Scientists have finally worked out the secret behind the durability of Ancient Rome’s concrete and the discovery could prove to be extremely useful for modern day construction.
A research paper published in the American Mineralogist journal details the chemical reaction that has gradually strengthened the Roman sea walls constructed 2,000 years ago. Seawater tends to corrode modern cement mixtures but the Roman mixture of volcanic ash, lime, seawater, and a mineral called aluminium tobermorite prevents the concrete from cracking and and reinforces the structure.
Constant contact with seawater caused the mineral mixture of silica oxides and lime to reinforce the concrete mixture and build resistance to corrosion. While Romans had access to volcanic ash when they built their walls, the modern equivalent of the mixture will require substitutes to make it viable for use globally. Even so, the Roman concrete mixture offers a more environmentally friendly solution for modern cement mixing, which emits large amounts of carbon dioxide during the process.