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Construction and Building Materials 40 (2013) 11681173

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Construction and Building Materials

journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/conbuildmat

Production of recycled sand from construction and demolition waste

C. Ulsen a, H. Kahn a,, G. Hawlitschek a, E.A. Masini a, S.C. Angulo b, V.M. John c

Department of Mining and Petroleum Engineering, Polytechnic School, University of Sao Paulo. Av. Prof. Mello Moraes, 2373, CEP 05508-030 So Paulo, SP, Brazil
Institute for Technological Research. Av. Prof. Almeida Prado, 532, CEP 05508-901 So Paulo, SP, Brazil
Department of Construction Engineering, Polytechnic School, University of Sao Paulo. Av. Prof. Almeida Prado, 83, CEP 05508-900 So Paulo, SP, Brazil

a r t i c l e

i n f o

Article history:
Available online 14 March 2012
Recycled sand production
Construction and demolition waste
Mineral processing

a b s t r a c t
Existing construction waste recycling technologies and standards have long been applied in construction
and demolition waste recycling. However, they have been essentially focused on the production and use
of coarse recycled aggregates. This paper presents a technology that permits the production of high quality recycled sand. The selective removal with a vertical impact crusher of the cement paste attached to
recycled aggregates and the potential improvements in the quality of the recycled sand that is produced
were investigated. The results showed that the proposed method permitted the production of low-porosity sand from construction and demolition waste and may contributes to changing the construction recycling model.
2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction
The composition of construction and demolition waste (CDW) is
dictated by different construction types and their components; in
general, CDW is composed of concrete, asphalt, brick and ceramic
materials [1]. The problems related to waste dumping have dramatically increased with the growth and development of large cities. In the UK, for example, over 50% of landll waste comes from
construction use [2] and the US alone produces around 200
300 million tons of CDW annually [3]. The exhaustion of natural
sand deposits close to large urban centers necessitates the initiative to use CDW as a potential raw material.
Previous studies have shown that the ne fraction (particles
below 4.8 mm) represents about 50% of the weight of the crushed
C&D waste in coarse recycled aggregates production [4]. For a
long time, the ne fraction was disregarded or used as a road
pavement base because it was believed to have low quality
properties. However, regardless of any limitations that may exist,
the use of recycled aggregates in concrete will be essential in the
very near future [5]. As well, recent studies have shown that ne
fraction properties are not that different from coarse fraction
properties, and can even be improved with appropriate processing
[6]. Experimental tests have shown the viability of the partial
replacement of natural sand by crushed bricks in the mortar
production [5,7].
Corresponding author. Address: Departamento de Engenharia de Minas e de
Petrleo da Escola Politcnica da USP, Av. Prof. Mello Moraes, 2373, CEP 05508-030,
So Paulo, SP, Brasil. Tel.: +55 11 3091 5151; fax: +55 11 3091 6037.
E-mail addresses: carina@lct.poli.usp.br (C. Ulsen), henrique.kahn@poli.usp.br
(H. Kahn), gustav@lct.poli.usp.br (G. Hawlitschek), eamfsini@usp.br (E.A. Masini),
scangulo@ipt.br (S.C. Angulo), john@poli.usp.br (V.M. John).
0950-0618/$ - see front matter 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

The quality of the recycled aggregate is strictly related to the

content of porous and low strength phases as well as the patches
of cement that remain attached to the recycled aggregate. This
phase accounts for the increase in water absorption, which lengthens mixing time and affects the strength of the recycled aggregates
[5], in particular in replacement of virgin aggregates over 1520%
of coarse (op. cit.) or ne aggregates [8].
The specic surface area directly inuences water demand and
consequently increases cement consumption in a set water/cement
ratio [2]. If the same cement ratio is maintained, the free water in
the cement paste rises and there is an increase in porosity [5]. Krus
et al. [9] explained this by considering that water is a strong polar
liquid and can thus slip between the mineral layers of the cement
paste and widen the distances between them, allowing new pore
spaces to be created.
The removal of adhered cement paste is a crucial factor for
aggregate performance, and this is not a simple task. The literature
shows that it can be achieved by successive comminution stages
[10], thermal treatments [11,12] or electrical discharge [13,14].
However, so far, none of these technologies have actually managed
to reach the large available market.
Mineral processing has been long applied to CDW recycling,
although few authors focus on the production of recycled sand.
On the other side, the production of sand from crushed stone (articial sand) has been conducted for over a decade by vertical shaft
impactors (VSIs). This equipment consists of a rotor revolving at
high speed. The rotor centrifugally throws the material into the
crushing chamber where the comminution occurs by rock-on-rock
impact, attrition and abrasion [15]. The main advantage of the VSI
crusher is its ability to produce cubic particles in all size fractions,
contributing to a better aggregate morphology [16,17].

