Phase diagram of calcium aluminates present in the anhydrous calcium aluminate cement before hydration.

Calcium aluminate cements[1] are cements consisting predominantly of hydraulic calcium aluminates. Alternative names are "aluminous cement", "high-alumina cement", and "Ciment fondu" in French. They are used in a number of small-scale, specialized applications.[citation needed]


The method of making cement from limestone (CaCO3) and low-silica bauxite (Al2O3) was patented in France in 1908 by Bied of the Pavin de Lafarge Company. The initial development was as a result of the search for a cement offering sulfate resistance. The cement was known as "Ciment fondu" and "Ciment électro-fondu" in French.[2][3]

As indicated by Bied (1922),[2] who was the inventor of this type of cement, the terms "Ciment fondu" ("fused cement") and "Ciment électro-fondu" ("electro-fused cement") refer only to the manufacturing process involving the melting of the base materials (CaO obtained after the decarbonation of CaCO3, and Al2O3). This is because there is no temperature range in which it is possible to observe the gradual softening and clinkerization of these materials, as is the case with Portland cement at around 1450 °C. In the absence of a softening temperature, calcium aluminates are obtained directly by fusion of the precursor materials, and Bied (1922) clearly indicated his preference for the appellation "ciment alumineux" ("aluminous cement") referring to its composition rather than to a manufacturing process.[2]

Subsequently, its other special properties were discovered, and these led to its future in niche applications.[citation needed]

By the 2010s, the product was found in the US market under the name FONDAG cement (FOND Aluminous Aggregate), sometimes referred to as ALAG (ALuminous AGgregate). FONDAG cement is a mix of up to 40 percent alumina, and is stable at high temperatures and thermal cycling from −184–1,093 °C (−300–2,000 °F; 89–1,400 K; 160–2,500 °R)[4]


CAC cement invented in 1908 by Bied[2] is sulfate-free and hardens to give mainly hydrated calcium aluminates or carboaluminates (AFm phases: Aluminium Ferrite mono-substituted phases), sometimes accompanied with C–S–H as a minor component, while Ca(OH)2 (portlandite) is absent.[5] So, CAC cement must not be confused with calcium sulfo-aluminate (CSA) cement containing calcium sulfate and invented later in 1936.[6]

The main constituent, and also the most reactive phase, of calcium aluminate cements is the monocalcium aluminate (CaAl2O4 = CaO · Al2O3, also written as CA in the cement chemist notation). It usually contains other calcium aluminates as well as a number of less reactive phases deriving from impurities in the raw materials. Rather a wide range of compositions is encountered, depending on the application and the purity of aluminium source used.[7] Constituents of some typical formulations include:

Oxide/Mineral General purpose Buff White Refractory
SiO2 4.0 5.0 2.7 0.4
Al2O3 39.4 53.0 62.4 79.6
Fe2O3 16.4 2.0 0.4 0
CaO 38.4 38.0 34.0 19.8
MgO 1.0 0.1 0.1 0
Na2O 0.1 0.1 0 0
K2O 0.2 0 0 0
TiO2 1.9 1.8 0.4 0.1
Monocalcium aluminate 46 70 70 35
Dodecacalcium hepta-aluminate 10 5 0 0
Monocalcium dialuminate 0 0 17 30
Belite 7 5 0 0
Gehlenite 4 14 11 1
Ferrite 24 5 2 0
Pleocroite 1 1 1 0
Wüstite 7 0 0 0
Corundum 0 0 0 33

The mineral phases all take the form of solid solutions with somewhat variable compositions.[citation needed]


The cement is made by fusing together a mixture of a calcium-bearing material (normally calcium oxide from limestone) and an aluminium-bearing material (normally bauxite for general purposes, or refined alumina for white and refractory cements).

The melting of the mixture is achieved at 1600 °C and is energy demanding.[8][9] The more elevated temperature explains a part of its higher production costs than for the clinker of ordinary Portland cement sintered at 1450 °C.[citation needed]

The liquified mixture cools to a vesicular, basalt-like clinker which is ground alone to produce the finished product. Because complete melting usually takes place, raw materials in lump-form can be used. A typical kiln arrangement comprises a reverberatory furnace provided with a shaft preheater in which the hot exhaust gases pass upward as the lump raw material mix passes downward. The preheater recuperates most of the heat in the combustion gases, dehydrates and de-hydroxylates the bauxite and de-carbonates the limestone. The calcined material drops into the "cool end" of the melt bath. The melt overflows the hot end of the furnace into molds in which it cools and solidifies. The system is fired with pulverized coal or oil. The cooled clinker ingots are crushed and ground in a ball mill. In the case of high-alumina refractory cements, where the mix only sinters, a rotary kiln can be used.[citation needed]

