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The 12

th
International Conference of
International Association for Computer Methods and Advances in Geomechanics (IACMAG)
1-6 October, 2008
Goa, India


Effect of Hydrated Lime on the Engineering Behaviour and the
Microstructure of Highly Expansive Clay
LASLEDJ Abdelmadjid, AL-MUKHTAR Muzahim
Centre de Recherche sur la Matière Divisée, Université d’Orléans - CNRS-CRMD,
1B rue de la Férrolerie 45067 Orléans Cedex 2, France.

Keywords: expansive clay, lime, stabilization, swelling, microstructure.
ABSTRACT: The paper presents a series of laboratory tests and evaluates the effect of hydrated lime on the
engineering behaviour of highly plastic French clay soil. Tests were performed with different percentages of
hydrated lime (0–20%). X-ray diffraction tests were carried out in an attempt to identify the reaction products
formed and the mineralogical change in the treated soil. The experimental results indicated that increasing the
percentage of lime decreases the plasticity index, specific surface, and swell properties. Moreover, the addition of
8% lime reduces both the swelling pressure and potential to zero after three days, whereas there is no significant
effect of lime addition (above 6%) and time curing on the plasticity index. X-ray diffraction indicated that the new
reflections that appeared were calcium aluminate hydrates (CAH) in samples treated with a lime content over 8%.
1 Introduction
The development of the infrastructure, such as roads, motorways, and railroads, requires earthworks, mainly for
the construction of the base and sub-grades. In order to improve the rate of reuse of the in situ clay soils, lime
treatment techniques have largely been developed across the world. The competitiveness of lime treatment
increased because of the rarefaction of granular materials, the low cost of the lime and the improvement of the
effectiveness of the treatments. In practice, lime is used as an effective additive to improve various engineering
properties of cohesive soils. Lime treatment in clay soils generally causes a decrease in plasticity, volume
change, and an increase in particle size, permeability, strength, and compressibility. Such changes in
engineering properties can be explained by two types of chemical reactions that occur when lime is added to a
wet soil: short-term reactions known as soil improvement or modification consisting of cation exchange and
flocculation and the long-term reaction known as stabilization/solidification: the pozzolanic activity. The immediate
reactions due to soil–lime treatment start with the cation exchange between the ions associated with the surfaces
of the clay particles and the calcium ions of the lime. Clay particles are surrounded by a diffuse hydrous double
layer modified by the ion exchange of calcium. This reaction alters the density of the electrical charge around the
clay particles and so particles are attracted closer to each other to form flocks (flocculation). During the first
stage, improvements occur immediately in soil plasticity, workability, swell and shrinkage properties, and
permeability (Clare and Cruchley, 1957; Diamond and Kinter, 1965; Eades and Grim, 1966; Afès and Didier,
2000; Basma and Tuncer, 1991; McKallister and Petry, 1992; Bell, 1996; Nalbantoglu and Tuncer, 2001; Khattab,
2002; Alper et al., 2006; Al-Rawas et al., 2005). In addition to cation exchange, reaction occurs between the silica
and some alumina of the lattices of the clay minerals, especially at the edges of clay particles. During this
process, the highly alkaline environment produced by the addition of lime causes silica and alumina to be
dissolved out of the structure of the clay minerals and to combine with the calcium to produce new cementitious
compounds: calcium silicate hydrates (CSH), calcium aluminate hydrates (CAH), and calcium alumino-silicate
hydrates (CASH). These hydrates were observed by many researchers (Eades and Grim, 1960; Clara and
Handy, 1963; Ormsby and Kinter, 1973; Cabrera and Nwakenma, 1979; Arabi and Wild, 1986; Wild et al., 1986;
Locat et al., 1990; Locat et al., 1996; Bell, 1996; Rajasekaran and Rao, 1997; Khattab, 2002). For maximum
reactivity between lime and clay, the pH value of the pore fluids should remain at around 12.4. The solubility of
silicate and aluminium ions is very high at this value. These reactions contribute to flocculation by bonding
adjacent soil particles together and strengthen the soil with curing time. This reaction, called pozzolanic reaction,
is curing time- and temperature-dependent (Arabi and Wild 1986; Bell; 1996; Boardman et al., 2001; Sudhakar
and Shivananda, 2005).