C. Ulsen et al. / Construction and Building Materials 40 (2013) 11681173


Regarding the use of VSI, some operational advantages deserve

to be mentioned here: control of product size distribution by rotor
rotation [17]; low labor costs; the fact that it does not crush the
nes; and consumption of 6% less energy than the conic crusher
for the same feed rate [18]. The rotation (rotor speed) is the parameter that mostly inuences the shape, size distribution and porosity of aggregate particles [17].
The selective removal of the cement paste attached to recycled
aggregates by a vertical impact crusher and the potential improvement in the quality of the recycled sand produced were investigated. The main properties of recycled aggregates are discussed
and compared to the previous C&D waste.

2. Experimental
2.1. Sampling
The investigation was carried out on C&D waste from Urbem Tecnologia Ambiental, a private recycling plant located in the city of Sao Bernardo do Campo in the
Sao Paulo metropolitan region in Brazil. The composition of the waste was basically
low and medium-strength concrete (around 80%) and masonry.
The operational owsheet of the plant is summarized in Fig. 1. It consists of a
vibrating grizzly to remove the fractions below 4.8 mm before crushing (C&D sand
fraction), comminution by impact crusher, magnetic separation to remove the
remaining steel bars, and nally, a two-deck screen to perform the dry sieving
and grading of the products into three size fractions: <6.3 mm, 6.339 mm and
39150 mm. The organic materials such as paper, wood, plastic and others are removed from the mineral fraction by hand sorting, either before or after crushing.
The attained products are commercialized for base pavement applications; fraction
<4.8 mm have limited marked and sometimes are sent to landll.
The sampling procedure was replicated twice a week for 60 randomly selected
days. The samples were collected at the four product stock piles in the same proportions as they are produced (2:5:2:3 as shown in the owsheet). An average sample
of the four products was composed by mixing all aliquots (Urbem CDW). The total
mass collected was about 4 tons.
The experimental owsheet is shown in Fig. 2 and described below, as are the
characterization procedures.

2.2. Crushing
The total sample (about 4 tons) was comminuted in a laboratory jaw crusher
with a closed circuit screen to obtain a product below 19 mm (3/400 ), which was
homogenized by horizontal elongated piles [19]. A secondary sampling was performed for the attainment of three representative and equal aliquots.
Each aliquot (below 19 mm) was crushed by a vertical shaft impact crusher
(VSI) at different rotor speeds, respectively 55, 65 and 75 m/s, with a closed circuit
with a 3 mm aperture screen. The tests were conducted on a Barmac 3000 at the
Metso Process Technology Centre in the city of Sorocaba, So Paulo, Brazil.

Fig. 2. Laboratory procedure.

