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Strength Enhancement of Clayey

Soils Stabilized With Acrylic Polymer

Submitted to
Guided by Submitted by
Prof. M.K.Trivedi Rahul Dhakad
M.E. (Structural Engineering)
• Soil stabilization methods are typically mechanically or
chemically based. Historically, chemical amendments have been
used to stabilize soils.
• The Appian Way, built during the Roman Empire was often
considered the first lime stabilized road (ASCE 1978).
• Chemical soil stabilization has been extensively used worldwide.
• Chemical amendments are typically applied in liquid or powder
• Four traditional chemical amendments have been extensively
researched and are commonly used: cement, lime, fly ash, and
asphalt emulsion.
• Cement and lime are frequently used to modify roadway
• The need for soil improvement is increasing due
to pressures to build and rehabilitate
infrastructure and other civil works on sites with
marginal soils.
• If the infrastructure cannot be relocated or
adapted to the soil conditions, then the soil must
be stabilized.
Methods of soil stabilization

• Some of the most common non-traditional additives are: polymers, salts,

acids, enzymes, lignosulfonates, petroleum emulsions, and tree resins.
• Two common polymer products used for soil stabilization are vinyl acetate
and acrylic based copolymers.
• Both vinyl acetate and acrylic copolymers are hydrophobic and have had
moderate success in bonding to a range of soils.
• Polymer amendment for improvement of soils is a growing industry and has
been of particular interest in recent field applications.
• Polymers improve the soil by providing physical stabilization through the use
of binding agents.
• Polymers are easily modified; therefore, a range of polymer combinations can
be prepared to modify soils.

The objective of this study is to see the effect of polymer addition on

engineering properties of soil and to evaluate optimum percentage of
polymer for performance evaluation based on unconfined compressive
strength and CBR values.
Three sites were selected among various surveyed sites
so as to obtain, Three test soils of different plasticity index

This was done to evaluate the effectiveness of polymer

over a range of plasticity index.

Soils included three clays with varying values of

plasticity, i.e. low, medium and high having plasticity
index as 11, 18 and 27 %.

The experimental test program was also used to

evaluate optimum percentage of polymer for
performance evaluation based on unconfined
compressive strength and CBR values.
• In this work Acrylic Polymer has been used as additive. A series of
tests were conducted by varying the amount of polymer in clayey soils
with three different values of plasticity index.

• A laboratory test program was undertaken to evaluate a series of

engineering properties for three types clayey soil with different range
of plasticity to develop understanding of the engineering significance of
polymer amendment.

Engineering properties determined throughout the test program

A. cosistency tests e.g. Liqid Limit, Plastic Limit
B. dry unit weight / moisture content relationships through
compaction tests;
C. shear strength through unconfined compression strength tests ,
D. CBR tests.
Based on these tests performace evaluation was carried
out to work out the optimum polymer doses i.e. The
amount of polymer addition required to achieve peak
engineering performance.
General topics including mechanical stabilization of coarse and
fine grained soils; and chemical stabilization of polymer, cement,
and lime are discussed herein.
Mechanical Stabilization

1 Compaction Theory
Mechanical stabilization improves the strength and bearing capacity of soil through the
application of energy, load, or compaction. Some common methods include: application of
energy with standard compaction equipment, in-situ densification, and grouting (Holtz et
al. 2011, Coduto 1999).
2 Field Compaction

A variety of methods exist to compact soils in the field. Common methods

include: in-situ densification (i.e., standard compaction with a roller), vibro-
compaction, vibro-displacement compaction, precompression, injection, and
grouting (Mitchell 1981, ASCE 1978).
Two standard specification types are used to implement field compaction:
method (i.e., procedure) specifications, and end-product (i.e., performance)
specifications. The method specification outlines the compaction specified by
the engineer (i.e., type and weight of compactor, number of passes, lift
thickness). The end product specification requires a minimum final condition,
typically in terms of relative compaction or other measureable engineering
parameters (Holtz et al. 2011). Relative compaction is the field dry density
relative to the laboratory maximum dry density.