Hydration reactions

CAC cements gain strength more rapidly than ordinary Portland cement (OPC). Sometimes, a retarder is needed to ensure a longer workability.[citation needed]

In contrast to Portland cements, calcium aluminate cements do not release calcium hydroxide (Ca(OH)2, portlandite, or lime) during their hydration.[5]

The hydration reactions of calcium aluminate cements are very complex. The strength-developing phases are monocalcium aluminate (CA), dodeca-calcium hepta-aluminate (C12A7), and belite (C2S), a dicalcium silicate. Calcium aluminoferrite (C4AF), monocalcium dialuminate (CA2), gehlenite, and pleochroite contribute little to the concrete strength.[citation needed]

During the cement setting, the reactive aluminates react with water initially to form a mixture of hydrated phases expressed hereunder in normal oxide notation and also abbreviated in the more compact cement chemist notation (CCN) (CaO = C; Al2O3 = A; H2O = H; and SiO2 = S):

   CaO · Al2O3 · 10 H2O     (CAH10),
2 CaO · Al2O3 · 8 H2O       (C2AH8),
3 CaO · Al2O3 · 6 H2O       (C3AH6), and Al(OH)3 gel,

the amounts of each is depending upon the curing temperature.[citation needed]

The first two hydrates subsequently decompose to a mixture of 3 CaO · Al2O3 · 6 H2O, Al(OH)3 gel, and water, this process being called "conversion". Because of the loss of water, conversion causes an increase in porosity, which can be accompanied by a decrease in concrete strength. This need not be a problem in structural concrete provided that a sufficiently high cement content and a sufficiently low water/cement ratio are employed.[10]

Structural stability issues: inappropriate use for general construction

The inappropriate use of calcium aluminate cements as a common construction material without special precautions has led to structural stability problems in buildings.

On 8 February 1974, the roof of a swimming pool collapsed in the UK.[11] In 1984, the roof of a factory building in Uherské Hradiště in Czechoslovakia (built 1952) collapsed, killing 18 people.[12] In Madrid, Spain, a large housing block nicknamed Korea (because it was built to house Americans during the Korean War), built 1951 ~ 1954 was affected and had to be torn down in 2006. Also in Madrid the Vicente Calderón soccer stadium was affected and had to be partially rebuilt and reinforced.[13]

Special applications

Because of their relatively high cost and delicate implementation, calcium aluminate cements are used in a number of restricted applications where performance achieved justifies costs:[3][citation needed]

Sewer networks applications

The biogenic corrosion resistance of calcium aluminate cements is used today in three main applications:[citation needed]


  1. ^ Hewlett, P.C. (Ed.) (1998). "13". Lea's Chemistry of Cement and Concrete: 4th Ed. Arnold. ISBN 0-340-56589-6.
  2. ^ a b c d Bied, M. J. (December 1922). "Le ciment alumineux (Congrès de Liège, Juin 1922". Revue de Métallurgie. 19 (12): 759–764. doi:10.1051/metal/192219120759. eISSN 1156-3141. ISSN 0035-1563.
  3. ^ a b "Le ciment fondu" [Molten cement]. Travaux béton (in French). 2023. Retrieved 27 April 2023.
  4. ^ "FONDAG". Water Online. 2019. Retrieved 2019-08-29. ALAG (ALuminous AGgregate) is a synthetic calcium aluminate aggregate manufactured by the fusion of bauxite and limestone into a partially re-crystallized aggregate of approximately 40% alumina. It is essentially Fondu clinker, crushed and sized into grades commonly needed by concrete and castable formulators.
  5. ^ a b Ojovan, Michael I.; Lee, William E.; Kalmykov, Stepan N. (2019). "Immobilisation of Radioactive Waste in Cement". An introduction to nuclear waste immobilisation. Elsevier. pp. 271–303. doi:10.1016/B978-0-08-102702-8.00017-0. ISBN 9780081027028.
  6. ^ Bescher, Eric; Kim, John (2019-07-03). Belitic calcium sulfoaluminate cement: History, chemistry, performance, and use in the United States.
  7. ^ Taylor H.F.W. (1990) Cement Chemistry, Academic Press, ISBN 0-12-683900-X, p. 317.
  8. ^ Eckel, Edwin C. (1925-05-05), Process of making iron and cement, retrieved 2023-04-27
  9. ^ Alexander, Hasselbach (1928-07-17), Method of manufacturing cements rich in alumina, retrieved 2023-04-27
  10. ^ Taylor ibid p. 330.
  11. ^ "Trial and error". 18 April 2002.
  12. ^ "Před 30 lety se v uherskohradišťském MESITu zřítila část výrobní haly" [30 years ago, a part of a factory hall has collapsed in MESIT in Uherské Hradiště]. Deník (in Czech). 2014-11-21. Retrieved 2022-09-22.
  13. ^[dead link]