Neoloy® Geocells Provide Solution to Damaging Expansive Clay

Neoloy Geocells are a proven reinforcement solution for expansive clay soils in roads, railways and foundations, which can otherwise lead to cracking.

Expansive clay soils (also known as heavy clay or fat clay soil) undergo large volumetric changes due to seasonal moisture fluctuations. They absorb water and expand (swell) when wet and crack (shrink) when dry. The cyclical or seasonal change in volume results in shear stresses causing significant lateral and vertical pressures – these slowly lead to cracking and buckling of roads and structures built over such soils. Damages and repairs from expansive clays cost billions of dollars every year.

Proven Solution

The Neoloy based geocell hybrid reinforcement solution for expansive clay subgrade soils are proven in roadways, railways and ports around the world, from India to Russia to Canada to Mexico. Upper pavement structures are almost unaffected by variable moisture in the expansive clay subgrades.

For example in railways using the hybrid solution over weak expansive clays, track alignment measurements over long periods of time show very low and even negligible settlement. Compared with parallel unreinforced track this results in a dramatic decrease in maintenance cycles and costs.

The composite hybrid solution is many times more effective and reliable than moisture barriers or subgrade processing/replacement and it is unaffected by high groundwater levels.

The solution is also applicable to foundations of light building structures constructed over expansive clays.

Unique Hybrid Solution

Neoloy Geocells offer a unique, cost-effective and proven solution to expansive clay soils. The solution is based on a dual layer of Neoloy in the pavement structure on top of a “sacrificial” biaxial geogrid layer on the subgrade-pavement interface. The stiff geogrid acts as a stable working platform on the weak subgrade, which multiplies the effectiveness of the stiff Neoloy Geocell reinforcement installed in the unbound granular layer (subbase or base).

The key in this solution is the Neoloy nano-polymeric alloy (NPA) material in the geocell. Neoloy is capable of sustaining large hoop stress and cyclical loading with relatively small strains, without losing its dimensional stability and therefore can maintain long-term confinement.

How it Works

The Neoloy dual or hybrid solution creates a unique composite behavior than exceeds the sum of its components. The combined stiff reinforced layers restrain expansive clays by reducing differential heave. The beam effect created by Neoloy Geocells acts as an “I” beam or semi-rigid platform to separate the pavement structure from the clay subgrade. The result is that differential swelling of the clay (saw-tooth shaped) is “smoothed” by extending the swell amplitude to effectively restrain heaving.

At the same time, Neoloy reinforcement also improves the soil bearing capacity and strengthens the layer modulus, while decreasing vertical stresses and improving load distribution.


  • More cost effective than over-designed/heavily engineered solutions
  • Effective solution validated in lab and field tests worldwide
  • Increased layer Modulus Improvement Factor (MIF)
  • Very strong ROI from reduced maintenance, repairs
  • Working layer created on weak subgrade
  • Increased CBR
  • Wider distribution of and reduced vertical stresses to subgrade
  • Aggregate Interlock of grid restrains subgrade contraction cracks from reflecting up to pavement
  • Eliminate need for subgrade removal / processing
  • High modulus, confined granular layer creates a continuous beam
  • Composite semi-rigid platform separates pavement from problematic subgrade
  • Reduced vertical stresses to granular layers by up to 50%
  • Decrease differential settlement and heaving