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Cement and its Quality

Md. Tahmidul Islam

Lab & Quality Control Department
Mongla Cement Factory
E mail:

Cement, a man made construction materials, has been extensively used in the building
industry such as multi stories buildings, Bridges, Culverts, Dams etc. It is an inorganic
materials which, when mixed with water, forms a paste which hardens by means of
hydration reactions and after hardening retains its strength and stability even under
water. It is made by heating limestone and clay (or silica, alumina if require) together
at 1450 C to form a clinker. Clinker mainly consists of calcium oxide, silicon di
oxide, aluminum oxide and iron oxides. This clinker is ground to a fine powder with a
small proportion of Gypsum (Calcium Sulphate) to make cement. Hence, Cement is a
mixture of limestone, clay, silica and gypsum.
Over the years, several varieties of Portland cement have been developed. A variety of
chemical and physical properties can be attained by changing the percentages of the
those chemical ingredients (lime, silica, alumina, Iron Oxide), by changing the fineness
in the grinding process or by adding additional supplementary cementing materials
(SCMs) such as Fly ash, Blast Furnace slag, Limestone, Silica Fume, metakaolin etc.
About 27 types of cement are found in EN standard (European Standard), which is
adopted by BSTI (Bangladesh Standard & Testing Institution) as a Bangladesh
Standards BDS EN 197-1: 2003. BUET and other institutions of Bangladesh are
following ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) Standard. Cement
produced as per EN Standard (or Bangladesh standard) is not equivalent to ASTM
standard. These two standards are quite different, their testing procedure are also
different. As such they are not comparable to each other.
According to Bangladesh Standard (EN Standard), there are three classes strength
32.5, 42.5 and 52.5 (28 days strength), which is indicated in cement bag. The strength
class is expressed in MPa (Mega Pascal), these units are numerically equivalent to
Several million ton of wastes materials are being generated annually around the world.
These materials are often either being landfilled or stockpiled in nearby localities.
These huge disposals create environmental problem. Among these Fly ash, Blast
Furnace Slag, Silica Fume are used as a supplementary cementing materials of
Portland cement /concrete. These materials have pozzolonic activity (react with
cement clinker and gain strength) These materials affect the properties of cement and
concrete, both in the fresh and hardened states, as well as durability, a prime factor in
concrete performance.
Most of the factories of Bangladesh are now producing Portland Composite Cement
by mixing Fly ash, limestone. Slag with clinker due to lower production cost and
durability. Rate of demand of Portland Composite Cement (PCC) is gradually
increasing in the world than that of Portland Cement (OPC) for its durability, lower
production cost and environmental aspect. Mongla Cement Factory (An Enterprise of
Sena Kalyan Sangstha) has been producing PCC using multi component SCMs
following Bangladesh standard. These are granulated blast furnace slag, a by-product
of the iron manufacturing process, and fly ash, one of the residues generated from the
combustion of coal and limestone from natural sources. The PCC is a recent
advancement in the construction industry worldwide providing improved strength, low
permeability, and Chemical resistance. It is safely useable in plain as well as reinforced
concrete structure with better workability. It is the most appropriate construction
materials for all coastal areas as well as other aggressive environments.

Advances of using Portland Composite Cement

Reduced Heat of Hydration
Better Workability
Higher long term Strength
Reduced Permeability
Better performance in Aggressive Environment
Suphate Resistance
Acid Resistance
Resistance against carbonation, chloride attack
Resistance to Alkali Silica Reactivity
Reduced Bleeding , Segregation and Leaching

In Bangladesh, most of the people believe that the cement which quickly sets is of
good quality. This is a misconception of general mass. In actual construction dealing
with cement mortar/concrete, certain time is required for mixing, transporting and
placing; Delayed setting to a reasonable limit allows time to the masons to lay
mortar/concrete to attain perfection in the work. In Bangladesh standard (EN
Standard), it is stated that initial setting time should not be less than 60 minutes for
PCC but final setting time is not mentioned in that standard. It does not create any
problem if it satisfies 2 days standard strength requirement. Sometime the interacting
effects of fly ash with other chemical and mineral admixtures may also influence the
setting time. In construction work, w/c (water/cement) ratio should be maintained
properly to reach maximum strength. In Bangladesh, it is observed that unskilled
masons are mixing water after making mortar/concrete which brings detrimental effect
on structure. For making better workable concrete following factors should be kept in

Mix proportion of cement and aggregates

Size, shape and surface texture of Aggregates
Use of Admixtures

Mason should know that lack of compaction will result in air voids whose damaging
effect on strength and durability. So proper compaction should be done using vibrating
tools and duration of curing of concrete should be in between 7 to14 days. The longer
concrete is cured, the closer possibilities of strength and durability.