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Chapter 2

Classification of Aggregates
Type of Aggregates
Physical Properties
Grading of Aggregates

In Civil Engineering, the term of aggregate can be described as crushed stone,

gravel, sand, slag and recycled concrete, which is composed of individual
particles. Aggregates are also used as base material under foundations, a
component of composite materials such as concrete and asphalt concrete, which
is normally used in building and road constructions

Aggregates are used as a stable foundation or road/rail base with predictable,

uniform properties (e.g. to help prevent differential settling under the road or
building), or as a low-cost extender that binds with more expensive cement or
asphalt to form concrete.
Aggregate is needed for any kind of constructions. Normally, natural sources for
aggregates include gravel pits, river run deposits and rock quarries. Gravel
deposits are crushed to obtain the needed size distribution, shape and texture.

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Classification of Aggregates
Aggregate can be classified according to their unit weight.



Light Weight

Normal Aggregate

Natural Aggregate




Type of Aggregates

2.2.1 High-Density Aggregate (H-DA)

Specific Gravity
Unit Weight

2.8 to 2.9
2800 to 2900 kg/m3

Type of H-DA

Magnetite, heamatite, limonite and barites

Compressive strength (in concrete)

20 to 21 N/mm2
i. Produce dense and crack free concrete
ii. Not suitably graded and difficult to have
adequate workability without segregation






2.2.2 Light Weight Aggregate (LWA)

Particle density
Dry loose bulk density

< 2000 kg/m3

< 1200 kg/m3

Water absorption


Type of LWA

Pumice, expanded shale, expanded clay

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Workability of concrete

i. Quick stiff.
ii. Aggregate require wetting before mixing
in the mixer

Concrete mixing operation

Water and aggregates are usually premixed

prior to addition of cement

Others (concrete using LWA)


i. coarse surface texture

ii. lower tensile strength
iii. lower Modulus of Elasticity
iv. Higher creep and shrinkage



Bulk Density
Bulk density is a property of particulate materials. It is the mass of particles of the
material divided by the volume they occupy. The volume includes the space between
particles as well as the space inside the pores of individual particles

Specific Gravity
Specific gravity (SG) is a special case of relative density defined as the ratio of the
density of a given substance, to the density of water. Substances with a specific gravity
greater than 1 are heavier than water, and those with a specific gravity of less than 1 are
lighter than water.

2.2.2 Normal Aggregate (NA)

Specific gravity
Bulk density

MS 29: 1995

BS 812: Part 103: 1985

i. Coarse Aggregate

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2.5 to 3.0
1450 to 1750 kg/m3
Classify according to size:
i. Coarse aggregate
ii. Fine aggregate (sand)
iii. All-in aggregate
Grading limit in percentages by weight for
coarse aggregate
Determination of particle size distribution
Retain on 5 mm (3/16 inch) BS 410 test sieve

ii. Fine Aggregate

iii. All-In Aggregate

a) Uncrushed Gravel or Uncrushed Stone

Coarse aggregate resulting from natural
disintegration of rock
b) Crushed Stone or Crushed Gravel
Coarse aggregate produced by crushing
hard stone and gravel respectively
c) Partially Crushed Gravel or Stone
A product of blending of uncrushed and
crushed gravel or blending stone
Pass through 5 mm (3/16 inch) BS 410 test
Sand - Lower size limit of about 0.07mm
- size limit between 0.06 to 0.002mm
Clay - smaller particles
a) Natural Sand
Fine aggregate resulting from natural
b) Crushed Stone Sand or Crushing Gravel
Fine aggregate produced by crushing hard
stone or natural gravel respectively
MS 29: 1995; The coarseness or fineness is
indicated by the zone in which the grading
Higher zone number indicates a finer
Compose of a mixture of coarse and fine
Not graded
Used in unimportant work

Grading Limit for Coarse

(Derived from BS 882)

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Grading Limits for Fine Aggregate (Derived from BS 882)

Typical Grading Curves for A Zone 2 Fine Aggregate and A Graded 20 mm

Coarse Aggregate

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Physical Properties

2.3.1 Strength
Aggregate cannot transmit tensile force from one particle to another, but
very well in resisting compressive forces.
In real practice the application of aggregate such as concrete, foundation
and etc. in terms of random arrangement of particles contribute to
spreading of concentrated loading effectively. However, the aggregate
should be compacted for significant contact between particles in
distributing of loading and reducing settlement.

P kN

The advantage of angular particles and rough aggregates can create

better interlocking system and tendency to resist forces from developed
friction compare to rounded particles with smooth surface contributes to
less frictions resistance and easy to slide.
High compressive strength of aggregate is useful to enhance the
capability in resisting compressive force especially for composite materials
such as concrete, asphalt concrete and etc. In normal practice, the weight
of aggregate is stronger than the composite materials.
Concrete Strength
20 N/mm2 to 50 N/mm2

Aggregate Strength
70 N/mm2 to 350 N/mm2

Igneous rocks are much stronger than sedimentary or metamorphic rock

in selection of aggregate types.

