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For official use only

GOVERNMENT OF INDIA
MINISTRY OF RAILWAYS

STUDY REPORT
ON
USE OF COAL ASH
IN
RAILWAY EMBAKMENT
REPORT NUMBER GE: 0 S005

February-2006
Geo-technical Engineering Directorate,
Research Designs and Standards Organisation
Manak Nagar, Lucknow 11

PREFACE

This report is prepared on the basis of literature survey and field


investigation. Views expressed in this report are subject to modification from
time to time in the light of future developments on the subject and as such, do
not represent the views of the Ministry of Railways (Railway Board),
Government of India.

(Nand Kishore)
Executive Director/Geotech. Engg,

INDEX
S. NO.

TITLE

PAGE NO.

Introduction

Definition

Production of various types of ashes

Availability of coal ash

Engineering properties of coal ash

Discussion of test results

IRC Recommendation

4-6

Studies other than RDSO

6-22

Fly ash in railway embankment

10

Case Histories

24-28

11

Guidelines for road embankment by BIS

28-29

12

Conclusion

29

13

References

30

2-3

23

ANNEXURE
1

Test Results

31-36

1.0 INTRODUCTION
There is a shortage of topsoil in most urban areas for filling lowlying areas, as well as for constructing road/rail embankments. The
other option is to use waste materials arising from different sectors
such as domestic, industrial and mining etc. In this report, the focus
is on the use of industrial solid waste like coal ash as a fill material
for construction of railway embankment
2.0

DEFINITION
The term fill is used to describe ground that has been formed by
material deposited by man. Thus fill or made ground, as it is some
time called, results from human activity in contrast to natural soil,
which has its origin in geological processes. The fill material can
be classified as below:-

2.1

Non Engineered fill


Non engineered fill generally arise as the biproduct of human
activities associated with the disposal of waste material. The fill is
not placed with a subsequent engineering application. In view of
little control that may have been exercised in placing the fill, there
is extreme variability, which makes it very difficult to characterize
the engineering properties of these fills and predict their behaviour.

2.2

Engineered fill
Engineered fill is a fill that has been selected, placed and
compacted to an appropriate specification in order to achieve some
required engineering performance. Thus the fill is designed and
built with a specific use in mind

2.3

PFA
Pulverised fuel ash is formed of silt-sized particles, which are
carried from the furnace of a coal-fired power station with the flue
gases.

3.0

PRODUCTION OF VARIOUS TYPES OF ASH


In thermal power plants, coal ash is solid residue resulting from
pulverized coal. The process of combustion produces two type of
residues - one which settles at the bottom of the furnace and the
other which is carried away by the flue gases to be collected by
electro static precipitators. The former residue is called bottom ash
and the latter fly ash.

3.1

Pond Ash
This refers to the ash stored in ash ponds by the hydraulic fill
method. Usually, it is a mixture of bottom ash and fly ash at most
thermal power plants in India.

3.2

Fly Ash
Fly ash is a finely divided residue resulting from the combustion of
pulverised coal in boiler and collected from electrostatic
precipitators. It is a pozzolanic material, which in the presence of
water reacts with lime and forms cementitious materials.

3.3

Bottom Ash
This category of ash is collected at the bottom of boiler furnace as
a resultant of coal burning activity. This is a comparatively coarse
material characterized by better geotechnical properties. This is an
excellent material for fill embankment and road construction but its
availability are very less.

4.0

AVAILABILITY OF COAL ASH


Coal ash is available in large volume in coal based thermal power
plants. Some coal based plants of NTPC are listed below:-

Sl. Name of Power Station


No.
1 Singrauli Super Thermal
Power Station
2 Korba Super Thermal
Power Station
3 Ramagundam Super
Thermal Power Station
4 Farakka Super Thermal
Power Station
5 Vindhyachal Super
Thermal Power Station
6 Rihand Super Thermal
Power Station
7 National Capital Power
Station
8 Feroz Gandhi Unchahar
Super Thermal Power
Station
9 Badarpur Super Thermal
Power Station
10 Kahalgaon Super
Thermal Power Station
11 Talcher Kaniha Super
Thermal Power Station
12 Talcher Thermal Power
Station
13 Tandar Thermal Power
Station
14 Simhadri Super Thermal
Power Station

5.0

Address
P.O. Shaktinagar Distt. Sonebhadra U.P.
P.O. Pragati Nagar, Korba ( West)
Distt.Korba
P.O. Jyoti Nagar Distt. Karmnagar
Andhra Pradesh.
P.O. Nabarun Distt. Murshidabad West
Bengal
P.O. Vindhyanagar Distt. Sidhi M.P.
P.O. Rihand Nagar Distt.Sonebhadra
U.P.
P.O. Vidyut Nagar Dadri, Dhaulana
Road, Distt. Gautam Budha Nagar U.P.
P.O. Unchahar, Distt.Rae Barreilly U.P.

Badarpur, New Delhi


P.O. Deepti Nagar, Kahalgaon, Distt.
Bhagalpur, Bihar
P.O. Kaniha, Distt. Angul Orissa
P.O. Talcher Thermal, Distt. Angul,
Orissa
P.O. Tanda, Distt. Ambedkarnagar, U.P.
P.O. Simhadri, Distt. Vishakhapatnam
A.P.

ENGINEERING PROPERTIES OF COAL ASH


Some coal ash samples from different thermal power plants were
tested in GE Lab, RDSO. Test results of these samples are
tabulated as Annexure-I.

