HomeIndustryInfrastructure and TransportationWhy The Sand In The Desert Can't Be Used For Construction

Why The Sand In The Desert Can’t Be Used For Construction

Right now, humanity is slowly heading towards a global sand crisis used in construction and you wonder: How is this possible when there are so many deserts and they contain so much sand?

Sand is a loose, granular material composed of grains ranging in diameter from 0.0625 mm (fine sand) to 2.0 mm (coarse sand). It moves along the land surface with water, wind, or ice; it may have been transported by air, water, or ice erosion. The overwhelming majority of sand on Earth’s beaches is sand-sized particles.

Perfect Sand for Construction

perfect sand for construction why desert sand cant be used in construction
Shane McLendon / Unsplash

The ideal sand for construction is known as “sharp sand” or “construction sand” which is made up of angular grains that have been broken down from larger rocks. This type of sand is ideal for use in concrete and other building materials because the angular edges of the grains allow for better binding and a stronger final product. The sand should be clean and free of debris, heavy metals, and other pollutants.

Additionally, the size of the grains should be consistent and within the range of 0.5 to 1.5 millimeters, the sand should have good compaction and an adequate amount of fines to bind the sand particles together.

Can Desert Sand be Used or Not?

why desert sand cant be used in construction dunes
Jordan Bebek / Unsplash

The sand in the desert cannot be used for construction or buildings because it is too dry and has no binding characteristics. So it will not form a cohesive shape as concrete or even gravel does when mixed with water. Because there isn’t much moisture in the atmosphere in deserts, there are no minerals to bind with water or cement when you try to make concrete or anything that needs a binding agent.

Most importantly, the sand in the desert contains salt and other chemical agents so it will speed up the corrosion of metal objects and will react with other construction components.

In some cases, sand can be treated to meet the required criteria, but would end up being more expensive than natural sand from other sources (e.g. pit or river sand).

How Do We Dodge the Global Sand Crisis?

how can we dodge the sand crisis
Shane McLendon / Unsplash

There are a few ways to address the global sand crisis, such as reducing the demand, regulating extractions, or reusing and recycling old concrete.

One way to address the sand crisis is to reduce the demand for sand by using alternative materials in construction and manufacturing.

Governments can control sand extraction by implementing stricter laws and regulations for sand mining, including limits on the quantity of sand that can be extracted.

Encouraging the reuse and recycling of sand can help to reduce the need for new sand. This can be done by collecting and processing construction waste, and using it as a substitute for new sand in construction.

It’s important to note that handling the sand crisis will likely require a combination of different approaches and the participation of multiple stakeholders, including governments, industries, and communities.

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