What Are Aggregates in Construction?

February 21, 2024

Aggregates are the building blocks of any construction project. They make up a large portion of concrete, asphalt, railway ballast, drainage systems, landscaping materials and more. Without them, roads and buildings would not be able to stand up to the weight of heavy vehicles and foot traffic. They’re also essential in reducing maintenance costs for structures, as they can withstand more wear and tear than their non-aggregate counterparts.

Construction aggregates are coarse- to medium-grained particulate material used in construction projects. They include natural sand, gravel, crushed stone and recycled concrete as well as artificial or manufactured aggregates. They are one of the most commonly mined materials in the world.

Natural aggregates are obtained from the earth through open-pit mining methods that create quarries. They are primarily made up of materials like sand, gravel and crushed rock that form over time due to geological processes. These materials are typically found in riverbeds, glacial deposits and rock quarries. Artificial or manufactured aggregates are created from processing and combining other materials, such as fly ash, slag and recycled concrete. They are then screened and graded to meet specific requirements for size, shape and strength.

The type of aggregate that is chosen for a particular project will depend on many factors, including the availability and price of the raw materials. The availability of the raw materials can be affected by the depletion of easily accessible deposits, environmental restrictions on quarrying and the cost of transporting materials. The quality of the aggregates is also key – it needs to be chemically inert, strong, durable, with limited porosity and free from adherent coating, clay lumps and coal residues.

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