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Comparison of Fly Ash and Rice Husk Ash Stabilized Black Cotton Soil



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Laxmikant Yadu Rajesh kumar Tripathi

National Institute of Technology Raipur National Institute of Technology Raipur


Dharamveer Singh
Indian Institute of Technology Bombay


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42 International Journal of Earth Sciences and Engineering
ISSN 0974-5904, Volume 04, No 06 SPL, October 2011, pp. 42-45

Comparison of Fly Ash and Rice Husk Ash Stabilized Black Cotton Soil
Laxmikant Yadu
Assistant Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, National Institute of Technology Raipur, India, 492010,
Rajesh Kumar Tripathi
Associate Professor & Head, Department of Civil Engineering, National Institute of Technology, Raipur, India, 492010,
Dharamveer Singh
Graduate Research Assistant, School of Civil Engineering and Environmental Science, University of Oklahoma, 202 W. Boyd Street,
Room 334, Norman, Oklahoma, USA, 73019, Email:

ABSTRACT: The paper presents the laboratory study of black cotton (BC) soil stabilized with fly ash (FA) and rice
husk ash (RHA). The samples of BC soils were collected from a rural road located in Raipur of Chhattisgarh state. The
soil was stabilized with different percentages of FA (i.e., 5, 8, 10, 12, and 15%) and RHA (i.e., 3, 6, 9 11, 13, and 15%).
The atterberg limits, specific gravity, california bearing ratio (CBR), and unconfined compressive strength (UCS) tests
were performed on raw and stabilized soils. Results indicate that addition of FA and RHA reduces the plasticity index
(PI) and specific gravity of the soil. The moisture and density curves indicate that addition of RHA results in an increase
in optimum moisture content (OMC) and decrease in maximum dry density (MDD), while these values decrease with
addition of FA. The addition of stabilizers (i.e., FA and RHA) increases UCS and CBR values, indicating the
improvement in the strength properties of the soil. Based on the CBR and UCS tests, the optimum amount of FA and
RHA was found to be as 12% and 9%, respectively.
KEY WORDS: Black cotton soil, Fly ash, Rice husk ash, UCS, CBR


The wetting and drying process of a subgrade layer Material Properties
composed of black cotton (BC) soil result into failure of Soil used in this study is a blackish gray clayey silt of
pavements in form of settlement and cracking. Therefore, intermediate plasticity. This soil is normally defined as
prior to construction of a road on such subgrade, it is black cotton (BC) soil in India. The soil is collected from
important either to remove the existing soil and replace it shallow depth from Tatibandh-Atari rural road Raipur of
with a non-expansive soil or to improve the engineering Chhattisgarh state India. The various properties of the soil
properties of the existing soil by stabilization. Replacing are listed in Table 1. RHA used in this study has been
the existing soil might not be a feasible option, therefore, obtained from open clay brick kiln at Sarona village of
the best available approach is to stabilize the soil with Raipur district. Geotechnical properties of RHA are given
suitable stabilizers. Various types of soil stabilizers (i.e., in Table 2. The FA has been collected from nearby
fly ash, cement kiln dust, lime) and locally available thermal power station at Urla in Raipur district.
materials (i.e., slate dust, rice husk ash) are being used for Geotechnical properties of FA are reported in the Table 3.
stabilization of soil. However, the selection of a particular
Method of Testing
type of stabilizer depends upon the type of subgrade soil
The laboratory tests carried out on the raw BC soil, RHA
and availability of stabilizers. Several researchers have
and FA include: Atterberg limits, specific gravity, Proctor,
reported the benefits of stabilizers for modifying the
CBR and UCS. The geotechnical characteristics of the
engineering properties of soil.
soil, RHA, and FA have been determined in accordance
with bureau of Indian standards (BIS). For determining
For example, Brooks (2009) studied the potential of Rice
the effect of stabilizers on BC soil, various percentages of
Husk Ash (RHA)-fly ash (FA) blended soil as a swell
FA (i.e., 5, 8, 10, 12 and 15%) and RHA (i.e., 3, 6, 9 11,
reduction layer between the footing of a foundation and
13 and 15%) have been mixed with the soil.
subgrade. He recommended 12% and 25%, RHA and FA,
respectively, for modifying the expansive subgrade soil. Table 1 Geotechnical properties of raw BC soil
Satyanarayan et al. (2004) studied the effect of FA and Soil Properties Values
lime on the expansive soil used for construction of road Field Moisture content (%) 2.9
base, subbase and embankments. Ali et al. (2004) studied Liquid Limit (%) 47
the effect of RHA and lime on characteristics of bentonite. Plastic Limit (%) 30
Recognizing the benefits of stabilizer in improving the Plasticity Index (%) 17
strength characteristics of soil, the present study has been Specific Gravity 2.63
undertaken to study the change in the index and strength Maximum Dry Density (kN/m3) 18.6
properties of the BC soil by adding various proportions of Optimum Moisture Content (%) 11.9
FA and RHA. Furthermore, a thorough laboratory
Soaked California Bearing Ratio (%) 4.0
investigation has been conducted to determine the
Unsoaked California Bearing Ratio (%) 9.2
optimum amount of stabilizers.
AASHTO Classification* A-7-5 (4)
ISSCS Classification** CI-MI

