Real or manufactured?
In recent years, enormous growth has been seen in the construction sector, both on the commercial and residential fronts. In any construction process, sand is an important element irrespective of the architecture or design of the building. This is an essential and basic material along with cement for mortar and concrete applications. The demand for natural sand is always on the rise and the availability of the same is not commensurate with demand. Then, there is the question of skyrocketing prices for sand in its natural form.
Sand is used as a fine aggregate in mortar and concrete. Natural river sand is the most preferred in this field. It is a product of natural weathering of rocks over a period of time.
Uncontrolled extraction of natural sand from river beds is a cause for concern among environmentalists. The protection of river beds against erosion and the need to have natural sand as a filler for ground water supplementation along with preservation of nature and biodiversity of the place calls for a suitable alternative to natural sand.
Manufactured sand (M-sand) is also called artificial sand. This is a process of opting for crushed aggregate against natural sand. This is produced by the crushing of cobble stone or other stones into sand by using a sand making machine so that the required grain size is obtained.
M-sand contains typical rock-forming material like quartz, feldspar, mica group of minerals, etc as revealed by X-ray diffraction (XRD). Rock-forming minerals like quartz, feldspar, etc are basically inert in nature. Mica group consists of muscovite, biotite, boromuscovite, etc. These minerals do not interfere in cement hydration and strength development in mortar and concrete.