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A combination of different sizes and shapes normally of stones. Maximum size is 75 mm.

As an underlying material for foundations and pavements As an ingredients in Portland cement concrete and asphalt concrete.

Selection of aggregates

aggregates shall be hard, durable and clean and free from adherent coatings and organic matter and shall not contain appreciable amount of clay. Aggregates shall not contain harmful impurities such as iron pyrites, alkalis, salts, coal, mica, shale or other materials which will affect hardening and attack reinforcement.

Classification of aggregates
Based on size:  classified into 2 categories:

fine aggregates - those aggregates which pass through 4.75 mm sieve or aggregates with size less than 5 mm. Coarse aggregates those aggregates Passing through 75 mm sieve and entirely retained on 4.75 mm sieve OR those aggregates with size greater than 5 mm.

Classification of aggregates
Based on source or method of manufacture:  classified into 2 categories:

Natural aggregate/uncrushed aggregate- Those from

the river beds, river sand and ex-mines. Normally rounded in shape and have smooth surface texture. Manufactured aggregate / crushed aggregate those obtained by mechanically crushing rocks, boulders, or cobbles. Normally angular in shape and have rough surface texture

Classification of aggregates
Based on Density:  Based on specific gravity or density measured in bulk, aggregate is divided into 3 types:

Lightweight aggregate Normal-weight aggregate Heavyweight aggregate

Normal-weight aggregate

Crushed stone, gravel and ordinary sand are examples of normal weight aggregate. They are commonly used in manufacture of normal weight concrete, asphalt concrete and roadway sub-base. The average values of For sand and gravel are 2.6 and 2.65 respectively. Bulk density of normal weight aggregate is around 1520 to 1680kg/m3.

Lightweight aggregate

Lightweight fine aggregate is any aggregate with bulk density less than 1120kg/m3 and lightweight coarse aggregate is any aggregate with bulk density less than 880kg/m3. They are commonly used as ingredients in the manufacture of lightweight concrete, for making lightweight masonry blocks (to improved their thermal and insulating properties and nailing characteristic), and lightweight floor and roof slabs. 2 types of lightweight aggregate:

Natural lightweight aggregates (eg: palm oil shell, rice husk, etc) Manufactured (also called synthetic) lightweight aggregates.

Heavyweight aggregate

Those aggregate with high density and is used primarily in the manufacture of heavyweight concrete, employed for protection against nuclear radiation and as bomb shelter. The unit weight of heavyweight concrete varies from 2400kg/m3 with range from 4.0 to 4.6.(eg: mineral ores and barite)

Physical properties of aggregates


Strength Hardness Toughness Durability Porosity Water absorption

Strength of aggregates

In practice, majority of normal aggregates are considerably stronger than concrete A good average value of crushing strength of aggregates is 200N/mm2.

Hardness of aggregates


Hardness of aggregates is the ability of the aggregate to withstand wear or load or applied pressure. This hardness is depending on the type of parent rock The test that can obtain the hardness is the abrassion test. A satisfactory aggregate should have an abrassion value of not more than 30% for aggregates used for wearing surfaces and 50% for aggregates used for non wearing surfaces.


Is the resistance of aggregate to failure by impact. This can be determined by aggregate impact test. The aggregate impact value shall not exceed 45% by weight for aggregate used for concrete other than those used for wearing surfaces and 30% for concrete for wearing surfaces.

Durability of aggregates

Durability is ability of the aggregate to withstand external or internal damaging attack or in other words the soundness of aggregate. This can be obtained by carrying out the Soundness test.



Aggregate normally have pores of various sizes. Aggregates will absorb water when it is dry but normally release water in the concrete mix when it is wet. The amount of water and its rate of permeation depends on the size and volume of aggregate Since the aggregate comprises 75% of the concrete volume, it is essential to note that porosity of an aggregate contribute to the overall porosity of concrete.

Tests on aggregates
a.Texture and shapes test i.e. test for shapes of aggregates: 1. round shape usually natural aggregates 2. irregular shape- a combination of different shapes 3. angular shape- usually of crushed stone 4. flaky shape- where the thickness is less than its length and width 5. elongated- usually angular where its length is larger than its width and thickness 6. flaky and elongated- its length is larger than its width and its width is larger than its thickness.  In terms of surface texture, the aggregates may have a smooth texture, or coarse/rough texture or fissures or porous.  For production of concrete the aggregates which have angular shape and coarse texture are recommended to have high bond strength.

Tests on aggregates (Contd)

Strength tests

Aggregates crushing strength Los Angeles abrasion test Aggregates Impact value test Ten percent fine test

Tests on aggregates (Contd)

Physical properties: Specific gravity: usually 2.6 or 2.7 Water absorption test: aggregates absorb water because of their porosity.

If all the pores are filled with water the aggregates are said to be saturated and surface dry. If all the water inside the pores are removed by drying, the aggregates are said to have maximum dry weight.

Grading of aggregates:

Coarse and fine aggregates to be used for making concrete should be well graded. Gradation means the particle size distribution of aggregates. Test for grading of aggregates is carried out using the sieve analysis method.

Sieve analysis test equipment


Sieve Size Mass retained 0 6 17 32 48 81 86 17 287 Cumulative mass retained 0 6 23 55 103 184 270 287 Mass % passing passing 287 281 264 232 184 103 17 100 98 92 81 64 36 6 -

10 mm 5 mm 2.36 mm 1.18 mm 600Qmm 300Qmm 150Qmm Pan

A sieve analysis of 250g of sand gives the following results

Sieve size 10 mm 5 mm 2.36 mm 1.18 mm 600Qmm 300Qmm 150Qm Pan Mass retained 0 5 31 38 38 79 51 8

M.S. 30- Typical grading of fine aggregates % passing by weight B.S. 410 Zone 2 Zone 3 Test Sieve -----------------------------------------------------10.0 mm 100 100 5.0 90-100 90-100 2.36 75-100 85-100 1.18 55-90 75-100 600Qm 35-59 60-79 300Qm 8-30 12-40 150Qm 0-10 0-10

To calculate moisture content of Aggregates Example: A sample of damp aggregate weighing 2.35 kg is dried by hair dryer until it just reaches the freerunning(saturated surface dry) condition. It is then found to weigh 2.24 kg. After drying in the oven at 110rC to constant mass, it is found to weigh 2.15 kg. Based on dry mass, calculate: free-water content the total water content

Solution: a) Free-water content in aggregate is defined as the water content when the aggregate is in saturated surface dry conditions. i.e. initial weight = 2.35 kg weight at SSD = 2.24 kg free water content = 0.11 kg % of free-water content based on dry mass = 0.11/2.15 x 100 = 5.1% b) Total water content = free-water content + water absorbed by aggregates = 0.11 + (2.24 2.15) = 0.2 kg OR 2.35 2.15 = 0.2 kg (i.e overall weight - wt of max. dry aggregates) % of total water content based on dry mass, = 0.2/2.15 x 100 = 9.3%