Ordinary Portland Cement (OPC)

Portland cement is by far the most common type of cement in general use around the world. This cement is made by heating limestone (calcium carbonate) with other materials (such as clay) to 1450 °C in a kiln, in a process known as calcination, whereby a molecule of carbon dioxide is liberated from the calcium carbonate to form calcium oxide, or quicklime, which then chemically combines with the other materials that have been included in the mix to form calcium silicates and other cementitious compounds. The resulting hard substance, called 'clinker', is then ground with a small amount of gypsum into a powder to make 'ordinary Portland cement', the most commonly used type of cement (often referred to as OPC). Portland cement is a basic ingredient of concretemortar and most non-specialty grout. The most common use for Portland cement is in the production of concrete. Concrete is a composite material consisting of aggregate (gravel and sand), cement, and water. As a construction material, concrete can be cast in almost any shape desired, and once hardened, can become a structural (load bearing) element. Portland cement may be grey or white.
When water is mixed with Portland cement, the product sets in a few hours, and hardens over a period of weeks. These processes can vary widely, depending upon the mix used and the conditions of curing of the product, but a typical concrete sets in about 6 hours and develops a compressive strength of 8 MPa in 24 hours. The strength rises to 15 MPa at 3 days, 23 MPa at 1 week, 35 MPa at 4 weeks, and 41 MPa at 3 months. In principle, the strength continues to rise slowly as long as water is available for continued hydration, but concrete is usually allowed to dry out after a few weeks and this causes strength growth to stop.

White Portland cement or white ordinary Portland cement (WOPC) is similar to ordinary, grey, Portland cement in all respects, except for its high degree of whiteness. Obtaining this colour requires high purity raw materials (low Fe2O3 content), and some modification to the method of manufacture, a.o. a higher kiln temperature required to sinter the clinker in the absence of ferric oxides acting as a flux in normal clinker. As Fe2O3 contributes to decrease the melting point of the clinker (normally 1450 °C), the white cement requires a higher sintering temperature (around 1600 °C). Because of this, it is somewhat more expensive than the grey product. The main requirement is to have a low iron content which should be less than 0.5 wt.% expressed as Fe2O3 for white cement, and less than 0.9 wt.% for off-white cement. It also helps to have the iron oxide as ferrous oxide (FeO) which is obtained via slightly reducing conditions in the kiln, i.e., operating with zero excess oxygen at the kiln exit. This gives the clinker and cement a green tinge. Other metallic oxides such as Cr2O3 (green), MnO (pink), TiO2 (white), etc., in trace content, can also give colour tinges, so for a given project it is best to use cement from a single batch.