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V()I. 17 No.4 Journal of Wuhan University of Technology- Mater. Sci. Ed. Dec.


Stabilization of Expansive Soil by Lime and Fly Ash ~

ZHANG Ji-rul) CAO Xing2)

1) W u h a n University o f Technology 2) Yangtze River Scientific Research Institute
( Received: Jan. 28,2002)
Abstract: An experimental program was undertal~n to study the individual and admixed effects of lime
and fly ash on the geotechnical characteristics of expansive soil. Lime and fly ash were added to the expansive soil
at 4% - 6% and 40% - 50% by dry weight of soil, respectively. Testing specimens were determined and exam-
ined in chemical composition, grain size distribution, consistency limits, compaction, CBR ,free swell and swell ca-
pacity. The effect of lime and fly ash addition on reducing the swelling potential of an expansive soil is presented.
It is revealed that a change of expansive soil texture takes place when lime and fly ash are mixed with expansive
soil. Plastic limit increases by mixing lime and liquid limit decreases by mixing fly ash, which decreasesplasticity
index. As the amount of lime and fly ash is increased, there are an apparent reduction in maximum dry density,
free swell and swelling capacity under 50 kPa pressure, and a corresponding increase in the percentage of coarse
particles, optimum moisture content and CBR value. Based on the results, it can be concluded that the expansive
soil can be suecessfidly stabilized by lime and fly ash.
Key words: admixture stabilization ; expansivesoil ; lime ; fly ash

1 Introduction production of fly ash is growing every year. The research

on utilization of fly ash is continually in progress. Fly ash
is a silt-size noncobesive material having a relatively
Expansive soils are clays that have the tendency to
smaller specific gravity than the normal soils. Fly ash has
swell and soften when their moisture content is increased,
been used in a variety of construction applications, such as
or shrink and dry-cracked when their moisture content is
compacted fills, concretes, bricks, liners, construction of
decreased. Soils containing the clay mineral montmoril-
embankments in many countries [31 . However, the informa-
lonite generally exhibit these properties. The mica-like tion about the geotechnical characteristics and chemical
group, which includes illites and vermiculites, can be ex- stabilization for expansive soil with fly ash is scarce.
pansive, but generally does not cause significant prob- Therefore, there is still a need to find new uses of fly ash
lems. Problems associated with expansive soils, which lo- disposed.
cated in many regions in China and particularly in the On the other hand, the increasing demand for energy
northwest of Hubei province, are well known. During the has resulted in construction of many coal-fired power
last few decades damage due to swelling action has been plants in China. This development brings with the prob-
observed clearly in these regions in the form of cracking lem of safe disposal or beneficial utilization of a large
and breakup of pavements, building foundations, embank- quantity of fly ash. This poses a serious problem in poten-
ments and irrigation systems. tial environmental pollution. An effective utilization of fly
One method to control the volume changes of expan- ash must be regarded as economically and environmentally
sive soil is to stabilize it with admixtures that prevent it beneficial.
from volume changes or adequately modify the volume A new freeway from Xiangfan to Jingzhou (X - J) is
changes characteristics of expansive soil. Lime and ce- being constructed in the northwest of Hubei, where
ment have been used to stabilize expansive soils to rela- 67.4% of the whole line locates in expansive soil zone.
tively shallow depths under footings and subgrade I1'2]. Fly ash and lime used as the stabilizer for expansive soils
Fly ash is a fine residue collected from the burning have been investigated and reported herein. Local lime
of pulverized coal in thermal power plants. The worldwide and fly ash from Jingmen Thermal Power Plant in Hubei
were used in the study. The lime or fly ash was mixed
ZHANGJ i - r u ( ~ l J ) : Born in 1964;Assoc.Prof. ; School of with the expansive soil obtained from the subgrade of X -
Architecture and Civil Engineering, Wuhan University of Technolo-
gy, Wuhan 430070, China. J freeway in different proportions. The geotechnical char-
Funded by Hubei Natural Science Foundation (No. acteristics of the expansive soil, fly ash-soil, lime-soil,
2000J141 ) and lime-fly ash-soil mixtures were investigated, such as
74 Journal of Wuhan University of Technology - Mater. Sci. Ed. Dec. 2002

