., carbon dioxide), dioxin, NOx, SO2, and particulates. The production of Portland cement contributes to about 10% of world carbon dioxide emission. To meet the rising global population, the International Energy Agency estimated that the cement production is set to increase between 12 to 23% by 2050. There are several ongoing researches targeting a suitable replacement of Portland cement by supplementary cementitious materials.
The low cost and widespread availability of the limestone, shales, and other naturally-occurring materials used in Portland cement make it one of the lowest-cost materials widely used over the last century. Concrete produced from Portland cement is one of the world’s most versatile construction materials.
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Born On This Day
1874 – Tan Kah Kee, Chinese businessman, community leader, communist and philanthropist (d.1961)
Tan Kah Kee (21 October 1874 – 12 August 1961), also known as Chen Jiageng, was a Chinese businessman, community leader and philanthropist active in Southeast Asia, Hong Kong, and various Chinese cities such as Shanghai, Xiamen, and Guangzhou. A prominent figure in the overseas Chinese community in Southeast Asia in the 20th century, he was responsible for gathering much support from the community to aid China in major events such as the Xinhai Revolution (1911), the Kuomintang’s Northern Expedition (1926–28), and the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–45). Apart from donating most of his assets and earnings to aid China in those major events, Tan set up funds in Southeast Asia and Hong Kong and contributed to the establishment of several schools in Southeast Asia and China’s Fujian Province, including Xiamen University.
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