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Effect of Fineness of Sand on the Cost and Properties of Concrete

Prashant Agrawal, QC Manager, HCC Ltd. Dr. Y.P. Gupta, Materials Consultant, BCEOM-LASA JV,
Suryakanta Bal, QC Engineer, HCC Ltd. Allahabad Bypass Project, Allahabad, UP.

The grading and maximum size of aggregates is important parameters in any concrete mix. They
affect relative proportions in mix, workability, economy, porosity and shrinkage of concrete etc.
Experience has shown that very fine sands or very coarse sands are objectionable the former is
uneconomical, the latter gives harsh unworkable mixes. Thus the object in this paper is to find the
best fineness modulus of sand to get the optimum grading of combined aggregate (all-inaggregate), which is most suitable, and for economy. In general, the grading of aggregates, which
do not have a deficiency or excess of any size of aggregate and give a smooth grading curve,
produce the most suitable concrete mix. Further a cohesive mix is also desired for the pumped
concrete produced by RMC Plant. In the present investigations, effect of the grading of river sand
particles has been investigated for a good Concrete mix. Sand has been sorted in three categories
i.e. Fine, Medium, and Coarse. These were mixed with coarse aggregate in different proportions so
as to keep the combined Fineness Modulus (all-inaggregate) more or less the same. Various
proportions of such aggregate are mixed in preparing M 30 grade of Concrete mix. Effect is studied
on concrete workability, cube strength, flexural strength and permeability. The results indicate that
with the change in fineness of sand, workability gets affected. The details of findings and its effect
on compressive and flexural strength and permeability, influencing durability are reported in this
paper.
Introduction
Fineness Modulus is a term used as an index to the fineness or coarseness of aggregate. This is
the summation of cumulative percentage of materials retained on the standard sieves divided by
100. It is wellknown that aggregate plays an important role in achieving the desired properties of
concrete. Though, aggregate constitute 80 to 90% of the total volume of concrete, yet very
littleattention is given in controlling the grading and surface texture of aggregate to optimize the
properties of concrete. Improper blend of aggregate influences the cement and water demand for
a given concrete mix and affects workability, compactibility, and cohesion characteristics of
pumpable concrete mix. It also influences the compressive strength, flexural strength and other
properties like permeability & durability of concrete.

Review of Provisions in Different Specifications


IS 383: "Specifications for Coarse and Fine Aggregates from Natural Sources for Concrete." This
publication deals with specifications for Coarse and Fine aggregates from natural sources for
Concrete. These specifications do not specify any limit for fineness modulus to be used in concrete.
It divides the sand in four zones i.e. from Zone I to Zone IV. Zone ISand being very coarse and
Zone 4 sand is very fine. It is generally recommended by code to use sands of zones I to Zone III
for
Structural
concrete
works.
AASTHO Designation: M6-93- "Standard Specification for Fine Aggregate For Portland Cement
Concrete"- It indicates that the fineness modulus of sand will not be less than 2.3 and nor more
than 3.1. Further, fine aggregate failing to meet the fineness modulus requirement as above may
be accepted, provided concrete made with similar fine aggregate from the same source has an
acceptable performance record in similar concrete construction; or in absence of a demonstrable
service record, provided, it is demonstrated that concrete of the class specified, made with the fine
aggregate under consideration, will have relevant properties at least equal to those of concrete
made with the same ingredients, with the exception that a reference fine aggregate be used which
is selected from a source having an acceptable performance record in similar concrete
construction.
ASTM Designation: C33-93- standard specification for concrete aggregates"The fine aggregate
shall have not more than 45% passing any sieve and retained on the next consecutive sieve and
its fineness modulus will not be less than 2.3 and not more than 3.1. Rest is the same as for
AASTHO
M6-93.
U.S.B.R: The code has specified that the fineness modulus of sand shall not be less than 2.50 and
not more 3.0.
Experimental Investigation

In the present investigations, the effect of Fineness Modulus of sand has been investigated. The
Fine aggregate (Sand) taken is Yamuna river sand and coarse aggregate taken is Dolomite
limestone in crushed form. It has been sorted in several categories starting the Fineness Modulus
(FM) of sand from 2.0 to 3.0. These were mixed in different proportions to get a consistent

combined FM. The combined FM is determined like All-in-aggregate FM. In the present study we
have selected M30 Grade of concrete mix. To find out the effect of fineness modulus (FM) of sand
on concrete, sand of different FM from 2.0 to 3.0 is chosen. Two sizes of coarse aggregate
particles: i.e. 20 & 10 mm, which are generally used in standard concrete mix, were chosen for the
investigations.
Concrete

Mix

Concrete

Grade

Water-Cement
OPC

Aggregate

Aggregate

(350

Ratio

plasticizer

Yamuna

Coarse

0.45

grade

Cement
Super

M30
:

53

to

Admixture:

River

Kg)

5.52

(as
Sand

required)
(Average

777Kg)

Aggregate:

Crushed
The

Ratio

Cement:

Fine

Selected:

Stone
material

Dolomite;
(Average

properties

are

given

1155Kg)
in

Table

1.

