The building process all begins with the soil. Before a structure can be constructed, civil engineers or structural engineers must evaluate the soil in the ground and determine whether it is strong enough to hold the proposed structure.
If the ground is not strong enough, then a process called ground (or soil) stabilisation must be completed before construction can begin.
Ground stabilisation occurs when the natural soil in the ground is altered or changed to satisfy the engineering requirements of a structure. The soil can be altered by biological, mechanical, chemical or physical means.
Once stabilised, the soil should be able to tolerate excessive amounts of weight.
Generally, ground stabilisation is a term that only applies to road construction and other infrastructure. Actual homes and buildings have concrete foundations to stabilise them, so ground stabilisation is not generally used in these scenarios.
When ground stabilisation is needed, engineers will determine the best method to stabilise the soil. The most common stabilisation methods include:
Manual and Mechanical Compaction
Manual compaction involves physically altering the soil to affect its characteristics and solidity. As machine technology became more advanced, mechanical compaction eased the labour of construction tasks.
One technique of mechanical compaction is called dynamic compaction. This is where heavy weight is repeatedly dropped onto the soil of the ground to make it more compact and less loose.
An alternate approach to mechanical compaction, vibro compaction involves using the kinetic force of vibrations to solidify the soil.
Chemical stabilisers have gained a lot of popularity over the years. Rather than pounding the heck out of the soil, one or more chemical solutions are poured onto the ground.
These chemicals merge with the soil and forever alter its physical properties. The typical compounds in these chemicals include kiln dust, fly ash, lime and cement.
Once the physical properties of the soil are altered by the chemicals, the ground should be almost as solid as cement.
Polymer stabilisers are the newest method of ground stabilisation. You might have heard about polymer materials being used in manufacturing, to made items such as firearms and furniture.
Polymer is a synthetic material that is lightweight but very durable. As a ground stabiliser, it can certainly be more effective than the mechanical method.
Most importantly, polymer stabilisers are better for the environment than the other two methods. If you use polymer stabilisers in the soil, it will be almost as strong as concrete. At the same time, it will be cheaper and faster to apply to the ground.
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