Science & Technology

How was Reinforced Concrete Invented?

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Prof. Ashoka tells us how reinforced concrete was invented, tracing its antiquity to the Roman times. An exclusive for Different Truths.

The word concrete comes from the Latin word concretus meaning compact or condensed. Reinforced concrete contains reinforcing structures with high tensile strength, such as steel bars that counteract the low tensile strength and elasticity of normal concrete. These structures are embedded into new concrete before it hardens.

Concrete has been used for construction since Roman times. But early concrete was not reinforced and had very low tensile strength.

Concrete has been used for construction since Roman times. But early concrete was not reinforced and had very low tensile strength. It is not known with certainty who the inventor of reinforcement was but the construction of small rowboats by Jean-Louis Lambot in the early 1850s may be the first successful example. Lambot, a farmer, reinforced his boats with iron bars and wire mesh. He also proposed to use the material for constructing buildings.

In 1854, a plasterer, William Wilkinson of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England, built a small two-storey servant’s cottage

In 1854, a plasterer, William Wilkinson of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England, built a small two-storey servant’s cottage, reinforcing the concrete floor and roof with iron bars and wire rope, and patented this type of construction in England. Wilkinson built several such structures, which are often considered the first reinforced concrete buildings.

Joseph Monier was a Parisian gardener who made garden pots and tubs of concrete reinforced with an iron mesh. He exhibited his invention at the Paris Exposition of 1867. He also promoted reinforced concrete for use in railway sleepers, pipes, floors, arches, and bridges but never understood the operating principle of reinforcement.

The French builder Francois Coignet was the first to use reinforced concrete in buildings on a large scale.

The French builder Francois Coignet was the first to use reinforced concrete in buildings on a large scale. He began experimenting with iron-reinforced concrete in 1852. A year later, he built a four-storey house entirely of reinforced concrete in St. Denis, a northern suburb of Paris. This landmark building is still standing.

In 1879, G. A. Wayss bought the rights to Monier’s system and pioneered reinforced concrete construction in Germany and Austria. Ernest Ransome of San Francisco, California, patented a system in 1884 that used twisted square rods to improve the bond between the concrete and the reinforcing and used it for several large buildings.

Francois Hennebique of Paris had also started to build reinforced concrete houses by the late 1870s. In 1892, he patented the Hennebique system of construction and began to establish franchises in major cities.

Francois Hennebique of Paris had also started to build reinforced concrete houses by the late 1870s. In 1892, he patented the Hennebique system of construction and began to establish franchises in major cities. His modular system combined columns and beams into a single monolithic element and was largely responsible for the rapid growth of reinforced concrete construction in Europe.

Photos from the Internet


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