Sand for Concrete and Glass in the Construction Industry – Magoda – Manufacturing America
Construction materials generally evoke wood, concrete and steel. Whether these products are accessible and sustainable affects infrastructure and the rest of the world. There is an often overlooked substance that has a big impact on the construction industry. It’s sand, and it’s the second most consumed natural resource on Earth. Sand is constantly sought after because it is an essential element in the creation of concrete, asphalt, glass and other materials essential to modern life.
Categorized as “aggregates”, sand and gravel are collected from natural environments and used to create mixes for cement, sand and mortar, concrete brick and cinder blocks, as well as asphalt and the tarmac. Aggregates are also processed and refined to create washed concrete sand, coarse construction sand and silica sand. Silica sand is particularly popular. Sometimes called quartz sand or industrial sand, it is an essential element in the manufacture of glass, ceramics, enamel and in foundry applications.
When sand resources are at stake, it means major problems for the construction industry, as well as for manufacturing, electronics and many other industries. Currently, a global shortage of sand and the impact of sand mining from beaches, riverbeds, lakes and other natural sources raises many flags.
What is concrete sand?
Concrete sand is a coarse, coarse-grained aggregate that is mixed with other particulate materials and water to create pourable concrete or hot asphalt. Also called cement sand or pipe sand, it can be used as part of an aggregate mix or as a leveling medium for driveways, pavers, pools, patios, and more.
Most mixtures are composed of limestone, calcium carbonate, chalk, silicon, aluminum, silica, clay and other substances which, when combined with water and they harden, form a solid surface or function as a mortar or leveling agent.
Some concrete sand mixes are formulated for specific applications. Like other types of construction and construction materials, the cost and availability of concrete sand is greatly affected by sand shortages.
What can be done if there is a shortage of construction sand?
The need for sand for construction and burgeoning infrastructure demands have created an emergency that is also increasingly complex and widespread. Although global sand mining has tripled over the past two decades, many people are only just beginning to realize the environmental impact and cost of depleting sand sources from coastal regions, riverbeds , lakes and quarries. The problem is compounded by shrinking coastlines and increased erosion caused by rising waters and climate change.
But, as awareness gradually increases, sand conservation policies, reassessment of sand sources, and other sustainability measures are beginning to come into focus. Since the demand for building resources is only expected to increase with urbanization and population growth, it may be necessary to rethink building materials in their most basic form. Increased use of renewable and reclaimed materials, including recycled plastic bricks and high-density wood composites, could help reduce demand for concrete while meeting residential and commercial construction needs.
Using more urbanite, a material made from construction rubble, could also help reduce the need for new cement. In large part, urbanite can be used as a slab or a brick. It can also be crushed to create gravel and particles similar to concrete sand. Producing urbanite at demolition sites can be very profitable, as it is often cheaper than transporting the waste to landfills.
Additionally, a new recycling process could help offset sand mining for concrete supply. The process begins with discarded glass, which is crushed and extruded through a 3D printer. The result is a strong and easily shaped structural material that could be an alternative to conventional concrete brick. Recycled glass concrete could circumvent many of the shortcomings of recycled rubble and even standard cement. It is more resistant to water, the necessary glass waste is abundant and easy to obtain, and the fine silica-based particles allow for optimal density.
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