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CE 303 Transportation Engineering

Highway Engineering
Lecture 11 - Road Making Aggregates
11.0 Production of Road Making Aggregates
The common aggregates used in road construction are crushed rock, stream gravel, hard core (concrete
construction debris), hard materials like broken pieces of tiles from tile industry and slag. Slag is a waste
product of pyro-metallurgical processes in metal extraction. An example is the slag generating in the
production of iron from iron ore. This lecture concentrates only on the production of crushed rock from
quarrying as practiced in Sri Lanka. Rock outcrops provide the quarry sites. The crushed stones of
required size are obtained from rock outcrops by the processes of drilling, blasting, crushing, screening
stock piling and transport.
11.1 Rock drilling
Explosives are used in rock breaking. The rock breaking process is made efficient by detonating
explosives charged in holes drilled in rock. The main action of rock drills is to provide impact, thrust and
rotation to a drill rod attached to the drill. A drill rod has a wear resistant drill bit which does the cutting
of rock. Cutting the rock and removal of the cuttings creates a hole in the rock. Fig 11.1 shows the
arrangement of a rock drill with the drill bit in a hole.

Fig. 11.1 Schematic diagram of rock drill, drill rod and drill bit

11.1.1 Drilling machines

Rock drills can be either hand held jack hammers or rig mounted. Fig 11.2(a) shows a jack hammer. Jack
hammers are light weight. They are generally employed in drilling holes up to 38 mm diameter and are
powered by compressed air. They use integral drill rods. An integral drill rod is a fixed length drill rod
which cannot be extended. To drill long holes therefore, a combination of drill rods of varying lengths up
to 3.0 m have to be used.

(a) Jack hammer

Fig. 11.2 Hand held and rig mounted drilling machines

(b) Drilling rig

Rig mounted rock drills can drill longer holes with bigger diameter. Fig 11.2 (b) shows a rig mounted
rock drill. The rig mounted rock drills can be driven by compressed air or by hydraulic power. There are
small rig mounted rock drills which can drill holes up to 50 mm. Large rig mounted rock drills can drill
holes above 100 mm. Large diameter drilling is used where large quarry production is required. The holes
can be as long as 100 m. Extension drill rods are used on drilling rigs for very long holes. The couplings
as shown in Fig 11.2 (b) couples the drilling rods forming a drill string.
The drilling machines can also be classified by their drilling actions into two main groups. Some
machines provide thrust, impact and rotation to the drill bit. They are called percussion drilling machines.
The others provide thrust and rotation only. They are called rotary drilling machines.
The drilling action crushes the rock immediately in contact with the cutting part of the drill bit by thrust,
impact and rotation. The rock cuttings are removed by flushing. Flushing is done by forcing water and/or
compressed air down the whole through the drill rods and the drill bit. The cuttings are brought out of the
hole along the annular space between the drill rod and the wall. Flushing medium also cools the bit during
drilling. Use of water in the flushing suppresses the rock dust created in the process of drilling.

11.1.2 Drill bits

There are many types of drill bit used in rock drilling. The selection mainly depends on the drilling
machine used, the diameter of the drilled holes and the required production rates. Fig 11.3 shows different
types of drill bits generally used in quarrying operations.

(a) Chisel bit

(b) Cruciform bit

(c) Diamond bit

Fig. 11.3 Commonly used rock drill bits in quarrying

(d) Button bit

A chisel bit has a single cutting edge. This is made of a hard wear resistant material. A small peace called
the insert of this material is braced in the head of the drill bit. The cutting action of the chisel bit is
illustrated in Figs 11.4. Each time the bit receives an impact from the hammer a zone of crushed rock is
created. By rotation of the bit whole bottom of the hole is crushed. Cuttings are removed b the flushing

Fig. 11.4 Cutting action of chisel bit

A cruciform bit has two inserts set at right angles. It increases the cutting (penetration) rate.
In a diamond bit industrial diamonds are impregnated into the bit head. Diamond being a hard material
rushes the rock underneath. Diamond bits efficiently perform in rotary drilling.
Button bits are produced by pressing hard wearing metal studs into the drill bit head. The cutting action of
button bit is similar to that of diamond bits. Therefore they are used in rotary drilling. Button bit
diameters range from 100 mm to 225 mm.
Load = 25 kN




Fig. 11.4 Action of roller cutters used for drilling extra large diameter holes
Drill heads with many roller cutters are used for very large diameter drilling above 225 mm up to about
1500 mm. These large diameter holes are normally used for purposes such as rock rising water mains,
drain holes and vertical and inclined excavations in underground mining. Tunnel boring machines also
use roller cutters in their boring heads, the diameter of which could go up to 6 metres. The cutting action
of a single roller is shown in Fig. 11.5.

