How Hydraulic Lime Binders Work

By Alan Forster & Pat Gibbons

Review by Ian Pritchett (November 2005)

Despite the rather long-winded title this is an excellent and concise book. Alan Forster is well known to many people in the lime world for his PhD on the hydraulicity of limes and his work at the Scottish Lime Centre. This publication is a simplified and abbreviated version of his PhD thesis.

Alan manages to combine a straight forward and, at times, witty overview of the subject (hydraulicity of building limes). Although the book is sub-titled “hydraulicity for beginners”, I would suggest that a basic knowledge of lime is required in order to follow it. For anyone with the basic knowledge of high calcium and hydraulic limes this is eminently readable and quickly passes on the details of the hydraulic reactions that occur in lime and portland cement.

This is probably the first time that such a detailed overview has been attempted, particularly in a small booklet aimed at non-cement chemists. To this end it fills a big gap in our collective knowledge. It is scientific yet readable.

It is also nice to see a balanced view of the differences and similarities of hydraulic lime and cement. The amusing idea of using people’s character as metaphors for chemical constituents helps to bring the process to life.

This will bring new information to even the most passionate limeys and should be added to everyone’s bookshelf.

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