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International Journal of Engineering Research and Applied Science (IJERAS)

ISSN : 2349-4522
Vol. 1, Issue 1, 2014
All rights reserved by www.ijeras.org 1


Geocell as Reinforcement in Footings
Lalima Banerjee
1
, Dr. Gupinath Bhandari
2

1
M.Tech Student, Department of Civil Engineering, Jadavpur University, Kolkata, India.
email id: lalima.banerjee@gmail.com.
2
Associate Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, Jadavpur University, Kolkata, India.


ABSTRACT: Geocell is a three-dimensional interconnected geosynthetic made of polymer which has been used to
improve base course by providing soil confinement to increase its stiffness and to reduce its permanent deformations.
However, the use of geocells for base reinforcement is hindered by the existing gap between applications and theories.
Research from the past has shown that Geocell-reinforced bases have higher bearing capacity, greater stiffness and
reduced deformation.

1. INTRODUCTION
The concept of lateral connement by cellular structures started back in 1970s when the United States Army Corps
of Engineers developed this idea for providing lateral connement to improve the bearing capacity of poorly
graded sand (Webster 1979). The geocell foundation mattress consists of a series of interlocking cells, constructed from
polymer geogrids, which contains and connes the soil within its pockets. It intercepts the potential failure planes because
of its rigidity and forces them deeper into the foundation soil, thus increasing the bearing capacity of the soil. The early
research on geocells addressing base reinforcement on weak subgrade, mostly involved the reinforcement mechanisms, the
properties and geometry of the geocell, and the inll material. These studies mostly considered the effects of geocell height
to width ratio (i.e., aspect ratio), tensile stiffness of geocell material, strength and density of inll material, subgrade
condition, loading type and location, and conjunctive use with other planar geosynthetic reinforcement.

2. PREVIOUS STUDY

Pokharel et al. (2010) conducted model tests in a medium-scale loading system which had a 150 mm diameter air cylinder
with a maximum air pressure of 900kPa. The loading plate was 150 mm in diameter. Fig.1 shows the details of the test box
(Box A), which was square and had a plan area of 366,000 mm
2
with an adjustable depth. Geocell was placed at the center
of the box and its shape and size depended on the designed layout of a circular or elliptical shape. All single cells in this
study were 100 mm high, except for double layer reinforcement where 75mm cells were used. For an unconned test (i.e.,
without embedment), the geocell was lled with sand inside the cell only; whereas for a conned test the geocell was lled
and embedded in sand. For the unconned geocell, the sand was placed and compacted to 70% relative density in the cel l in
two layers, each being 50 mm thick. For the conned geocell sections, the sand was placed into the box and compacted to
70% relative density in three layers, 50 mm each for the rst two layers and 20 mm for the top layer. For the
case of the 170 mm thick section (i.e., two layers of 75 mm high geocells plus 20 mm cover), compaction was carried out
in three 50 mm and one 20 mm lift. Instead of a weak subgrade, the base of the test box served as a rm subgrade for the
tests because the primary purpose of this research was to evaluate the inuence f actors for the single geocell-reinforced
sand. A loading plate was placed at the center of the geocell for the reinforced case or at the center of the box for the
unreinforced case. Loads were applied in increments by adjusting air pressure in the air cylinder. After each load increment
was applied, settlements of the plate were monitored by digital dial gauges until they became stable. Settlement was
International Journal of Engineering Research and Applied Science (IJERAS)
ISSN : 2349-4522
Vol. 1, Issue 1, 2014
All rights reserved by www.ijeras.org 2

complete within 5 min of loading for each load increment. The test was terminated when the sand or geocell-reinforced
sand could not continue to hold the load (i.e., failure occurred).The different types and properties of Geocell used in the
test are given in Table 1.
Table 1: Properties of geocell used (after Pokharel et al.2010)








