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Geotextiles and Geomembranes 42 (2014) 417e419

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Geotextiles and Geomembranes

journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/geotexmem

Technical note

A simple method to assess the wettability of nonwoven geotextiles

Abdelmalek Bouazza*
Department of Civil Engineering, Building 60, Monash University, Melbourne, Vic 3800, Australia

a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t

Article history: This paper presents a simple test method and analysis based on capillary rise in porous media to assess
Received 12 January 2014 the wettability of nonwoven geotextiles. The apparent opening pore size and porosity of the nonwoven
Received in revised form geotextiles and their bres surface condition were found to play a signicant role in the extent of the
6 April 2014
water capillary rise in the geotextiles. Prediction of the maximum capillary rise using a theoretical
Accepted 7 April 2014
Available online 22 April 2014
capillary radius compared well with the measured test results. The methodology presented in this paper
should help assess wetting of geotextiles in short period of time and less extensive laboratory testing.
2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Capillary rise
Nonwoven geotextiles

1. Introduction phenomenon can be simulated experimentally by bringing one side

of the porous material of interest in contact with a liquid in a ver-
Pre-treatment and nishing of geotextiles are commonly con- tical direction and observing the capillary rise of the liquid with
ducted by various processes to change the surface condition of the time. Poiseuilles law apply for this type of ow regime. The law
geotextile bres to improve their wettability. Ease of wettability is expresses the balance between capillary, gravity and viscous forces
very important in applications where geotextiles are embedded in driving the ow in an upward direction. Inertia effect is neglected
soils under unsaturated conditions since they can inuence since it is only relevant during the rst microseconds of water rise
signicantly the movement of water and give rise to a redistribu- through the largest pores (Siebold et al., 2000). In this case, the rate
tion of the water content prole (Bouazza, 2004; Iryo and Rowe, of liquid penetration is given by:
2004, 2005; Bouazza et al., 2006b; Nahlawi et al., 2007; Bathurst
et al., 2009; Zornberg et al., 2010; Bouazza et al., 2013). dH R2 DP
Various methods are currently being used to modify or change dt 8hH
the bres surface properties. Such methods include chemical wet
oxidation (Zhao et al., 2006) or plasma treatment (Zhao et al., 2006; where H is the height reached by the liquid at time t, R is the
Jeon and Bouazza, 2007; Jeon et al., 2008; Singh and Bouazza, 2013). equivalent pore radius assuming that the nonwoven structure of
Chemical wet oxidation is commonly applied by geotextile manu- the geotextile is modelled as a series of parallel capillaries (Chen
facturers to alter the surface condition of the geotextile bres in et al., 2009), h is the dynamic viscosity of the liquid, DP is the dif-
order to change their wettability and adhesion properties. Wetta- ference between the Laplace or capillary pressure and the pressure
bility of geotextile polymers is usually attained by adding to the due to gravity and is given by:
fabric surface a surfactant solution to make them hydrophilic. This
paper presents a simple test method and analysis based on capillary 2T cos q
DP  rw gH (2)
rise in porous media to assess the wettability of geotextiles. R
where T and rw are: the surface tension and density of the liquid,
2. Capillary rise background respectively. q is the advancing contact angle of the liquid on the
solid and g the acceleration due to gravity.
Capillary rise describes the upward movement or penetration of Rearranging Equations (1) and (2) gives the Poiseuille equation
water, under no applied pressure, in a porous medium. This applied to a rise of a liquid in vertical capillaries.

dH R2 2T cos q
* Tel.: 61 3 9905 4956; fax: 61 3 9905 4944.  rw gH (3)
E-mail address: Malek.Bouazza@monash.edu. dt 8hH R

0266-1144/ 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
418 A. Bouazza / Geotextiles and Geomembranes 42 (2014) 417e419

