Hedge (2017), Tough-Cell Reinforced Foundation Beds-Past, Present, Future: A State-of-the-Art Review. Construction and Building Materials

Review of the developments and state-of-the-art geocell research and field practices: experimental, numerical, analytical and field studies.

This paper is a comprehensive survey and review of latest geocell studies, field testing, state of the art knowledge and present trends and scope of future research directions, It is evident from the research findings that geocells are evolving as a sustainable ground reinforcement technique for infrastructure projects.

State-of-Art Review

The paper performs a comprehensive review of the existing literature – almost 100 published papers. After a detailed characterization of geocells the following types of research are reviewed and summarized in detail:

  • Laboratory Studies: Plate load tests; Triaxial studies
  • Analytical Studies: Increase in confining pressure; Load carrying capacity; Failure strain
  • Numerical Studies: Equivalent composite approach (2D); Actual geocell shape (3D)
  • Field Performance: Case studies; Large-scale model tests

Main Points

  • Summary of Past Studies
    Foundation and embankment applications of geocells are well explored by researchers, but little attention to design guidelines or analytical solutions. As there is a huge scope for infrastructural growth in 21st century, other geocell applications should be studied as well.
  • Present Research Trends
    Research has shifted toward repeated and cyclical loading – although the behavior is not yet fully understood. Recent studies have targeted new applications – railways, walls, RAP, protection of buried pipelines, etc. Recent research has highlighted the improvement of RAP bases with geocell confinement, railway track reinforcement and protection applications such as buried pipelines and underground utilities. See example of improvement factors reported by several researchers:

  • Future Prospects:
    • Need to move from small scale model tests to full scale field tests
    • Need cyclical loading testing rather than static, including 3D numerical studies
    • Need more documented case studies (See table below of field and model tests and case studies)
    • Need to develop design methodologies and analytical formulations
    • More accurate 3D numerical simulations required under different types of loading

General Conclusions
As interest in the use of geocells for infrastructure projects increases, this paper presents a comprehensive review and summary of geocell research and identifies areas for future research. The goal is to enhance the engineering understanding of geocell technology and lead to design standards for geocells. In the future it is expected that geocell applications will become more prevalent in pavements, railways, foundations, retaining walls and protection of underground utilities.

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