Improving Concrete Longevity and Durability Using Natural Pozzolans and Roman Mix Designs

Project ID: 7137
Principal Investigator: Audrey Rager
Research Topic: Improving Geotechnical Infrastructure Reliability
Funded Fiscal Years: 2014
Keywords: dam safety, global climate change, carbon emissions, concrete durability, concrete petrography, roman concrete

Research Question

Concrete durability and longevity are essential to dam safety. Roman concrete has endured for centuries and is the most durable and long lasting concrete in the world. Recent studies indicate Roman concrete was produced by the combination of certain types of volcanic ash and lime. In this study, we will attempt to recreate Roman-style concrete using materials available in the western United States.

Need and Benefit

More durable and longer-lasting concrete has many benefits. Dam safety is increased. Taxpayers spend less money on repairing concrete that begins to degrade after a few decades. When concrete lasts a long time, less concrete needs to be produced, decreasing carbon dioxide emissions, thus lessening our impact on the environment.

Contributing Partners

Contact the Principal Investigator for information about partners.

Research Products

Bureau of Reclamation Review

The following documents were reviewed by experts in fields relating to this project's study and findings. The results were determined to be achieved using valid means.

Improving Concrete Longevity and Durability: Lessons from Roman Concrete (final, PDF, 429KB)
By Audrey Rager
Report completed on December 11, 2014

The manufacture of Portland cement used in concrete accounts for approximately 5 percent of annual anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions. Concrete structures in the 20th century were often only designed to last 50 years and many of them are in need of repair or replacement. If we can increase the durability and longevity of concrete, we can reduce the amount of concrete repairs and replacement. Ultimately reducing carbon emissions. In contrast, ancient Romans made concrete that lasted for 2,

Taking Cues From the Ancient Romans (final, PDF, 820KB)
By Audrey Rager
Publication completed on September 30, 2015

This bulletin summarizes the research results and potential application to Reclamation's mission.

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Last Updated: 4/4/17