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Igneous Rock

Sedimentary Rock

Metamorphic Rock


Rocks formed by
solidification of cooled
magma by crystallizing into
a mosaic of materials

Rocks formed from

sediments of the earths
land area

Rocks are created by

changes induced at high
temperature and/or high


Underground: and as lava


Deposition basin: mainly


Mostly deep inside

mountains chains

Rock strength

Uniform high strength

Variable low

Variable high

Major types

Granite (90 MPa), basalt


Sandstone (40Mpa),
limestone, clay

Schist, slate

The strength of aggregate is measured by on following tests:

a. Aggregate crushing value (most popular)
b. Aggregate impact test
c. Ten percent fines value

2.3.2 Hardness
Hardness is defined as the ability of aggregates to resist the damaging
effect of load or applied pressure. This hardness aggregate is depending
on the type of parent rock.
The hardness of aggregate can be tested by using abrasion test as
described in BS 812: Part 113: 1990 or ASTM C 131: C535.

This test is conducted by placing the blended aggregates in a large drum

with standard sized of steel balls. About 500 revolutions of drum rotation
are carried out, and the aggregates will pass through the sieve.

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Satisfactory aggregate


30% value of abrasion

(use for wearing surface)
50% value of abrasion
(use for non wearing surface)

2.3.3 Durability
Durability is defined as the ability of aggregate to withstand external or
internal damaging attack such as weathering effect (also known as
The soundness test is described in BS 812: Part 121: 1989 or ASTM C88.
As described in ASTM C 88, the soundness of aggregate is tested by
simulating the weathering effect by soaking the different sized fractions of
oven-dry sample, in sodium sulfate or magnesium sulfate solution for 16
hours to create freezing effect. The sample is subjected to five cycles of
soaking and drying procedure. Tested samples were then washed and
weighted to determine loss percentage of entire samples. The results will
be compared with allowable limits to determine whether the aggregate is

2.3.4 Toughness
Toughness is defined as the resistance if aggregate to failure by impact.
The toughness of aggregates can be determined by implementing
Aggregate Impact Test according to MS 30: Part 10: 1995. The aggregate
impact value shall not exceed 45% by weight for aggregate used in
concrete and 30% for wearing surface.

2.3.5 Porosity
Porosity is defined as the ratio of the volume of pores in particle to its total
volume (solid volume Plus the volume of pores)

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Volume of pores
Total volume of particles

All aggregates are porous; some are more porous and some are less
depending on types of aggregate.
Most of granite and limestone have very low porosity whereas a large
majority of sandstone rocks have high porosity as high as 13% and 30%.
Type of Rock

Porosity (%)

Sandstone (fractured)
Limestone (cavernous)


Porosity of natural aggregate can be determined by using following


( W + 100 )percent

: water absorption in percent
: specific gravity on saturated surface-dry basis
A porous aggregate may influence the capability of water absorption when
it is dry. The amount of water absorption is depending on the size and
volume of aggregate.
Besides, it is also less resistance to cycles of freezing and thawing which
can cause cracking or fail due to internal expansion, if the aggregate are
not strong enough to withstand the stresses.
Porosity of concrete is contributed by the porosity of aggregate since
aggregate comprises 75% of the volume of concrete. When concrete
exposed to cold temperature and moisture, resistance to freeze-thaw is
important to ensure long service life. Hence, further investigation must be
carried out if the selection of porous aggregate as part of composite
materials ingredient has been made.

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2.3.6 Absorption
Aggregate can capture fluid (water, moisture, asphalt binder and etc) in
surface voids. Voids represent the amount of air space between the
aggregate particles. The amount of void normally expressed as void
content and can be determined by using equation below:
Void content =

SG x W B
SG x W

x 100

: specific gravity
: density of water
: bulk density
Normally the void content in normal aggregate varies from 30 to 50
percent depending on size, shape and texture. Typically, fine aggregate
indicates 35 to 40% of void content while coarse aggregate is about 30 to
50% (depending on size).
The amount of absorption is important to be evaluated for appropriate
amount of fluid to be mixed into composite materials. Highly absorptive
aggregates require greater amount of fluid and making less economical.
The definition of absorption capacity or water absorption or absorbed
moisture can be defined as the moisture content in the saturated surface
dry condition. Further explanation of voids and moisture absorption of
aggregate is illustrated by using following figure.


Bone dry

: The aggregate contains no moisture; this requires

drying the aggregate in an oven to a constant mass.

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Air dry

: The aggregate may have some moisture but the

saturation state is not quantified.



: The aggregates voids are filled with moisture but the

main surface area of the aggregate particles is dry.



: The aggregate have a moisture content in excess of

the SSD condition


Free moisture : The difference between the actual moisture content

of the aggregate and the moisture content in the
SSD condition.

