PH Balanced Cement.

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PH Balanced Cement.

Post by Bluntokian on May 11th 2012, 2:41 am

So I got an idea at dinner earlier (well technically yesterday) and decided it would be a good contribution to the reefing community for everything I've learned. A cement mix that dries at ~8.2 PH so that you can start using your tank immediately. I made another interesting discovery about diatoms and coral health relations in the process but I'll cover that another time/topic. I have my base ingredients all picked out however I need access to a furnace capable of cooking the mix to ~2700 degrees Fahrenheit. Once I have access to that and a grinder capable of grinding the resulting product into the fine substance we fondly refer to as cement then I will be able to begin testing.

If any of you know anything about making cement and a cheap (still no conformation on the job) way to do it myself I would greatly appreciate it. In the mean time its 2:30 AM and I have to be in a tux at my grandpaws memorial in 15 hours and his funeral tomorrow. Hopefully between that and emergency doctor visits I don't forget to try and hunt down some cement companies in my area to see if I can bug them for a material mix. Of course I will have to offer to supply anything they don't have on site and pay for the materials/labor they use. My girls uncle works at a concrete factory/supplier but she doesn't know his position or if they produce their cement on site.

The experiment part of the entire idea to see any PH fluctuations will be the time consumer once everything else is taken care of. Wish me luck guys. This could give us a useful cement to use as well as me the potential for money to build a tank of colossal epicness. Which I of course already have planned for later in life Wink
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Re: PH Balanced Cement.

Post by J-P on May 11th 2012, 1:23 pm

it isn't the sand / rock that causes the pH imbalance, it is the bonding agent they add to it.

It will render inert over time, but how much time is left unknown. That all depends on your water source. Remember the basics of osmosis.
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Re: PH Balanced Cement.

Post by Bluntokian on May 12th 2012, 12:00 am

Yeah, I ready knew it wasn't the sand/rock used (primarily anyway) and as for the binding agent I plan on using atm its just the standard silica fume. I'll be going to use more in it than is used in most portland cement so that it is stronger during the earlier stages of hydration. However I have been thinking about it today and there's a lot more research I need to do but like I said I posted that at 2:30 am and by the point I begun writing that post I had been beyond comprehending what I was reading for quite a while.

Right now in terms of choosing and finalizing the ingredients I want to use regardless of if it ends up being all that is in the final mix or not is finding acid/water/saltwater interactions of substances. Especially given the fact that I never even got to middle school chemistry so I'm for the most part learning as I go. Finding a database of sorts for mineral/metal interactions with water as well as databases for things like binding agents usable in cement and other relative general parts of cement (I.E. Binding Agent, Medium etc) would be a huge help.

Another thing I want to go ahead and mention is that the relative base seep to raise the ph subsides over an unknown time as mentioned by J-P. However, My current goal isn't to neutralize the process entirely but to neutralize it long enough that the amount leached relative to the sand/rock/water buffering capacity is negligible. In fact what I am actually shooting for is for a cement (This may end up being concrete as time progresses. However, I would prefer to keep it cement as it allows more variety in uses) that actually very slowly lowers ph during the first 6-9 months of curing if placed in a volume of water with no buffering agent such as aragonite.

However I have to get to sleep soon so that I can carry the casket tomorrow at 11 (of course because I'm me I'm writing this at midnight) so if any of you happen to know of any such sources of the various types of information mentioned or that you think I need please drop me a link or tell me about it so I can look more into it.


Edit: I am a moron...I completely forgot that the reason that the binder affected the PH was because of the Carbon Hydroxide it contains...although that does give me a very interesting idea to research and possibly play with in a few home experiments. Kids, Don't try this at home!

Edit Edit: Calcium Hydroxide not carbon...Duh...
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Re: PH Balanced Cement.

Post by J-P on May 12th 2012, 4:21 pm

Don't worry you'll get the hang of of it.

Most people build their background in a tub and let sit for a while (a month or 2) and let it settle. That includes daily water changes.
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Re: PH Balanced Cement.