2.3. Products characterization

The characterization procedure was conducted on the head sample (<19 mm),
on CDW-sand (fractions <3 mm obtained by the head sample sieving) and on the
VSI products.
The main parameters to be characterized were particle size distribution, particle shape, chemical composition, cement paste content, distribution in density classes from heavy liquid separation, water absorption, specic surface area and
porosity. The objective of the product characterization was to compare the main
properties of the recycled sand with the previous C&D waste.
Particle size distribution was determined by wet sieving for more accurate results. The objective was to evaluate VSI conditions and the amount of nes generated below 0.15 and 0.074 mm and to also make a comparison to the original CDW
sand fraction.
The particles shape was evaluated with dynamic image analysis on a QICPIC real
time particle analyzer (Sympatec) to assess the inuence of the attrition and abrasion crushing on particle sphericity as well as to compare the effects of the rotor
The chemical analyses were carried out by quantitative X-ray uorescence at a
Axios spectrometer (PANalytical) in fused beads and the loss on ignition was assayed at 1050 C.
The distribution in density classes was performed by heavy liquid separation.
The procedure consists of placing a sample in a heavy density organic liquid. In this
situation, the light particles oat and the heavy particles sink, which separates particles with different porosity and oven-dry density, parameter that inuences the
mechanical properties of the aggregates [20].
The measurement of the water absorption for ne aggregates is usually performed according to ASTM C 129. However, the standard method has long been criticized since the remains of cement paste affect the results of the experiments that
were designed for ordinary natural aggregate [2]. Water absorption was thus measured according to the methodology proposed by Daminelli [21]. This methodology
consists of saturating the pores with water using a vacuum system and then drying
the sample with a microwave. The loss of weight has to be measured constantly.
Graphing the drying rate versus time and the drying rate versus moisture allows
the parameters to be determined for calculating water absorption, such as dry mass,
saturated surface dry mass and mass under water.
Scanning electron microscopy (SEM; Quanta 600 FEG, FEI) coupled with an energy disperse spectrometer (EDS; Quantax, Bruker) was used to characterize the
phases association through backscattered images and X-ray digital mapping for
the major elements (Si, Al, Fe, Na, K, Ca).

3. Results and discussion

3.1. Effect on particle size distribution

Fig. 1. Flowsheet of Urbem recycling plant.

The particle size distributions of the characterized products are

shown in Fig. 3.


C. Ulsen et al. / Construction and Building Materials 40 (2013) 11681173

The CDW head sample represents the aggregates after the second crushing stage at Urbem recycling plant (crushed < 19 mm).
Around 50% of this products weight is below 4.8 mm (sand fraction) and 6% is below 0.15 mm. Regarding just the fraction bellow
3 mm of head sample, named as CDW-sand, it has 15% of its weight
below 0.15 mm.
The comminution of the CDW head sample in a vertical shaft
impactor (VSI) at three different rotor speeds produced sand with
similar grading (Fig. 3), and featured a subtle decrease in the ne
fraction percentage at the lowest speed. Furthermore, the VSI tertiary crushing did not noticeably increase the amount of nes, so it
can be concluded that the sand produced by tertiary crushing at
VSI has quite a similar size distribution to the CDW-sand fraction
(Fig. 3).
3.2. Shape analysis
The shape analysis results of VSI products and the CDW-sand
fraction are summarized by the frequency of particles with certain
EQPC (diameter of a circle of equal perimeter) for each class of
sphericity. Comparative results are shown in Fig. 4.
Since the sphericity of particles for the three crushing conditions is very similar, the effects of rotor speed on the VSI crushed
sand are very subtle. On the other hand, the sphericity of CDWsand is rather different from the VSI crushed sand. In conclusion,
rock-on-rock crushing improved the morphology of recycled sand
as compared to the sand fraction from C&D waste. However, the rotor speed did not greatly inuence particle shape.
3.3. Chemical composition of the main oxides
The composition of fractions of the recycled aggregates above
0.15 mm is represented mainly by silica (6575%), calcium oxide
(711%), alumina (610%) and iron oxide (around 2.5%). Loss on
ignition is around 6 to 9% on average. Minor compounds are
Na2O (0.52%), K2O (1.53%) and MgO (12%). Adding together
the SiO2, Al2O3, Fe2O3, CaO and LOI grades exceed 90% of the total
composition. The fractions bellow 0.15 mm represents between
15% (CDW-sand) and 20% (VSI-sand) of the total weight and has
a different composition with a remarkable decreasing on silica content (4853%) and increasing on calcium oxide (1517%) and LOI
The sum of the silica, alumina and iron oxide grades can be correlated to the content of silicates from natural rock phases, sand
and ceramics while the sum of the grades of calcium oxide and
the loss on ignition is directly related to the binder content [4].

Fig. 3. Particle size distribution of each product. CDW head sample; CDW-sand
fraction <4.8 mm from the head sample, VSI-55, 65, 75 sand produced from
tertiary crushing by VSI crusher in different rotor speed.

Fig. 4. Sphericity classes of recycled sand from CDW; absolute and cumulative
frequency of particles.