Fly ash itself has less cementitious value but it reacts chemically and form
cementitious compound in presence of moisture. Cementitious compound
formed improves the strength and compressibility of soil (Karthik et al.,
Karthik et al., (2014) evaluate the effect of fly ash derived from combustion of sub-
bituminous coal at electric power plants for stabilization of soft fine grained red soil.

The Liquid Limit, Plastic Limit and Specific gravity of soil was 32%, 23.37% and 2.7
respectively. Test was conducted on soil and soil-fly ash mixtures prepared at optimum
water content of 9%. At 6% of fly ash the bearing capacity of soil changes from
10kg/mm2 to 35kg/mm2 and CBR value changes from 3.1% to 4.82%. Due to increase
in CBR values the thickness of pavement decreases from 12 inches to 8.5 inches.


Reaction of lime with soil is grouped into two parts, viz (i) Initial and (ii) Long term. The
initial reaction involved flocculation and ion exchange. Longer term reactions involve
reaction between the soil particle and free lime. These reactions are pozzolanic because
they involved pozzolans. These pozzolanic reaction occur when free lime reacts with
water as a result cementing effect is occur between soil and lime. The increase in
strength of soil is depending on the degree of pozzolonic reaction between lime and
soil (Dallas and Syam, 2009)

Cement can be used to stabilize any soil except highly organic soils (IRC:SP:89-2010).
Numbers of reactions occur when cement is added to the clayey soil. These reactions
are flocculation, ion exchange, carbonation and pozzolanic reactions (Rawas et al., 2005).
Due to these reactions property of soil like strength and durability improved.

polymers consist of long hydrocarbon chains. Polymers are present in many industries
including food, cosmetics, paint, and road construction. The polymer industry is larger
than the aluminum,copper, and steel industries combined (Chappat 1994).

Polymers are easily modified, resulting in potentially endless combinations of polymers