6.0

DISCUSSION ON TEST RESULTS


Test results indicate that coal ash contain most of sand and silt
particles and non plastic in nature. OMC & MDD test results
indicate that fly ash having very high OMC and low MDD value.
Shear parameter indicate that fly ash having very low cohesion
value. Consolidation test results indicate that fly ash is having high
void ratio as compare to ordinary soil. Uniformity coefficient of
bottom ash is less than 7 indicate that the material is not well
graded.

7.0

IRC RECOMMENDATIONS
The design of fly ash embankment is basically similar to design of
soil embankment. The design process for embankments involves
the following steps:
Site investigations
Characterisation of materials
Detailed design

7.1

Site investigations
The following information concerning the site and surrounding
areas must be collected:
Topography
Hydrology
Subsoil investigations

7.2 Characterisation of materials


The materials to be used in embankment construction should be
characterised to determine their physical and engineering
properties. If fly ash is to be used, the following information is
required for approval before commencement of work Particle size analysis
OMC & MDD value determined by heavy compaction
Densities of fly ash - density lower than 0.9 gm/cc not suitable
for embankment construction
4

Shear strength parameters required for evaluation of the


stability of proposed slopes and the bearing capacity of
foundations located and the fill
Compressibility characteristics - required for predicting the
magnitude and duration of the fill settlement
Permeability and capillarity - to assess seepage and to design
drainage system
Specification for compaction of the fill material
Position of water table - High water table should be lowered by
providing suitable drains
Details of intermediate horizontal soil layers between which ash
is to be sandwitched.
7.3

Typical geotechnical properties of fly ash as recommended


byIRC

PARAMETER

RANGE

Sp. GRAVITY
1.90-2.55
PLASTICITY
NP
MDD
0.9-1.6
OMC
38.0-18.0%
COHESION
NEGLIGIBLE
ANGLE OF INTERNAL
30-40
FRICTION
COEFFICIENT OF
1.75X10-5-2.01X10 -3
2
CONSOLIDATION Cv (cm /sec)
COMPRESSION INDEX
0.05-0.4
Cc
PERMEABILITY
8X10-6-7X10-4
PARTICLE SIZE DISTRIBUTION
CLAY
1-10%
SILT
8-85%
SAND
7-90%
GRAVEL
0-10%
COEFFICIENT OF UNIFORMITY 3.1-10.7

7.4

General recommendation by IRC


Fly ash to be used as fill material should not have soluble
sulphate content exceeding 1.9 gm. per litre (expressed as SO3)
when tested according to BS: 1377.
Coal used in Indian thermal power plants has high ash content.
As a result, enrichment of heavy metal is lower as compared to
fly ash produced by thermal power plants abroad.

7.5

Detailed design as recommended by IRC


The design of fly ash embankment is similar to earthen
embankments.
Special emphasis is required with respect to provision of earth
cover.
The thickness of side cover would be typically in the range of 1
m to 3 m.
For embankment upto 3 m height, in general, the earth cover
thickness about 1 m is sufficient
The side cover should be regarded as a part of embankment for
design analysis.
The FOS for embankments constructed using fly ash should not
less than 1.25 under normal serviceability conditions.
Intermediate soil layers are often provided in the fly ash
embankment for ease of construction to facilitate compaction of
ash and to provide adequate confinement.
Properly benched and graded slopes prevent the erosion of fly
ash particles.

8.0

STUDIES OTHER THAN RDSO

8.1

Dr. Vimal Kumar and other in their paper on fly ash in road &
embankment published in National Seminar cum Business Meet
on use of fly ash in Roads & embankment advocated that the fly
ash is better material than soil in construction of road embankment.
The brief details of their paper are given below:
Application areas of fly ash in road embankment
The use of fly ash / pond ash for road and embankment
applications can be classified as follows:

In embankment construction (including RE wall)


In sub base and base course
In semi rigid and rigid pavements (concrete roads)
Fly Ash in Embankment ( including RE wall )
For material to be used in embankments construction, the
properties of
concern
are specific gravity, compaction
characteristics, workability, internal angle friction, cohesion etc.
Indian fly ashes generally have comfortable scores on these
properties.
The most important parameter for selection of a material for roads
& embankments is compaction behaviour. Ash has a favorable
point than soils here. Compaction curves (moisture content v/s dry
density curve) for soil & pond ash show good compaction
characteristics on addition of moisture. But the curve for soil shows
steep rise in dry density with increase in moisture content upto
optimum moisture content (OMC) and fall in dry density
subsequently. Satisfactory compaction (dry density above 95% of
that at OMC) is achieved for a limited range of moisture content
(about 2% - 5%). On the other hand similar curve for pond ash is
relatively flat and the corresponding range for pond ash is quite
large (about 7-8%), which means that it can be compacted over a
wide range of moisture content without much variations in dry
density. Hence, provides more flexibility for use in different
seasons. It may be noted that though the maximum dry density of
fly ash at OMC is less than that of soil, but it is not due to loose
compaction or presence of the voids, rather it is due to lower
specific gravity of ash particles. Further, fly ash is easy to compact
and can be compacted by using either static or vibratory rollers. Fly
ash has internal angle of friction in the range of 300 to 420, which is
quite high as compared to that of soils (280 to 350). Fly ash when
moist possesses apparent cohesion too. So, it can provide greater
stability of slopes as compared to soil and side slopes steeper than
soils can be provided in the embankments.
Specific gravity of coal ash particles ranges from 1.6 to 2.4 as
compared to that of soil, which is in range 2.55 to 2.75. Due to
lightweight, it imparts less load on sub-grades, hence can be used
on weak sub-grades.

Fly ashes have permeability in the range of 10-6 to 10-4 cm/sec. Its
high permeability ensures free & efficient drainage. After rainfall,
water gets drained out freely, which means its workability is better
than soil, especially, during the monsoon. Work on fly ash fills /
embankments can be re-started within a few hours of rain while in
case of soils, one is required to wait for much longer periods.
Further, fly ash gets consolidated at a faster rate and primary
consolidation gets over very quickly. So, it has low compressibility
& shows negligible subsequent settlements. Thus, it can be used in
bridge abutments also. Further, fly ash provides better bonding
with geogrid material, as it has more friction angle as compared to
soil. Hence, it provides a better & steeper RE wall as compared to
soil.
Fly Ash in Sub Base and Base Course
Fly ash can be usefully employed for construction of sub base/base
course. Mixing of soil and fly ash in suitable proportions improves
the gradation as well as plasticity characteristics in the mix, thereby
improving the compacted strength.
Fly ash (preferable) / Pond ash can be used for sub base and base
course construction and stabilization. The fly ash is usually used in
combination with lime to form the matrix that cements the
aggregate particles together. Generally clay soils are stabilized with
fly ash alone whereas silty soils respond well to stabilization with
fly ash and lime or cement.
Physical, Chemical and Geo-Technical Properties of Fly Ash in
India
Physical Properties of Fly ash vs. Natural Soil .
Properties
Bulk Density (gm/cc)
Specific Gravity
Plasticity
Shrinkage Limit
Grain size
Clay content

Fly Ash
0.9 1.6
1.6 2.4
Very low
or non plastic
Very low
Silty/Sandy
-

Natural Soil
1.3 1.8
2.55 2.75
Low to high
Low to high
Clay size present
Could be much higher

Free Swell Index


Classification

Very low
Sandy silt to silty sand

Variable
Variable

Water Holding
Capacity
(WHC) per cent

30-60

20-60

Typical Geo-Technical Properties of Fly Ash India


Parameter

Range

Specific Gravity

1.6 - 2.4

Plasticity

Non-Plastic

Maximum Dry Density (gm/cc)

0.9 - 1.6

Optimum Moisture Content ( per

18.0 38.0

cent)
Cohesion (kN/m2 )

Negligible

Angle of Internal Friction ()

30 - 42

Coefficient of Consolidation Cv

1.75 X 10-5- 2.01 X 10-3

(cm/sec)
Compression index Cc

0.05 0.4

Permeability (cm/sec)

8 X 10-6 7 X 10-4

Particle size Distribution ( percent of materials)


Clay size fraction

1 10

Silt size fraction

8 85

Sand size fraction

7 90

Gravel size fraction

0-10

Coefficient of Uniformity

3.1-10.7

10

11

12

8.2

Dr. Sudhir Mathur and others in their paper on Construction of


Road embankment and reinforced earth wall using fly ash
published in National Seminar cum Business Meet on use of fly
ash in Roads & embankment studied Engineering properties of fly
ash and some case history. The brief detail of his paper is given
below:
Fly ash obtained from coal fired electric power plants can be used
as alternative material for construction of road embankments. The
engineering behavior of fly ash would be similar to silt or fine
sand. Usage of fly ash for embankment construction leads to its
bulk utilization, replacing good earth and is especially attractive in
urban areas where borrow material has to be brought from long
distances.
Engineering properties of fly ash
The properties of ash depend primarily on type of coal and its
pulverization, burning rate, temperature, method of collection, etc.
The significant properties of fly ash that must be considered when
it is used for construction of road embankments are gradation,
compaction characteristics, shear strength, compressibility and
permeability properties. Individual fly ash particles are spherical in
shape, generally solid, though some times hollow. Fly ash
possesses a silty texture and its specific gravity would be in the
range of 2.2 to 2.4, which is less than natural soils. Fly ash is a
non-plastic material. Fly ash displays a variation of dry density
with moisture content that is smaller than the variation exhibited a
well-graded soil. The tendency of fly ash to be less sensitive to
variations in moisture content than natural soils can be explained
by the higher void content of fly ash. Normal soils have 1 to 5 per
cent air voids when compacted at maximum dry density. Fly ash
contains 5 to 15 per cent air voids at maximum dry density. The
higher air voids tend to limit the build up of pore-water pressures
during compaction, thus allowing the fly ash to be compacted over
a large range of moisture content. For the same reason, fly ash does
not experience density increases from the changes in the
compactive efforts of the same magnitude as experienced in case of
fine-grained soils.
Fly ash exhibits shear strength characteristics similar to those of a
cohesionless soil. It has a significant value of undrained angle of

13

internal friction and a minimal cohesion intercept in partially


saturated condition. The friction angle for fly ash usually varies
from 300 to 350 and some time especially for coarse ash, friction
angle can be as high as 400. Any apparent cohesive behaviour
displayed will be lost upon complete saturation. Majority of Indian
power plants use bituminous coal and hence ash produced does not
have significant free lime content. As a result such a fly ash is not
hydraulic. Any latent strength development due to self-hardening
would be very insignificant and cannot be counted on for design
purposes. The compressibility of fly ash can be estimated in the
laboratory using the oedometer. The typical values of compression
index, Cc, for virgin compression ranges from 0.05 to 0.4 with a
majority of values usually from 0.1 to 0.15. Recompression index,
Cr ranges from 0.006 to 0.04. These values show that compaction
can significantly reduce the compressibility of fly ash fills. The
permeability of fly ash ranges from 8 x 10-6 cm/sec to 7 x 10-4
cm/sec. Generally medium to coarse type of ash have permeability
values of about 10-4 cm/sec and hence can be considered to have
good permeability.
Embankment construction using fly ash
Successful field trials have shown the suitability of fly ash as a fill
material for construction of road embankments. Both reinforced as
well as un-reinforced type of embankments have been constructed
using fly ash. Reinforced embankments, popularly known as
Reinforced Earth walls (RE walls) are used in urban areas for
approaches to flyovers and bridges. RE walls have several
advantages like faster rate of construction, economy, aesthetic look
and saving the land required for construction of an unreinforced
embankment. Fly ash is an ideal backfill material for RE wall
construction because of its higher angle of internal friction and
better drainage property. Geosynthetic materials like geogrids or
geotextiles can be used as reinforcement for construction of
reinforced fly ash embankments.
The most distinguishing feature of un-reinforced fly ash
embankment would be use of fly ash as core material with earth
cover. In case of un-reinforced embankments, side slope of 1:2
(Vertical: Horizontal) is generally recommended. Providing good
earth cover using loamy soil should protect the slopes of the
embankments. The thickness of side cover would be typically in
the range of 1 to 3 m. The thickness of cover depends on the height

14

of the embankment, site conditions, flooding if expected, etc. This


cover material can be excavated from the alignment itself and
reused as shown in the Fig below. Stone pitching or turfing on this
cover is necessary to prevent erosion due to running water.
Intermediate soil layers of thickness 200 to 400 mm are usually
provided when height of embankment exceeds 3 m. These
intermediate soil layers facilitate compaction of ash and provide
adequate confinement. Such intermediate soil layers also minimise
liquefaction potential. Liquefaction in a fly ash fill generally occurs
when fly ash is deposited under loose saturated condition during
construction. To avoid the possibility of any liquefaction, fly ash
should be properly compacted to at least 95 per cent of modified
proctor density and in case water table is high, it should be lowered
by providing suitable drains or capillary cut-off. Fly ash can be
compacted using either vibratory or static rollers. However
vibratory rollers are recommended for achieving better
compaction. Compaction is usually carried out at optimum
moisture content or slightly higher. The construction of fly ash core
and earth cover should proceed simultaneously. High rate of
consolidation of fly ash results in primary consolidation of fly ash
before the construction work of the embankment is completed. The
top 0.5 m of embankment should be constructed preferably using
selected earth to form the subgrade for the road pavement.

Excavation of earth from alignment of embankment for providing


side cover

15

Earlier fly ash embankment projects


Delhi PWD in association with CRRI pioneered in the construction
of first reinforced flyash approach embankment on one side of the
slip roads adjoining NH-2 in the Okhla fly over project. The length
of the approach embankment is 59 m while the height varied from
7.3 m to 5.3 m. Geogrids were used for reinforcement of fly ash
and a total quantity of about 2700 cum of ash from Badarpur
thermal power plant was used for filling. The flyover was opened
to traffic in Jan 1996.
First un-reinforced fly ash embankment in the country was
constructed for eastern side approach of second Nizamuddin
Bridge Project. A typical cross-section of the embankment shown
in fig below. Pond ash produced at nearby Indraprastha Power
Station was used for construction. The project is unique of its kind,
since pond ash has been used for construction of high embankment
in flood zone. A total quantity of about 1.5 lakh cubic metres of
pond ash was used in this project. CRRI were the consultants for
this project and provided design of the embankment and were
associated for quality control supervision during construction. The
project was completed and the road section opened to traffic in
September 1998. The experiences gained during this project led to
formulation of Guidelines on use of fly ash for embankment
construction.

Cross-Section of Fly ash Embankment

16

Recent experiences of using fly ash for road embankment


Brief details of some of the projects executed in the recent past are
given below:
Use of Pond Ash for Road Embankment on NH-6
As part of ongoing National Highway Development Programme,
four-laning work of NH-6 from Dankuni to Kolaghat near Kolkata
in West Bengal was taken up. The height of the embankment on
this road section varied from 1.5 m to 4 m and requirement of earth
fill was approximately 20 million cubic metres. However, good
earth was not available near the proposed embankment site and the
lead would be more than 100 km. This was leading to enormous
increase in the project cost and also resulting in delays in the
completion of the project. Hence the task on evaluating pond ash as
alternative construction material was taken up. Required quantity
of pond ash was available near the site at Kolaghat Power Plant.
The pond ash samples collected from the Kolaghat power plant and
bottom ash from Budge-Budge power plant (Kolkata) were tested
in the laboratory to determine their engineering properties. The
properties of pond ash, local soil and local sand are given in table
below:Property

Local
Sand

Bottom ash
from BudgeBudge
Thermal
Power Plant
20

Pond ash
from
Kolaghat
Thermal
Power
Plant
65

Percentage material
passing 75 Sieve
Modified Proctor test
Maximum Dry Density
(gm/cc)
Optimum moisture
content (%)
Permeability
( cm./ sec)
Liquid Limit (%)
Plasticity Index
Direct Shear Test
Cohesion C kg/ cm2