#020410110 Copyright © 2011 CAFET-INNOVA TECHNICAL SOCIETY. All rights reserved

Comparison of Fly Ash and Rice Husk Ash Stabilized Black Cotton Soil 43

AASHTO – American Association of State Highway and
Transportation Officials RHA FA
** 2.650
ISSCS – Indian Standard Soil Classification System

Table 2 Geotechnical properties of RHA 2.600

Rice Husk Ash Properties Values

Specific Gravity
Liquid Limit (%) 94 2.550

Plastic Limit (%) Non-Plastic

Specific Gravity 2.04
Maximum Dry Density (kN/m3) 6.97
Optimum Moisture Content (%) 45.5
California Bearing Ratio (%) 15 2.400
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
Table 3 Geotechnical properties of FA RHA & FA (%)
Fly Ash Properties Values Fig. 2 Specific Gravity of RHA and FA Mixed Soil
Liquid Limit (%) 84
Plastic Limit (%) Non-Plastic Effect on Compaction Characteristics
Specific Gravity 2.09 The compaction test has been performed on the raw BC
Maximum Dry Density (kN/m3) 13.2 soil, FA and RHA stabilized soils in accordance with IS:
Optimum Moisture Content (%) 27 2720 (part 8) - 1983. The proctor test results are presented
in Figures 3 and 4. It can be seen that OMC increases and
MDD decreases with increasing percentage of RHA.
Similar results are reported by Ali et al. (1992), Muntohar
(2002), and Alhassan (2008). It has been observed that
Effect on Atterberg’s Limits
both MDD and OMC decrease with an increasing
Liquid limit (LL) and plastic limit (PL) of soil mixed with
percentage of FA.The decrease in the MDD can be
different percentage of FA and RHA have been estimated
attributed to the replacement of soil by the FA and RHA
in the laboratory in accordance with IS: 2720 (Part 5) –
(Ali et al. 1992; Jha and Gill 2006; Alhassan 2008). The
1985. Figure 1 indicates that PI value of soil decreases
increase in OMC due to addition of RHA may be caused
with the increasing proportion of FA and RHA. It can be
by the absorption of water by RHA (Ali et al. 1992; Jha
seen that RHA was more effective in reducing the PI then
and Gill 2006). This implies that more water is needed in
FA. These observations are consistent with the results
order to compact the soil with RHA mixture.
reported by Muntohar (2002).

