05/28/2021

Shifting The Sand Business To Greener Practices

11:57 minutes

a sandy bank near a small stream. in the background are tree covered mountains and some small buildings
Sand pit in Sunkoshi near Kathmandu, Nepal. Credit: Bibek Raj Shrestha

Sand is one of the most in-demand natural materials on the planet—some 50 billion tons of sand and gravel are mined every year. It’s because the humble sand is a key ingredient in many materials, from concrete and asphalt to microchips and glass. But sand is also heavy, needed in large quantities, and costly to ship—meaning that in some regions, local demand for sand outstrips supply. A ‘sand mafia’ exists in parts of the globe, and in others, international conflicts have arisen over accusations of illicit cross-border beach theft.

Dr. Aurora Torres, a postdoctoral researcher in Michigan State University’s Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability and at the Catholic University of Louvain, joins host John Dankosky to talk about ways to make the business of sand extraction more ecologically-friendly—from manufacturing sand via high-tech rock crushing machines to reducing demand by recycling construction materials. 


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Segment Guests

Aurora Torres

Aurora Torres is a postdoctoral researcher in the Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability at Michigan State University and the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium.

Segment Transcript

The transcript for this segment is being processed. It will be posted within one week after the episode airs.

Meet the Producers and Host

About Charles Bergquist

As Science Friday’s director, Charles Bergquist channels the chaos of a live production studio into something sounding like a radio program. Favorite topics include planetary sciences, chemistry, materials, and shiny things with blinking lights.

About John Dankosky

John Dankosky is a contributing editor with Science Friday, and occasional guest host. He also works with public radio collaboratives, and hosts “Steady Habits”—a podcast of the digital news service, The Connecticut Mirror.

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