Converting desert sand into being able to use it for construction

Apr 22, 2020
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I am doing some research on how to convert desert sand to make it usable for construction purposes and do not understand why it has not been done yet with all of the issues going on with the sand wars. From my understanding much of desert sand is made up of silica and quartz-based, but the issue is the grains are too smooth and small to use as a binder for concrete. It seems like if we found a way to alter the size/dimensions of the grains we can get it to a place where we can use the sand for industry so we stop destroying our beaches and local river ecosystems.
 

LCarlson

Administrator
Nov 12, 2019
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What a fascinating idea. We certainly have oceans of sand around the world, should you discover a method.
 
Apr 17, 2020
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I am doing some research on how to convert desert sand to make it usable for construction purposes and do not understand why it has not been done yet with all of the issues going on with the sand wars. From my understanding much of desert sand is made up of silica and quartz-based, but the issue is the grains are too smooth and small to use as a binder for concrete. It seems like if we found a way to alter the size/dimensions of the grains we can get it to a place where we can use the sand for industry so we stop destroying our beaches and local river ecosystems.
The most common component of sand is silicon dioxide in the form of quartz.
Since interactions over a long period of time have worn the grains smooth this, as you state has limited their use. Making them 'unsmooth' is not an easy job.
The obvious idea is to react them chemically to change their shape. Here there is good news and bad news. I am an organic chemist but you need an inorganic chemist so please understand that. From my limited view of this problem the good news is that silicon is very versatile and there are many reactions evidenced by the components in the Earth's crust and mantle. The bad news is that over long periods of time any chemical will find its lowest energy level. That is, it is going to be more difficult (= more expensive) to react it chemically from what is its most stable form for its past history. The answer is to find an inexpensive way to carry out a suitable reaction. That means you need a silicon chemistry specialist.
 
Mar 4, 2020
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Perhaps a spark could etch the grains. Using solar power. An engineering puzzle to scale up. Just a guess, the concept has not be proven, as far as I know.

Edit: maybe mill(crush) the grains.
 

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