Portland Cement – An important ingredient in creating iconic structures

The ancient Romans used burnt lime (calcium oxide) and volcanic ash (silica and alumina) to produce cement for construction. The Colosseum and Pantheon, two of the many Roman structures constructed with this ancient type of cement, have stood the test of time and weather.

The Colosseum (source: http://www.the-colosseum.net/history/h1.htm)
The Colosseum (source: The-Colosseum.net: Antiquity)
The Pantheon (source: https://www.italyguides.it/en/lazio/rome/ancient-rome/pantheon)
The Pantheon (source: The Pantheon in Rome – ItalyGuides.it)

In 1824, Joseph Aspdin, a builder and bricklayer from Leeds, took patent for the invention of the most common cement, Portland Cement. In his process, Aspdin mixed and ground hard limestone and clay to form slurry. He then calcined the mix in a furnace at a lower clinkering temperature. The name ‘Portland’ was given as the hardened cement resembled the natural stone found and quarried on the isle of Portland in Dorset, England. However, his son William Aspdin is regarded as the inventor of “modern” Portland Cement due to his developments in the 1840s. Portland Cement was first used in the civil engineering project as the lining of the Thames Tunnel built between 1825 and 1843.

Thames Tunnel (source: http://www.ikbrunel.org.uk/Thames-Tunnel)
Thames Tunnel (source: Thames Tunnel – Isambard Kingdom Brunel)

Fast forward to the present day here in Sarawak, particularly at CMS Cement Industries Sdn Bhd, Portland Cement is produced from a mixture of cement clinker and gypsum at 3 strategic locations: Mambong Plant, Pending Plant and Bintulu Plant.

Mambong Integrated Plant
Mambong Integrated Plant
Pending Grinding Plant
Pending Grinding Plant
Bintulu Grinding Plant
Bintulu Grinding Plant

The raw materials required for the production of cement clinker are mainly lime, silica, alumina and iron oxides. In 2018, CMS Cement Industries also produced Portland Limestone Cement (PLC 32.5N) besides its traditional product, Ordinary Portland Cement. Future plans to produce oil well cement at Bintulu Plant, is also in the pipeline.

Portland Cement
Portland Cement

Among the iconic buildings in Sarawak notably built by using cement from CMS Cement Industries is the New Sarawak State Legislative Assembly (also known as Dewan Undangan Negeri Sarawak or DUN) Building. Located in Petra Jaya between the Astana and Fort Margherita, the New Sarawak State Legislative Assembly Building is where the members of the Sarawak State Legislative assembly gather to govern debates and passing of laws and regulations. It was built to replace the old DUN and was inaugurated on 27 July 2009 by the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong. The roof of the building, which is shaped like an umbrella, is an iconic monument in Sarawak.

Other modern Sarawak landmarks include the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) and the new Sarawak Museum, to name a few.

Sarawak State Legislative Assembly
Sarawak State Legislative Assembly
Borneo Convention Centre Kuching
Borneo Convention Centre Kuching
New Sarawak Museum Campus
New Sarawak Museum Campus

Sources:

  1. (1)  C&CA 50th Anniversary, Building An Industry, Raising a Nation
  2. (2) Portland Cement, Wikipedia
  3. (3) Dewan Bandaraya Kuching Utara