Determining the specific gravities of coarse aggregates utilizing vacuum saturation approach

Document Type


Publication Date



The current method of specific gravity and absorption of coarse aggregate testing is based on the AASHTO T 85 and ASTM C-127 standards. This approach involves the soaking of the coarse aggregate samples for 15h (AASHTO T 85) and 24 ± 4 h (ASTM C-127), and drying the aggregate to its saturated-surface dry (SSD) state with the aid of a dry absorbent cloth. The attainment of the SSD condition of the coarse aggregate is very subjective, and the total test duration makes it inconvenient for use in construction quality control and quality assurance testing (QC/QA). The objective of this paper is to determine the specific gravity and absorption of coarse aggregates using a new proposed approach utilizing vacuum saturation. In lieu of the conventional soaking period of 24 ± 4 h, this proposed research approach employs the use of 10, 20 and 30 min of vacuum saturation at 30 mm Hg (4.0 kPa) pressure. In this paper, the soaking time is 24 ± 4 h for all the AASHTO method. It is also believed that the 24 ± 4 h shall give better soaking and therefore more accurate test results would be achieved. Vacuum saturating the coarse aggregates aims at removing all the entrapped air within the sample mass, in addition to forcing water into the effective pores of the coarse aggregates. This method is applied to a wide range of coarse aggregates including trap rock, limestone, gravel, steel slag, crushed concrete, and the results are compared statistically with those of AASHTO T 85. Results from the experiments indicate that the vacuum saturation method can replace the AASHTO T 85 for coarse aggregate specific gravity testing at 10, 20 or 30 min of vacuum saturation. A significant finding was that the AASHTO T 85 underestimates the full absorption potential of highly absorptive aggregates when compared to this proposed vacuum saturation approach. © 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Publication Title

Construction and Building Materials