Dash et al. (2001) conducted model tests in a steel tank with a length of 1200 mm, width of 332 mm and a height of 700
mm. The two long sides of the tank were made of 15 mm thick perspex sheet and were braced laterally on the outer surface
with mild steel angles to avoid yielding during the tests. The model foundation used was made of steel and measured, 330
mm length 100 mm width 25 mm thickness. The base of the model footing was made rough by cementing a thin layer of
sand to it with epoxy glue. The footing was centered in the tank, with the length of the footing parallel to the width of the
tank. In order to create plane strain conditions within the test arrangement, the length of the footing was made almost equal
to the width of the tank. On each side of the tank, a 1 mm wide gap was given to prevent contact between the footing and
the side walls. The side wall friction eects on the model test results were reduced by coating the inside of the perspex
walls with petroleum jelly. The two ends of the footing plate were polished to have smooth surface and also coated with
petroleum jelly to minimise the end friction eects. The geocells were formed using three dierent types of geogrids; one
of these was made of oriented polymer (biaxial geogrid) while the other two were made of non-oriented polymers, referred
to as NP-1 and NP-2 grids. The properties of the geogrids were determined from standard wide width tension tests
(American Society for Testing and Materials, 1986) and are listed in Table 2.
Table 2
Properties of geogrids (after Dash et al. 2001)



Descriptions
Parameter BX NP-1 NP-2
Ultimate tensile strength (kN/m) 20 4.5 7.5
Failure strain (%) 25 10 55
Initial modulus (kN/m) 183 75 95
Secant modulus at 5% strain (kN/m) 160 70 70
Secant modulus at 10% strain (kN/m) 125 45 50
Aperture size (mm) 35 35 50 50 8 7
Aperture opening shape

Square

Square

Diamond



International Journal of Engineering Research and Applied Science (IJERAS)
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The footing was loaded by a hand operated hydraulic jack supported against a reaction frame. The hydraulic jack was
connected to the footing through a pre-calibrated proving ring to measure the loads applied on the footing. A ball bearing
was positioned between the proving ring and the footing to ensure that no extraneous moment was applied to the footing.
The load was applied in small increments. Each load increment was maintained constant until the footing settlement has
stabilized. Settlements on the footing were measured through two dial gauges located on either side of the footing. The
deformations (heave/settlement) of the soil surface on either side of the footing were also measured by dial gauges. In the
absence of a clear-cut failure, the loading was applied until a footing settlement of around 50 mm is reached.

Fig. 1. Test box for single cell tests with the geocell at the center (after Pokharel et al.2010)



International Journal of Engineering Research and Applied Science (IJERAS)
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3. RESULTS AND DISCUSSIONS

3.1 Effect of geocell shape

After the test, Pokharel observed that the cell with an initially elliptical shape changed to a near circular shape, having the
major axis length along the weld side of 235 mm and minor axis length of 200mm (Pokharel et al., 2009a). The shapes of
the geocell before and after the test are illustrated in Fig. 2. In the second set of tests, geocells with a circular shape and a
diameter of 205 mm were used. For these tests no obvious change in the geocell shape was observed after the test.
Fig 2: Change of Geocell shape after the test (after Pokharel et al.2010)
In all cases the reinforced sections were found to perform better than the unreinforced section. The geocells starting with a
circular shape showed stiffer and stronger responses than those starting with an elliptical shape for all three types of
geocell-reinforced sand. It was observed that the geocell was lifted up appropriately by 8 mm from the base after
each test when the geocell was placed in an elliptical shape and by 5 mm when placed in a circular shape. The
geocells with an initially elliptical shape failed abruptly while the geocells with an initially circular shape failed
gradually. Due to the change of the geocell shape of the initially elliptical cell to a circular shape, the sand
particles inside the geocell had more movement, uplifted the geocell, and then resulted in a sudden failure. In
addition, no breakage of geocell was observed after these tests.

3.2 Effect of geocell material

Fig. 3 shows that the improvement factors for the stiffness and ultimate bearing capacity of the reinforced bases
had a linear relationship with the elastic moduli of geocell at 2% strain. Type II geocell with a circular layout
improved the stiffness by 1.6 and bearing capacity by a factor of 1.9, which were less than those by Type III
and Type IV geocells. The perforations on the sides of the Type II geocells could be the reason for this
difference in addition to the elastic modulus.