Effect on Specific Gravity 20.0

Specific gravity of stabilized soils has been estimated in

Max dry density (kN/m 3 )

accordance with IS: 2720 (Part 3) – 1985. Figure 2 18.0

presents the variation of specific gravity of the soil mixed
with varying percentage of RHA and FA. It can be seen 16.0
that addition of FA and RHA decreases the specific
gravity of the soil. This decrease in specific gravity can be
due to the lower value of specific gravity of FA and RHA:
2.09 and 2.04 respectively. It can be seen that rate of
decrease in specific gravity due to RHA is high as 12.0
compared to FA. 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
RHA & FA (%)

RHA FA Fig. 3 MDD of RHA and FA Mixed Soil

20.0 RHA FA
Optimum moisture content (%)

Pla sticity Index (%)


12.0 16
4.0 10
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 6
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
RHA and FA (%)
RHA & FA (%)
Fig. 1 Plasticity Index of RHA and FA Mixed Soil Fig. 4 OMC of RHA and FA Mixed Soil

International Journal of Earth Sciences and Engineering

ISSN 0974-5904, Volume 04, No 06 SPL, October 2011, pp. 42-45
44 Laxmikant Yadu, Rajesh Kumar Tripathi, Dharamveer Singh

Effect on Strength Characteristics - CBR Tests UCS Tests

The pavement design is usually based on the CBR value The UCS tests have been performed in accordance with
of subgrade soil. In the present study soaked and unsoaked IS: 2720 (Part 10) – 1991. The tests were performed on
CBR tests were conducted on the raw and stabilized soils. the samples compacted at OMC and MDD. Figure 7
The soaked CBR tests have been conducted on samples shows the variation of UCS value for RHA and FA mixed
compacted at OMC and soaked for 96 hours in accordance soil.
with IS: 2720 (Part 16) – 1987. Variation of the soaked
and unsoaked CBR values for FA and RHA mixed soil is It can be seen from the figure that strength of the soil
shown in Figure 5 and 6, respectively. increases with addition of FA and RHA. For example,
It is clear from the figures that CBR value of raw soil UCS for raw soil increased to 345 kN/m2 from 118 kN/m2
increases with addition of RHA and FA. For example, the with addition of 12% FA (Figure 7). Similarly, 9% RHA
soaked CBR value of raw soil (i.e., 4%) increased to increased the UCS of raw soil to 208 kN/m2. The initial
approximately 11% with addition of 11% of RHA or 12% increase in the UCS with addition of RHA is attributed to
of FA, respectively (Figure 5). The initial increase in the the formation of cementitious compounds between the
CBR is expected because of gradual formation of CaOH present in the soil and the pozzolana present in the
cementitious compounds between FA or RHA and CaOH FA and RHA. The decrease in the UCS values after
present in the soil. The gradual decrease in the CBR after addition of 12% FA and 9% RHA may be due to
11% RHA and 12% FA is due to excess RHA or FA that formation of weak bonds between the soil and the
occupies spaces within the sample and reduces bond in the cementitious compounds formed (Alhassan 2008). Similar
soil (Jha and Gill 2006; Alhassan 2008). Similar trends results are reported by several other researchers (Brooks,
have been observed for unsoaked CBR (Figure 6). The 2009; Ali et al., 1992; Muntohar, 2005; Jha and Gill,
unsoaked CBR for stabilized mixes have been found to be 2006; Alhassan, 2008). Based on the UCS test, the
approximately 2.5 times the value obtained for the raw BC optimum amount of FA and RHA have been determined
soil. The results are consistent with observation reported as 12%, and 9%, respectively. It is noted that optimum
by Brooks (2009) and Muntohar (2002). It has been amount of FA based on CBR and UCS test have been
observed that based on the soaked CBR value, the found to be 12%. While for RHA these values are 11%
optimum amount of RHA and FA can be adopted as 11% and 9% respectively. It is important to note that both the
and 12%, respectively. However, these amounts of UCS and CBR criteria give the same optimum amount of
stabilizers solely based on CBR test should be further FA. However, the optimum amounts of RHA were
checked by conducting another strength based test such as different based on UCS and CBR criteria. The optimum
UCS test.This study further focuses on the determination amount of RHA based on UCS (i.e., 9%) has been
of optimum amount of stabilizer based on UCS test. considered in the present study. The final optimum
amounts of FA and RHA have been chosen as 12%, and
9%, respectively.
Soaked CBR (%)

