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Concrete is an artificial engineering material made from a mixture of Portland cement water fine and coarse aggregates and a small amount of air It is the most widely used construction material in the world Concrete is the only major building material that can be delivered to the job site in a plastic state This unique quality makes concrete desirable as a building material because it can be molded to virtually any form or shape Concrete provides a wide latitude in surface textures and colors and can be used to construct a wide variety of structures such as highways and streets bridges dams large buildings airport runways irrigation structures breakwaters piers and docks sidewalks silos and farm buildings homes and even barges and ships Other desirable qualities of concrete as a building material are its strength economy and durability Depending on the mixture of materials used concrete will support in compression 700 or more kgsq cm 10000 or more lbsq in The tensile strength of concrete is much lower but by using properly designed steel reinforcing structural members can be made that are as strong in tension as they are in compression The durability of concrete is evidenced by the fact that concrete columns built by the Egyptians more than 3600 years ago are still standing The two major components of concrete are a cement paste and inert materials The cement paste consists of portland cement water and some air either in the form of naturally entrapped air voids or minute intentionally entrained air bubbles The inert materials are usually composed of fine aggregate which is a material such as sand and coarse aggregate which is a material such as gravel crushed stone or slag In general fine aggregate particles are smaller than 64 mm 25 in in size and coarse aggregate particles are larger than 64 mm 25 in Depending on the thickness of the structure to be built the size of
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