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Old 02-12-2019, 10:39 AM   #232
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Cambridge, UK
Default Construction materials

You start by needing lots of bricks, especially firebricks for the ovens and kilns you need for burning all that coal. Some initial supplies, along with tools and cement for mortar, will need to be carried through.

Firebricks are made of several kinds of clay, depending on the usage: the usual kind has a preponderance of aluminium oxides over silicon oxides, but you need high-silicon clay for steel-making furnaces, and magnesium/chromium oxide clays for non-ferrous metallurgy.

More normal kinds of bricks are made of high-silicon clay but don't need to be fired so hot.

Moulding bricks is an interesting problem: the big machines that are used for mass production in the modern world won't be practical for the ASN at first, and they may well have to use slave labour for several years.

Cement is going to be Portland Cement, which is made by heating the right mixture of limestone and clay to high temperatures in a cement kiln, and then grinding the resulting lumpy material to a fine powder. The kiln can be coal-fired, which reduces the demand for coke.

The fineness of the grinding is important for the soundness of mortar and concrete made from the cement. A cement mill is a big steel cylinder, rotating at a few tens of rpm, with a lot of hard steel balls inside it. Modern ones are electrically powered, but for the ASN, a steam engine might be a better bet. As well as turning, you need fans to control air flow, because that's how you get the fine powder out, and you really don't want to breathe the powder. Cloth masks will be necessary for workers who are meant to live more than a few days.

A small cement mill can be taken through in pieces, along with the fans, controls, and small parts for larger ones. They're going to need several of these.

Something they need early on, and might forget, will be sanitation and water supplies. They'll have chlorine for disinfecting water, but they will need sewage farms, water-filtration systems, and loads of ceramic piping for local sewer systems.
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