used in different industries. Many different polymers hav been proposed as soil
stabilizers, including cationic, anionic, and non-ionic (Ingles and Metcalf 1973). Studies
have determined that most chemical stabilizers react with soil in one of two ways: the
additive relies on specific chemical reactions with soil particles, or the additive provides
physical stabilization through the use of binding agents. Polymers fall into the latter
category (Tingle et al. 2007).
In general, a polymer for soil stabilization should have excellent physical properties
including high tensile, flexural, and compressive strengths, good adhesion to soil
particles, and a high resistance to water, chemical, and ultraviolet effects (Newman and
Tingle 2004, Tingle et al. 2007).
The most common polymers used in soil stabilization today are vinyl acetate or acrylic
based copolymers. These polymer emulsions typically consist of 40-50% solid particles
by weight of emulsion (Newman and Tingle 2004, Rushing and Tingle 2005, Tingle et al.
Acrylic copolymers are designed to conglomerate soil particles into a solidified matrix
with superior engineering properties (Terratech 2012). Acrylic copolymers are
dispersed in an aqueous polymer emulsion by surfactants, or wetting agents when
mixed with the soil. The polymer then cures by the evaporation of the water, and the
remaining polymer particles coalesce to form a continuous film of polymer around the
This cemented bond creates additional strength between the soil particles as displayed
in Figure 6 (Feller 1966, Rushing and Tingle 2005). Because the primary stabilization
mechanism of polymer is physical bonding, strength improvement depends on the ability
of polymer to adequately coat the soil particles. The strength improvement also
depends on the physical properties of the polymer. Therefore, polymers are typically
less effective per unit of addition with fine grained soils due to the higher specific
surface area, as compared to coarse grained soils (Tingle et al. 2007)
Limited testing has been completed on polymer amended soils to
date. Most laboratory and field eXperimentation with
nontraditional additives, including polymers, have had a focus on
performance evaluation rather than mechanism evaluation. Also,
due to the proprietary nature of the commercial stabilization
additives, eXact chemical compositions are commonly not
disclosed. Therefore, relatively little is published regarding the
fundamental stabilization mechanisms between non-traditional
stabilizers and geotechnical materials, and what was known tends
to be subjective (Tingle et al. 2007, Muhunthan and Sariosseiri
2008, Rauch et al. 2003). Some of the products are soil specific or
environment sensitive. So some polymers may work well in
specific soil types or a given environment, but perform poorly in
another soil type or other environment.
Rauch et al. (2003) investigated the mechanisms of an inorganic,
sodium silicate based polymer stabilizer. This polymer was
tested on illite, montmorillonite, and kaolinite clays, as well as
two natural high plasticity clays.
MiXed results have been published regarding the success of polymer based soil
stabilizers. Newman and Tingle (2004) determined that acrylic copolymer
amendments improve the strength of soil at addition levels below those of
typical cement stabilization. Newman and Tingle also noted that all acrylic
copolymers tested had higher strengths than control strengths. Roosevelt (2005)
completed a field test with an acrylic polymer (i.e., Soiltac) and concluded that
soil stabilizers mixed with crusher run stone do not increase the stiffness or
bearing capacity of the material. Rushing and Tingle (2005) determined that
polymer emulsions provide excellent initial dust mitigation. The material
physically adhered to soil particles and provided bonding. However, heavy
wheeled and tracked vehicles were able to break the bonds at the road surface.
They also noted that once the soil matrix was disturbed it could not be restored
without the addition of additional polymer. Though each of these test programs
tested the same type of polymer, each tested different parameters, and used a
different proprietary product.
Santoni et al. (2005) conducted a test program with 6 polymers added to silty
sand (SM) with an accelerated curing duration. Of the six polymers tested,
only one had higher unconfined compressive strength than the control after 7
days. Increased strengths were demonstrated when cement was added as an
accelerator. Santoni et al. (2002) conducted a test program on silty sand (SM)
with 28-day curing periods, and unconfined compressive strength as the
engineering parameter of comparison. Three polymers were tested at
application rates of 0.1% to 5% by dry weight. The polymer additives gained
significant strength with time over their 28-day curing duration. Polymer
amended specimens had an average of 57% increase in strength in the dry test
condition, and 221% in the wet test condition relative to control. An optimum
polymer addition rate to obtain maximum unconfined compressive stress was
identified. Finally, it was concluded that nontraditional stabilizers gained
strength over a shorter time duration than traditional stabilizers. A summary of
the test results is presented in Figure 7 (Santoni et al 2002).

Testing was performed in accordance with all applicable Indian

Standard Codes IS: 2720 (Part 16) 1979.The index properties
tests are conducted first, then the soil optimum moisture content
and dry density tests are conducted and at OMC, maximum dry
density, the tests are performed. Soil index properties such as
maximum dry unit weight, optimum moisture content, and
specific gravity were used to classify soils. These tests were
performed in accordance with their respective standards..

The liquid and plastic limit of soil are dependent on the

amount and type of clay in a soil and form the basis for
the soil classification system for cohesive soils based
on plasticity tests. The plasticity test gives information
about the cohesion property of soil and amount of
capillary water which it can hold.
(i) LIQUID LIMIT Determined as per IS: 2720(Part5)