Rock blasting

Rock blasting is the process of detonating explosives charged into holes drilled in the rock. A good
understanding of characteristics and action of explosives is necessary for efficient use as well as safety in
manufacture, storage, transport and handling.
11.2.1 Characteristics of explosives
The important characteristics of explosives can be listed as
1. Chemical stability
2. Detonation velocity
3. Cartridged density
4. Explosive power
5. Water resistance
6. Low-Temperature resistance
7. Sensitivity
8. Production of fumes.

Explosives should be chemically stable between the manufacture and use. If the explosive is even
partially altered chemically the explosion will not take place resulting in safety and operational problems.
The detonation velocity is the velocity at which the detonation wave passes through an explosive of
cartridge diameter 26 mm and initiated with a detonator of power of 8 units.
Cartridged density is the density of the explosive in a cartridge, which depends on the size grading of
solid components and type of raw materials used in the manufacture of the explosive.
Explosive power is the most interesting characteristic which determines the destructive capacity of an
explosive. Explosive power is determined by ballistic mortar method and is expressed in percentage of
pure dynamite gelatine which is assigned a value of 100.
The action of explosives can be retarded by the presence of moisture. Especially the nitrates used in
explosives are very hygroscopic. Some water resistant explosives like dynamite gelatins and watergels
behave well in humid conditions.
Though not a concern in Sri Lankan operations, explosives which freeze at relatively high temperatures
can be dangerous to handle. Explosives containing nitroglycerine freeze at temperatures below 8 C.
Sensitivity is the property which determines the possibility of transmitting the detonation from one
cartridge to another in contact with or through the medium between them.
Fumes created by an explosive are an important characteristic. Fumes cause environmental damages. Also
fumes created reduce the re-entry time after an underground blasting
11.2.2 Blasting action
An explosive should essentially contain a combustible substance and an oxygen supplier. A good example
is a mixture of carbon, sulphur and sodium nitrate in black powder. Sodium nitrate provides oxygen.
Carbon and sulphur burn in oxygen, producing large quantities of hot gases at high temperature and
pressure. These gases produced in a confined space will expand violently causing an explosion. Carbon
and sulfur do not burn spontaneously in the presence of sodium nitrate. The burning has to be initiated by
bringing in a flame close to the mixture of explosive. This process is called initiation but commonly
termed detonation. Thus plain and electric detonators which produce the flame for initial setting of the
explosives. Table 11.1 gives a list of ingredients in commercially available explosives.
Rock blasting is carried out using explosives from two or more of the types:
(a) Detonators plain or electrical
(b) High power explosives
(c) Blasting agents
Detonators are used for the initiation of an explosive charge. They are made of high heat sensitive
explosives and can be set off by fire (flame). The explosion caused by them is capable of initiating the
explosion of High explosives which are relatively low sensitive to fire but moderately sensitive to shock.
The blasting agents are the least sensitive explosives. A high explosive should be used as a primer to
initiate an explosive charge consisting of a blasting agent. The blasting agents are cheap and safe to
handle. The safest blasting agent ANFO is a mixture of ammonium nitrate and diesel fuel oil. Until
mixing the constituents remain non-explosives and are not governed by statutory explosives regulations.




(Gelignite or

Fig. 11.5 A blast hole charged with explosives

An explosive charge essentially consists of types a and b or of types a, b, and c.
The basic method of charging a blast hole with explosives is shown in the Fig. 11.5.
Table 11.1 Ingredients used in explosives
Chemical formula
Ethylene glycol dinitrate
Nitrocellulose (guncotton)
Metallic Powder
Black Powder
Pentaerythritoltetranitrate(PETN) C5H8N4O12
Lead azide
Mercury fluminate
Ammonium nitrate
Liquid oxygen
Sodium nitrate
Potassium nitrate
Ground coal
CnH2n+ 2
Fuel oil
Wood pulp
Calcium carbonate
Zinc oxide
Sodium chloride

Explosive base: lowers freezing point
Explosive base; gelatinizing agent
Explosive base
Explosive base; non headache explosives
Explosive base
Fuel-sensitizer; used in high density slurries
Explosive base; deflagrates
Explosive base; caps, detonating cord
Explosive base; used in blasting caps
Explosive base; oxygen carrier
Oxygen carrier
Oxygen carrier; reduces freezing point
Oxygen carrier
Combastible, or fuel
Combustible; absorbent
Absorbent; prevents caking
Flame depressant (permissible explosive)

11.2.3 Design of a bench blast

The design of a rock blast is normally based on empirical relationships which take into account the rock
strength, the diameter of the blast hole and the strength of the explosives used.
The layout of blast holes and the charging arrangement of explosives in the blast holes for a bench blast is
shown in Fig. 11.6.

