Lack of Sand

Are you taking sand for granted?

It might be easy to overlook the beauty of sand, and it might also be easy to think that there is sand in abundance. Surely we, will never ever run out of the sand.

But we are running out of these little gems. If you look at grains of sand in the microscope a colourful and beautiful world emerges and each grain of sand tells a story about the Earth. Where does it come from? Where is is going?

Shell on the sand covered by the ocean waves
Shell on the sand covered by the ocean waves

Sand is used in many different products, from plastics to food and toothpaste. The construction industry has an insatiable appetite for sand which is used to make concrete. The construction of highways is another huge industry that uses an enormous amount of sand. 

Sand of originates from the mountains. The beaches in Europe are filled with grains of sand that come from the Alps of the Pyrenees. Millions of yeas of erosion have created stones and sooner or later ends up the sea. Once a stone reaches the sea  it is slowly transformed and eroded and eventually it becomes a grain of sand. Waves and tides transport the sand and it ends up on the beach.

To satisfy the demands, the attention has turned into digging for sand in the seabeds. There are several problems linked to using sand from the seabed. Firstly, valuable sea organisms live in sand,  sea turtles and small fish, and the whole ecosystem can collapse if you use this sand. Another problem is that the sand layer is often very thin. Finally, sand is constantly moving and if you dig out sand from the seabed, the howl will quickly be filled with sand take is transported via the waves and tides from the beaches. This means that the beaches will begin to shrink.

There is also sand that is regarded as bad sand since the grains are round  desert sand. A country like the United Arab Emirates has therefore bought sand from Australia to build artificial islands despite that the country is located in the desert and surrounded by sand.Thus, there is a huge demand for certain types of sand which highlight the importance of changing our perception of  sand as something that can be used endlessly.

If we continue to remove sand from the beaches, the effects of climate change will be even worse. In Indonesia, 26 islands have so far disappeared due to sand mining. So it is time to search for new materials that can be used instead of sand.

Today, the use of copper slag as a substitute for sand in the production of concrete is widespread in Singapore. This approach has opened the door to the use of both natural and non-natural aggregates. I looks like it is possible to use both recycled and waste materials instead of sand to make concrete.

You can read more about the approach used in the video below here.

 

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