Chloride solutions have historically been used to stabilize roads and to prevent dust; however, very little work has been done on investigating the soil stabilizing benefits from interactions between salt solutions and different soil types. The primary goal of this research was to analyze the feasibility of utilizing a salt waste product as an economically and environmentally responsible means of dust control and/or soil stabilization. Specifically, this study documents an investigation leading to the understanding of how the addition of saline based waste products, when using a soil stabilizer, modifies the strength behavior of soils.
The scope of work included the evaluation of current literature, examination of the main challenges meeting relevant governmental regulations, and exploring the possibility of using saline waste to improve roadways.
Three soils were selected, treated with varying amounts of salt (calcium chloride, CaCl2), and tests included soil composition and classification, correlation of soil characteristics and salt, and obtaining strength parameters that are typically used in pavement design and analysis. The work effort also included the determination of the optimum dosage of salt concentration for each soil. Because Lime treatment is also commonly used in soil stabilization, one of the soils in this study included a treatment with Lime for comparison purposes.
Results revealed that when salt concentration was increased, a decrease in the plasticity index was observed in all soils. A modest to considerable strength gain of the treated material was also observed for two of the soils; however, a strength loss was observed for the third soil, which was attributed to its low clay content.
When comparing the soil corrosive potential, the additional salt treatment showed promise for increasing strength, to an extent; however, it changes the chemical properties of the soil. The soils prior to treatment were corrosive, which could be managed with appropriate techniques, but the salt increases the values to levels that could be potentially cost prohibitive if salt was used by itself to treat the soil.
The pavement design and performance investigation revealed that the Vineyard soil treated at 16% CaCl2 had an improvement that is comparable to the Lime treatment. On the other hand, the Eager soil showed very little pavement performance improvement at 8% CaCl2; this goes back to the effect of acid on the clay mineralogy. It was also postulated that using salt by-products to stabilize highway shoulders could be beneficial and save a lot of maintenance money when it comes to cleaning unwanted vegetation. A salt saturated soil structure could help in dust control as well.
Future environmental challenges for salt leaching that could affect agriculture in developing countries will still need to be carefully considered. The chlorine levels in the soil would increase, and if not treated, can potentially have corrosive effects on buried structures. Future research is recommended in this area and to also evaluate soil stabilizing properties of varying proportions of Lime and salt using the approach provided in this study.