The comparative analysis of the content and distribution of

CaO + LOI for fractions above 0.15 mm for each product is shown
in Fig. 5. Distribution means the proportion of some compound
in such a fraction or product in relation to the total content of
the whole sample.
In this sense, almost 90% of the total content of CaO + LOI is presented at a fraction above 0.15 mm for the CDW head sample,
while the sand fraction for the same product represents 87% of
the total CaO + LOI. For VSI crushed sand, the amount of the same
phase is reduced to values of 67.662.5% for the same fractions.
These results are consistent with the previous ones and show
that the cement paste concentrates at the ne fractions. Moreover,
the distribution curve decreases more abruptly than the mass distribution, indicating an enrichment of cement paste for ne fractions. The crushing rotor speed did not have a crucial inuence
on chemical composition; the results for the three speed rotor tests
were quite similar.
The relative proportion of quartz and aluminum silicates (mainly
feldspar) can be seen in the ratio between the SiO2/(K2O + Na2O)
grades, as presented in Figs. 6 and 7. The quartz is related to sand
and crushed stone while the aluminum silicates (mainly feldspar)
originate from crushed stone (essentially granite).
The results of the head sample (Fig. 6) indicate a remarkable increase of quartz grades in fractions of between 2.0 and 0.15 mm.
The increase in Na2O + K2O grades in relation to SiO2 highlight that

Fig. 5. Comparative weight, CaO + LOI grades and distribution. Grade (or content) is
the percentage weight of each constituent; distribution means the proportion
(percentual values) of each constituent in such fraction or product.

C. Ulsen et al. / Construction and Building Materials 40 (2013) 11681173


Fig. 8. Comparative weight percentage of sink product.

Fig. 6. Relative proportion between quartz and aluminum silicates of CDW.

Fig. 7. Relative proportion between quartz and aluminum silicates for CDW-sand
and VSI-sand.

VSI-sand (Fig. 7) incorporates aluminum silicates from the coarse

aggregates during the comminution process.
Regarding the sand produced by VSI crushing (Fig. 7), the rotor
speed also appears to affect the ratio between quartz and other silicates. On fractions above 0.30 mm, the SiO2/Na2O + K2O ratio
clearly shows that the quartz content decreases inversely to the rotor speed and then the aluminum silicates content increases. This
behavior indicate a selective comminution of the binder phase
(quartz plus cement paste) the higher the rotor speed.
In conclusion, the content of cement paste diminishes in fractions below 1.2 mm and above 0.15 mm and increases noticeably
in fractions below 0.15 mm, indicating that the cement paste tends
to concentrate in the nest fraction sizes. The crushing of CDW below 3.0 mm leads to a recycled aggregate relatively enriched in
aluminum silicates content when compared to the CDW-sand.
Moreover, the faster the VSI rotor speed the higher the grade of
aluminum silicates on fractions down to 0.30 mm. The fraction bellow 0.15 mm is enriched on cement paste, its application on cement industry has been previous mentioned [22] and must be
investigated since it represents around 20% of the sample weight.
3.4. Density separation
For size fractions above 0.15 mm, the comparative weight percentage of the sink products from the mineral separation in density

Fig. 9. Comparative weight distribution on sink product, associated content (grade)

and distribution (proportion) of CaO + LOI in each product.

of 2.60 g/cm3 is shown in Fig. 8, while the comparative grades and

distribution of CaO + LOI for these products are shown in Fig. 9.
The results of sand from tertiary crushing compared to CDW
show that the removal of cement paste is improved by VSI comminution. As well, an increase in the rotor speed of the impact crusher
from 55 to 65 m/s reduced the content of porous phase and thus
increased the distribution of the materials in the sink product (density separation of 2.60 g/cm3). However, increasing the speed from
65 to 75 m/s did not improve the quality of the product in terms of
envelop density not even for the distribution of CaO + LOI.
Moreover, the density distribution in high density products
increases for the ne fractions, as shown in Fig. 10. Again, this
conrms that the liberation between cement paste and aggregates
improves for the ne fractions with a decrease in the porous phase
3.5. Water absorption and porosity
The comparative porosity and water absorption values for each
studied sand sample are shown in Fig. 11.
Water absorption obtained from the vacuum system are higher
compared to the standards method [21] since the water is forced to
penetrate into smaller or less accessible pores, thus these values
are not comparable to the water absorption values assayed by
international standards. Apart from that, the comparative results
are very understandable.