their chemical comt~rsition, physical properties, California and expansive soil were performed. Heavy compaction tests
bearing ratio (CBR) and swelling potential. This paper were conducted on every specimen. All the compacted
presents the details and results of the study. specimens were prepared near their respective maximum
dry density ( M D D ) and optimum moisture content
2 Experimental (OMC) states for CBR tests, free swell tests mad swelling
capacity tests were also carried out in the laboratory. All
2.1 Materials the tests were performed ba.~xl on Chinese professional
The lime was obtained from the lime factory of Gan- specifications that are Test Methods of Soils for Highway
gou in Jingmen and the fly ash was collected from Jing~nen Engineering (JTJ 051 - 93).
Thermal Power Plant. The expansive soil used in the lime-
soil and fly ash-soil mixtures was collected from the ex- 3 Results and Analysis
pansive soil zone at X - J freeway.
2.2 Methods of the mixtures preparation 3.1 Chemical and mineral composition
The fly ash, lime and expansive soil were first oven The main constituent of the lime is calcium oxide
dried for 24 h at 40~ under a heating lamps. The pro- (CaO), and its content is about 7 3 . 4 5 % . Magnesium
portions of lime, fly ash and expansive soil content in oxide (MgO) content is only about 0 . 5 7 % . The compo-
lime-soil, fly ash-soil, and lime-fy ash-soil mixtures were sition of fly ash varies considerably depending on the na-
defined as the ratio of their respective dry weight to the ture of the pulverized coal burned and the power plant op-
total mixed dry weight of lime, fly ash and expansive soil erational characteristics ~41. Table 2 shows the chemical
respectively. Table 1 gives the details of these different composition and physical properties of the fly ash. The
mixtures and the notation u~d for them. The designations main constituents of the fly ash are silica (as SiO2), alu-
used are: S for expansive soil, 1~ for lime, and F for fly mina(as A1203), and iron oxide (as Fe203), the total
ash.The contents of lime, fly ash and expansive soil in a amount of which is more than 84.08% by weight. The
mixture are indicated by percentage before their symbols. SiO2 + A1203 + Fe203 fraction of the fly ash is more than
The percentages among the lime, fly ash and expansive 80% of its total content,which can be classified as a sili-
soil are their respective parts by dry weight. c i c - aluminous fly ash. The composition of clay minerals
Table 1 Mix Deaigr,allon for Mixtures and physical prulrerties of the expansive soil are given in
Mixtur~ Mix designation Table 3. The main constituents of the expansive soil are il-
Lime-rail mixtur~ 4% L+ 96% S lites.
5%L + 95% Table 2 13a~nical C o ~ l l o n and Physical Properties of Fly Ash
6% L+94% S Composition or property Value
Fly ash-soil mixtures 40% F+60% S Chemical composition /%
50% F+50% S Silica (as SiO2) 51.21
Lime-fly a.~-~il mixture 4% L+40% F+56% S Alumina (as Al203) 29.33
Expansive soil S Iron oxide (as F~O3) 3.54
Titania (TiO2) 0.74
loss on ignition at 700~ 9.11
In the preparation of all types of mixture, the re- Physical property
quired amounts of lime, fly ash and expansive soil were Specific gravity 2.20
measured and mixed together in the dry state first. Then Sp~-~itie surface/( cm~"/g) 40(10
the dry mixtures were admixed with the required amount
of water that depends on their optimum moisture content. Table 3 Composition of Clay Minerals and Property of Expansive Soil
All mixing was done manually and proper care was taken Composition or property Value
to prepare homogeneous mixtures at each stage of mixing. Composition of day minerals / %
2.3 Testing progrmn MontmoriUonite 10
Illites 50
The purpose of the experimental work is to investi-
Kaolinite 25
gate the effect of adding lime and fly ash on the chemical
Quartz 15
composition, physical properties, CBR, swelling potential Physical property
of an expansive soil. Specific ~avity 2.75
The chemical analysis of the lime and fly ash and Soil classification CH
clay mineral analysis of the expansive soil were per-
formed. Physical properties tests of all types of mixtures The chemic'al effect of lime and fly ash additives on
Vol. 17 No. 4 ZHANG Ji-ru et al : Stabilization of Expansive Soil b y . . . 75

