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

Report No: 03-CR16

Published in 2003

About the report:

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.

Disclaimer Statement:The contents of this report reflect the views of the author(s), who is responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, or the Federal Highway Administration. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. Any inclusion of manufacturer names, trade names, or trademarks is for identification purposes only and is not to be considered an endorsement.


Other Authors

Jesse R. Jacobson, George Michael Filz, James Kenneth Mitchell

Last updated: December 3, 2023

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