(A) Apparatus:-
(a) Mechanical Liquid limit Device conform to IS: 9259-1979
(b) Grooving tool- conform to IS: 9259-1979.
(c) Porcelain evaporating dish- 12 to 15 cm in diameter.
(d) Flat Glass plate - 10mm thick and about 45cm square
(e) Spatula - For mixing soil and water in the porcelain evaporating
dish, about 8cm long and 2cm wide.
(f) Balance sensitive to 0.01g
(g) Oven - Thermostatically controlled with interior of non-corroding
material to maintain the temperature in between 105 to 1100C.
(h) Wash Bottle - Containing distilled water.
(I) Container - Air tight and non corrodible for determination of
moisture content.
(B) Procedure:- The test were performed accordance to IS: 2720 (Part 5)-1985. Liquid
Limit of soil is determined by the Casagrande apparatus. In Liquid Limit test 120gm
of air dried soil passing through 425 micron sieve is taken. This soil sample is mix
with water to form uniform paste. Place a portion of soil in to the cup of Casagrande
and the surface is make smooth with the help of spatula. Draw the grooving tool in to
the soil which divides the soil in to two parts. The handle of Casagrandeis turned at
the rate of 2 revolutions per second and counts the blows until two parts of the soil
comes in contact. Now about 15gm of soil is taken to determine the water content of
soil. The same procedure is repeated until sets of reading in the range of 10 to
40.Water content corresponding to the 25 no of blows is taken as Liquid Limit of soil.
(ii) PLASTIC LIMIT:- Determined as per IS:2720 (part -5)-1985.
(A) Apparatus:-
(a) Porcelain evaporating dish or flat glass plate.
(b) Spatula - Flexible, with the blade about 8cm long and 2cm wide.
(c) Surface for rolling - Glass plate.
(d) Containers - Air tight to determine moisture content.
(e) Balance - Sensitive to 0.01g.
(f) Oven - Thermostatically controlled with interior of non corroding material to maintain
the temperature between 1050C to 1100C.

(B) Soil sample:- A sample weighing about 20g from the thoroughly mixed portion of
the material passing 425 micron IS sieve, obtained in accordance with IS:2720 (part-1) -

Procedure: The soil sample shall be mixed thoroughly with distilled water in an evaporating
dish or on the flat glass plate till the soil mass becomes plastic enough to easily mould with
fingers. A ball shall be formed with about 8g of this plastic soil mass and rolled between the
fingers and the glass plate with just sufficient pressure to roll the mass into a thread of
uniform dia. throughout its length. The rate of rolling shall be between 80 to 90 strokes/min
counting as one complete motion of the hand forward and back to the starting position
again. The process of alternate rolling and kneading shall be continued till the thread
crumbles under the pressure requires for rolling and the soil can no longer be rolled into a
thread. The crumbling may occur when the thread has a diameter 3mm.

Plasticity Index is defined as the difference of Liquid limit

and plastic limit of soil.

Compaction is the process of densification soil mass by reducing air

voids. The degree of compaction of a soil is measured in terms of its
dry density. The degree of compaction is mainly depending upon its
moisture content, compaction energy and type of soil. For a given
compaction energy every soil attains the maximum dry density at a
particular water content which is known as optimum moisture
(a) Apparatus used

1) Balance (capacity 10kg, Sensitivity 1gm)

2) Drying oven (temperature 1050C to 1100C)
3) Graduated jars
4) Straight edge
5) Large mixing pan
6) Spatula
7) Cylindrical mould (capacity 1000cc, internal diameter 100mm, effective
height 127.3mm) for light compaction cylindrical mould, (capacity 2250cc,
internal dia. 150mm, effective height 127.30mm) for heavy compaction.
(8) Rammer (face dia. 50mm, mass 2.6kg, free drop 310mm) for light
compaction, or Rammer (face dia. 50mm, mass 4.89kg, free drop 450mm) for
heavy compaction.
(b) Procedure

Take about 20kg for 1000cc mould or 45kg for 2250 cc mould of air dried
and mixed soil. Sieve this soil through 20mm and 4.75mm sieves. Using a mould
of 10cm diameter, if percentage retained on 4.75mm sieve is less than 20 or use a
mould of 15cm diameter if percentage retained on 4.75 mm sieve is more than 20.
Now take 2.5kg of soil for 1000c.c. mould or 6kg for 2250cc mould for
light compaction. Or take about 2.8kg of the soil for 1000cc mould or 6.5kg for
22550cc mould for heavy compaction.
Compact the wet soil in 3 equal layers by the rammer of mass 2.6kg and
free fall 31cm with 25 evenly distributes blows in each layer for 10cm diameter
mould and 56 blows for 15cm diameter mould. Alternatively for heavy
compaction, compact the soil using the rammer of mass 4.9kg and free fall 45cm
in five layers, each layer being given 25blows for 10 cm diameter mould and 56
blows for 15cm diameter mould.
Thank you