When we choose very fine sand (i.e. FM 2.0), and very coarse sand (i.e. of FM 3.0), and if the
proportion of sand is fixed in the mix then due to poor all-inaggregate grading, the mix may
become very harsh or not give correct results. So in present study proportions of coarse aggregate
and fine aggregate, are slightly adjusted in the mixes to keep allin- aggregate grading within
envelope of desired all-inaggregate grading given in IS: 383. The FM of combined mix is kept in
range

of

4.94

to

4.97

as

seen

from

Table

2.

In this study water-cement ratio (W/C) of mix is kept constant for all the trial mixes with sand of
different fineness modulus. Workability of mix is also fixed in range of 45 to 55 mm slump. Since
mix with so different fineness modulus of sand, will result in different water demands, so
watercement ratio is kept constant and to adjust workability slight adjustments in admixture
dosages has been made. Various proportions of such ingredients are mixed in laboratory mixer of
0.1 capacity for preparing M30 grade of Concrete mix. Cubes (150 x 150 x 150 mm size), cylinders
(150 x 150 mm height) and beams (150 x 150 x 700 mm length) are cast. Effect of varying FM
of sand is studied on concrete density, workability, compressive strength, flexural strength and
permeability.
Observations & Discussion of Results
Table 3 gives the total observations recorded during the experimental investigations. Effect on
Workability, Density, Strength, and Permeability due to variations in FM of sand is discussed here.
A. Workability of Concrete Mix: The workability of concrete mix was measured with the help of 300
mm standard size slump cone. A little amount of admixture dose was added to concrete mix. Each
time concrete mix was examined for the behavior in slump, segregation and Bleeding etc. The
slump observed was about 50 mm in all cases. No segregation or bleeding was observed in the
mix.

Figure 1, shows the type of slump observed. The results indicate that with the increase in fineness
modulus of sand, water demand in the mix got affected consequently workability gets affected.
Since water-cement ratio is kept constant, so to keep workability in the same range of 50 mm,
admixture dosages were varied. The admixture dosages reduced considerably as fineness of sand
increases as shown in Figure 2. The Figure 2 shows that:

Admixture Dosage reduced from 1.0 percent to 0.2 percent as sand fineness modulus
increases from 2.0 to 3.0.

For Every 5% increase in FM of sand, admixture dosage reduced by 0.1%.

Effect of Fineness of Sand on Density of Concrete


After measuring the slump, several 150 mm cubes were filled. These were cured in water tank for
28 days. After curing, each cube was weighed using electronic balance and density of concrete was
calculated. The variation of density with FM of sand is shown in Figure 3 for different cases. From
this figure, it is evident that there is slight increase in density i.e. 0.80 to 1.20 percent, when
fineness modulus increases from 2.0 to 3.0.
Effect of Fineness of Sand on Compressive Strength of Concrete

Cubes of 150 mm were tested for compressive strength at 7 and 28 days. This compressive
strength is given in table 3 for varying FM of sand. The variation is shown in Figure 4. The figure
indicates that:

As fineness modulus of sand changes from 2.0 to 2.5 there is an increase in compressive
strength from 43.07 to 49.00 MPa. i.e. strength increases by 14%. On the other hand by
increasing Fineness Modulus from 2.5 to 3, Compressive strength increases from 49.00 to

56.83 MPa resulting in 16% increase in strength.


For Every 0.1 increase in FM of sand from 2.0 to 3.0, 28 days Compressive Strength increases
by 2.5 to 3.0%.
7 days compressive strength also increases in the similar proportion.
There is faster increase in strength towards coarser side of sand.

Effect of Fineness of Sand on Flexural Strength of Concrete


Flexural strength is calculated from 28 days testing of beam of size 150x150x700 mm by using
following

formula.

Flex. Strength = P x 1000 x L / [b x d x d], for a > 200 mm but less than 200 mm
=

(3000

Result

a)

(b

is

d),

for

discarded

>

170

when

mm
a

but

less

>

than
170

200

mm
mm

Where,
b
d

=
=

width

depth

of

of
sample

sample
at

the

beam
point

of

(150
failure

(1500

mm).
mm).

a = distance between the line of fracture and the nearest support (recorded for each sample after
test).
P
L

=
=

total

support

failure
length

of

specimen

Load.
(600

mm).

The variation of flexural strength with respect to different parameters is also given in Figure 4.
This figure indicates the following:

As fineness modulusincreases from 2.0 to 2.5 there is an increase in 28 days flexural strength
from 3.82 to 4.25 MPa i.e. strength increases by 11.25%. On the other hand by increasing
Fineness Modulus from 2.5 to 3, the strength increases from 4.25 to 4.81 MPa resulting in

13.1% increase in strength.