The effectiveness of the treatment depends on the quality and quantity of lime as well as the chemical and
mineralogical composition of the soil. The strength developed is obviously influenced by the quantity of
cementitious gel produced and consequently by the amount of lime consumed. In fact, the amount of lime added
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should be related to the clay mineral content of the soil (Hill and Davidson, 1960). Lime stabilization/solidification
occurs at lime additions in excess of the lime modification optimum or initial consumption of lime values, or lime
fixation point. The initial consumption of lime gives an indication of the minimum quantity of lime that must be
added to the soil in order to achieve a significant change in properties. This quantity must first satisfy the affinity
of the soil for calcium and so it is not available for pozzolanic reactions. Bell (1996) indicated that the optimum
addition of lime needed for maximum modification of the soil is normally between 1% and 3% lime by weight, and
further additions of lime do not induce changes in the plastic limit, but increase the strength. However, other
studies reported the use of lime between 2% and 8% in soil stabilization (Basma and Tuncer, 1991).

The aim of this study is to determine the limitation of the soil treatment by hydrated lime. A highly expansive clay
(Na
+
) is studied, and the engineering behaviour and the microstructure and texture of the treated soil are followed
by curing time. The validity of different formulae allowing the calculation of the optimal percentage of lime added
to the soil is also investigated.
2 Materials
2.1 Clay soil
The clay soil chosen in this study was a bentonite clay of high plasticity, called Impersol, supplied by “Société
Française des Bentonites et Dérivés”. A summary of physical properties, standard Proctor compaction
characteristics and engineering properties of the natural untreated clay soil are given in Table 1. The soil showed
a high plasticity index (IP=178%) and a high swelling pressure at an optimum Proctor of 1059 kPa. Based on the
Casagrande plasticity chart, the soil was classified as a highly plastic clay and, according to Williams and
Donaldson (1980), it can be considered as a highly expansive clay soil.
These properties can be explained partially by the activity of the clay surface particles of smectite which exhibit a
high cation exchange capacity (100 meq/100g). The chemical analysis indicated that the clay soil has N
+
ions as
exchangeable cations with 2.55% of Na2O (from chemical composition analysis) and explains the great ability of
this soil to absorb water.
Table 1. Physical and Mechanical Properties of untreated clay soil
Property Test value
Liquid limit (%) 234
Plastic limit (%) 56
Plastic Index (%) 178
VB (g/100g) 38
Cation exchange capacity (meq/100g) 100
pH 10,6
Optimum moisture content (%) 40,5
Maximum dry unit weight (kN/m
3
) 11,87
Swell potential (%)* 329
Swell pressure (kPa)* 1059
Unconfined compressive strength (kPa)* 430
Modulus of elasticity (MPa)* 65
*At optimum Proctor compaction
2.1.1 Analysis of the mineralogy of clay soil by X-Ray Diffraction
The test was performed on an untreated clay soil sample oven-dried for 24 hours at 105°C. The X-ray diffraction
analysis (curve A, Figure 6) indicates that the clay soil contains several minerals: clay minerals such as kaolinite
and smectite, and other non-clay minerals such as quartz, calcite, goetite and anatase.
2.1.2 Thermal analysis (thermogravimetry analysis (TGA)) of untreated clay soil
This technique provides information on the mass loss as a function of temperature. The Setaram 92 TGA was
used to obtain the results with a heating rate of 1.7 K/min to a final temperature of 1000°C under a flow of argon.
Figure 1 shows TG and DTG curves of untreated clay soil powder oven-dried for 24 hours at 105°C.

The TG and DTG curves indicated the presence of principal endothermic peaks. The first, at around 105°C, is
due to free water. The second peak, between 250°C and 320°C, is due to loss of water as a consequence of
goethite dehydration. Mass loss of about 0.61% in this range of temperatures indicates that the proportion of
goethite in the composition is around 6%. Mass loss between 360°C and 640°C is due to the dehydration of
lattice OH groups for clay minerals (kaolinite and smectite). The last endothermic peak located around 700°C
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(between 630°C and 760°C) characterize the decarbonization of calcite with loss of CO2. Mass loss of around 3%
indicates the 6.61% of calcite present in the composition of the untreated clay soil.
2.2 Hydrated lime
The hydrated lime used in this study, supplied by the French company Calcia, is 94% per cent Ca(OH)2. It is very
fine and passes through an 80 µm sieve opening. The qualitative analysis by X-ray of the dry lime specimen
showed the presence of calcite as the only impurity correlated with the endothermic peak at 580°C–700°C
suggested by thermal analysis. ATG and ATD curves of the lime indicated that the temperature of dehydration of
lattice OH groups of lime ranged between 330°C and 460°C.




