For more than a century, several inclusions have been mixed with Portland cement—nowadays the most-consumed construction material worldwide—to improve both the strength and durability required for construction. The present paper describes the different families of inclusions that can be combined with cement matrix and reviews the achievements reported to date regarding mechanical performance, as well as two other innovative functionalities of growing importance: reducing the high carbon footprint of Portland cement, and obtaining new smart features. Nanomaterials stand out in the production of such advanced features, allowing the construction of smart or multi-functional structures by means of thermal- and strain-sensing, and photocatalytic properties. The first self-cleaning concretes (photocatalytic) have reached the markets. In this sense, it is expected that smart concretes will be commercialized to address specialized needs in construction and architecture. Conversely, other inclusions that enhance strength or reduce the environmental impact remain in the research stage, in spite of the promising results reported in these issues. Despite the fact that such functionalities are especially profitable in the case of massive cement consumption, the shift from the deeply established Portland cement to green cements still has to overcome economic, institutional, and technical barriers.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited