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Novel biopolymer treatment for wind induced soil erosion

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It is estimated that wind induced soil transports more than 500 x 106 metric tons of fugitive dust annually. Soil erosion has negative effects on human health, the productivity of

It is estimated that wind induced soil transports more than 500 x 106 metric tons of fugitive dust annually. Soil erosion has negative effects on human health, the productivity of farms, and the quality of surface waters. A variety of different polymer stabilizers are available on the market for fugitive dust control. Most of these polymer stabilizers are expensive synthetic polymer products. Their adverse effects and expense usually limits their use. Biopolymers provide a potential alternative to synthetic polymers. They can provide dust abatement by encapsulating soil particles and creating a binding network throughout the treated area. This research into the effectiveness of biopolymers for fugitive dust control involved three phases. Phase I included proof of concept tests. Phase II included carrying out the tests in a wind tunnel. Phase III consisted of conducting the experiments in the field. Proof of concept tests showed that biopolymers have the potential to reduce soil erosion and fugitive dust transport. Wind tunnel tests on two candidate biopolymers, xanthan and chitosan, showed that there is a proportional relationship between biopolymer application rates and threshold wind velocities. The wind tunnel tests also showed that xanthan gum is more successful in the field than chitosan. The field tests showed that xanthan gum was effective at controlling soil erosion. However, the chitosan field data was inconsistent with the xanthan data and field data on bare soil.

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  • 2011

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Stabilization and imaging of cohesionless soil specimens

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This dissertation describes development of a procedure for obtaining high quality, optical grade sand coupons from frozen sand specimens of Ottawa 20/30 sand for image processing and analysis to quantify

This dissertation describes development of a procedure for obtaining high quality, optical grade sand coupons from frozen sand specimens of Ottawa 20/30 sand for image processing and analysis to quantify soil structure along with a methodology for quantifying the microstructure from the images. A technique for thawing and stabilizing frozen core samples was developed using optical grade Buehler® Epo-Tek® epoxy resin, a modified triaxial cell, a vacuum/reservoir chamber, a desiccator, and a moisture gauge. The uniform epoxy resin impregnation required proper drying of the soil specimen, application of appropriate confining pressure and vacuum levels, and epoxy mixing, de-airing and curing. The resulting stabilized sand specimen was sectioned into 10 mm thick coupons that were planed, ground, and polished with progressively finer diamond abrasive grit levels using the modified Allied HTP Inc. polishing method so that the soil structure could be accurately quantified using images obtained with the use of an optical microscopy technique. Illumination via Bright Field Microscopy was used to capture the images for subsequent image processing and sand microstructure analysis. The quality of resulting images and the validity of the subsequent image morphology analysis hinged largely on employment of a polishing and grinding technique that resulted in a flat, scratch free, reflective coupon surface characterized by minimal microstructure relief and good contrast between the sand particles and the surrounding epoxy resin. Subsequent image processing involved conversion of the color images first to gray scale images and then to binary images with the use of contrast and image adjustments, removal of noise and image artifacts, image filtering, and image segmentation. Mathematical morphology algorithms were used on the resulting binary images to further enhance image quality. The binary images were then used to calculate soil structure parameters that included particle roundness and sphericity, particle orientation variability represented by rose diagrams, statistics on the local void ratio variability as a function of the sample size, and the local void ratio distribution histograms using Oda's method and Voronoi tessellation method, including the skewness, kurtosis, and entropy of a gamma cumulative probability distribution fit to the local void ratio distribution.

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  • 2011