02

Local
Soil

29

1.71

1.17

1.33

2.15

12.2

31.0

25.0

9.4

3.11x 10-3

6.26x10-3

7.2x10-4

NP

NP

NP

35.4
15.7

0.23

17

Angle of internal
friction ()

32

30

34

25

The proposed road alignment passes through waterlogged area. The


water table in the area is very shallow and rises up to or above the
ground during the rainy season. The subsoil at site generally
consisted of silty clay or clayey soil up to a considerable depth.
Such soils settle even under smaller loads imposed due to
embankment of low height. However, if a lightweight material like
pond ash is used in place of soil, the amount of settlement would
certainly reduce.
The results of the stability analysis indicated improvement in factor
of safety when fly ash was adopted as fill material. Results of
stability analysis are given in table below. Keeping in view the site
conditions, availability of materials near the construction site, it
was suggested that after dewatering, geotextile wrapped sand or
bottom ash layer of 0.5 m thickness be laid as base of the
embankment. Pond ash embankment protected with 1.5 m thick
soil cover was designed as given in figure below. However due to
contractual constraints, the embankment was constructed by
mixing pond ash and sand in ratio of 85:15 and subgrade was
constructed using pond ash and soil in the ratio of 75:25
Condition
Unsaturated Condition
Saturated Condition

Fill material
Soil
Pond Ash
Soil
Pond Ash

18

Minimum Factor Of Safety


1.62
1.92
1.36
1.50

Slope failure of fly ash embankment


The Noida-Greater Noida Express-highway near Delhi, which is 23
km long, was constructed in a total span of approximately 3 years.
It is a six lane express highway with divided carriageway. The
height of the embankment on the total stretch is generally 1 to 2 m.
However, at certain locations where the alignment crosses an under
pass, the height of approach embankment varies from 6 to 8 m. The
entire embankment was constructed using fly ash in its core and
soil cover was provided along the slope and top portion of the
embankment to prevent erosion. Intermediate soil layers were also
provided with in the fly ash core. The highway was opened to
traffic in the year 2003. In August 2004, after the heavy rainfall in
quick succession, it was observed that the side slopes in high
embankment portion had severely eroded and gullies were formed
through out the high embankment slope. It was also observed at
few spots that due to the piping action, the water had undermined
the entire soil cover provided on the side slopes resulting in the
exposure of fly ash layers. Detailed investigations were undertaken
and causes of failure were identified as follows:
Severe erosion on the superlevated portion had taken place due
to heavy run-off from six-lane carriageway, which was
discharged on one side of the embankment.
Absence of longitudinal kerb channel and chutes allowed water
to drain off along the slope.

19

Deep pits were made in the embankment slopes to fix utilities


like electric poles and crash barriers, which were backfilled
with loose soil.
Run off water entered into the embankment side cover and
caused deep cavities exposing fly ash at many locations.
The remedial measures suggested included filling of the cavities
with granular material and compaction of side slopes, provision of
toe wall, provision of kerb channel and chutes at regular intervals
to take away the rain water safely and provision of stone pitching
along with filter medium on the side slopes. The repair and
restoration of the embankment is under progress.
8.3

Sri A.Trivedi & V.K.Sud in their paper Collapse behaviour of


coal ash published in Journal Of Geotechnical And Geoenvironmental studied Engineering ASCE/April-2004 described an
investigation carried out to examine the factors influencing the
collapse settlement of the compacted coal ash due to wetting. The
brief detail of their paper are given below:
The soils that exhibit collapse have an open type of structure with a
high void ratio as expected in the case of ashes. According to
Barden et al. (1969) the collapse mechanism is controlled by three
factors; (1) a potentially unstable structure, such as flocculent type
associated with soils; (2) a high applied pressure which further
increases the instability; and (3) a high suction which provides the
structure with only temporary strength which dissipates on
wetting. As per an empirical study by Meckechnie (1989), the dry
unit weight and water content are generally considered as
important parameters that control the collapse of metastable
structure of soils, if the dry unit weight is less than 16 kN m-3. The
tentative dry unit weight of the coal ashes in Ropar ash pond was
often found to be less than 10 kN m-3 suggesting possibility of
collapse.

Conclusions given by author


The collapsibility of coal ash is one of the most important
parameters for using ash as a fill material. Based upon the test
results, various outcomes of this study are summarized as:

20

1. The collapse potential obtained by the oedometer test is a


dependent parameter of several factors such as grain size
characteristics, stress level, testing technique, degree of
compaction, a finite consolidation ratio, moisture content,
soluble substance, etc.
2. At prewetting critical moisture content and in the critical stress
range (50-125 kpa), the ashes tend to collapse more than those
in the dry condition. The observed collapse potential was
proportional to the collapsibility factor identified from the
maximum and minimum void state of the ashes. The ashes with
more than 50% of the particles in silt size range were found to
be collapsible.
3. The dry disposed ashes were more collapsible due to the
presence of soluble substances as compared to that obtained by
the wet disposal. Therefore, a correction was applied in the
observed collapse potential of the dry disposed ashes to obtain a
common correlation with the mean size as of the wet disposed
ashes
4. The generally recognized lower limit of collapse potential for
the collapsible soils in the oedometer is 0.01. It was observed
that the coal ash with a collapse potential of 0.0075 at 80%
degree of compaction (Dc) collapsed in model tests at 87% and
94% Dc. Increasing the density of this ash arrested the collapse
in the model test. The coal ash with a lower collapse potential
(0.0037 at 80% Dc) did not collapse at all while an ash with a
higher collapse potential (0.021 at 80% Dc) collapsed at all the
densities examined in the model test. Therefore, the lower limit
of collapse potential of the collapsible ashes was recommended
as 0.0075 at 80% degree of compaction in the oedometer.
5. In field, the collapse may occur due to the accidental wetting or
a rise of water table. In such cases, the magnitude of measured
collapse is a function of the depth of wetting front from the
ground level. If the wetting front ratio is more than 1.8, a threat
of collapse is bare minimum. The field collapse test is
recommended under an actual condition of wetting, if ashes are
to be used as a structural fill.
8.4

