Futures and Education
Aggregates in our Communities
Concrete has rapidly become the building material of choice in the modern age due to the flexibility during the pouring process, and durability of the product. It can be reinforced and moulded to create curves and aesthetically elements while maintaining strength and stability. Aggregates are critical in providing not only the substance and strength for concrete mix, but also the solid foundations concrete must anchor to.
Aggregates are required during site preparation, construction or completion for the infrastructure that surrounds us in our communities. Aggregates are essential to our daily life from buildings, to less well known applications like water filtration systems. Currently, the aggregate industry is a major contributor to the provincial and regional economies.
Advancements in Technology and Aggregates
There is a major, continuous demand for building products that are strong, durable, affordable and easy to produce. Technology and the integration of new materials into conventional building aggregates, and how they are applied, have created new ways in which sand, stone, gravel, concrete and asphalt are essential.
Acrylic and latex polymers in concrete
One of the biggest impacts in the industry has been the introduction of acrylic and latex polymers into concrete. Acrylic polymers improve adhesion to old surfaces and reduce the permeability, minimizing the intrusion of chlorides, salts and carbon dioxide. In addition, they increase the flexural and tensile strength, widen the freeze and thaw durability and make the product substantially more abrasion resistant. Latex polymers are more commonly found in patching materials, grouts, plaster and impermeable toppings for road surfaces.
New Methods of Sorting Aggregate Material
The newer methods of sorting aggregate material has also been an important component to the advancement of construction techniques, especially over the last 20 years. Screening machinery and sorting methods have resulted in a new generation of aggregate products, opening the door for more diverse applications and giving product developers more to choose from. It has also created more employment opportunities as the industry expands into areas far outside of it’s original mine, quarry, sort and supply operation.
The new technologies, methods and product applications have generated the development of a more diverse skillset for the aggregate industry. There are tremendous opportunities for long and meaningful careers in research and development, operations, logistics, technicians, mechanics, machine operators and support staff.
Aggregates and Architecture
The advancement of technology has given architects the ability to design and build structures that would not have been possible 75 years ago. In the late 1940’s the legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed a series of controversial support columns for the S C Johnson Company Administration Building that the government forced them to test, subjecting them to load tests that far exceeded the engineered loads. The reason they worked so well – good design and a new generation of additives in the concrete.