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100 Years of ASTM Committee C01 on Cement

A Success Story

by Emery Farkas

Committee C01 on Cement was organized on Oct. 31, 1902, in Philadelphia, Pa. In the next 100 years, the committee has grown with the Society and worked in concert with ASTM’s goals and objectives.

C01 was established because there was a need to standardize the many specifications for cement that existed at that time across the United States. The requirements of the first specifications developed by C01 in 1904 consisted of specific gravity, fineness—residues on both 100- and 200-mesh sieves, tensile strength—both neat and 1:3 mortar, time of setting, Vicat needle—both initial set and hard set, consistency of volume, neat pats—both normal and accelerated cures, and two chemical requirements—sulfate and magnesia contents.

Early Achievements

In 1912, C01 established a liaison committee to work with the American Society of Civil Engineers and U.S. federal government agencies to reconcile differences in the existing specifications and methods of test for portland cement. The cooperation between C01 and the U.S. government has continued through the years. Today most government agencies follow ASTM specifications, including the many standards developed by C01.

During the early 1920s the committee studied the compressive strength of portland cement and specifications for natural cement. The first edition of the Manual on Cement Testing was published in 1925.

The method for chemical analysis of portland cement should be mentioned, C 114, which was first published in 1934. The latest revision was approved in 1999. Now, however, X-ray analysis is the preferred and generally accepted method of analyzing portland cement.

CCRL Is Born

In 1929, C01 reached a major milestone. The Cement Reference Laboratory was established at the National Bureau of Standards (now the National Institute of Standards and Technology) to provide special laboratory services to promote uniformity and the improvement of cement testing. This decision has had a major impact on cement testing. There have been 30 inspection tours during the intervening years in the United States and Canada. In 1960, the Cement Reference Laboratory was expanded and renamed the Cement and Concrete Reference Laboratory (CCRL) under the joint jurisdiction of Committee C01 on Cement and Committee C09 on Concrete and Concrete Aggregates. A Reference Sample Program was started in 1965.

To indicate how extensive CCRL activities are, during the 30th tour, 906 laboratories were inspected. In 2001, 1,267 proficiency samples were distributed. Without these samples, precision and bias statements could not have been developed for cement and concrete standards.

Portland Cement and Additives

A major development occurred in 1941 with the adoption of ASTM C 150, which specified five types of portland cement. This led the way for a number of major developments in specifications during that decade.

Committee C01’s early specifications did not allow any addition to cement other than gypsum and water. This was changed however in the late thirties when the committee stated that “other materials may be added provided that they have been shown to be acceptable in the amounts indicated, by tests carried out or reviewed by Committee C01.” This statement referred to processing additions, namely grinding aids and air entraining agents. As a result, between 1938 and 1961, the full Committee C01 had to review test results and approve or disapprove various additive materials.

But the years 1950 and 1961 witnessed the adoption of two test methods that would have a significant impact on this committee-wide approval of additive content. ASTM specifications C 226 for Air-Entraining Additions for Use in the Manufacture of Air-Entraining Portland Cement and for Processing Additions (1950) and C 456 for Processing Additions for Use in the Manufacture of Hydraulic Cements (1961) allowed Committee C01 to discontinue the practice of ruling on the acceptability of proposed additions.

The Second Half-Century

For nearly two decades considerable attention was given to the alkali and sulfate in cement. The result was new specification regarding alkali in 1960 and sulfate in 1965.

In concert with ASTM’s emphasis on the importance of international cooperation, Committee C01 extended its activities to Canada and Mexico, holding several meetings in both countries starting in the 1950s.

C01’s accomplishments in the past 100 years have been due to the dedication and contributions of many individuals. None of these could have participated in the work of C01, however, without the support of their employers. The history of C01 would not be complete without the recognition of cement companies, the Portland Cement Association (PCA), cement plants, various chemical companies, federal and state governments, commercial testing laboratories, and many others.

It is cooperation among individual members, the industry, and ASTM that has created the highest quality standards for the many types of cement, standards that ultimately benefit the consumer. We are proud to acknowledge our achievements: quality assurance, safety, precision and bias, electronic communication and international relationships. The structure of ASTM Committee C01 on Cement is solid and is capable of meeting the challenges of the 21st century.

On to the next 100 years! //

Copyright 2002, ASTM

Emery Farkas, past chairman of ASTM and honorary member of Committee C01 on Cement, has been part of that committee for over 40 years. He retired in 1994 from W. R. Grace & Co., where he was vice president of the Construction Products Division.

In writing the history of Committee C01 on Cement, it is impossible to avoid reference to papers written for previous anniversaries such as 50 and 75 years. Because of that I would like to give credit up front especially to the late W. S. “Bill” Weaver of Canada who wrote the 75-year summary in 1977.