The common name for Portland cement, the most important modern construction
material, notably as a constituent of concrete.
In the manufacturing process, limestone
is ground into small pieces (about 2 cm). To provide the silica
(25%) and alumina (10%) content required,
various clays and crushed rocks are added, including iron ore (about 1%).
This material is ground and finally burned in a rotary kiln at up to 1500°C,
thus converting the mixture into clinker pellets. About 5% gypsum
is then added to slow the hardening process, and the ground mixture is added
to sand (for mortar),
gravel and crushed rock (for concrete). When water is added, the cement
solidifies gradually, undergoing many complex reactions. The name "Portland"
cement arises from a resemblance to stone quarried at Portland, England.