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Background on Aggregates

Crushed aggregate provide needed bulk to concrete mixes to enable them to harden into materials capable of withstanding immense weight and virtually all forces of nature. Crushed aggregate accounts for approximately 60 to 75 percent of the volume of ready-mix concrete and dramatically affect the properties of the mix. For this reason, CEMEX produces a wide range of aggregate types, including sand, gravel and crushed rock, in an equally wide range of sizes and colors to meet construction project needs.

Aggregates—an indispensable ingredient

Ready-mix concrete, hot mix asphalt, mortar and many construction materials utilize aggregates as a key ingredient. Aggregates not only increase strength, but can also make the mixes more compact, decreasing permeability making them more weatherproof, and modify heat retention values. These characteristics make aggregates an indispensable ingredient in the construction and maintenance of highways, walkways, parking lots, airport runways and railways. Indeed, the design phase of most construction projects generally requires close scrutiny to the sourcing of aggregates including type, size and material properties of the aggregates needed at various stages of the building process.

For more information about how aggregates are extracted, view our animated process »

Beyond Construction— other uses for crushed aggregate

From natural gravel-lined flower beds, to sand traps on golf courses, crushed aggregate provides many solutions beyond construction of buildings and roadways. Aggregates such as natural gravel and crushed stone provide for drainage, water filtration and erosion control. Aggregates also serve as fill material in site preparation and embankment projects. Sand is used to create and restore beaches, playing field surfaces, racetracks and other recreational facilities.

Aggregates and sustainability

CEMEX constantly strives to find new ways to use aggregates to improve drainage, heat absorption and other forces that impact the environment. For example, pervious concrete combines a specialized mix of cement, gravel and sand to create a paving material that allows rainwater to filter through the pavement to reduce space needed for retention ponds, replenish surficial water tables and reduce flooding. Pervious concrete also reduces the amount of heat retained in the concrete, and helps reduce the “urban heat island” effect, which causes temperatures in heavily paved areas to rise above surrounding areas as the sun’s heat is absorbed.

To learn more about our sustainable products and initiatives, visit our sustainable construction section.