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Engineering B45 Sand Sieve Analysis Lab Report Introduction: A great many materials used by the engineer are

comprised of an agglomeration of smaller units. Probably the most obvious example is that of concrete in which gravel, sand and cement are mixed together to form a monolithic (literally, one-stone) engineering material. The principle qualifications of aggregates for concrete are specified (ASTM C 33-55 T) as being clean, hard, tough, strong, durable and of the proper gradation. In general, a desirable gradation of aggregates is considered to be that combination of coarse and fine materials which produces maximum density, and thereby minimum voids, consistent with good workability of concrete and minimum cement requirement for the concrete of a given consistency. A uniformly sized material cannot be packed into a large container without considerable porosity. The largest packing factor possible for spheres is about 74%. This is to say that only 74% of the total space can be occupied by the spheres and the rest of the space exists as voids. For a uniformly sized material the packing factor is independent of the size. Packing factors can be increased by two methods. One is to use non-spherical particles. The packing factor for a pile of bricks, for example, can be nearly 100%. A second method for increasing the packing factor is to mix particle size. A mixture of sand and gravel has a greater packing factor than either one alone. The sand can fill the pore spaces between the gravel. The more space the engineer fills in concrete with sand and gravel, the less cement is required. This results in a decrease in the cost of the concrete.

If all the particles which are used in agglomerated materials were perfect spheres, the determination of the particle size would be a relatively simple matter. We would simply make a measurement of the diameter. In practice most particles vary considerably from perfect sphericity. However, the engineer still finds it desirable to have a measure of the particle size of sand and gravel. The gradation of an aggregate is determined by the method of sieve analysis by shaking a given quantity of the material through a series of sieves with standardized mesh openings. The mesh number is approximately the number of openings per lineal inch.

Any aggregate mixture will be comprised of a range of mesh sizes. As a result, it is generally difficult to use one number to indicate the average size of an aggregate. This is illustrated in the following figure which

shows the percent of the aggregate which has been retained by each successively finer screen. In one case the particles are very closely graded (narrowly graded) and are essentially of one size. In the other case there is a wide variation in sizes (broadly graded). As a result, the engineer generally specifies the size distribution by listing the percentages retained on more than one screen.

Narrowly graded

Broadly graded

The Bureau of Reclamation suggests the following gradation for sand to be used in mixing concrete. Mesh # 4 8 16 30 50 100 Cumulative % Retained 0 to 5 10 to 20 20 to 40 40 to 70 70 to 88 92 to 98

The percent retained in mesh 50 and 100 affects the workability of the concrete and the finish and surface texture of the concrete. For thin walls and smooth surfaces mesh 50 should retain at least 15% and mesh 100 should retain at least 3%. Another measure used to grade aggregate is the fineness modulus, an index of the fineness or coarseness of the aggregate.
Fineness Modulus = sum of cumulative percents 100

A fineness modulus equal to 6 would indicate that none of the aggregate fell to the pan and thus is very coarse. If the fineness modulus is less than one, then it follows that most of the aggregate fell to the pan and consequently is very fine. The Bureau of Reclamation requires a fineness modulus between 2.50 and 3.00 for the sand used in the construction of concrete. Procedure:

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

Weigh each sieve. Weigh a dried sample of aggregate and record the weight (500 g + 25 g). Arrange the sieves in order, with the sieve having the least number of mesh holes per inch (largest diameter openings) at the top and the pan at the bottom. Pour the aggregate sample in the top sieve and cover. Place the nest of sieves in a sieve shaker and shake for approximately 9 minutes. Weigh each sieve and record the weight of the aggregate retained on each. Repeat with remaining samples.

Questions to be addressed in the lab report: 1. Organize your data in the Sand Sieve Analysis Table stored in a Word document on the CD or downloaded from the website. 2. Calculate the fineness modulus for each sample--be sure to show a sample calculation. 3. For each sample, construct (a) a bar graph of percent retained aggregate weight for each mesh number and (b) a plot of cumulative percent retained aggregate versus opening size in inches. Examples are shown below.
Concrete Sand Aggregate Distribution
Cumulative Percent

Concrete Sand Cumulative Distribution

Weight Retained 150 Concrete Sand I 100 50 0 0 0.02 0.04 0.06 Concrete Sand II

Percent Weight

40 Retained 30 20 10 0 14 20 28 35 48 65 100

Mesh Number

Opening Size (in)

4. 5.

In your lab report be sure to discuss the physical characteristics of each aggregate sample, but specifically the sand that will be used for your concrete construction. Address the following questions for each sample: Is the sample broadly or narrowly graded? Compare the fineness modulus to the Bureau of Reclamation standards and compare the graphs to the ideal sand grading suggested by the Bureau of Reclamation.

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