Determination of moisture content (MC) can be calculated by using

following equation:

weight of moisture x 100

Oven-dry weight

The water added to the concrete mix must be adjusted to take account on
water absorption of aggregates when making concrete, to obtain constant
and required workability and strength of concrete. The determination of
MC of an aggregate is necessary to determine the net water cement ratio
for a batch of concrete. High moisture content will increase the effective
water-cement ratio to appreciable extent and make the concrete weak
unless a suitable allowance is made. BS 812: Part 109: 1990 and MS 50
described method of determination of moisture content and absorption of
aggregate. They are:
a. Displacement method
It gives the moisture content as a percentage by mass of saturated
surface dry sample
b. Drying method

i. Oven drying method

ii. Modified drying method
Total moisture content due to free plus absorbed water

Concrete mix proportion are normally based on the weight of aggregate in

their saturated and surface dried condition and any change in moisture
content must be reflected in the adjustment to the weight of aggregate and
the mix.

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Assignment 2: (due date 18 February 2008)
In selecting an aggregate for a particular application, the most important
physical properties as follows are needed to be considered. You are
required to explain each of them.
a. Shrinkage
b. Modulus of elasticity
c. Chemical reactivity

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Grading of Aggregates
Sieve analysis test is used in grading of aggregate. Sieve analysis
consists of determining the proportionate amounts of particles retained or
passing through each of a set of sieves arranged in decreasing sizes. It is
expressed in terms of percentages.

Table-top Siever Shaker

and sieves

Aggregate is Placed in
Sieves before Sieving

The grading curve can be drawn from this analysis and the curve showing
cumulative percentages of the material passing the sieves. The grading
curve indicates whether the grading of a given sample conforms to that
specified, or is too coarse or too fine or too deficient in particular size. The
reading of the grading curve will indicates the followings:

If the actual grading curve is lower than specified grading curve, the
aggregate is coarser and segregation of mix might take place.


If the actual grading curve lies well above the specified curve, the
aggregate is finer and more water will be required, thus increasing
the quantity of cement also for a constant water cement ratio.
Therefore, this is uneconomical.


If the actual grading is steeper than specified, it indicates an excess

of middle-size particles and leads to harsh mix.


If the actual grading curve is flatter than specified grading curve, the
aggregate will be deficient in middle size particles.

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The grading of aggregates has considerable effect on the workability and
stability of concrete mix. Besides it is also important factor in concrete mix
Uniform size of particle will contain more voids after compaction, whereas
various particle sizes will give a mass containing lesser voids.
Proper grading of aggregate comprises of coarse and fine aggregate are
needed to produce good quality of concrete. The grading of fine aggregate
has a much greater effect on workability of concrete than does the grading
of the coarse aggregate.
Too fine an aggregate requires too large water cement ratio for adequate
workability. Meanwhile, larger size of aggregate will reduce the cement
requirement for a particular water-cement ratio.
Exercise: Sieve Analysis of Coarse Aggregate
( According to ASTM Standard )

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Exercise 2: Sieve Analysis of Fine Aggregate

( According to ASTM Standard )

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Particle Shape and Surface Texture of Aggregate

Aggregate has three dimensional of masses namely shape, size and
surface texture.
Shape and surface texture are considered as external characteristic. The
shape and surface texture of fine aggregate govern its void content and
thus affect the water requirement of mix significantly.
Crushing rock produces angular particles with sharp corners. The corners
of aggregates break down due to weathering effect and creating
subangular particles. When the aggregate being transported in water, the
corners become completely rounded.
Aggregate particles which have sharp edges or rough surface such as
crushed stone used more water than smooth and rounded particles to
produce concrete of same workability. About 5 10% of water content can
be reduced by using rounded aggregate. However, the angular
aggregates will be more difficult for them to slide across each other.
Besides, the interlocking between aggregates particle, and stronger mortar
bond, for crushed aggregate is higher than smooth or rounded aggregate
in concrete with same water cement ratio. This increase in strength may
be up to 38% for concrete having-cement ratio below 0.4.
Rough texture generally improves the bonding, interparticle friction but
more difficult to compact into a dense configuration.
2.5.1 Particle Shape of Aggregate.
The particle shapes of aggregate are round, irregular, angular, flaky,
elongated and rough.
Full water-worn or completely shaped by attrition
or abrasion. E.g. river or sea shore gravel
Naturally irregular or partly shaped by attrition and
having rounded edges. E.g. Other gravel land or dug

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Processing well defined edges formed at the
Intersection or roughly planes faces. E.g. Crushed
focks of all types
A material of which the thickness is small relative
to other two dimensions. E.g. Laminated rock
The aggregate is usually angular, is shape, and the
length is considerably larger than the other two
Flaky and Elongated
Material having the length which is considerably
larger than the width, and the width is considerably
larger than the thickness

2.5.2 Surface Texture of Aggregate

Surface texture is a measure of the smoothness or roughness of the
aggregate. The strength of the bond between aggregate and cement
paste depends upon the surface texture. The bond is the development of
mechanical anchorage and depends upon the surface roughness and
surface porosity of the aggregate.
An aggregate with rough and porous texture may increase the aggregatecement bond up to 1.75 times, in which may increase the compressive
and flexural strength of concrete up to 20%.
The surface pores help in the development of good bond on account of
suction of paste into these pores. Aggregate with polished surface do not
produce such strong concrete compared to those with rough surface, The
more angular the aggregate, the more surface area it will produce, thus,
result in greater bonding.

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