Aggregate is a general term that basically refers to small pieces of rock, including sand, gravel and crushed rock. It may be the most taken for granted raw material. Much like electricity or water, it permeates our lives, but our conscious awareness of it is minimal. However, if you take a look around any part of our built world, you will see that it surrounds you. It’s easy to recognize because it looks precisely the same in nature. Sand and gravel are simply sieved and classified, and crushed rock looks just like angular pebbles.
Aggregate in daily life
Each application for aggregate requires its own grain size, and it is used for a wide variety of construction purposes, either in bound form or as loose material. Bound forms include asphalt and cement concrete, while loose aggregate is used for constructional filling, in railway or roof ballast, in drainage filters and so on. Imagine if we couldn’t build roads or design new buildings for lack of sand.
It may be frequently overlooked, but aggregate is the most used mineral resource in the world. Dutch use is about one full bucket per person each day! Next time you drive down a road or walk into work or even relax at home on the weekend, remember that aggregate makes it possible.