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Aggregate is broad term encompassing boulders, gravels, crushed rock , sands and manufactured and natural lightweight materials. which are mixed with cement and water to make concrete.

Comprise at least 75% by volume of a typical concrete mix. Aggregates can be classified as coarse, fine, natural and artificial.

The durability, strength, and performance of construction products made with aggregates are affected by a number of physical and mechanical properties. When used along with a binder such as Portland cement of asphalt, aggregates particle should bond well with the bonding agent and also retain their strength, shape, and texture throughout the service life.

The most important properties to consider when selecting aggregates for a particular application are:
Specific gravity Bulk Density Porosity Voids Absorption Moisture content Shrinkage Gradation and Fineness modulus Compressive Strength Chemical reactivity

Specific gravity
Is the ratio of the density of the substance to the density of gas free distilled water at that temperature. It represents the ratio between the density of the material and the density of water, which is 62.4pcf, or 1g/l

The density and the specific gravity of an aggregate particle are dependent upon the density and specific gravity of the minerals making up the particle and upon the porosity of the particle. Determining the porosity of aggregate is often necessary; however, measuring the volume of pore space is difficult. Specific gravity values of most natural mineral aggregates lie in the range of 2.4 to 2.9, meaning they are about 2.4 to 2.9 times as heavy as water.

Bulk specific gravity (bulk SG)

When the volume of pores is included in the measurement of the volume of material, the resulting specific gravity is said to be bulk.It is computed as the ratio of the weight in air of a unit volume of a permeable material which includes both permeable and impermeable pores, at a specific temperature-to the weight in air of an equal volume of gas-free distilled water. Bulk SG = density of particles based on solid volume plus pore volume density of water

Apparent specific gravity (apparent SG)

Is the ratio of the weight in air of a unit volume of the impermeable portion of the material-at a specific temperature-to the unit weight in air of an equal volume of gas free distilled water at that temperature Apparent SG = density of particles based on solid volume density of water

Moisture Content
Moisture Content = weight of moisture X 100 Oven-dry weight
The moisture content represents the amount of moisture existing at the time of measurement. Two types of moisture measurement are recognized in aggregate particles.

Absorbed Surface Moisture Moisture retained within the pores is the absorbed moisture, and that which is held on the surface is surface moisture. Based on the moisture level, aggregate particles are divided into four states Oven dry Air dry Saturated and surface dry Wet

Water absorption or absorbed moisture

is defined as the weight of water absorbed by dry aggregate particles in reaching a moisture level or condition called saturated surface dry condition (SSD), and is expressed as a percentage of the oven dry weight. The SSD condition represents the state of moisture level when all the pores within all particles in a sample are filled with water and the surface stays dry. In this condition it is assumed that the particle will neither absorb moisture nor contribute moisture to the surroundings. Absorption capacity is defined as the increase in the weight of aggregate from water retained within the pores.

Porosity is defined as the ratio of volume of pores in a particle to its total volume (solid volume plus the volume of pores). Volume of pores Total volume of particles

Chemical stability: will neither react chemically with cement in a harmful manner nor be affected by other external influences An aggregate is physically sound if it retains dimensional stability under temperature or moisture changes and resists weathering.

To be considered adequate in strength an aggregate should be able to develop the full strength of the cementing matrix. Hardness and toughness are important in cases when wear resistance is required.

Particle shape has a significant effect on properties of concrete. Natural sand and gravel are generally round and smooth. Crushed aggregate may have shapes that are flat, elongated, angular, cubical, disk or rodlike.

Typical Shapes of Aggregates

Typical shapes of aggregates.

The classification of the surface texture is based on the degree to which the particle surfaces are polished or dull, smooth or rough

Effect of the shape and surface texture of aggregate:

The shape and surface texture of aggregate, especially of fine aggregate, have a strong influence on the water requirement of the mix More water is required when there is a greater void content of the loosely-packed aggregate Generally, flakiness and shape of the coarse aggregate have an appreciable effect on the workability of concrete The workability decreases with an increase in the angularity number

Extreme angularity and elongation increase the amount of cement required to give strength. Increase the difficulty in finishing and effort required to pump concrete. Flat and elongated particles also increase the amount of mixing water.

The bond between angular particles is greater than that between smooth particles. Properly graded angular particles can take advantage of this property and offset the increase in water required to produce concrete with cement content and strength equal to that of a smooth aggregate mix.

Handling aggregates
Should be handled and stored to minimize segregation and prevent contamination with deleterious material. Normally stored is stockpiles Stockpiles should not be built up in high cone shape nor allowed to run down slopes. Should not be allowed to fall freely from the end of a conveyor belt.

To minimize segregation, materials should be removed from stockpiles in approximately horizontal layers. Chuting aggregate at an angle against the side of the bin causes segregation.


Gradation (also called particle-size distribution or grain size distribution) refers to proportions by mass or weight of aggregate particles distributed in special particle size ranges. Grading and grading limits are usually expressed as a percentage of the material passing (or retained on) sieves with designated hole sizes. The practice of combining aggregate particles of various sizes to obtain specified gradation is called blending.

Materials other than cement, water and aggregates, added to concrete, mortar or grout immediately before or during mixing. To modify, improve or give special properties to concrete mix. For example: Workability, strength, durability watertightness and wear resistance, reduce segregation heat of hydration, entrain air, and accelerate or retard setting and hardening.

Should be used only when they offer a needed improvement not economically attainable by adjusting the basic mix. Improvement of one property often results in an adverse effect on other characteristics. Hence admixtures must be used with care

Portland Cement Concrete

A mixture of Portland cement, fine aggregate. coarse aggregate, air and water. A temporarily plastic material which can be cast or molded but later converted to a solid mass by chemical reaction The designer may vary the proportions of the five constituents over a wide limits to attain their aims.

Desirable Qualities of Plastic Concrete

Workability: Indicates the relative ease or difficulty of placing and consolidating concrete in the form. It is measured by the Slump and Compacting Factor TESTS Non-segregation: Should be handled so that there will be a minimum of segregation and the mix will remain homogenous Uniformity: Every batch should be accurately proportioned according to specifications.

Hardened Concrete
Strength: The ability to resist a load in compression, flexture or shear. The principal influencing factor is the ratio of water to cement. Durability: The ability to resist the effects of the elements, such as the action of wind, frost abrasion and chemical action.