Factors Affecting Strength Gain in Lime-Cement Columns and Development of a Laboratory Testing Procedure


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Virginia Center for Transportation Innovation and Research


Lime-cement columns were constructed to improve soft ground as part of a test embankment program at the I-95/Route interchange in Alexandria, Virginia. Two different commercial laboratories performed tests on treated soil, and they produced very different measurements of unconfined compressive strength. Further, both sets of results were different from test results available in the published literature for similar soils. This situation created uncertainties and a conservative design philosophy. The goals of this research project were to assess factors that influence strength gain of lime-cement-soil mixtures, to develop a detailed laboratory test procedure that produces consistent results, and to determine the reasons that the strengths measured by the private firms were so different. A suitable laboratory procedure was developed and applied to three soils: one from the I-95/Route interchange site and two from the site of a potential future application of lime-cement columns in West Point, Virginia, at State Route 33. Key findings from the research were that (1) drying and subsequent restoration of soil moisture prior to treatment can decrease the strength of the mixture, (2) the mixture strength decreases as the ratio of soil water content to cement content increases for 100 percent cement-soil mixtures, (3) the addition of lime can increase the mixture strength for some soils and decrease the strength for others, and (4) presenting the test results in the form of contour plots of unconfined compressive strength can be very useful. The reasons for the different results from the two private firms are explained by differences in the test procedures that were used.



Lime-cement columns, Ground improvement, Lime-cement-soil


Jesse R. Jacobson, George M. Filz, and James K. Mitchell. "Factors Affecting Strength Gain in Lime-Cement Columns and Development of a Laboratory Testing Procedure," Virginia Transportation Research Council 530 Edgemont Road Charlottesville, VA 22903, Report No. FHWA/VTRC 03-CR16, June 2003.