Post by Bluntokian on May 12th 2012, 5:32 pm

Well of course me being me I stayed up studying for another hour after that post last night. I cant use a Ca(OH) based binder because it requires H Cl as an activator. I'm thinking something along the lines of a silica based binder. Diatoms feed on and build their cellular structures out of silica so I'm still pondering the effects a silica based product would have on the water chemistry.

I did however learn in my reading that the diatoms process the silica into dissolved silicates through their growing and dieing for things like sponges and clams to use so a small diatom farm may be useful for promoting the growth of sponges/clams. I believe it was clams mentioned however I'm not 100% on that however I do know that sponge structures are silica based which would explain their relatively unpredictable growth rates in aquaria.

That said it all also raises the question of how do I ensure that diatoms wont eventually consume all the binder leaving you with basically sand/lime. Which again raises the issue of cutting out the calcium hydroxide to a point that it doesn't cause a change in PH substantial enough to call the entire experiment a failure.

The Ca(OH) + H Cl = Ca Cl, 2 H2O theory was promising because it
theoretically gave me the ability to avoid cooking anything in what I
would call a blast furnace. It did, However, Prove ultimately non
applicable on anything smaller than a 20 Sq. Ft. tank due to me not
being able to think up a way to get the hydrogen chloride either into
the mix without starting the bonding process outright or having to go to
extreme measures to produce the concrete period.

Due to the gaseous nature of H Cl at room temperature in order to due
any work with the mix on site you would have to pour the mix,
level/aqua-scape as desired then seal the chamber and raise the H Cl
content in the atmosphere to high levels to activate bonding. Followed
by very thoroughly venting the chamber after binding and ensuring that
there isn't any potential for the H Cl to ignite white the Ca Cl is
binding. Not to mention the limited ability to shape anything more than
mounds of sand out of the mixture before it binds.

Of course the only way around that is (This is entirely theoretical and
just popped into my mind) to let the atmospheric H Cl finish the bonding
process of the topmost 1-3mms of the mixture over and extremely long
amount of time. Which, If memory serves there isn't enough H Cl in the
atmosphere (density wise) to activate nor continue the Ca(OH) bonding
process.

Current Notes:
More research definitely required on the interaction between diatoms and various silica based materials/chemicals. As well as what I could use to replace some percentage of the calcium based medium as/if required.

I also need to figure out what the most economical/environmental/safest/easiest to use activator would be for a silica based bonding agent. I.E. Water is the activator for bonding agents typically used in cement.

More research into currently used binders and their activators needed as well.


Again the primary blockade right now isn't finding the binders,activators,chemical reactions. It is finding things I can use if necessary to substitute calcium based mediums and any information on chemical/mineral water effects. Beyond pKa and pKb values which I still haven't figured out exactly how they balance/interact on a complex enough level to be comfortable using those as a sole base for proof of theory.

Any way that you can dumb down chemistry for me would be greatly appreciated. I don't have a chem book nor the money to buy one and I would prefer reading a book over a wiki page or some unknown website. I cant really think of any particular bit of knowledge I need right now, Since I assume that a pKa value of X chemical that matches the pKb value of Y chemical if mixed in a solution I.E. water would balance each other out and the water would return to its original PH value before the chemical additions.

thanks again J-P for reminding me about the whole C-S-H thing. I need to re read about it and make sure I have it down as well as oxidation. Also, Most people do let it sit for awhile but I make batches at a time and have to move them around a lot as I'm sure others do as well so I would like to make the option available if possible. I may have missed something but I haven't figured out how dissociation relates to PH equilibrium between two substances, however, I'm sure one of you can make it simple for me Smile


Again, Any help thoughts or suggestions....Consider this an open invitation. Just don't be an...Well be nice Smile
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Re: PH Balanced Cement.

Post by snapperhead on May 14th 2012, 9:29 pm

Seems to me this is alot of work and fuss for something that can be done alot easier with spray foam/rock/sand and rock salt ..and alot lighter!

http://temperatereef.forumotion.com/t422-foam-rock-center-piece-i-made-for-a-lfs-s-coldwater-display-tank
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Re: PH Balanced Cement.

Post by Bluntokian on May 15th 2012, 4:47 pm

It definitely is but its more of a proof of concept and something for larger tanks. Say pouring a concrete basement for a 50000+ gallon system. haven't been left alone long enough research without being interrupted every 5 seconds so the projects on hold atm...
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Re: PH Balanced Cement.

