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Difference between Aggregate, Cement, and Concrete
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What Is the Difference between Aggregate, Cement, and Concrete?

Last Updated on November 25, 2021 by Admin

In layman’s terms, the difference between aggregate, cement and concrete is as follows: Aggregate is a mineral or rock that has been broken down into smaller pieces. On the other hand, cement is a fine powder that acts as adhesive to bind the aggregate together, so it becomes harder than just loose rocks placed together on their own. And concrete is a combination of water, sand and gravel bonded together by cement. In more formal terms, however, there are subtle differences between what constitutes each term:

Aggregates

Aggregates consist of up to three components:

  • Coarse particles (stones)
  • Fine particles (sand)
  • Liquid (water)

Aggregates Basildon make up 70-80% of concrete volume used in the town. They significantly impact properties such as workability, durability, and overall appearance. Aggregates are crushed stone, gravel or sand (natural resources) or manufactured products like recycled concrete and fly ash.

Cement

Cement is made by heating limestone (calcium carbonate) with other materials (such as clay) to 1450 degrees centigrade in a kiln, fusing into clinker. Cement is then ground up with gypsum to form a fine powder known as cement paste. This paste dries and hardens after being combined with water, binding the aggregate once it has been poured into place. The cement used most commonly today is called ‘Ordinary Portland Cement’, abbreviated to OPC, because they reach hardening after 28 days.

Cement paste is the main component of concrete, so it should be remembered that cement is a crucial material in terms of strength and durability. Cement can also decrease alkalinity, which affects acidity levels. This can significantly impact the long-term life of a structure, particularly if it has to deal with damp conditions for extended periods.

Concrete

The aggregate used gives concrete its particular characteristics. For example, smooth round aggregates make for a smooth final product, whereas angular crushed rocks produce jagged edges and surface texture. Fine particles result in more refined finishes, but too fine an aggregate may create weak areas where water can infiltrate and dissolve the cement paste leading to cracks. Large pieces can reduce workability, but small pieces may not be strong enough.

Advantages of Aggregate, Cement, and Concrete

There are many pros and cons to using aggregate, cement, and concrete in construction. Here we’ll go over the essential benefits and justify why they should be used.

Strength

Aggregate is a very strong material because it holds itself together with bonds between each other, rather than covalent or ionic molecular bonding, which would occur if there were specific atoms binding with one another inside of the material (usually metals).

Concrete also has high strength but can still be broken by an external force.

Cement does not have much strength on its own; however, when mixed with water and aggregates, it becomes concrete and gains higher amounts of strength. When concrete is for construction purposes, it usually consists of gravel, sand and cement. Strength allows for materials to hold their shape under stress or load.

Durability

Aggregate is durable because it does not have specific atoms being used, so the bonds are not as weak as covalent or ionic molecular bonding.

Concrete durability depends on many factors, including its mixture proportions, cure time, mix ingredients, exposure conditions and environmental exposure duration. Concrete can last up to 50 years when adequately made using strong steel reinforcement bars inside the material.

Appearance

Aggregate has an earthy appearance that varies with colour depending on what minerals are included within it.

Cement also looks similar to aggregate because it contains sand, one of the most commonly used aggregates. Cement is slightly more coarse than aggregate because it is finely ground rock, usually limestone or shale.

Concrete has a smooth appearance that looks similar to other cement materials because it also contains sand and sometimes pebbles depending on what type of concrete is being used. Concrete can either have an earthy appearance if rocks are included in the mixture. Still, it could also look shiny like marble if ceramic tiles are added instead of natural stones.

Sustainability

The use of aggregates for construction purposes is much more sustainable than the use of cement or concretes. The production of aggregates doesn’t require strong binders since they are just held together by forces between the particles, making it easier and less emission-intensive to create.

Cement is made by heating limestone and shale together, emitting carbon dioxide as a byproduct of the chemical reaction. Hence, aggregate use isn’t as sustainable as using natural aggregates such as sand or gravel.

Concrete production is similar to cement because it also requires heat to melt up all the ingredients, emitting greenhouse gases correlating with its overall environmental impact.

Availability

Aggregate resources are very abundant and readily available throughout Earth’s surface. It can be found in riverbeds, roadbeds, quarries and pit mines.

Cement also has excellent availability of resources that can be found all over the world; however, the process of making it requires high temperatures to melt particular kinds of rocks together and emit greenhouse gases.

Concrete is made by mixing cement with water and aggregate, so it usually has a very similar availability depending on what type of aggregate is used for construction purposes. One benefit to concrete is that the production only emits greenhouse gasses when mixed with water, but these emissions typically stop after it solidifies.

Ease of manufacturing

Aggregate is held together just by forces between each other and gravity, so no binding agents such as covalent or ionic molecular bonding are required.

Cement production requires heating specific rocks up extremely high in temperatures, which requires intense heat to occur, making it difficult for production.

Concrete Basildon is the main building material in the town. It is made by mixing materials with water and aggregate, which are the most common elements on Earth, so no specific or difficult processes are required to manufacture concrete.

Price

Aggregate typically has a lower price than cement because the only ingredients within it are rocks separated from each other by gravity which doesn’t require much effort when mining them.

Cement is more expensive than aggregate because of all the energy used to produce it by heating rocks up extremely hot, which is why it emits greenhouse gasses during this process.

Concrete also has similar prices to aggregates, depending on what kind of aggregate is used in the mixture. It can be made with less expensive aggregate materials, but it typically has the same price as aggregates, if not more costly.

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