Figure 1. TG and DTG curves of untreated clay soil
3 Experimental tests (Methods)
The laboratory tests performed in this study include two phases:

- macroscopic characterization tests: Atterberg limits tests, surface area by methylene blue method, swelling
properties tests on untreated clay soil and lime-treated clay soils,

- mineralogical tests: based on X-ray diffraction, entailing the determination of the different reactions’ products
and the change in the mineralogy provoked by treatment.
3.1 Atterberg limits and surface area tests
The Atterberg limits were performed according to NF P94-051 on samples of soil–lime mixtures containing
various concentrations of lime ranging from 2% to 20% by weight of dry soil. The soil and lime was oven-dried for
24 hours at 105°C. The soil–lime mixtures were prepared in the dry state by thoroughly mixing until obtaining a
uniform colour. The required amount of water was later added to the dry soil–lime mixtures. The soil–lime–water
was thoroughly mixed until the mixture became homogeneous. After mixing, the specimens were tightly encased
in a hermetic plastic bag and stored at room temperature for different time (1.5 hours, 1, 3, 7, and 28 days).

The surface areas measured by the methylene blue method, according to NF P94-068, were performed on
untreated samples and different treated soil–lime (2%–20%) samples cured for up to 90 days.
3.2 Swelling characteristics tests
Swelling characteristics describe the ability of a soil to swell, in terms of swelling potential, which is defined as the
percentage increase in height in relation to the original height, and swelling pressure, which is designated as the
pressure required to prevent swelling.
3.2.1 Sample preparation for swelling potential and swelling pressure tests
The soil specimens were stabilized by adding varying percentages of lime from 2 to 20% by dry weight of soil.
-0,12
-0,08
-0,04
0
0 100 200 300 400 500 600 700 800 900 1000
Temperature (°C)
-16
-12
-8
-4
0
DTG
TG
D
T
G

(
m
g


/

m
n
)

T
G

(
%
)
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Different lime–soil samples were prepared at optimum water contents (OMC=40.5%) and compacted at the
maximum dry density (MDD=11.87 kN/m
3
). Values of OMC and MDD were determined using standard Proctor
tests for the untreated soil. The soil and the various percentages of lime, oven-dried for 24 hours at 105°C, were
mixed in the dry state to obtain a uniform colour and then distilled water was added until it was equivalent to
optimum water content (OMC). The soil–lime–water mixtures were thoroughly mixed and kneaded by hand until
the mixture became homogeneous. After mixing, the specimens were tightly encased in a hermetic plastic bag
and stored at room temperature for 24 hours for the untreated clay soil and for 1.5 hours for the lime-treated soil,
respectively, in order to achieve uniform moisture content.

To achieve the maximum dry density, the mixture was statically compacted into cylinders (10 mm long, 65 mm
diameter) in a special mould for the measurement of swelling proprieties, to which the load was applied at a rate
of 1 mm/min. All the specimens were cured in a moist environment at room temperature (20°C) and for different
lengths of time (0, 1, 3, 7, and 28 days).
3.2.2 Measurements of swelling potential and swelling pressure
The swell potential of each specimen was obtained by measuring the displacement of the piston due to the
deformation of the sample using a dial gauge with an accuracy of 0.01 mm. The samples in the mould were
placed in a special device for the measurement of swelling (Khattab et al., 2007). The distilled water was then
added and the specimen was allowed to swell under the seating load of 2.3 kPa, corresponding to the weight of
the piston. As the sample started swelling, the displacement of the piston was continuously recorded as a
function of time until no further changes in readings were observed and full swell was attained.

The swelling pressure of each test specimen was measured using the volume change method corresponding to
the loads needed to obtain the initial volume when the swell is achieved. Practically, at the end of swelling, the
specimen was statically compacted using a hydraulic press at the rate of 0.001 mm/min to achieve the initial
height before sample wetting.
3.3 X-ray diffraction tests
X-ray tests were performed on statically compacted samples prepared at maximum dry density and optimum
water content (OMC). The compacted specimens (40 ×10 mm, cylindrical) were immediately sealed by wrapped
in cling film and then dipped in hot paraffin to minimize moisture loss and carbonatation during curing. Samples
treated with 2%, 6%, 8%, 10%, and 20% of lime were tested after curing at 20°C for a period of 28 days.
Samples were dried for 3–4 hours at 49°C just before X-ray diffraction.
4 Results and discussion
4.1 Effect of lime on Atterberg limits
Figure 2 shows the evolution of the liquid limit (LL), the plastic limit (PL), and the plasticity index (PI) with the
amounts of lime added (0%–20%) for a curing time of 28 days. As can be seen from this figure, the plasticity
index (PI) values of the clay soil are substantially and immediately decreased with increasing lime content.
However, no significant effect of curing time is noted. The higher-plasticity clay soil (PI=170%) exhibited
approximately 58% decrease in the plasticity index and so the consistency declined into medium plasticity (PI=
73%). This significant improvement in consistency of this treated soil is produced by the large decrease in the
liquid limit and an appreciable increase in the plastic limit. The reduction in plasticity can be ascribed to the
increasingly granular nature of the clay soil with lime.

