Technology Focus

Advances in the geosynthetics space

The Indian market for geosynthetics is evolving gradually with the emergence of new products and technologies. Intensify­ing competition has meant that a wider selection of geosynthetic products is available, inclu­ding thermally bonded non-woven geotextiles.

Geosynthetics have proven to be one of the most adaptable and cost-effective materials for ground alteration. Their applications have quickly spread to practically every aspect of civil, geotechnical, environmental, coastal and hydraulic engineering. These geotextiles are ma­de from continuous polymer filaments that are sprayed on to a moving belt. Following that, the sheet containing the sprayed filaments is placed in an oven where the filaments are cru­sh­ed and bon­ded together at a high tempera­tu­re. This meth­od produces textiles with excellent tensile strength and puncture resistance, as well as the desired pore sizes and permeability.

Geosynthetic-reinforced soil structures are revolutionising India’s transportation networks and commercial development alternatives, since these reinforcement materials and de­sig­­ns allow for more sustainable projects, safer retaining walls and other improvements. Steel strips, welded steel grids, wire mesh, geogrids and geotextile sheets are examples of modern soil-reinforcing elements. The facing system prevents soil ravelling between the reinforcing parts, enabling safe construction of very steep slopes and vertical walls. Today, a wide range of materials is used as facing. This includes pre­cast concrete panels, dry cast modular blocks, welded wire mesh, wraparound geosynthetics and gabions. Tall geo­grid reinforced soil structu­res should be desig­n­ed with project-specific consideration of geo­grid installation da­mage, long-term geogrid characteristics (creep and durability) and soil-geogrid interaction behaviour.

Geotextiles (woven and non-woven) and geogrids (biaxial and multiaxial) are the most of­ten used geosynthetic products in roadway sy­s­tems. Erosion-control products, geocells, geo­nets (or geocomposite drainage goods), and geomembranes have also been employed in various other applications. Chemicals and biological organisms commonly found in soils are known to be resistant to geosynthetics. They protect themselves from UV destruction when exposed to it for a brief period of time. These materials greatly reduce the need for natural aggregates, lowering the total cost of the project. As a result, the construction time and carbon footprint are reduced. Geosyn­the­tics are a standard feature in modern track con­struction as they make for a more effective construction method. In railway track construction earthworks in particular, geosynthetics have become a requisite. They are used for

se­paration, filtration and reinforcement in, under and next to the track bed. They prevent materials from wandering off sideways due to shocks and vibrations from running trains.

New and novel geosynthetic products are increasingly being introduced in the market. Over the last decade, geosynthetics engineering has also made incredible progress in terms of manufacturing and practical applications. It is utilised in ordinary civil engineering works to make construction easier, improve structure performance, and reduce long-term maintenance needs.

Over the past few years, advances in geo­synthetics have resulted in substantial advan­ce­ments in the design of geotechnical and geo-environmental systems. New geosynthetic barr­ier systems have been developed and fully integrated into modern landfill designs, a proliferation of geosynthetics in hydraulic applications has reduced the need for granular filters and drains, and incredible advances in reinforced soil technology have revolutionised the way engineers think about walls and embankments.

The way forward

Going forward, geosynthetics are going to im­prove infrastructure performance, increasing lifespans while improving the cost benefit and reducing maintenance requirements as compared to other techniques. These constructions will also aid the environment by lowering noise pollution, waste and embodied carbon dioxide. Furthermore, as more creative materials and products become accessible owing to expan­ded research and development, the usage of geosynthetics in infrastructure projects is projected to grow significantly.

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