Fig 3: Relationship between the elastic modulus of geocell sheet and the improvement factors for bearing capacity
and stiffness (after Pokharel et al.2010)
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3.3 Effect of embedment
Fig 4 presents the pressure- displacement curves for six unconned and conned single geocell tests using all
three types of geocell. The stiffness of the unconned geocell inlled with the sand was lower than that of the
conned one. All the unconned geocells failed along the welds while the conned cells remained intact
throughout the tests. As mentioned earlier, the inll sand uplifted the geocell and escaped from the bottom of
the geocell in the conned tests.
Surprisingly, the unconned geocells had higher ultimate load capacities than those embedded in the sand
except for Type II and Type IV geocells. During the test it was observed that the unconned geocell rst
expanded laterally and then failed due to the breakage of the weld under the load.


Fig. 4: Pressure-displacement curves for conned and unconned single geocell- reinforced Kansas River sand
(geocells were laid out in a circular shape)(after Pokharel et al.2010)


3.4 Effect of geocell height
Fig. 5 shows the pressure-displacement curves for unreinforced and reinforced sections with two different thicknesses. It is
shown that both the unreinforced and reinforced sections with a smaller thickness had higher ultimate bearing capacities
than those with a larger thickness. This difference can be explained as the rm bottom in the thinner section forced the
failure surface to occur in a shallower depth and increased the bearing capacity.


Fig.5: Pressure-displacement curves for different height of geocell (Type II) reinforced KR sand. (after Pokharel et
al.2010)
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Dash et al. observed that when the h/B ratio is 0.80, the ultimate pressure is clearly dened and for other h/B
ratios, the response is almost linear even at settlements equal to about 50% of the footing width. Even for
the case of h/B=0.8, the ultimate pressure has increased by about 5 times the ultimate capacity of the
unreinforced sand. It is interesting to note that, the load-settlement response is linear up to a settlement of
about 5% of footing width in the unreinforced sand while this limit has gone up to about 20% when
reinforced with geocell layer. Even at a settlement equal to about 50% of the footing width, clear signs of
failure were not evident in the case of geocell-reinforced foundations.


Fig. 6: Variation of bearing pressure with settlement for diff erent heights of geocell mattress (after
Dash et al.2001)
3.5 Effect of geocell width
Dash et al. observed that the unreinforced sand had a clearly defined ultimate (failure) pressure, which is
much lower than that with geocell reinforcement. In the case of geocell -reinforced tests, there was no
pronounced peak pressure. At a settlement in the range of 1520% of footing width, there is a slight
reduction in the slope of the pressure-settlement response after which the slope had remained constant. Even
when the data was plotted in loglog scale, the break point where the slope has changed significantly was
not clearly apparent. A similar trend was observed in most other test data. Typical pressure-settlement
responses that illustrate the effect of the width of geocell layer are shown in Fig. 6.


International Journal of Engineering Research and Applied Science (IJERAS)
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Fig.6: Variation of bearing pressure with settlement for different widths of geocell mattress (after
Dash et al 2001)
3.6 Effect of geocell pocket size
Dash et al. observed that the increase in load carrying capacity with decrease in pocket size is due to the
overall increase in rigidity of the mattress. At the same time, the confinement offered by cells per unit
volume of soil also increases with decrease in the pocket size. Both these factors contribute to the overall
improvement of the performance. The effect of the pocket size on the soil behavior is more clearly evident
from the data presented in Table 3, which shows that the heave of soil is higher for larger pocket sizes. As
the pocket size increases, the confinement reduces and hence the soil freely moves out of the pockets
leading to larger surface heave.
4. CONCLUSIONS

