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Article October 2013


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3 authors:

Mehboob Khan Javed Alam

Aligarh Muslim University Aligarh Muslim University


Murtaza Hasan
Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee


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International Journal of Civil, Structural,
Environmental and Infrastructure Engineering
Research and Development (IJCSEIERD)
ISSN 2249-6866
Vol. 3, Issue 4, Oct 2013, 9-16
TJPRC Pvt. Ltd.




Associate Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, AMU Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh, India
Ex. P. G. Student, Department of Civil Engineering, AMU Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh, India


The present study has been carried out to find the load carrying capacity and seepage characteristics of flyash-
bentonite layered system having ratios of 1:1, 2:1, 3:1 and 4:1 with varying number of interfaces of N=1, 2 and 3 under
normal loading conditions. A systematic laboratory investigation has been carried out by conducting a series of undrained
(UU) and consolidated undrained (CU) triaxial tests on layered samples at different intensities of load and under varying
confining pressures of 100, 200 and 300 kPa. The present experimental work shows that the load carrying capacity of
flyash-bentonite layered system increases with the increase of confining pressures as well as number of interfaces and get
optimized at flyash-bentonite ratio of 3:1 with number of interfaces, N=3. The permeability increases with increase in ratio
of flyash-bentonite and number of interfaces. This investigation suggests the utilization of flyash in bulk mass at the flyash-
bentonite ratio of 3:1 with number of interfaces of N=3 as a replacement to the conventional earth material in geotechnical
construction work such as embankments, road sub-bases and structural land fill.

KEYWORDS: Flyash, Bentonite, Interface, Layered System, Flyash-Bentonite Ratio


Power being considered as an engine of growth, has always been a focus area for most of the developing countries
including India. The power generation in India has increased from 1362 MW in 1947 to 200000 MW in 2012. Further,
Government of India has planned for enhancement of installed capacity to 3, 00,000 MW by 2017 (Vimal et al. 1995).
Coal based power plants not only produce of millions of mega-watts of power but also millions of tons of fly ash. Most of
the coal based power plants were set-up with sole aim of power generation (Dhar, 2001). Environmentally safe disposal of
large quantity of fly ash is not only problematic but also expensive. Keeping in view the gravity of the fly ash disposal
problem, global efforts are mooted to utilize fly ash in bulk quantities. Indian coals, though low in sulphur, contain higher
amount of ash (about 35-45%), hence lead to the generation of huge quantities of flyash. Coal based power plants not only
produce millions of mega-watts of power but also millions of tons of flyash. Till about a decade back, flyash had been
considered a Polluting Industrial Waste and most of it was being dumped in the ash ponds. Ministry of Environment and
Forests (MoEF) issued a notification on 14th September 1999 (amended in 2003), which made the use of Ash mandatory
within a radius of 50 kilometers (amended to 100 km) of coal based thermal power stations (TPS) for all the Government,
Semi-Government and private agencies involved in Cement, Cement based products, Bricks, Construction works, Roads
etc. Also, this Notification directed all the TPS in INDIA to supply Ash free of cost to all the agencies and also prepare an
action plan showing 100% utilization within 15 years i.e. by 2014. As per an estimate of Flyash Utilization Programme
(FAUP), the annual ash generation figures are expected to reach about 170 million tones by the end of 2012 and 225
million tone by 2017. Bulk use of flyash is found in many geotechnical applications such as embankments, fill behind
retaining walls, reclamation fills and dams etc., due to its low unit weight, low compressibility and pozzolanic nature.
10 M. A. Khan, Javed Alam & Murtaza Husain

Large scale utilization of flyash in geotechnical construction like embankments, road sub-bases, structural land fill, as a
replacement to the conventional earth material will solve two problems with one effort, namely, elimination of solid waste
problem on one hand and provision of a needed construction material on the other by conserving the soil earth. Flyash is a
non-plastic material. When used as a mineral admixture in concrete, flyash is classified as either Class C or Class F Flyash
based on its chemical composition.

Bentonite is essentially highly plastic clay containing not less than 85% clay mineral, montmorillonite. Bentonite
is of a great commercial importance possessing inherent bleaching properties like Fuller's earth; hence, it is known as
bleaching clay. Flyash and bentonite possess contradictory characteristics, they can still serve to complement each other in
terms of reduced swelling tendency in bentonite and improved load carrying capacity and shear strength in case of flyash.
To accomplish this objective, a study of flyash-bentonite layered system and the evaluation of their resultant load carrying
capacity and permeability characteristics is under taken.


Vidal (1966) was the first scientist to conduct a scientific study on reinforced soil. He demonstrated with the help
of triaxial tests, the strength properties of medium sand reinforced with the sands has increased strength by four fold as
compared to the non-reinforced sand sample. Dasand Chakraborti (1986) carried out investigation on flyash and clay
composite behaviour. Their experimental investigations through model footing tests and theoretical analysis show that the
improvement of bearing capacity of a soft clay bed can be affected by replacing some material from the top with a stiffer
layer of compacted flyash. For the materials and conclusions under study, the bearing capacity increases with the thickness
of replacement up to about three times the footing diameter thereafter it remains almost constant.

