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Guide Lines for Using Bentonite

For preparation of bentonite suspension for pile boring, only potable

water shall be used. If potable water is not available for mixing with
bentonite power and saline or chemically contaminated ground
water is required to be used for making the bentonite slurry, special
additives as indicated in IS : 9556 / 1980, may be used.
Maintenance of the specific gravity of bentonite suspension between
1.05 to 1.12 is very important for retention of the vertical cut soil
surface of pile borehole. If the specific gravity of the bentonite
suspension is less than 1.05, the developed cohesiveness and
surface tension thereof amongst the soil particles of the surface soil
will be reduced resulting collapse of the vertical cut soil surface. The
specific gravity (between 1.05 to 1.12) of bentonite solution shall be
maintained depending on the cohesion factor of the soil. For less
cohesive soil, the specific gravity of bentonite solution should be
more to prevent collapse of soil.
To achieve the requisite specific gravity of the bentonite solution,
the concentration of bentonite is calculated as under:
s = 1 + 0.006 x Cs
Where s is the density of the bentonite suspension &
Cs is the concentration of bentonite by weight.
Concentration of bentonite means percentage of bentonite (by
weight), to be mixed with potable water to get requisite density /
Sp.Gr. of bentonite solution.
So, Cs = 1/6 x ( s 1 ) x 1000 ..(7)
For example, required Sp.Gr. of the bentonite suspension = 1.05
Cs= 1/6 x (1.05 1) x 1000 = 8.33 % by weight.
i.e. In 1 m3 of water 83.3 kg bentonite shall be mixed to get 1.05
Sp.Gr. of the bentonite solution.
There are two stages of use of bentonite suspension in cast-in-situ
vertical bored piles.
For making pile bore, bentonite suspension of specific gravity
between 1.05 to 1.12 is to be maintained.
After completion of pile boring, for cleaning of the bored pile
bottom and flushing of the contaminated bentonite solution in the
borehole, fresh bentonite solution of specific gravity between 1.10 to
1.12 is to be used.
On completion of pile boring upto the requisite depth, the bore is

flushed with fresh bentonite solution of proper Sp.Gr.

To clean the dredged loose soil from the bottom of the pile bore,
fresh bentonite solution is pumped into the bore hole. This bottom
loose muck cleaning should be ensured by collecting slurry from the
pile bottom using a slurry sampler and comparing the specific
gravity with the fresh bentonite solution, being pumped into the pile
The bentonite solution remaining in the borehole, after completion
of boring of the pile, contains huge dredged muck in suspended
condition. This suspended muck precipitates after a lapse of time,
which is very harmful for the pile. The suspended muck, mixed with
bentonite solution, therefore, is required to be flushed out and
replaced by fresh bentonite solution to avoid any significant
sedimentation at the borehole bottom. This flushing operation can
also be ensured by comparing the specific gravity with the fresh
bentonite solution, being pumped into the pile bore from fresh
bentonite tank.
Such flushing / cleaning of muck from pile bottom and muck-mixed
bentonite solution from pile bore is operated with fresh bentonite
solution of higher specific gravity .
The matured bentonite jelly shall be prepared by thoroughly mixing
sodium based bentonite powder with potable water in proper
concentration and allowing this mixed solution to be undisturbed for
minimum 12 hours to form jelly. This matured bentonite jelly is
poured into the fresh bentonite tank and mixed with potable water
to prepare fresh bentonite solution. Fresh bentonite solution must be
well agitated by re-circulation system or by agitator, prior to
pumping it to the pile borehole for flushing, as because the
bentonite solution, if not agitated, will get formation of jelly due to
thixotropic properties. The agitation of fresh bentonite solution shall
have to be continued while this solution is in use.
The commencement of pile boring shall be done with this fresh
bentonite solution, until sufficient quantity of rejuvenated bentonite
is collected or accumulated in the rejuvenated tank for continuing
the boring of the pile.
However there were no any guidelines available on the volume of
bentonite and time to be kept in the bore hole.For more details IS
2911 may be seen.



During boring for pile, the side of the bore hole is subjected to various types of forces & pressure like active earth pressure, overburden pressure, hydrostatic pressure, pore
pressure due to underground water, etc. due to which the side of bore becomes unstable and start collapsing if the soil strata is weak.

In order to stabilize the side of bore the supporting fluid is to be used to counter the above pressure. The commonly USED SUPPORTING FLUID FOR STABILIZING


Bentonite is commonly used as support fluid. In its natural form as sodium montmorillonite exhibits thixotropic properties, where by it forms a gel under
quiescent /static conditions & regains its fluidity under dynamic conditions.


The bentonite suspension used in bore holes is basically clay of montmorillonite group having exchangeable sodium cations, Because of the presence of sodium
cations, bentonite on dispersion will breakdown into small plate like particles having a negative charge on the surfaces & positive charge on the edges. When the
dispersion is left to stand undisturbed the particle become oriented building up a mechanical structure at its own. This mechanical structure held by electrical
bonds is observable as a jelly like mass or gel material .When the gel as agitated the weak electrical bonds are broken & the dispersion becomes fluid.


The action of bentonite in stabilizing the side of bore holes is primarily due to thixotropic property of bentonite suspension, it permits the material to have the
consistency of a fluid when introduced into the excavation & when undisturbed forms a jelly which when agitated becomes a fluid again.

Specification; (As per IS; 2911 Part 1 / sec 2)

The bentonite suspension used for pilling work shall satisfy the following requirements.

(a)Density of freshly prepared bentonite : Between 1.0325 to 1.1 g / ml

(b) Liquid limit : More than 300 % & less than 450%

(c) Marsh viscosity : 30 to 60 seconds

(d) Sculling index : At least 200% of dry volume

(e) PH Value : Between 9 & 11.5

(f) Sand content : Less than 7%

(g) Silt content : Less than 1%

Bentonite Circulation System;

The preparation, stocking & the recovery of the bentonite mud requires the following.

(1) Bentonite feed tank

(2) Recovery & Desilting tank

Bentonite feed tank;

In this tank fresh / recovered bentonote slurry will be stored for pilling work.

Recovery & Desilting Unit;

In this tank the return slurry will be received, & after desilting the usable bentonite slurry will be recovered & transferred to bentonite tank for reuse.


Bentonite slurry with a concentration of bentonite in the range of 3 5% is normally used to support the bore.

Bentonite powder is manually spread in bentonite tank & is mixed / agitated with air compressor & left for 12 hrs for curing, beside this other method are also
available like bentonite is filled in funnel like container and at the bottom of funnel high pressure water pipeline (using water motor) is attached and pipe leads to
bentonite tank..

Transportation / Circulation;

From bentonite feed tank the fresh bentonite slurry will be pumped into the bore by vacseal pump / mud pump through heavy duty GI pipes / canvas hose. Near
the boring location a temporary pit of size 1m x 1m x 1m will be excavated and fitted with vertical pump, the slurry which will follow out of bore will be collected into
this pit & the same will be pumped to recovery tank by vertical pump. Around the bore sand bags will be places & channel will made for slurry to flow from bore to

Positioning of bentonite tank;

The bentonite tank & recovery tank will be placed in such a way that it will cater minimum four foundation locations on either side i.e. from one location it will feed
around eight foundation locations.

Precautionary Measures when working on road or highway:

(a) Barricading: Full height barricading boards without any gap at the bottom will be erected & one side of barricading will be sealed with sand bags and on this side the
pipeline for Bentonite will be laid.

(b) Pipeline joints: Throughout the boring work it will be ensured that all joints and fittings of tank & pipeline are properly tightened & regular inspection will be done to
ensure that there is no spill of Bentonite.