UCS (kN/m 2 )

4 200
2 150
0 100
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 50

RHA a nd FA (%) 0
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
Fig. 5 Soaked CBR of RHA and FA Mixed Soil
RHA and FA (%)

30 Fig. 7 UCS of RHA and FA Mixed Soil
Unsoaked CBR (%)

A comparative cost analysis has been done by designing a
15 Tatibandh-Atari rural road, considering the subgrade soil
with and without stabilization. For this purpose, 1 km
rural road for a design period of 10 years has been
considered. The total thickness of pavement crust has
0 been designed from the CBR curves for flexible pavement
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 design chart with reference to curve C in accordance with
RHA and FA (%) Indian roads congress special publication 20 - 2002
Fig. 6 Unsoaked CBR of RHA and FA Mixed Soil guidelines (IRC:SP:20-2002). Flexible pavement crusts

International Journal of Earth Sciences and Engineering

ISSN 0974-5904, Volume 04, No 06 SPL, October 2011, pp. 42-45
Comparison of Fly Ash and Rice Husk Ash Stabilized Black Cotton Soil 45

have been designed for unstabilized (i.e., natural BC) soil respectively. The study shows that FA is better additive as
as a subgrade having CBR of 4% and for stabilized compared to RHA. It is recommended that similar study
subgrade with optimum amount of RHA (9%) and FA be conducted considering a different type of soil and
(12%) having CBR of 8.2% and 11.8%, respectively. In stabilizer.
case of unstabilized subgrade the total pavement thickness
obtained was 410 mm. On the other hand, for FA and ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
RHA stabilized subgrade the pavement thicknesses have The authors gratefully acknowledge the contribution of
been calculated 280 mm and 230 mm, respectively. Cost part time degree students, final year undergraduate
analyses have been done for both the cases with reference students and lab technician for their help in conducting the
to designed cross-section of the road. Estimated laboratory tests.
construction cost per km length of the rural road have
been found to be approximately 31.3 Lakhs for raw soil as REFERENCES
subgrade. On the other hand, the costs were estimated as [1] Ali M., Sreenivasulu V. (2004). An experimental
27 and 25.2 Lakhs for subgrade stabilized with RHA and study on the influence of rice husk ash and lime on
FA,respectively. Hence, saving in cost per km length of properties of bentonite. Proceedings of Indian
road has been estimated to be approximately 14% and Geotechnical Conference, Warangal (India). 468-
20% for RHA and FA treated subgarde, respectively. 471.
[2] Alhassan, M. (2008). Potentials of rice husk ash for
CONCLUSIONS soil stabilization. AU J. T. 11(4): 246-250.
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road located at Raipur have been stabilized with FA and and rice husk ash. International Journal of Research
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optimum amount of FA and RHA was determined as 12% ash on lime stabilization. Journal of the Institution of
and 9%, respectively. The optimum amount of FA and Engineers (India), Volume 87, page 33-39.
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and 50%, respectively. The UCS of the soil stabilized with burnt rice husk ash in soil improvement.,Dimensi
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approximately 200% and 80% higher compared to raw [6] Satyanarayana P.V.V., Rama Rao R., Krishna Rao
soil. The optimum amount of FA gives higher UCS and C.V. (2004). Utilization of lime fly ash stabilized
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International Journal of Earth Sciences and Engineering

ISSN 0974-5904, Volume 04, No 06 SPL, October 2011, pp. 42-45

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