Physicochemical behaviour of artificial lime stabilised sulfate bearing cohesive soils

Buttress, Adam James (2013) Physicochemical behaviour of artificial lime stabilised sulfate bearing cohesive soils. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Soil stabilisation is a useful civil engineering technique that enables the insitu material to be used as part of an engineered structure. Stabilised layers are used in road foundation; working platforms and for slope stabilisation and sea defences. Chemical stabilisation involves the use of a hydraulic binder (and sometimes additional pozzolans). Commonly, quicklime (CaO) or slaked-lime (Ca(OH)2) is used. On mixing into the ground, this reacts with the aluminosilicates of the clay fraction, reducing its overall water content and plasticity. Further additions increase the insitu pH. Above pH 10.4, the aluminosilicates become soluble in the pore solution. They are then able to form a range of insoluble mineral hydrates which constitute a cementitious matrix. This results in both an increase in mechanical strength and a decrease in dimensional stability.

If the insitu material contains sulfur bearing mineralogies, these can react with the hydraulic binder and the aluminosilicates to form expansive minerals. If this occurs after the initial setting and hardening of the stabilised layer has occurred, it can lead to severe dimensional instability and mechanical weakening. This is termed sulfate heave and the principal agent of this heave is a hydrous calcium sulfoaluminate hydrate, ettringite (AFt). The fundamental processes of ettringite formation and associated expansion are little understood in stabilised soils.

This research used a range of artificial sulfate bearing, lime stabilised blended soil samples subject to two immersion tests used for material suitability assessment in the UK. The physicochemical response (in terms of dimensional heave and mechanical weakening) was assessed as a function of soil composition and the environmental conditions imposed by the two immersion tests. The fundamental microstructure and phase composition was characterised using a range of analytical techniques (XRD, SEM-EDX, dTGA). The relationship between the observed macro-physical properties and underlying chemical environment and microstructure was explored.

Key findings include that the mechanism of ettringite formation and expansion was found to be governed by the fundamental structure of the bulk clay. This explained the greater swell response of the kaolin based soils compared to those of the montmorillonite. The SEM-EDX analysis identified a primitive, Ca-rich, AFt phase termed ‘ball ettringite’, in stabilised soils. This has only relatively recently been reported in studies of cement mortars. Also, small amounts of sulfate in the bulk soil actually increase soil strength. It was suggested that the preferential formation of monosulfate (AFm) plays an important role in this mechanism. The introduction of water to the pore solution is key to the formation of ettringite. This was evidenced by X-Ray CT of the damage caused to soil specimens on immersion, as well as low angle XRD studies of the principal AFt peak. Based on the limited testing undertaken one of the immersion tests (European accelerated volumetic swell test, EN13286-49), appears to be more onerous than the other (UK CBR linear swell test, BS1924-2).

Please note: images reprodouced from other works have been removed from the online version, but can be seen in the original typescript version.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Airey, G.D.
Grenfell, J.R.A.
Subjects: T Technology > TA Engineering (General). Civil engineering (General) > TA 703 Engineering geology. Rock and soil mechanics
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Engineering
UK Campuses > Faculty of Engineering > Department of Civil Engineering
Item ID: 14463
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 05 Aug 2014 07:54
Last Modified: 14 Sep 2016 10:54

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