(1) The geocell placed in a circular shape had a higher stiffness and bearing capacity of the reinforced base
than that placed in an elliptical shape.
(2) The performance of geocell-reinforced bases depended on the elastic modulus of the geocell. The
geocell with a higher elastic modulus had a higher stiffness and bearing capacity of the reinforced base.
Type III and Type IV geocells made of the novel polymeric alloy were found to have signicantly
higher stiffness and ultimate bearing capacity than Type I geocell made of HDPE.
(3) The pressure-settlement behavior of strip footing resting on geocell- reinforced sand is approximately
linear even up to a settlement of about 50% of the footing width and a load as high as 8 times the
ultimate capacity of the unreinforced one.
(4) Very good improvement in the footing performance can be obtained even with geocell mattress of width
equal to the width of the footing, because of the transfer of footing loads to deeper depths through the
geocell layer. The surface footing in this case behaves like a deeply embedded footing thus improving
International Journal of Engineering Research and Applied Science (IJERAS)
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the overall performance.
(5)The surface heave can be reduced substantially by providi ng geocell of sufficient width to restrict the
formation of the rupture plane within the foundation soil
(6) The unconned geocell had a lower stiffness but a higher ultimate load capacity as
compared with the conned geocell due to its lateral expansion, except for Type IV geocell which
had the weak weld strength but the highest modulus.
(7) All the unconned geocells failed at the welds while the conned geocells failed by the uplifting of the
geocell and then the escaping of the sand particles from the bottom.
(8)A thinner unreinforced or geocell-reinforced base on a rm subgrade had a higher bearing capacity
than the thicker unreinforced or geocell -reinforced base, respectively.
(9)The performance improvement is signicant up to a geocell height equal to 2 times the width of the
footing. Beyond that height, the improvement is only marginal.
(10)The optimum width of the geocell layer is around 4 times the footing width at which stage, the geocell
would intercept all the potential rupture planes formed in the foundation soil.
(11)To obtain maximum benet, the top of geocell mattress should be at a depth of 0.1B from the bottom of
the footing.
(12)The optimum aspect ratio of geocell pockets for supporting strip footings was found to be around 1.67.


Table 3: Summary of results in terms of bearing capacity improvement factor (If) (after Dash et
al.2001)

International Journal of Engineering Research and Applied Science (IJERAS)
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REFERENCES
(1) Pokharel, S.K., Han, J., Leshchinsky, D., Parsons, R.L., Halahmi, I., 2009b. Behavior of geocell-reinforced granular bases under
static and repeated loads. In: Iskander, M., Laefer, D.F., Hussein, M.H. (Eds.), Contemporary Topics in Ground Modification,
Problem Soils, and Geo-Support. Proceedings of the 2009 International Foundation Congress & Equipment Expo, March 15e19,
2009, Orlando, Florida, vol. 187. ASCE Geotechnical Special Publication, pp. 409-416.

(2) Pokharel, S.K., Han, J., Parsons, R.L.,Qian, Y., Leshchinsky, D., Halahmi, I.,2009c.Experimental study on bearing capacity of
geocell-reinforced bases. In: Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Bearing Capacity of Roads, Railways and
Airfields, June 29eJuly 2, 2009, Champaign, Illinois

(3) Rajagopal, K., Krishnaswamy, N.R., Latha, G.M., 1999. Behaviour of sand confined with single and multiple geocells.
Geotextiles and Geomembranes 17 (3), pp. 171-184.

(4) Dash, S.K., Krishnaswamy, N. R., and Rajagopal K.,(2001): Bearing capacity of strip footings supported on geocell reinforced
sand, Geotextiles and Geomembranes,19(4),January 21,2001, pp. 235-256. (1)

(5) Pokharel, S.K., Han, J., Leshchinsky, D., Parsons, R.L., and Halahmi, I., (2010):Investigation of factors influencing behaviour
of single geocell-reinforced bases under static loading, Geotextiles and Geomembranes, 28, pp. 570-578.

(6) Webster, S. L., (1979a): Investigation of Beach sand Trafficability Enhancement Using Sandgrid Confinement and Membrane
Reinforcement Concepts, Report GL-79-20 (1), U.S. Army Engineer Waterways Experiment Station, Vicksburg, MS.