Permeates Soil and Makes Subsurface Structures that Can Support Building Construction
This amorphous, liquid precursor permeates soil and binds the grains into a solid, mineralized body, resulting in comprehensively strong and rigid subsurface structures stable enough to support construction such as buildings and bridges. Manufactured cement is the most common soil reinforcement material used in the approximately 40,000 improvement projects per year in the United States. The production process that goes into making the needed quantities of cement produces high levels of undesirable carbon dioxide emissions. Additionally, conventional soil foundation treatment requires costly mobilization of heavy equipment. Other soil reinforcements use microbes and nutrients to mineralize the surrounding soil grains in a process called microbe-induced calcite precipitation. Unfortunately, this biomineralization process can disturb the surrounding soil and requires costly nutrients and transportation mechanisms to maintain the microbial organisms.
Researchers at the University of Florida have developed a polymer-induced liquid-precursor (PILP) process that creates a fluidic amorphous mineral precursor to infiltrate the microscale pores of the soil and bind the grains together in an interpenetrating, calcium carbonate based, rigid mineral structure. The soil reinforcement mechanism grows solid foundational structures under the surface and makes the soil stable enough for construction projects such as buildings, bridges, or roadways.
Polymer-induced liquid-phase mineral precursor that transforms soil into mineralized subsurface structures strong enough to support construction projects
- Creates solid, subsurface mineralized structures, providing a stable foundation for numerous types of construction projects
- Uses no cement or living organisms in the soil treatment, eliminating the corresponding equipment and maintenance costs
- Reduces the overall amount of cement used in structural foundations, reducing carbon dioxide emissions from cement production
This mineralization of subsurface soil uses a pair of reactants with a polymeric additive that enters into a quantity of soil and induces a liquid-phase mineral precursor. The capillary action of the fluidic mineral precursor allows it to infiltrate between the grains of sand, silt, or clay in the soil and brings them into a solitary, agglomerated mass. When the agglomeration solidifies, the soil bed cements together in a fortified, rigid, mineralized body that stabilizes the soil for structural foundations. Because of the transport properties of the liquid precursor, the infiltration results in a branched mineral formation that functions as a mechanical root system to improve frictional resistance to soil disturbances.