K Vertical height of bench

B Bench width in (m)
V Practical burden (m)
E Practical hole spacing (m)
u Depth of under drilling (m)
H Length of entire hole (m)
Fig. 11.6. Design of a bench blast


Length of stemming (m)

Length of bottom charge (m)
Length of column charge (m)
Charge concentration of bottom charge (m)
Charge concentration of column charge (m)

Burden is the distance from the hole to the free face of the quarry bench.
(1) The maximum burden is given by,
Vmax = C (ground factor) x d (hole diameter in metres)


C depends on fragmentation, rock strength and the explosives used. There is no theoretical relationship to
calculate C. It is determined by trial blasting. Experience shows that C = 45. In the absence of
experimental data this value of C is sufficient for initial design. It can be later determined from trials.
(2) Underdrilling
U = 0.3 x Vmax
Underdrilling is necessary to maintain an even quarry floor.
(3) Length of a vertical hole, Fig. 11.7 (a).
H = K+u
For inclined hole, Fig. 11.7 (b)
H = (K+u) x 1.05




(a) Vertical face

Fig. 11.7 Length of blast hole

(b) Inclined face

Experience shows that a bench slope of 3 vertical to 1 horizontal gives the optimum performance of a
blast hole.
(4) Faulty drilling factor (F)
Fig. 11.8 shows the effects of faulty drilling. The faulty drilling factor allows for 5cms of setting error and
3% hole deviation.
F = 0.05 + 0.03H

Fig. 11.8 Effects of faulty drilling on burden

(5) Practical burden (V)
Leaving allowance for faulty drilling,
V = Vmax F
(6) Practical hole spacing (E)
E = 1.25 V
(7) Length of stemming (ho)
ho = Vmax
(8) Length of bottom charge (hb)
hb = 1.3 x Vmax
(9) Length of column charge (hp)
hp = H-(ho + hb)



(10) Density of bottom charge (qbk)

qbk = 1000 x d2
(d in metres)
(11) Density of column charge (qpk)
qpk = 0.5 x qbk


It is seen from Eq 11.12 that the column charge has a density half that of bottom charge. This needs deck
charging of explosives as illustrated in Fig. 11.5.

Fig. 11.9 Deck charging

11.3 Crushing
Crushing is necessary to reduce further the size of particles created by blasting. The blasting products
vary in size from large boulders to fine fragments. Large boulders are subject to secondary blasting and
the rock less than 1200mm can be reduced in size by crushing. There are three major types of crushers
and they are:
(a) Hammer mills
(b) Jaw crushers
(c) Gyratory crushers
These crushers are illustrated in Figs 11.10 to 11.12.

Fig. 11.10 Hammer mill

Fig. 11.11 Jaw crusher









Fig. 11.12 Gyratory crusher

Fig. 11.13 Screening and storage bins.

A Hammer mill consists of heavy steel hammers hung by steel chains on a rigid shaft as shown in Fig.
11.10. The assembly of shaft, chains and hammers is kept inside a closed chamber. During operations, the
shaft rotates at high speed spreading the hammers by centrifugal action. The hammers strike the feed
breaking the feed into smaller sizes.
Hammer mills are noisy. They are cheap and easy to operate. There is no control over the size of the
crushed product. However, hammer mills produce a crusher run of uniform distribution for Type 1
aggregate subbase.
Fig. 11.11 shows a diagram of a jaw crusher. The crushing action takes place between two jaws with
manganese steel liners. One jaw is fixed while the other is movable. The movable one receives
reciprocating motion by an eccentric bearing. The product size is controlled by the gap (separation)
between the two jaws at the discharge. The gap can be set to the product size requirement.
Jaw crushers are simple in construction and maintenance. The feed rates are low. They are less noisier
than hammer mills. The feed size to jaw crushers is small. Jaw crushers have more tendency to produce
flaky, elongated aggregate products as the two crushing surfaces are flat and parallel.
Gyratory crushers on the other hand have low tendency to produce flaky and elongated products. The
crushing surfaces are curved. Fig. 11.12 shows a diagram of a gyratory crusher. It consists of a conical,
suspended crushing head. The lower end of the crushing head rests in an eccentric which imparts an
eccentric motion to the head. The crushing head rotates inside a bowl. Both bowl and head are lined.
Due to the eccentric rotation of the lower end of the head the surface of the head gets gradually closer and
then away from the surface of crusher bowl. Therefore the rock feed is crushed when the two surfaces get
closer and released when they get apart. The feed undergoes different stages of crushing and size
reduction as it descends down the bowl. The product size is controlled by the gap between the bowl and
the head at discharge.
11.4 Screening and storage
The last stage of quarrying operation is screening and storage. Screening simply means sizing of the
crushed product for customer requirements. Fig. 11.13 illustrates a commonly used screening process in
quarrying. It consists of a wear resistant perforated rotating steel drum. The crusher run is fed at the upper
opening of the drum. The perforations increase in size coming down the drum. The screened products fall
directly into bins where they are stored awaiting delivery.