Sri Manoj Dutta in his paper Use of Coal Ash in Embankment


Stability Analysis and Design Consideration published in Journal
of Civil Engineering & Construction Review, April 1999 and
Engineering properties of Coal Ash published in Journal of
Indian Geotechnical Conference 1998 studied behavior of coal
ash in embankment. The brief details of his paper are given below:

21

The use of bottom ash in embankment construction results in


slope 2:1 being stable. These slopes are much steeper than
slopes, which are stable when pond ash or fly ash is used.
The use of pond ash yields stable embankment slope of 2.5:1 (
for ru =0 case)and 3:1( for ru =0.2 case)
Fly ash, which is a poorly draining material and has low
strength, yields the least embankment slopes (4:1 for ru =0.2)
for a factor of safety of 1.5.
Special design features of embankment constructed with ash:
Fugitive dust emission occurs at construction sites during hot
dry month due to wind erosion from ash, which is spread, as
well as stock piled at site. This has to be avoided by
i) Suspending construction during hot dry months
ii) Providing continuous water sprinklers
iii) Providing intermediate earth cover
The possibility of surface water runoff pollution due to erosion
by rainwater during construction in the monsoon month has to
be recognized and appropriate design measures adopted.
Contained- cells construction technique can also reduce
surface water pollution.
The stability of side slopes of thick fills has also to be ensured
against long-term wind erosion and water erosion (in the
absence of slope maintenance after construction) by providing
self sustaining erosion control measures such as thick soil
covers with side lopes with turfing.
For embankment which are likely to experience ponding of
water during monsoon months, well designed slope protection
measures (such as stone pitching/rip rap) are required with
proper toe protection
Compactibility of wet ash during monsoon months under
condition of excess moisture has to be established.
To preclude the possibility of piping of ash in condition of
seepage through ash, properly designed filters and drains (both
internal & external) have to be provided
22

9.0

FLY ASH IN RAILWAY EMBANKMENT


Railway used fly ash from Kolaghat thermal Power plant in
Tamluk-Digha new rail link project from ch.10.92 to ch. 12.28 in
about 1.30 km in length. This location is situated near Haldi bridge
where embankment had failed twice during construction. Fly ash
was also used in a near-by location on Panskura-Haldia section
between ch.(-600) to ch.775. Section adopted for embankment
construction is given below:-

RDSO officials visited TamlukDigha section of South Eastern


Railway along with railway officials for performance appraisal of
fly ash embankment in July 05. This section opened for traffic on
20.11.03. Main observations of visit are as under The axle load of the section is 17 tons and GMT 0.22.
The sectional speed is 80 kmph and speed restriction of 30
kmph is imposed between km 12/0 to km 13/3 where fly ash
was used due to erosion.
The track attention near Haldi bridge location was reported as 2
per month.
The variation in cross level is reported as 4.0 mm to 8.0 mm.
Erosion of side slope occurred due to removal of side cover of
fly ash embankment on account of movement of cattle or any
other reason. The large amount of fly ash had eroded and
settlement occurred between hume pipe bridge no. 24 and 25 in
Dec.04.

23

10.0 CASE HISTORY OF FLY ASH EMBANKMENT IN DMRC


For the rail corridor of mass rapid transport system for Delhi, the
base car depot was planned at Shastri Park on the east side of river
Yamuna near ISBT. This area of 64 hectare is located at the
reduced level of 203 to 204 meters above sea level where as 100
years HFL is 208.9 m hence it was decided to fill the base depot
area with soil.
On review it was decided that if a potion of earth work can be done
by using pond ash being generated at IP and Rajghat power stations
of Delhi Vidyut Board, then a lot of saving in terms of time and
money can be achieved due to reduced lead of carting of flyash as
compared to the soil which is generally not available near Delhi.
Mass filling at Shastri Park was to be completed in a short span of
12 months so as to give adequate time for consolidation of newly
built embankment before construction of structures or starting the
track laying over the filled up soil. A total quantity of about 17
lakhs cum of earth was required for constructing the main line
track embankment at 6 m to 9 m height and about 30 ha of depot
area at 6 m height.
Advantages considered
Due to following advantages, it was decided to use flyash to the
extent of two- thirds requirement of the earthwork:
Utilization of soil in place of flyash would have resulted in
erosion of topsoil from a large area of agricultural land and
resultant degradation of land.
Disposal of flyash is a big problem for thermal power stations,
hence scientific disposal of flyash by DMRC will pave the way
for large scale utilization of flyash in the construction of
earthen embankment for roads and rails.
Due to quick draining characteristics, work can be continued in
monsoon.
Being a friction material, (no cohesion) proper compacted
flyash shows very small long-term settlement.
Construction speed is faster as compaction vs moisture content
curve is more even resulting in wider range of moisture
content for compaction.