Post by Bluntokian on May 18th 2012, 5:16 pm

Okay, I've hit a brick wall. I have no idea what kind of binder I could use aside from silica or calcium hydroxide based. I've used every keyword I could thank of trying to find something so until I know more about chemistry or stumble onto a new binder then we're back to the same old thing.


Also I thought about the benefits of cement v foam. For one either way you go you have to concrete it for it to look realistic at all. For two if I can nail this mix down then you would (at least in theory) be capable of making a rock and putting it straight into the tank (hopefully) without worry of any side effects your skimmer/macros wouldn't easily clean up.
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Re: PH Balanced Cement.

Post by aquamans on May 19th 2012, 5:47 am

wow that was really indepth, Is for the purpose of making backgrounds or making rocks? Was a real good read but alot went over my head (Thats easily done lol) If you can make a cement powder like the above I would try and patent it. Could be a good niche in the industry for you.
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Re: PH Balanced Cement.

Post by Bluntokian on May 19th 2012, 3:13 pm

It's ideally for rocks backgrounds etc. More of in those places you dont want to have to either sit a rock in the back of your toilet or just have your tank sitting there for 6 months before you can actually use it. I don't see it being used on a large scale other than just covering the top of the concrete in say a floor to roof tank.

Thinking of just blasting music and going binder hunting today so hopefully I'll have an update later on today sometime.
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Re: PH Balanced Cement.

Post by Bluntokian on May 19th 2012, 4:23 pm

I think I have the start of it worked out. Still need the calcium hydroxide and as an pozzolanic activator. I can't find any other pozzolanic activators that I could get in a powder/water soluable (probably butchered that word yet I got pozzolanic correct, go figure) Heading out hopefully in a few minutes to pick up some Lime,Silica Fume if I can find it, Class F Fly Ash again, if I can find it, and maybe I'll get lucky and find some calcium hydroxide so I can start playing with mixes.


Welp no luck with getting any ingredients aside from the lime. I wasn't too impressed with the quality of lime at lowes in the granule size needed so we're back to waiting right now. However my mom seems more than willing to shell out the cash for it so it shouldn't end like every other thing I've started on this forum lol.
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Re: PH Balanced Cement.

Post by snapperhead on May 23rd 2012, 4:30 am

Could you use a thinned Epoxy resin/clearcoat as the binder with a retardant to slow the dry time a 2/1 mix would be best..It does produce heat on cure and it may crack due to this..Basicaly you would be making a huge batch of Knead-it repair putty .Mix some ingredients into part A and others into part B blend and create.
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Re: PH Balanced Cement.

Post by 4PacNW on May 23rd 2012, 2:06 pm

I may have missed something but I haven't figured out how dissociation relates to PH equilibrium between two substances, however, I'm sure one of you can make it simple for me

In terms of an acid - base equilibrium, higher dissociation means the reaction occurs to a greater degree since the acid is stronger ( more H+ ions are released) and gives a higher or lower equilibrium constant which is just the ratio of the concentrations of products to reactantss ex. N2(g) + 3H2(g) = 2NH3(g) , Keq (equilibrium constant) = ([NH3(g)]^2)/(([N2(g)])([H2(g)]^3)) . Square brackets mean concentration which written as M or mol/L . In other words higher dissociation rates in an acid means an equilibrium is less likely to occur. Strong acids such as HCl react to completion with a base, meaning there is no reverse reaction so no equilbrium at normal temperatures.

What makes this complicated is that different reactions occur and at different rates at different temperatures and pressures. Something to look up will be "Le Chatelier's Principle" which basically states that a chemical system will always react to oppose and change to it, ex. if temperature is decreased then the exothermic reaction will be favoured.
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Re: PH Balanced Cement.

Post by Bluntokian on May 31st 2012, 6:50 pm

Very interesting stuff from the both of you. Have an inspector coming Monday. Someone reported me for living in the shed (Its 12x16' with heat and air come on) so I probably wont have time to do any reading but I am writing that epoxy idea in my notes now.
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