It is interesting to note that further increments of lime, usually up to 6%, bring little or no additional increase in
plastic limits, followed by a gradual decrease in the liquid limits, whereas the plastic limits suffered a slight
reduction with up to 10% addition of lime. The point of inflection on the plot of lime added about PL at 6% lime
content has been designated by the appellation “lime fixation point” (Hill and Davidson, 1960; Eades and Grim,
1966).

The effect of lime on the plasticity of this clay soil is instantaneous, with the calcium ions of the lime owing to a
substantial reduction in plasticity, and the clay soil becomes friable and easily workable. The clay particles
undergo flocculation to form aggregates and behave like particles of silt. To bring about these changes in
plasticity for this type of clay soil, 6% lime is required.


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Figure 2. Effect of added hydrated lime and curing time on Atterberg limits
4.2 Effect of lime on surface areas obtained by the methylene blue method
Figure 3 shows the effect of added lime and curing time (1–90 days at 20°C) on methylene blue values of treated
natural clay soil samples. It is obvious that increasing the lime and curing time decreases the surface areas of the
treated soil. However, the effect of 2% of lime on methylene blue values is negligible whatever the curing period.
The surface areas of treated samples decrease rapidly during the first day with the increase of the amount of lime
(20% of added lime exhibits approximately 40% decrease in the surface areas). This behaviour (flocculation), due
to cation exchange, can be ascribed to the increasingly granular nature of the clay soil with lime.

The addition of lime below 6% induces a slow decrease of the surface areas for a period of seven days and a
considerable decrease at a later stage. This is probably due to the cementation produced by the lime.

With an addition of lime of above 8% and with increasing time, the surface areas reduce significantly; this
decrease is due to the development of a cementitious bonding produced from the reaction between the lime and
clay minerals. The diminution in surface area is influenced by the quantity of this cementation and consequently
on the amount of lime consumed. This cementation bond is more apparent in the soil treated with high lime
content (>6%) and is correlated with the new hydrates suggested by X-ray diffraction.




Figure 3. Effect of added hydrated lime and curing time on methylene bleu of clay soil

10
15
20
25
30
35
40
0 5 10 15 20
Hydrated lime content (%)
1 day
3 days
7days
28 days
45 days
90 days
m
e
t
h
y
l
e
n
e

b
l
e
u

v
a
l
u
s

(
g
/
1
0
0

g
)
0
50
100
150
200
250
0 4 8 12 16 20
Hydrated lime content (%)
1 day
7 days
28 days
M
o
i
s
t
u
r
e

c
o
n
t
e
n
t

(
%
)
LL
PL
PI
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4.3 Effect of the lime on swelling potential and swelling pressure
Figures 4 and 5 show the effect of lime and curing time on swelling potential and swelling pressure for the treated
soil for a period of 28 days. All treated samples immediately showed a reduction in these two properties.
However, a significant decrease in the swelling potential and pressure values was obtained with an increase of
lime up to 4%. Moreover, with the addition of 10% and 20% lime, the swelling potential quickly dropped to zero
(after 1.5 hours).























Figure 4. Effect of added hydrated lime and curing time on the swelling potential


This decrease in swelling characteristics can be attributed to the reduced amount of water absorption of calcium-
saturated clay owing to cation exchange reaction. Increasing the curing time profoundly reduces swelling
potential and pressure with increases in the added lime to the soil. Samples treated with 4% of lime give a
medium swelling after 28 days curing, according to Williams and Donaldson (1980). However, no significant
effect of curing time is noted with the addition of 2% of lime. Moreover, the addition of 6% and 8% of lime will
almost eliminate both the swelling pressure and potential for the soil treated after 28 days and 7 days of curing,
respectively. This decrease is due to the development of a cementitious bonding produced by the reaction
between the lime and the clay minerals and the continuous cation exchange with the curing time.