expansive soil can be explained as follows:the addition of addition of fly ash is mainly a consequence of increasing
lime to expansive soil provides an abundance of calcium silt size particles for fly ash-soil mixtures. However, for
ions (Ca § ) and magnesium ions (Mg + ). These ions tend lime-soil mixtures, it is inferred that the shifting of the
to displace other common cations such as sodium (Na § ) particle size is mainly due to some chemical reactions that
or potassium (K § ) in a process known as cation ex- cause flocculation of clay particles by cation exchange.
change. The replacement of Na § or K § with calcium sig- Two factors mentioned above will together affect on the
nificantly reduces the plasticity index of the expansive lime-fly ash-soil mixtures.
soil. A reduction in plasticity is usually accompanied by The fly ash has a relatively smaller specific gravity
reduced potential for swelling. The addition of lime in- than the expansive soil (Tables 2,3 ). The expansive soil
creases the pH value of expansive soil, which also increas- may be classified as clay with high liquid limit (CH) from
es the cation exchange capacity. Fly ash consists of hollow its plasticity chart in JTJ 051 - 93. The effects of the lime
spheres of silicon, aluminum, and iron oxides and unoxi- and fly ash addition on liquid limit ( L L ) , plastic limit
dized carbon. Fly ash can provide an adequate array of di- (PL), and plasticity index (PI) of the expansive soil are
valent and trivalent cations ( Ca2 + , A13+ , Fe3 + , etc. ) un- given in Table 4. Comparing the lime-soil mixtures with
der ionized conditions that can promote floccnlation of dis- the expansive soil, the LL values of the lime-soil mixtures
persed clay particles. As a result, the surface area and wa- almost remain similar, and yet their PL values increase
ter affinity of expansive soil decrease. Thus, expansive soil significantly. Therefore, their PI ( = L L - PL) values
can be potentially stabilized effectively by cation exchange will decrease obviously. For the fly ash-soil mixtures, the
using fly ash I51 . LL values decrease obviously and the PL values are a few
3.2 Physical properties varieties as against the expansive soil, thus their PI values
The grain size distribution curves of the expansive have also a decreasing evidently. According to the above
soil, fly ash, and all types of the mixtures are shown in results, it is certain for expansive soil that the PL value is
Fig. 1. Grain size distribution analysis reveals that the ex- able to increase by mixing lime and the LL value will de-
pansive soil contains about 68% - 82% clay size particles crease by mixing fly ash, thus whichever lime or fly ash is
( < 2tma), and that the fly ash is mainly a silt-size. Fly mixed with expansive soil will decrease the PI value.
ash can be regarded as a nonplastic fine silt by the Uni- Table 4 indicates that the PL and LL of the fly ash-
fied Soil Classification System.
soil mixtures are slightly affected by the admixing percent-
ages of fly ash, and the PL and LL values decrease a little
as the percent admixture increases. Thus, their PI values
~- 70 are almost invariable. Among the three types of mixtures,
the PI value of the lime-fly ash-soil mixture is the small-
50 est. Due to PI being a good indicator of swelling poten-
40 ...,,._ F .... tial, the lime-fly ash-soil mixture is the best stabilizer for
30 ~ 4%L+96%S expansive soil in our study.
20 ---x- 6%L+94%S " ' ?"-41t'~ \~, Addition of maximum amount of lime (6 % ) and fly
10 ~ 40%F+60%S ash ( 5 0 % ) has the tendency to change classification of
---- 5o%~+50%s
tO 10 10- 10- 10 -3
treated expansive soil from CH to silt with high liquid lim-
Grain size/mm(log scale) it (MH) and clay with low liquid limit (CL), respective-
Fig. 1 Grain size distribution curves of expansive soil, fly ash ly.
and all types of mixtures Table 4 Physical Properties of Expansive Soil and Mixtures

The grain size distribution curves of the different Atte~e~li~ts

mixtures with lime and fly ash were grouped and plotted ~xdesi~mion PL LL PI (~c~) /%
/% /% /%
on the same graph (Fig. 1 ). The aim was to make it pos-
S 25.1 62.2 37.1 1.78 17.2
sible to determine whether there was a shift in particle size
4% L+96% S 42.8 62.9 20.1 1.64 15.8
due to the addition of lime and fly ash. Fig. 1 shows that
5% L+95% S 42.7 62.3 19.6 1.62 17.0
the grain size distributions of the expansive soil were al- 6% L+94% S 43.5 62.2 18.7 1.57 24.7
tered by the addition of the admixtures. The silt fractions 40% F+60% S 27.5 54.4 26.9 1.42 16.0
increased whereas the clay fractions decreased with in- 50% F+50% S 24.9 51.4 26.5 1.36 18.4
creasing amount of admixtures. The shifting of the particle 4 % L + 4 0 % F + 56%S 34.4 50.9 16.5 1.31 21.9

