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Research Aim

Directly comparing California Bearing Ratio test with the new European Volumetric Expansion test.
Materials to be considered are fine grained stabilised soils Stabilisation: As the name implies, involves a ground improvement technique which alters the properties of the existing soil, so as to create a new site material capable of better meeting the task in hand.


Current concerns are that the CBR swell test may be giving a green light to certain materials which would, when subjected to site conditions, react in a different way.
Conversely, the new European test may be giving a red light to potentially suitable projects.

The CBR Soaking Procedure

Working Example: Typical Soil: Compacted to standard Proctor Density Permeability = approx 1x10-7m/s = 25.9mm in 3days! If the saturated soil heaves; 5% heave = 1.3mm in 3days!

Durability Testing (G3)

Volumetric Expansion New BS prEN13286-49 Un-tested on UK soils? Binder suitability Degree of pulverisation (6.3mm BS Test sieve) Specimen manufacture (96% of Standard Proctor density) Curing regime (1.5 x workability of binder) Density related Moisture related Grading related What expectations have we?

Durability Testing (G3)

Volumetric Expansion New Modified procedure Larger specimen size Wider range of materials Representative sampling Degree of pulverisation Site equipment (MCV) Realistic curing times & temperatures

Loss of Strength on Immersion

Loss of strength on immersion: B.S. 1924:1975
10 No. specimens prepared 5 No. air cured for 14 days 5 No. air cured for 7 days And totally immersed for a further 7 days At 14 days of age the soaked specimens have achieved over 80% of the strength of that achieved by the unsoaked specimens

Historical Literature Review

In 1962 Sherwood conducted a trial looking at the effects of sulphates on cement and lime stabilisation. One part of the paper looks at the effect of immersion and percentage clay fraction against sulphate content. It concludes that under certain conditions lime or cement treated soils are more likely to disintegrate when the soil contains a high clay fraction, when in the presence of sulphate solution. It also showed that when the clay fraction is removed, the risk of disintegration is also removed. The report clearly achieved what it set out to achieve, and that was to create an environment in the laboratory where, when one element was added or removed from the mix, a change in characteristics could be monitored. (Unconfined soaked specimens were used as the control test).

Historical Literature Review

Specification for Highway Works, 5th Edition, 1976 Included a specification for cement stabilisation, but not for lime stabilisation, and it specified an upper limit of: < 0.25% total sulphate for cohesive soils < 1% for granular materials.

Historical Literature Review

In 1986 the DTp Specification for Highway Works (6th Edition) included for the first time a specification for lime stabilisation. This issue of the specification decided to drop the sulphate content as a tool to control the use of cement stabilised materials and put in its place an immersion test (Loss of strength on immersion).
As for Lime stabilisation at this point there were no durability tests in place (only an upper sulphate content of <1%).

Historical Literature Review (Problems incurred)

Lime/Lime and Cement Stabilisation First major problems occurred in the UK in the late 1980s: Saxmunden Bypass (Conclusion better site control required) M40 Banbury IV Contract Initial views: very hot summer during the period of stabilisation Insufficient water added. Investigation showed CBR specimens did not saturate throughout as had occurred in the field More water had been absorbed at the top of the CBR specimen than at the bottom Evident at the end of the tests that the conditions which had occurred in the field HAD NOT been replicated in the laboratory Considering the amount of heave recorded on site and the relatively short time that it took to develop, it does ask questions as to why this could not be repeated in the laboratory? The conclusion drawn was that the mineralogy of the soil had the potential to develop additional sulphate due to the oxidation of sulphides.

Conclusions from M40 investigation

Snedker quoted:
The most significant test was carried out on a sample of field material mixed with lime, compacted into a cylindrical mould and cured. The specimen was removed from the mould and immersed in water. Within minutes it began to disintegrate and within hours had collapsed completely. The M40 failure was put down to the formation of ettringite within the stabilised layer.