For Every 0.1 increase in FM of sand from 2.0 to 3.0, Flexural Strength increases by 2.1 to

.5%
The increase in strength is more towards coarser side of sand.

Effect of Fineness of Sand on Permeability of Concrete

Permeability of concrete is determined by using cylinder specimen having 150 mm diameter and
160 mm height. They were applied water pressure of 7 Kg/ cm 2 for 96 hours in the Permeability
Apparatus

shown

in

Figure

5.

Immediately after 96 hours cylinders were split under line load test. The depth of penetration of
water in cylinder was measured as well as volume of water lost is recorded.
The results are interpreted as:
1. Average depth of water penetration in cylinder is measured
2. Coefficient of permeability is calculated as volume of water lost divided by volume of concrete
penetrated with water i.e.
Permeability coefficient = vol. of water lost / (Area of cylinder x Average depth of concrete having
effect

of

penetration

of

water).

The Permeability Coefficient of concrete Vs FM of sand is plotted in figures 6. It is seen from figure
that permeability coefficient is more or less constant with respect to fineness of sand. Thus FM of
sand has very little impact on Permeability Coefficient of Concrete and the value remains more or
less constant.
Failure Pattern of Beams & Cubes

1. It is generally seen that the failure occurs at the interface of aggregate and mortar.
2. In flaky aggregate, some voids are observed at the interface of concrete and mortar.
Elongated aggregate pieces are broken.
3. Mortar matrix isgenerally crushed.
Cost Benefit Ratio

Cost of Concrete mix per is calculated on the basis of unit cost of each ingredient material in the
mix. The following market rates have been taken for Cement, Sand, Coarse aggregate, Admixture
and a nominal cost for water. No labor cost has been added in the calculation as it will remain
constant.
Cement:
Sand*

Rs.
:

Rs.

0.30

Coarse

to

4.25

Rs.

0.32

Aggregate:

Admixture:

per

Kg

(depending

Rs.

Rs.

Water:

per
Fineness

0.75
40.00

Rs.

upon

Kg

per
per

0.10

per

of

Sand)
Kg
Kg
Kg.

* Rate of Sand for FM 2.0 to 2.3 is Rs. 0.30 per Kg, for FM 2.4 to 2.7 is Rs. 0.31 per Kg, and for F.
M. 2.8 to 3.0 Rs. 0.32 per Kg. The variation of rate of sand depends on market which can have
much
more
difference.
The quantities of ingredients for one of concrete are given in table 4 (a). Cost of concrete is
calculated by taking above rates and quantities given in table 4 (a). On the basis of cost calculated
for concrete and the corresponding 28 day compressive strength, the cost benefit ratio is
calculated as follows. This is given in Table 4 (b)
a.

Cost of concrete is calculated in terms of quantity of material used & market rates as given
above.

b.

Cost Benefit Ratio is calculated as:

C/B

ratio

Total

cost

of

Concrete/28

days

Compressive

Strength

A curve has been plotted between FM of sand Vs C/B Ratio as shown in Figure 6. From this graph,
it is seen that C/B ratio reduces considerably as the FM of sand increases. From FM varying from
2.0 to 3.0 the C/B ratio reduces by 71%. Thus, it is advisable to use coarser sand in Concrete.
Conclusion
Fineness Modulus of Sand affects Compressive and flexural strength of Concrete. Sand, with higher
FM, results in higher strength of concrete. It is evident by cost benefit ratio that overall concrete

mix is becoming economical if we use sand with higher FM. The results indicate that with the
increase in FM, workability gets affected considerably. The cement demand also gets modified.
Some of the observations are given below:

Fineness Modulus has larger impact on 28 days Compressive & Flexural Strength.
Fineness Modulus has very little impact on Permeability of Concrete. Permeability coefficientis
changed by about 2% for FM from 2.0 to 3.0.

Fineness Modulus also affects the density of concrete. It increases by about 2.3% as the FM
increases from 2.0 to 3.0. Optimum value of density and other parameters are obtained when

FM is 2.8.
The optimum value of strength can be taken when workability of concrete is also good. It is

obtained when Fineness Modulus is about 2.7.


The net cost of Concrete reduces when FM of sand increases. It reduces by about 6.5% for an

increase of FM from 2.0 to 3.0.


As the fineness modulus of Sand increases, the Cost/Benefit Ratio reduce by a very large
factor. This is 29% when FM changes from 2.0 to 3.0. That means we can get large advantage
by using concrete having Coarse Sand.

A well adjusted grading (all-inaggregate) of concrete mix is also suitable for pumped concrete
produced through RMC Plant. This is achieved by using a sand having FM of around 2.5.