size distribution curves can be explained as follows: the

76 Journal of Wuhan Universityof Technology- Mater.Sci. Ed. Dec. 2002

3.3 Compaction tests near the OMC state, as given in Table 5, is large and
Fig. 2 shows the compaction curves of the expansive their CBR values are lower than 3 %. These indicate that
soil and all types of mixtures, and their MDD and OMC the expansive soil does not meet needs of the specifica-
values are also summarized in Table 4. The results show tions as used for filler of subgrade and must be treated by
that the MDD values of lime-soil and fly ash-soil mixtures admixing with lime or fly ash. The swelling capacity of
are smaller than that of the expansive soil significantly, lime-soil mixtures that are compacted close to the OMC
and the decrease of MDD in the lime-soil mixtures is larg- state almost approaches to zero, and their CBR values are
er than that of the fly ash-soil mixtures. As the content of well beyond 8%. Therefore, the lime is a fine quality
lime or fly ash increases, the MDD values of these mix- stabilizer for expansive soil. According to the results given
tures decrease but the OMC values increase. Among the in Table 5, it is suggested that the moisture contents of
three types of mixtures, the MDD of the lime-fly ash-soil lime-soil mixtures should be controlled at 2 3 . 6 % ,
mixture is the smallest and the OMC is the largest. 2 3 . 0 % , and 19.6% when the percentages of lime content
1.8 ~ _ _ , _ 40%F+60%S are 4 % , 5 % , and 6% respectively. Corresponsively,
/ \ I -~- 50%F+50%S their CBR values will reach the maximum and are 105.
/ "%- I ""- 4%L+96%S
1.7 "~ \ I -O- 5%L+95%S 7 % , 129. 3 % , and 101. 4% respectively. Also, the
"s I -e- 6%L+94%S
~ _ ~ k l--K- 4%L-MO%F+56%S swelling capacity of fly ash-soil mixtures compacted clos-
ing to the OMC state is small, and most of the CBR values
~ 1.5 exceed 8 %. Thus, the fly ash is also a good stabilizer for
expansive soil. It is suggested that the moisture contents of
~ 1.4
fly ash-soil mixture are 19.0% and 23.3% as the per-
centages of fly ash content are 40% and 50% respectively
(see Table 5). Their CBR values will attain to the maxi-
1.2 ~ mum and are 17.0% and 2 0 . 2 % respectively. In the
10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45
Moisture content / %
state of OMC, the CBR value of lime-fly ash-soil mixture
is the largest as against other types of admixtures with the
Fig.2 Compactioncurves of expansive soil, fly ash-soil and same content of lime and fly ash. Therefore, the effect of
lime-soil mixtures
lime-fly ash-soil mixture on stabilizing expansive soil is
3.4 California bearing ratio ( C B R ) tests remarkable.
The swelling capacity of expansive soil compacted
Table 5 CBR Test Results of Expansive Soil and Mixtures

Before tests After tests Swelling

Mix designation Moisture content Dry desity Moisture content Dry density capacity CBR/%
/% /(g/cm3) /% /(g/cm3) /%
S 17.1 1.78 23.9 1.66 6.90 2.0
22.0 1.66 26.3 1.58 4.59 2.1
4% L + 9 6 % S 15.8 1.64 23.9 1.64 0.30 48.1
22.7 1.54 27.1 1.54 0.02 92.8
23.6 1.58 26.1 1.58 0.002 105.7
26.4 1.55 27.2 1.55 0.002 90.0
29.7 1.50 30.0 1.50 0.04 59.6
5% L + 9 5 % S 12.4 1.62 27.7 1.53 5.70 26.5
15.3 1.62 25.4 1.62 0.05 78.7
17.0 1.62 24.2 1.62 0.10 87.7
19.6 1.61 24.6 1.61 0.004 108.4
23.0 1.59 26.5 1.59 0.16 129.3
26.0 1.55 28.3 1.55 0.00 120.5
28.8 1.51 30.8 1.51 0.00 91.3
31.8 1.45 32.4 1.45 0.09 62.5
6% L + 9 4 % S 19.4 1.53 26.9 1.53 0.04 101.4
23.5 1.55 26.3 1.55 0.002 62.3
29.0 1.49 29.8 1.49 0.02 81.4
40% F + 6 0 % S 16.0 1.42 30.0 1.36 4.47 3.6
19.0 1.39 30.7 1.36 2.05 17.0
Vol. 17 No.4 ZHANG Ji-ru et a/ : Stabilization of Expansive Soil by... 77

