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Polymer Alternatives

Soil Stabilization

Marlon Matusalem |Geotechnical Engineering | March 4,2017


Polymers are large molecules which consist of long hydrocarbon chains. They are easily
modified, which leads to potentially endless combinations of polymers. This results in
production of polymer materials with various properties. Therefore, polymers are used
in different industries. Various polymers have been proposed for polymer soil
stabilization, including cationic, anionic, and non-ionic polymers. Most chemical
stabilizers react with soil in one of two ways: specific chemical reactions occur between
soil particles and stabilizer, or the stabilizer provides physical stabilization through the
use of binding agents. Polymers fall into the second category.
In spite of growing interest in polymer soil stabilization, limited number of researches
has been conducted and published. Most investigations were focused on performance
rather than analysis of working mechanisms of polymer soil stabilization methods.
The most common polymer soil stabilization methods nowadays are applications of
vinyl acetate or acrylic based copolymers. These polymer emulsions usually consist of
40-50% solid particles by weight of emulsion. Both vinyl acetate and acrylic copolymers
are hydrophobic and showed moderate bonding efficiency in a range of soils in different
case studies. The optimum quantity was when polymer was added at rates high enough
to sufficiently coat all soil particle surfaces, but at rates low enough so that there is no
additional particle separation.
Acrylic copolymers are designed to trap soil particles into a solidified medium with
certain engineering properties. Acrylic copolymers are mixed in an aqueous polymer
emulsion aided by surfactants, or wetting agents when mixed with the soil. The polymer
hardens upon the evaporation of the water which results in a continuous matrix and
film around the aggregate. This resulting solidified medium is characteristic for strength
needed. As the primary stabilization mechanism of polymer is physical bonding,
strength improvement depends on the ability of polymer to coat the soil particles.
Therefore, the strength improvement depends on the physical properties of the
polymer.
Studies regarding polymer soil stabilization showed that polymer based stabilizers
gained strength over a shorter period of time than traditional ones in various soils. Soil
treatment with polymers results in highly improved strength and durability.
Data published to date indicate potential for improvement of polymer soil stabilization
methods. Desired properties of polymer designed for soil stabilization are high tensile,
flexural, and compressive strengths, good adhesion to soil particles, and a high
resistance to water, chemical, and ultraviolet effects.
Global Road Technologies recognized potential of polymers as stabilizers and thus
created range of polymer soil stabilization solutions. GRT products showed efficiency
and durability in most types of soils under extreme weather conditions and under heavy
load. That is why GRT polymer soil stabilization is applicable in all parts of the world and
for various purposes: traffic roads of different priorities, haul roads in forestry, mines,
quarries, construction sites, etc. Global Road Technology offers range of products for
creating flat surface, which leads to safer driving, more efficient work and longer life of
vehicles. Unlike traditional soil stabilizers in case of unpaved roads, GRT products create
resistant, non-slippery and non-dusty surface in combination with in situ soil. One of the
biggest advantages of polymer based methods of soil stabilization such as those

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employed by GRT is that they do not negatively impact the environment whilst creating
a waterproof, semi flexible pavement. They are typically one of the more affordable
options as well.

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