C. Ulsen et al. / Construction and Building Materials 40 (2013) 11681173

The sand produced by VSI crushing clearly demonstrates a

decrease in water absorption values (Fig. 11b), thus indicating a
decrease in the porous phases. The crushed sand form vertical shaft
impactor presented a reduction in water absorption varying from
75% to 58% over different comminution conditions, as compared
to the original sand present in the reference C&D waste. As well,
the porosity from the CDW-sand fraction is almost double the
porosity of VSI-sand.
In conclusion, the crushing step contributes to the production of
low-porosity recycled sand.
3.6. Scanning electron microscopy

Fig. 10. Weight percentage of high density products for each size fraction.

Comparative photomicrographies from SEM-EDS of fractions of

between 1.2 and 0.60 mm are presented in Fig. 12. In the backscattered image (BSE), the lighter phase is represented by ceramic fragments and feldspar, intermediate grey by quartz and the darker
grey by cement paste. In the X-ray composed mapping, quartz is
represented by the color blue, cement paste by magenta and feldspar is orange/yellow.
In CDW-sand, cement paste occurs both by bonding small
grains of quartz (sand), or it is adhered to the particle surface.
The sand produced from crushed C&D waste has a high content
of particles made up of the fragmentation of natural aggregates
(almost free of binder); the decrease in cement paste attached to
the aggregates surface is also notable.
The aggregates with small grains of quartz (sand) observed in
the remaining CDW-sand are present in VSI-sand, indicating
that liberation/fragmentation is not properly achieved for this size
4. Conclusions

Fig. 11. Comparative porosity and water absorption.

It is important to emphasize that the sand fraction originally

present in crushed C&D waste represents around 50% of the total
waste [23]. This fraction is not preferably produced but is generated as a result of breaking C&D materials during demolition, han-

Fig. 12. Images from SEM (a) backscattered images, (b) composition mapping, and (c) Ca cement paste mapping.

C. Ulsen et al. / Construction and Building Materials 40 (2013) 11681173

dling, transportation and production of coarse recycled aggregates.

In addition, the focus on the production of recycled sand as a main
product is unusual, but the results shown herein conrm that this
approach might be interesting in diversifying the recycled products
and thus expanding the recycling market.
The grain size analysis demonstrates that it is possible to produce sand from C&D waste with similar grading of the original
sand fraction present in the total waste. As well, the rock-on-rock
comminution by vertical shaft impact crusher (VSI) improved the
morphology of recycled sand when compared to the morphology
of sand from C&D waste.
The content of cement paste can be correlated to the sum of CaO
grade and LOI values. The CDW-sand presents a higher relative
amount of cement paste in fractions above 0.15 mm as compared
to the crushed sand, indicating that comminution concentrates
the cement paste in fractions below 0.15 mm. As well, the crushing
step produces relatively enriched aluminumsilicates sand, mainly
due to the feldspars from concrete coarse aggregates.
The results of the heavy liquid separation, water absorption and
porosity clearly demonstrate the difference among the samples
and the reductions in VSI sand porosity.
A comparison among the different crushing conditions indicates
that rotor speed did not have a crucial inuence on the grading of
the recycled sand or on the shape of the particles. On the other
hand, cement paste content and distribution is inuenced by
this parameter. As well, the results of density distribution, water
absorption and porosity showed that the rotor speed also inuences the porosity of particles.
In conclusion, the comminution of C&D waste by vertical shaft
impact crusher made the production of lower porosity recycled
sand possible. The change in recycling approach contributes to
waste upcycling and encourages the use of recycled sand as a potential construction material, as a total or partial replacement of
natural sand.
Further investigations have been carried out to evaluate
the application of VSI sand in mortars and the ne fraction
(<0.15 mm) in the cement industry.

The authors gratefully acknowledge the nancial support provided by the Brazilian National Council of Technological and Scientic Development (CNPq, Process 478142/2009-9 and 550437/
2010-0), Fundao de Apoio Pesquisa no Estado de So Paulo (FAPESP, Process 2010/15543-1 and 09/54007-0) and the Polytechnic
Engineers Association (AEP). The technical support provided by
Sympatec, Urbem Tecnologia Ambiental and Metso Minerals was


also fundamental for the development of this research, and the

authors recognize its signicance.
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