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Dedicated to my family

Laboratory Evaluation of the Effect of Cement Concentration, Water Salinity and the Roadcem Additive on Kalahari Soil Strength ABSTRACT Botswana is experiencing a rapid growth in road infrastructure, increasing from 10km at independence to a total of close to 9000 km in 2008. This growth has increased demand for suitable road construction materials. Coupled to this challenge is the fact that close to seventy five (75) per cent of the country is covered in Kalahari Sands which are in most cases saline, and do not meet road construction specifications (Botswana Roads Department Guideline No.6, 2001). Due to Botswanas arid climate surface water is scarce in many parts of the country especially the western side. Water for road construction is sourced from local boreholes or imported from elsewhere being hauled over long distances. The borehole water within the vicinity of most construction sites has very often been found out to be highly saline with total dissolved solids (TDS) exceeding the maximum road specification limit of 2000 mg/l (Botswana Road Design Manual, 1982). The importation costs of suitable material for infrastructure development increases construction costs. To this end alternative design approach, methodology and alternative materials need to be investigated for future usage.

An investigation will be made on the effect of saline water (TDS 33296 as collected) on alkali earth metals and zeolites stabilizer. This complex chemical compound is manufactured by Powercem Southern Africa under the trade name Roadcem. Roadcem compound is reputed to have been successfully utilized in many parts of the world in cement stabilization of several types of problematic soils. One of the documented reports is that the additive can be used successfully with saline materials.

The aim of this laboratory investigation is to identify the effect of material salinity on the performance of Roadcem in improving the Unconfined Compressive Strength (UCS) of Kalahari Sands. Kalahari Sand of G7 classification and saline water samples were collected from Tsabong. Soil samples were prepared and stabilized with tap water and cement only for the control samples. Roadcem additive was added for further testing of 7 day UCS cured samples. The results achieved reflect an enhanced UCS strength for specimens with Roadcem additive but even more so in saline water mixtures. Unconfined compressive strength ranging from 13% up to


57.9% was achieved on samples when comparing the neat sample and that to which Roadcem compound was added.

The results achieved show a strong agreement with the manufacturers claim as per the literature provided. These tests were conducted as a preliminary investigation to verify two claims, whether Roadcem improves the cement stabilized soil strength and that strength is still achieved with saline materials. The total dissolved solids content of the test water was 33 296 with a chloride and sulphate content of 13 995.7 mg/l and 8 704.4 mg/l respectively. This was in contrary to expected knowledge that chlorides and sulphates are detrimental to cement hydration and strength gain.

Based on the positive results of this testing it is proposed future work to be carried out to establish the long term effects of Roadcem on saline material stabilization. Further work will be able to capture if there are any long term effects of chlorides and sulphates on cement stabilized materials.


ACKNOWLEGMENT I am grateful to Almighty God, Jesus Christ, for giving me the patience to complete this work. In addition I express my deepest and hearty thanks and great indebtedness and gratitude to my supervisor Dr. J. Egwurube, Civil Engineering Department, University of Botswana for his kind supervision, valuable courses during my developing study, guidance, valuable advice, reviewing the manuscript, and support during, my study program.

Special mention is also made of Dr. M. Dithinde, Civil Engineering Department, University of Botswana for his review, technical input and recommendations made to develop the final presentation.

I also extend my gratitude to Powercem Technology for their product, Roadcem, without which this research would not have been made possible. All the literature and technical advice during the experimentation have been very fruitful in achieving the objectives of this research.

I am deeply grateful to Mr. Kowa of Botswana Roads Department for their invaluable support, research material and advice given in respect of pursuing this investigation.

I extend my special and heartily thanks and gratitude to my work supervisor and employer Mr. V. Ponoesele of Lesedi Consulting Engineers (Pty) Ltd for granting me the time and opportunity to pursue my studies during demanding working periods.


DISCLAIMER The opinions, findings and conclusions expressed in this report are those of the author and not necessarily those of the University of Botswana. This is a product of the authors efforts and investigation and where cited material is utilized acknowledgements are made.