Figure 5. Effect of added hydrated lime and curing time on the swelling

0
200
400
600
800
1000
1200
0 4 8 12 16 20
Hydrated lime content (%)
1 day
3 days
7 days
28 days
S
w
e
l
l

P
r
e
s
s
u
r
e

(
K
P
a
)
0
50
100
150
200
250
300
350
0 4 8 12 16 20
Hydrated lime content (%)
1 day
3 days
7 days
28 days
S
w
e
l
l

p
o
t
e
n
t
i
e
l

(
%
)
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4.4 Effect of the lime in the mineralogy of the soil
Figure 6 shows the X-ray diffraction patterns of the untreated and treated clay soil (2%, 6%, 8%, 10%, and 20%
lime cured for 28 days at 20°C). New reflections were visible at d-spacings of 7.6 A° in samples having a lime
content of 8%, 10%, and 20%, whereas the intensities characteristic of this peak were increased with increasing
amounts of lime added. This demonstrates that the reaction between lime and clay minerals is higher when lime
increases. These reflections correspond to calcium aluminate hydrates (CAH) formed (created) in the form
Ca3Al2O6 XH20. In addition, other new reflections corresponding to this hydrate appeared in small intensities at d-
spacings of 3.67, 2.86, and 1.66 A° in samples treated with 20%. Reflections of lime were present in X-ray
patterns for samples having a lime content of 20%. It appears that lime reacts slowly with the clay soil at a
temperature of 20°C and the free lime exceeds that observed with 10% lime. However, none of the patterns of
samples having a lime percentage below 10% showed peaks for free lime. This behaviour may be explained by
the fact that the calcium of the lime may be adsorbed by the smectite particles or that the free lime is dissolved in
the sample water. The X-ray diffraction patterns also show strong reflections for the carbonate, CaCO3. This
would probably result from the carbonation of the lime. Diffraction patterns indicate that the structure of the clay
has not been affected if 2% of lime was added. Finally, smectite intensities (S 02,11) decrease with lime
treatment and suggest an attack by lime on the smectite particles (Eades and Grim, 1960).



(A): Untreated clay soil Treated clay soil samples (D): clay soil +8% hydrated lime.
S: Smectite, K: Kaolinite (B): clay soil +2% hydrated lime. (E): clay soil +10% hydrated lime.
Q: Quartz, C: Calcite, An: Anatase (C): clay soil +6% hydrated lime. (F): clay soil +20% hydrated lime.

Figure 6. X-ray diffractions of samples after 28 days curing at 20°C
5 Conclusion
The investigations presented in this paper are part of a research programme which aims to study the effect of
hydrated lime on Na-clay soil. The study evaluates the effectiveness of hydrated lime in the stabilization of highly
expansive clay soil via changes revealed in the engineering behaviour (plasticity, swelling, mechanical
resistance, and water retention capacity) and in the microstructure (texture and mineralogy).

The main conclusions of the tests presented in this paper are as follows:

- Liquid limit and plasticity index decrease substantially whereas plastic limit increases with increasing lime.
No significant effect of curing time was observed on the Atterberg limit. The optimum gain in plasticity
appears to be with 6–8% lime.
0
40
80
120
160
200
240
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70
C
A
H

C
A
H

C
A
H

C
A
H
C
A
H

C
a
(
O
H
)
2
C
a
(
O
H
)
2
C
a
(
O
H
)
2
2 θ (degrees)
I
n
t
e
n
s
i
t
i
e
s
C
A
H

C
A
H

C
A
H

C
a
(
O
H
)
2
C
a
(
O
H
)
2
C
a
(
O
H
)
2
C
a
(
O
H
)
2
C
a
(
O
H
)
2
S

0
0
1
S

0
2
,
1
1
S

2
0
,
1
3
S

0
6
,
3
3
K

0
0
1
(A)
(C)
(B)
(D)
(F)
(E)
Q
Q
C
C
G
G
G
A
n
C
Q
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- The optimal addition of lime seems to be 6%, referring to the lime fixation point of Hilt and Davidson (1960)
(% of lime inducing maximum modification in the properties of treated soil).

- The reduction in the surface areas measured by the methylene blue method is influenced by the amount of
lime added, by the curing time. Methylene blue values continue to decrease with increasing curing time,
mainly when the lime content is above 6%.

- Hydrated lime treatments are very effective in reducing the swelling pressure and consequently the swelling
potential of the treated expansive clay soils. With the addition of 8% lime, both swelling potential and
pressure were reduced to zero after three days of curing time, whereas the addition of lime of below 6% has
practically a non-significant effect on the swelling potential of this highly expansive clay soil.

- The reaction of lime and clay minerals leads to the formation of a new crystalline phase identified as calcium
aluminate hydrates (CAH), identified by the X-ray diffraction tests. This new phase appears when lime is
added above 6%.

The research in progress must allow the determination of the relationship between different studied parameters:
mainly percentage of lime, curing time, swelling parameters and mechanical properties.
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Engineering Geological Environment, 59(1), 75-83.
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