24

Lower density than soil, hence low overburden pressures for


the same height of embankment, hence less chances of toe
failure.
Assured availability free of cost.
The cost of transportation of flyash was less as compared to
soil. Flyash being lighter material, required less haulage and
hence was economical.
Availability of good quality soil in such huge quantities was
difficult.
Embankment Design
Embankment was designed on the same line as for soil
embankment. A base layer of soil varying from 1.2 m to 1.6 m was
provided over which 2 m thick layer of flyash was provided with
intermediate soil layer of 0.4 m. On both sides of embankment, soil
shoulder of 4.47 m width was provided for ensuring minimum soil
cover of 2 m at all the locations. On the top, a minimum soil
cover of 400 mm with 300 mm cover of blanket material has been
provided for ensuring no erosion of flyash. A typical curve of
embankment is shown in figure below -

The side slopes of the embankment have been kept to two


horizontal to one vertical. The average height of embankment
varies from 6 m to 9 m. Wherever height is more than 6 m, a 3 m
berm has been provided at a depth of 6 m below the top. Soil and

25

flyash are fixed as 98% and 95% of modified proctor test ( IS2720) respectively. Figure below shows typical compaction vs
moisture content curve for soil and flyash.

Typical compaction vs moisture content curve for Soil

Typical compaction vs moisture content curve for Fly ash


26

Description of work
The project site is situated in national capital of Delhi near
Kashmere Gate, ISBT in the flood planes of river Yamuna and
within the eastern marginal bund or Shahdara marginal bund. The
work was started in Oct.1998 and full site was under standing
water of a few cm to 1.0 m. Large scale dewatering by high
discharging pumps and a network of drains was planned to make
the ground dry. The top layer of soil having vegetation or poor soil
was removed and ground was compacted by sheep foot roller of 10
to 12 tons with 8 to 10 passes so as to achieve a minimum dry
density 95% of modified dry density. After the base layer of soil
was laid and compacted in layer thickness of 15 cm, 98% of
modified dry density was achieved. Base soil layer of 1.2 m to 1.6
m was laid before starting laying of flyash layer of 15 cm thickness
each. The embankment designed as shown in figure above was
completed by laying layers of soil and flyash as per the
requirement of design.
Problems faced and solutions found:

During the winter season, the moisture content in the pond


ash was very high and due to non availability of sun-shine
consecutively for many weeks, moisture content could not be
kept near OMC. Hence, stacking and rehandling of material
was done to achieve the desired compaction level of 95% of
modified dry density.
During transportation, there were chances of spillage of fly
ash, if it is dry even after keeping the dumpers fully coverd by
tarpulin and in case of higher moisture content, fly ash used to
flow from the opening in the dumper body as it liquefies very
quickly. Hence extensive dewatering was done in ash ponds
at loading point itself.
On the onset of summer, the peculiar problem of flying of
flyash was encountered at ash pond as well as site. A very
elaborate arrangement of net work of nine bore wells was
developed for sprinkling water continuously over the exposed
flyash slopes and top and in addition to that,12 tankers of 6000
to 10000 litres capacity were deployed during peak
requirement to sprinkle water at all the roads on which
machinery was moving. But as the site is surrounded by

27

During summer, it was observed that rate of loss of water from


the compacted layer was very high resulting into loss of
compaction, which used to get aggregated by movement of
dumpers which came for dumping of flyash. This problem was
solved by increasing thickness of compacted layer of fly ash
from 150 mm to 300 mm. This helped in speeding the
construction, reducing the open area of flyash and reduced
loss of moisture and compaction.
Spillage of flyash on roads during transportation is an area of
great concern and carelessness can create a very serious
pollution problem within the city. Hence preventive and
corrective measures were taken to control this menace. On
daily basis, it was ensured that all dumpers carrying flyash
were fully covered by tarpulin overloading of dumpers was
strictly not allowed.

Quality control
A self contained fully equipped soil-testing laboratory was
established before starting the work. Some of the tests were Sieve
analysis, Moisture content determination, Modified proctor test as
per IS 2720, Liquid Limit and Plastic Limit. Following were the
main considerations as part of the quality assurance programme Each source of soil flyash was decided and approved before
bringing the material at site.
Field control on compaction was achieved by ensuring moisture
contents near OMC, adequate plain and vibro passes of
compactor and compaction level by core cutter method were
ensured.
.
11.0 GUIDELINE FOR EMBANKMENT
(As per BIS 10153-1982)
Studies have shown the suitability of fly ash as a fill material for
the construction of embankments. The properties to be kept in view
are grain size, density; shear strength, compaction characteristics &
permeability. The fly ash has to be compacted at OMC, which is
normally in range of 15-30 percent. Because of low density the
28

material is suitable for location where clayey soils get consolidated


under overburden material. The permeability of compacted fly ash
is low so in cases where the water table is very high or surface
water likely to percolate down the embankment, it is advisable to
provide for drainage a layer of coarse material 300-450 mm thick
below the fly ash
12.0 CONCLUSION
Railway embankment is quite different from road embankment due
to the fact that they are designed for higher axle loads and very
tight safety tolerance therefore, coal ash can not be used directly in
railway embankment. The study reveals that fly ash is cohesionless
and highly erodible in nature, has low density and high void ratio,
as such, it may not behave as ideal material for construction of
railway embankments. To over come these inherent geotechnical
short comings, construction of embankment with fly ash requires
specialised method wherein fly ash has to be used in combination
with naturally occurring soil. Extensive monitoring of field
performance of embankment constructed with fly ash on an
experimental basis is required before usage of fly ash could be
propagated on wider scale.

