Everything You Need to Know about Aggregates

November 3, 2017

ag∙gre∙gate noun– Geology. (Of a rock) consisting of a mixture of minerals separable by mechanical means.

Aggregates have been used as a building material since ancient times! The aggregate industry began to boom with the introduction of the automobile in the early 1900s as the need for roads paved with asphalt and concrete grew. Aggregates literally build your community. The average school is built using approximately 15k tons of aggregates. Almost every construction project utilizes aggregates, regardless of whether it’s a building, residential, commercial or industrial project. Ground aggregates are even used in household items like toothpaste, cleansers, cosmetics and more!

The word aggregate refers to mineral based materials. Examples of aggregates are typical things you would find in a landscape center such as sand, rocks, boulders, gravel, etc. These materials bind together with other ingredients to create asphalt and concrete, which are also considered aggregates.

Aggregates that are derived from natural sources typically come from three different rock types: igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic. The mineral properties of the aggregate determine the appearance of the rock and also help determine its capabilities, including if and how it can be used for paving. Manufactured rock comes from specialty rock and industrial byproducts. Chemical properties are important if the aggregate is being used as a paving material. Aggregates contain different chemical properties that help determine what each specific aggregate will be used for.

Aggregates are typically produced by rock quarry blasting. Rocks are then filtered using screens and crushers and sometimes washed. Natural gravel and sand are usually dug out of quarries, or lakes and rivers.

Aggregates influence almost every aspect of concrete, which contains 60-75 percent total volume of aggregates. The type of aggregate used in the concrete mix will affect the concrete in almost every way- from color to durability, strength and so on. The concrete used for industrial floors, for instance, uses aggregates such as quartz and granite because these aggregates have a higher abrasion resistance and can handle heavy industrial traffic.

The roads you drive on daily were most likely produced using aggregate materials at a quarry located nearby, because aggregates are generally used within 50 miles from their place of extraction. From the parks we play in, to the roads we drive on, to the homes we live in – aggregates build our world.