Historical Literature Review

1995 The DTp had issued HA74/95 which clearly set out the recipe for the design and construction of lime stabilised capping. As well as checks for total sulphur contents, it recommended the use of CBR tests to monitor swell. CBR value is on average > 15% with no individual < 8%, And must have on average < 5mm heave or swell with no individual >10mm, after which the material is deemed suitable for stabilisation. HA74 refers to Snedkers report but did not acknowledge the shortcomings of the CBR swell test.

There are many ways to define durability, but for simplicity I have chosen to sub-divide them into two groups:

Chemical durability, and Design durability Chemical durability can be defined as the susceptibility of the material to
deteriorate in the presence of certain chemical elements (ie. Sulphides, sulphates and Organics etc).

Design durability can be defined as the susceptibility of a material to

deteriorate due to the workmanship or design elements (i.e. inadequate compaction, frost, poor choice of binder, etc) I believe certain contractors and consultants are currently using the CBR test as both a chemical durability and design durability test.

TRL Report 505

TRL Report 505 was required to validate or revise the swell limits currently given in HA74/95 (which was under review at the same time, and would later become HA74/00).
TRL 505 clearly set out to ensure that only suitable cohesive fills could be permitted for lime stabilisation within the Specification for Highway Works. In section 3 of TRL 505 (Literature Review) it clearly states that the only standard containing swell limits for acceptability is the current draft CEN Standard, which includes limits for volumetric swelling (accelerated swell test) as an alternative to the current CBR swell test. It goes on to state that the volumetric values equate to linear swells of 6.35mm (5%) and 12.7mm (10%) of the samples compacted into standard BS1924 CBR moulds (127mm high). CEN 1997 and the determination of volumetric swelling (Sv): If Sv < 5% the soil/material is suitable for treatment.

If Sv > 10% the soil/material is unsuitable for treatment.

If Sv > 5% and Sv < 10%, the soil/material warrants further study. It would seem that if the report was required to validate or revise swell checks, then a comparison should have been made between the CBR test and the only other currently acceptable alternative (accelerated swell test).

TRL 505
The report adopted a testing program based on 7 cohesive soils taken from around the UK, namely: Mercia Mudstone Oxford Clay Lower Lias Clay London Clay Gault Clay Weald Clay Kimmeridge Clay There was a wide range of total potential sulphates of between <0.1 to 4.75% SO 3. It is worth noting that none of the 62 CBR specimens tested failed the upper limit stated in HA74, and only one test had a swell in excess of the upper 5mm average swell value allowed in HA74. TRL Report 505 concluded: The currently specified laboratory tests for lime stabilisation of capping materials, including the swell test procedure, are effective performance indicators for mix design and long-term durability. It is recommended that the swell test procedure be retained in the UK specification in its current form. The swell limits currently specified in the UK Advice Note (HA74) on lime treatment are considered to be appropriate for the typical range of British Clays stabilised in the trial, and should not be altered. The results in the Report TRL 505 seem therefore to confirm the experiences reported by Snedker after the M40 failure, not contradict it, therefore disagreeing with its own conclusions.

Conclusions of Literature Review

In 1962 PT Sherwood managed to conduct a regime of testing which created an environment which allowed specimens to expand when subjected to high sulphate solution. At the same time the specimens would not collapse under normal soaking procedures. The confined soaking conditions (CBR swell test) adopted by TRL 505 and HA74 do not seem to recreate a site environment. The experiences gained from the M40 were not fully understood. In 1989 Snedker concluded that the CBR test did not replicate the conditions experienced in the field. TRL 505 did not look at the other alternative testing regime available. After the 2005 (A10 experience), and the subsequent HA74/07 review, the CBR is still the preferred swell test to be used to establish any potential problems that may occur in the field. And in fact has been changed so as to only test the base of the specimen for CBR value. My conclusion from the Literature Review is that these two methods(confined and Un-confined) are clearly contradicting one another and further research needs to be conducted.