-----------------

29

REFERENCES

1 Use of Coal Ash in Embankment Stability Analysis and Design


Consideration by Sri Manoj Dutta
2. Engineering properties of Coal Ash by Sri Manoj Dutta
3 Collapse behaviour of coal ash by Sri A.Trivedi & V.K.Sud
4. Construction of Road embankment and reinforced earth wall using fly
ash by Dr. Sudhir Mathur and others
5. Fly ash in road & embankment byDr. Vimal Kumar and other
6. Engineered Fills by Thomas Telford

30

Annexure-I
Ash Samples Properties

S.No.

1.
2.

3.

Coal Ash
samples
Properties

NTPC
Vidhya
Nagar, M.P.
(Fly Ash)

ML
Classific ation
Grain size distribution
Gravel (%)
00
Sand (%)
20
Silt (%)
80
Clay (%)
00
Fines passing
80
75 sieve (%)
Consistency Limits (%)
Liquid Limit
NP

NTPC
Vidhya
Nagar, M.P.
(Pond Ash)

Singrauli
Super
Thermal
Power
Station
(Fly Ash)

Singrauli
Super
Thermal
Power
Station
( Bottom
Ash)

Barauni
Thermal
Power
(Fly
Ash)

Uncha
har
Thermal
Power
(Fly
Ash)

Badar
pur
Thermal
Power
( Bottom
Ash)

SM

SP-SM

ML

SP-SM,
SP,SM

00
94-95
05-06
00
05-06

00
16-30
70-84
00
70-84

00-6
80-92
03-17
00
03-17

NP

NP

SM

SM

01
72
27
00
27

06
56
38
00
38

09
84
07
00
07

00
61
39
00
39

NP

NP

NP

NP

31

SP-SM,

Kolaghat
Thermal
Power
(Fly
Ash)

4.

5.

6
7.

Plastic Limit
Plasticity
Index
OMC (%)

NP
NP

NP
NP

NP
NP

NP
NP

NP
NP

NP
NP

NP
NP

NP
NP

13.5

21.0

22.5

25.0

19.2

18-24.5

MDD (g
1.51
3
/cm )
Shear parameters:
C(kg/cm2)
(degree)

1.31

1.28

1.27

1.26

17.6019.45
1.6411.660

1.221.42

0.02
33.83

0.00
35.33

0.024
33.65

.0143
32.98

1.82

2.13

0.10
11.2
2.2

0.012
33.533.65
0.0-0.01
24
2.342.41

0.2086

0.2428

0.1107

0.06740.0719

C (kg/cm2)
(degree)
2.19
Specific
gravity
Consolidation test parameters:
Compression
Index (Cc)

2.06

32

Coefficient of
Consolidation
(Cv)
(cm2/min) at:
2 Kg/cm2

0.1671

0.1394

0.1196

4 Kg/cm2

0.2169

0.1466

0.1849

8 Kg/cm2

0.1702

0.2291

0.2552

PreConsolidation
Pressure (Pc)
(kg/cm2)
Initial Void
Ratio (e0)
8

Uniformity
Coefficient
( Cu)
Coefficient of
curvature (
Cc)

1.00

0.5795

0.90

0.75

0.951.02

1.1275
0.4894

1.08701.3154
3.053.38

8.5411.96

3.54-5.0

1.231.47

0.631.37

0.74-1.31

10.47

4.52

66.67

3.66

0.76

1.47

9.80

1.47

33

0.13020.3629
0.26270.3581
0.25150.3509

S.No.

1.

Coal Ash
samples
Properties

NTPC
Rihand
(Fly Ash)

NTPC
Rihand
(Bottom
Ash)

NTPC
Ramagundam
A.P
(Fly Ash)

NTPC
Ramagundam, A.P.
(Bottom
Ash)

NTPC
Ramagu
n-dam,
A.P.
(Bottom
Ash))
SP-SM

NTPC
NTPC Kahalga
Kahalga on
on
(Bottom
Ash)
(Fly
Ash)

Classification

ML

SM

ML

SP-SM

ML

SP-SM

Gravel (%)
Sand (%)
Silt (%)
Clay (%)
Fines passing
75 sieve (%)

00
01
79
20
99

00
55
45
00
45

00
07
93
00
93

03
92
05
00
05

01
91
08
00
08

00
15
85
00
85

00
94
06
00
06

Liquid Limit
Plastic Limit
Plasticity
Index

NP
NP
NP

NP
NP
NP

NP
NP
NP

NP
NP
NP

NP
NP
NP

NP
NP
NP

NP
NP
NP

2.

3.

34

4.

OMC (%)
MDD (g
/cm3)

15.0
1.58

20.0
1.26

16.0
1.51

27.0
1.17

27.0
1.17

15.50
1.45

27.0
1.2

5.

C(kg/cm2)
(degree)
C (kg/cm2)
(degree)
Specific
gravity

2.15

7.

Compression
Index (Cc)
Coefficient of
Consolidation
(Cv)
(cm2/min) at:
2 Kg/cm2
4 Kg/cm2
8 Kg/cm2

35

1.864

PreConsolidation
Pressure (Pc)
(kg/cm2)
Initial Void
Ratio (e0)
8

Uniformity
Coefficient
( Cu)
Coefficient of
curvature (
Cc)

7.69

14.12

3.27

3.56

3.50

0,69

3.53

0.80

1.13

0.75

36