Whether you are a road construction company in Australia or anywhere else in the world, you know that most traditional construction methods involve environmental, health and financial risks.
Fortunately, there are now certain methods that guarantee safety, economy, and respect for the environment. One of these methods is soil stabilisation.
In this article, you will learn more about soil stabilisation and its many advantages.
What is soil stabilisation?
Soil stabilisation is a procedure whereby the soil’s technical properties are modified and improved to increase construction readiness.
In civil engineering, soil stabilisation is a procedure by which the technical properties of soil, such as permeability, mechanical strength, compressibility, plasticity, and durability are refined and improved.
Why is soil stabilisation so important?
Now that you know what soil stabilisation is, here are its main benefits.
It helps save money.
Soil stabilisation usually saves significant amounts of money compared to the traditional “dig and dump” method. That method involves the cost of moving vehicles, landfill tax and the purchase of aggregates. Soil stabilisation is also economical because stabilising treatment costs far less than it would to substitute the weak soil.
It facilitates design-related savings.
Soil-treated binders are more resistant than conventional granular underlays. This type of material in a foundation or pavement ensures the strength of the structure is considerably improved.
This increased strength can reduce the foundation thickness or the subsequent layer thickness. Also, concrete or blacktop can be laid directly on stabilised soil. You can then get savings on granular foundation layers, bituminous materials, concrete, and other soil stabilisation products.
It reduces site preparation time.
Soil stabilisation often reduces the time required to complete a project by shortening site preparation time and cutting down on spills or imports. The procedure also dries and strengthens wet soil for instant use.
It works even in winter.
Soil stabilisation using lime is undoubtedly the most effective way to dry out a wet site. Adding quicklime instantly dries out moist soils and allows work to continue even in wet conditions during winter.
It reduces environmental impact.
There’s hardly an aspect of today’s world where we aren’t urged to save energy, reduce our carbon footprint, and save the planet. Even the simple act of digging up the roads is environmentally unsustainable according to research.
Imagine removing 40 loads of soil per truck and bringing in 40 loads of imported materials. Just one load of 30 tonnes of binder can virtually eliminate these hundreds of vehicle movements. As a result, you have less traffic congestion, lower costs and no angry neighbours.
It minimises waste.
There’s no need to import new materials when the soil on-site can be reused after a simple treatment. Not even type 1 underlay is necessary, as the on-site flooring provides the same strength and properties. This way, you can discard the costly and time-consuming import of new materials and the production of large amounts of waste.
It provides savings on landfill taxes.
Soil stabilisation uses the soil available on your site. The soil is just improved to have the necessary properties for construction, so tipping is virtually eliminated. There is no need for tipping fees; just stabilise the soil in place and use it.
Now that you know the benefits of soil stabilisation, here are some stabilisation types you can try in your construction site.
Types of soil stabilisation
There are three main types of soil stabilisation, each with its own particularities.
Biological soil stabilisation
This type of stabilisation is particularly carried out through afforestation, and its primary objective is the fight against erosion.
Root characteristics such as morphology, architecture, and biotics play an essential role in the physical and chemical development of soil.
Therefore, this method is used on land exposed to water and wind influences or land that isn’t originally intended for construction.
However, the planting must be backed by other soil stabilisation types from when the seeds or seedlings are planted until the plants become strong. Otherwise, the seeds or seedlings would be washed away by water or wind flow with the surface layer.
This method consists of modifying the soil’s granulometric distribution and plasticity by summing or subtracting different soil fractions to alter its physical properties. It is combined with mechanical stabilisation to achieve soil stabilisation. Mechanical stabilisation is the modification of soil porosity and the friction or interlocking between particles.
Chemical soil stabilisation
This type of stabilisation can be obtained by using traditional and non-traditional agents.
Traditional chemical stabilising agents include lime, fly ash and cement, which are generally calcium-based. When exposed to water, these undergo short- and long-term chemical changes, leading to an overall improvement in the soil matrix.
Non-traditional agents, on the other hand, react chemically with the soil in the presence of sufficient moisture to generate physicochemical interactions in the soil. Examples of these are bitumen emulsions, ground granulated blast furnace slag, cement kiln dust, etc.
There are many types and methods of soil stabilisation on the market today.
When choosing the right soil stabiliser for your construction project, consider the various advantages it offers. More importantly, consider the environmental impact of the formulation on the vegetation and wildlife around your application site.
Troy Adams is the Managing Director of Global Road Technology, an international engineering technology company in Australia that specialises in engineered solutions for dust suppression, erosion control, soil stabilisation and water management. A pioneering, socially conscious Australian entrepreneur, Troy is passionate about safer, healthier and more cost-effective solutions in the mining and infrastructure sectors and beyond.