The Way Forward

I feel that TRL 447 has clearly set out the sampling and testing regime required for the assessment of a sites chemical elements. The complexities involved in trying to create an exact environment in which Ettringite and Thaumasite are formed, is outside the scope of this paper. I have, therefore, chosen to look at the mechanical stability tests (Design durability tests) and not the chemical durability tests. However, to proceed further with the research I need to define the potential durability issues that we are hoping to be creating/assessing in the laboratory. The initial durability tests chosen should be able to fail an item as well as pass it. Due to the high diversity of potential problems of assessing the durability of a stabilised material, the initial problem is to choose sufficient boundary conditions within our laboratory trial mixes, whilst working within the practical constraints of the research budget and time scale.

Phase 1 Lab Trials

Conclusions from Phase 1 Lab trials

Mix 1: Mix 1: Mix 2: Mix 3: Low lime content aimed at failing the HA74 guidelines. Material passed the HA74 guidelines, however failed the CEN Sv limits. High Lime content, and the material passed both HA & CEN Sv limits. Aimed at a much higher strength, with Cement, to assess the difference in the curing periods. The European curing regime, passed the CEN Sv limits, but showed considerably more swell than the non standard method used. High plasticity material, with a low binder content aimed at failing the HA guidelines. Material passed the HA guidelines, however failed the CEN Sv limits. High Lime content, and the material passed both HA & CEN Sv limits. Aimed at a much higher strength, with Cement, to assess the difference in the curing periods. The European curing regime, passed the CEN Sv limits, but showed considerably more swell than the non standard method used.

Mix 4: Mix 4: Mix 5: Mix 6:

As can be seen from the above results, the material would pass the HA CBR swell limits, whereas some of the tests fail the CEN Sv limits, and others require the material to be investigated further. The above results also concur with my conclusions from the literature review that the two tests do not give the same results, and that further work is needed.

Phase 2 Classification Tests

Phase 2 Lab Trials

Further Comments/Questions
When stabilising a Soil are we looking for a Permanent average CBR value of >15% HA74/07 has changed to assess the 28day soaked CBR value (for lab mixes only) The Current CBR test is at Proctor density yet the field work could be considerably less

The french use very high binders compared to us in the UK (similar to B.A.A. 3% Lime + 5% Cement). This could be why their stabilised materials are more stable under soaking, and pass the volumetric test.
Reducing the plastic characteristics of a soil should make a material less susceptible to heave. By using the CBR swell test as the control for suitability, we could be taking an undue risk, as it does not seem to fail a material.

Soil Types
Many different types of soils: Gravel Sand Silt Clay Clays themselves can be further sub-divided into hundreds of different clay mineral types, three principle types are:
Kaolin Illite Montmorillonite (Member of the Smectite group) 1m 0.1m 0.01m Non-swelling, Low plasticity, low cohesion Expansive, medium plasticity, low permeability Highly expansive, Very plastic, extremely low permeability

Problematic Soils
Grim 1962 set out two types of swelling characteristics in clay soils, namely Intercrystalline and Intracrystalline swelling.
Intercrystalline: water in the void spaces between crystals. Intracrystalline: water enters not only between the crystals but also between the units layers, which comprise the crystals. In less dense soils, expansion initially takes place in void areas before total volume expansion takes place (this can be seen as softening of the specimen). In densely packed soil, with low void space, the soil mass has to swell more or less immediately to accommodate the volume change. It also follows that expansive clays normally possess extremely low permeabilities. Whereas moderately expansive clays with higher permeabilities may swell more during a single wet season (period) than the more expansive clays. Undisturbed expansive clays often have a high resistance to deformation and swelling. When the micro structural arrangement of an expansive clay is disturbed (re-mixed or re-moulded) the clay may tend to swell more than that of other undisturbed counterparts.

Problematic Soils
If the Plastic Limit of a soil changes from say 27% to 47% due to the addition of Lime, are we creating a desiccated material which is De-stabilised instead of Stabilised?





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