Table 1 (500 mm long  100 mm wide) in a water bath, while the other end
Geotextile characteristics. was raised vertically above the water bath and connected to a
Geotextile Fibre type rf AOS* tGT MA n (%) Df wooden frame. The geotextile specimen was conned inside a
(kg/m3) (mm) (mm) (g/m2) (mm) Perspex cylinder to minimize evaporation of water from the geo-
GT1 Continuous 1300 90 2.6 220 93.50 25 textile at room temperature (20  C). 20 mm of the geotextile
lament specimen was kept submerged in water and was left to equilibrate
GT2 Continuous 1300 80 3.5 325 92.85 25 for a time period of 72 h as suggested by Laeur et al. (2000). Tap
water used in the experiments was dyed using blue dye in order to
Note: rf density of the bres, MA average mass per unit area, tGT average help visual identication of the height of the capillary rise within
geotextile thickness, n geotextile porosity 1  MA =rf tGT , AOS apparent
the tested geotextile.
opening size as provided by the manufacturer (MARV values), Df diameter of the
geotextile bres.
The hydrophobicity/hydrophilicity of the geotextile samples
was cross-checked using the contact angle (q) apparatus OCAH 230
(Dataphysics Instruments, Filderstadt, Germany). The OCAH-230
consists of a computer controlled liquid drop dispensing syringe
When the maximal height (Hmax) of capillary rise is reached, the
pump; a syringe pump is an infusion pump which can dispense
capillary pressure and the pressure due to gravity become equal
accurate ow rates. In order to generate drops of pure water so-
(i.e. DP 0). Thus at equilibrium:
lution, a syringe with a at tip stainless steel needle is tted to the
2 T cos q syringe pump. The needle is placed above the water liquid surface
Hmax (4) such as that the water drop generated could just touch the surface
R rw g
of the geotextile. An image software is then used to analyse the
The above equation is also referred to as the Jurins law. droplet images.
Kutilek and Nielsen (1994) reported that the magnitude of the
3. Material and test method contact angle can be used to distinguish three classes of wetting of
solids. In particular, Kutilek and Nielsen (1994) indicated the
Two nonwoven needle-punched polyester geotextiles (GT1, following: 1) for q 0 the surface is completely wet and the solid
GT2) provided by the same manufacturer were used in the present can be considered as being fully hydrophilic. 2) The solid is said to
investigation. Their average basic characteristics are presented in be partly hydrophilic when partial wetting of the surface occurs;
Table 1. The test program included geotextile samples supplied in i.e. 0 < q < 90 and nally 3) a non-wetting surface exhibits
their original state (i.e. hydrophobic) and samples which were q  90 and in this case the solid is considered to be hydrophobic.
treated during the manufacturing process by wet oxidation using a Contact angle measurements conducted on the geotextile samples
proprietary detergent aqueous solution (i.e. treated to increase conrmed that the supplied untreated geotextiles were hydro-
their hydrophilicity). No difference between the characteristics of phobic (contact angle 153 ), whereas the contact angles of the
the treated and untreated geotextiles was observed. treated geotextiles were equal to 0 indicating that they were
The capillary rise method adopted in this study followed the hydrophilic.
method presented by Laeur et al. (2000). It was conducted on an
initially dry geotextile specimen, which was allowed to equilibrate 4. Results and discussion
in a vertical position along its in-plane direction. The capillary rise
was measured by submerging one end of a dry geotextile strip Capillary rise tests on the untreated polyester geotextile showed
that no capillary rise occurred and thus the geotextile followed a
non-wetting behaviour type (Fig. 1). This is typical of hydrophobic
100 geotextile bres which in most cases do not have afnity to water
when they are initially dry. Similar observations were reported by
Henry and Patton (1998) who indicated that polyester geotextiles
showed no water rise. It is to be noted that Bouazza et al. (2006a)
Capillary rise (mm)

observed a slight capillary rise in similar nonwoven geotextiles

60 when wrapped in plastic lms. However, this was due to the lower
GT1-Treated contact angle of the plastic lm only and not to the behaviour of the
40 GT2-Treated material. The treated geotextiles resulted in signicant wetting
GT1 & GT2-Untreated behaviour along the in-plane direction and considerable capillary
rise height (Fig. 1). The wet-oxidation of the geotextiles using a
20 detergent aqueous solution seems to have been effective on
increasing their water uptake ability or their hyrophilicity. Geo-
0 textiles can resist wetting because of their hydrophobic CH groups
0 500 1000 1500 2000 2500 3000 and low free surface energy when they undergo wetting. When
Time (mns) they are treated with coatings and nishing agents (i.e. chemical
treatment), hydrophilic groups (OeH) are formed instead of hy-
Fig. 1. Capillary rise versus time in treated and untreated geotextiles. drophobic (CeH) bonds on the polymer surface (Zhao et al., 2006;

Table 2
Maximum height of capillary rise predictions.

Geotextile n (%) rf (mm) R-theoretical R-experimental Hmax-predicted Hmax-experimental

(mm) (mm) (mm) (mm)

GT1 93.50 12.50 179.80 199.30 83.10 75.00

GT2 92.85 12.50 162.30 166.10 92.10 90.00
A. Bouazza / Geotextiles and Geomembranes 42 (2014) 417e419 419

Nahlawi, 2009). This will result in a reduction of the hydrophobicity nonwoven polyester geotextile. The application of the Poiseuille
of the polymeric materials where the oxidation reactions occur on equation was found to be representative of the liquid penetration in
the polymeric surface in the presence of oxygen. the geotextiles. Furthermore, the prediction of the maximum
Fig. 1 indicates also that the capillary rise is function of the capillary rise (Hmax) using a theoretical capillary radius compared
opening size of the pores or porosity of the geotextiles and probably well with the measured test results. The methodology presented in
their thickness. The upward movement of water occurs faster in the this paper should help assess wetting of geotextiles in short period
less porous material (GT2) than in the more porous material (GT1). of time and less extensive laboratory testing.
Interconnection between the pores seems also to play an important
role on the capillary rise, Based on the AOS values, one can assume
that smaller pores are more prone to occur in GT2 than in GT1. Acknowledgements
Water will tend to rise faster through the smaller pores and slow
down when it encounters the larger pores. Hence, the larger Dr. Hani Nahlawi conducted the capillary rise tests and contact
capillary rise observed in GT2. Thickness can also have an inuence angle measurements. His help is gratefully acknowledged.
on the water rise since it can provide the additional pores in-
terconnections (in the thickness direction) needed to allow water
to move further up such as in the case of GT2 in addition to the References
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