Before tests After t~ts Swelling

Mix designation Moisture content ~ desity Moisturecontent Dry density capacity CBR/%
/% /( g/era3) /% /( g/cm3) /%
50% I'+50% S 14.8 1.36 31.4 1.30 4.60 2.7
18.4 1.36 28.8 1.35 1.20 16.7
18.7 1.32 30.5 1.31 0.98 14.7
20.2 1.32 30.6 1.31 1.00 16.4
23.3 1.33 31.3 1.32 0.40 20.2
25.9 1.33 30.8 1.33 0.00 12.6
4% t -r ,-;6% F , 5 6 %
19.3 1.30 32.0 1.30 0.02 122.8
21.9 1.31 32.7 1.30 0.008 119.3

3.5 Swelling tests due to the function of cation exchange when lime and fly
Effects of adding lime or fly ash on the swelling po- ash are mixed with it. C~nerally, the amounts of lime and
tential of the expansive soil are given in Table 6. The free fly ash required for stabilizing expansive soils are in the
swell values for the expansive soil decrease as mixed with range from 4 % to 6 % and 40% to 50% by dry soil
lime or fly ash. Also, as the percentage of lime or fly ash weight, respectively.
stabilizer content i n c r e ~ s , the free swell values decrease b) The results show that for expansive soil, the PL
( Table 6 ) . values are 'able to increase by mixing lime and the LL val-
The swelling capacity value under 50 kPa pressure is ues are. able to decrease by mixing fly ash, thus whichever
one of the good indicator for swelling potential. Table 6 of the lime and fly ash is mixed with expansive soil will
indicates that the swelling capacity values decrease with decrease the PI values.
an increasing of their moisture content under the same c) As the amount of lime and fly ash is increased,
pressure. Also, as the amount of stabilizer mixed with the there is an apparent reduction in maximum dry density,
expansive soil increases, the swelling capacity values gen- free swell and swelling capacity under 50 kPa pressure,
erally decrease under the condition of same pressures and and a corr~ponding increase in the percentage of coarse
moisture content, which implies a reduction in the particles, optimum moisture content and CBR values.
swelling potential. Note that for total volume changes of d) The effect of lime and fly ash addition on reduc-
these mixtures with limo and fly ash, the positive swelling ing the swelling potential of expansive soil is obvious. The
capacity values represent swelling, and the negative use of them for stabilizing expansive soil must be increas-
swelling capacity values mean compressive under 50 kPa ing in the future due to well cost-effective and environ-
pressure. mental benefit.
Table 6 Free Swell and Swell Capacity of ExpansiveSoil
and M_ixtu~s
Moisture Swellcapacity
Free. swell
Mix designaton /% content under50kPa 1 "Kaniraj S R, Havanagi V G. Compressive Strength of Cement
/% pressures/%
Stabilized Fly Ash-soil Mixtures. Cement and Concrete Res.,
S 76 1999,29 (5) :673 - 677.
4% L+96% S 18 20.4 0.28 2 Nelson J D, Miller D J. Expansive Soils, Problems and Practice
36.0 - 1.62
in Foundation and Pavement Engineering. New York: Wiley,
5% L+95% S 17 17.0 0.16
31.8 -0.34
3 Kaniraj S R, Havanagi V G. Geotechnical Characteristics of Fly
6% I,+94% S 13 24.7 -0.47
Ash-soil Mixtures. Geotechniz'al Engineering Journal, 1999, 30
40% F+60% S 38 16.0 1.74
(2) : 129 - 147
19.0 0.24
4 Usmen M A, Baradan B, Yazici S. Geotechnical and Geoenvi-
50% F+50% S 19 18.4 -0.59
23.3 -0.94 ronmental t5"operties of Stabilized IJgnite Fly Ash. Proc.
Mediterranean Conf. on Envir. Ceotechnology. Usmen M A,
Acar Y B r Rotterdam: Balkema, 1992:419 - 427
4 Conclusions 5 CokcaE. Use of Class C Fly Ashes for the Stabilization of an Ex-
pansive Soil. Journal of C,eo~hnical and Geoenvironmental En-
a) A change of expansive soil texture takes place g/neer/ng,2001,127(7) : 568 - 573