Martin et al. (1990) carried out the investigation of the geotechnical properties of ashes from coal-burning utilities
for use in a highway embankment. The measured drainage, strength, compressibility, and compaction characteristics were
discussed with respect to predicting mechanical and environmental behaviour.

Porbaha et al (2000) published a paper that investigated the effect of time on the shear strength and the
permeability of flyash. Direct shear tests, permeability tests and consolidation tests were conducted on two silt-size
flyashes, with low free lime contents, obtained from two different power plants. The practical implications and the
limitations of using low lime silt-size flyash in vertical drains in the stabilization of soft ground were discussed.

Yilmaz (2001) was carried out an investigation on the utilization of flyash and bentonite mixture as a bottom
and/or upper liner material at waste disposal areas. In this study, Catalagziflyash was mixed with bentonite, as binding
material, at 10, 20 and 30 percentages (dry weight bentonite/dry weight Catalagziflyash) to obtain less permeable liner
material. It was observed that the long term permeability continuously changed and increased with the elapse of time.
Furthermore, in case of finding a suitable mixture, additional laboratory tests such as unconsolidated undrained (UU),
consolidated undrained (CU) triaxial tests, consolidation tests were also conducted, and collapse potentials were also
investigated to provide necessary geotechnical parameter for design. Finally, it was concluded that, 20% bentonite-
Catalagziflyash mixture may be used as a bottom and/or upper liner be used at waste disposal areas. 20% bentonite-
Catalagziflyash mixture was used as a bottom/upper liner at waste disposal areas. The long term increasing trend of the
permeability should be taken into account in the design.

Sivapullaiahand Lakshmikantha (2004) examines the suitability of pozzolanic flyash as a hydraulic barrier and the
use of bentonite to enhance geotechnical properties of flyash. Addition of bentonite improves the geotechnical properties of
flyash such as cation exchange capacity, shrinkage and volume change behavior, etc. Flyash-bentonite mixtures possess
Bearing Capacity and Seepage Characteristic of Flyash-Bentonite Layered System 11

low shrinkage and hence do not crack. Britton et al. (2004) measured the hydraulic conductivity of soilbentonite backfill
in three pilot-scale cutoff walls using laboratory tests on disturbed samples, undisturbed samples, piezocone dissipation
tests, and piezometer tests. In addition, a global measurement of the mean hydraulic conductivity of the soilbentonite
backfill in one of the cutoff walls was made using the pilot-scale test facility. Findings regarding locating defects with a
piezocone and hydraulic fracture in piezometer tests are also presented.

Kim et al. (2005) through their paper provide a promising solution to the disposal problem of flyash and also an
economic alternative to the use of traditional materials. Three mixtures of fly and bottom ash with different mixture ratios
i.e., 50, 75 and 100% flyash content by weight were prepared for testing. Test results indicated that ash mixtures compare
favorably with conventional granular materials.

Phanikumar and Sharma (2007) presented by way of comparison, the effect of flyash on the volume change of
two different types of clay, one a highly plastic expansive clay and the other a non expansive clay, also of high plasticity.
The effect of flyash content on free swell index, swell potential, and swelling pressure of expansive clays was studied.
Compression index and secondary consolidation characteristics of both expansive and non expansive clays were also
determined. Swell potential and swelling pressure, when determined at constant dry unit weight of the sample mixture,
decreased by nearly 50% and, when determined at constant weight of clay, increased by nearly 60% at 20% flyash content.
Compression index and coefficient of secondary consolidation of both clays decreases by 40% at 20% flyash content.

Mollamahmutoglu et al. (2009) undertook the investigation on the stabilization of an expansive soil with flyash.
In the course of experimental studies, the chemical, physical and mineralogical properties of the swelling clay to be
stabilized and the flyash were investigated.

The strength variation, swelling behaviour of the mixture with curing period, the effects of the properties of the
flyash and the mineralogical content of the clay on the expansion behaviour are examined.

It was determined that 35% flyash treated expansive soil samples provide satisfactory fill material. Furthermore,
the strength increases with curing time but liquid limit, plasticity index, swell pressure and thus swell percentage decrease
substantially with the increase in flyash percentage

Ajdari et al. (2010) under took the evaluation of soil shear strength. In this paper, the soil water retention curve of
a dual porosity silt-bentonite mixture was determined; employing the vapour equilibrium method and osmotic suction
technique, and the validity of these approaches was examined against the results from the filter paper technique. Chatterjee
(2011) attempted to enhance the quality and reactivity of flyashes through mechano-chemical activation. The regular and
experimental technologies of comminution and size classification have not resulted in producing sub microcrystalline or
nano-crystalline particles from the crystalline flyashes; and


Materials used in the present investigation are Flyash and Bentonite. The flyash used was collected from coal
based Dadri National Thermal Power Plant situated in Uttar Pradesh. The flyash from the plant was collected in a dry form
from hoppers and transported in an air-tight double polythene bags.

The morphology and chemical composition of flyash and bentonite have been examined using optical
microscopes, Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) of flyash and bentonite particles at 3000 magnification are shown in
Figure 1.
12 M. A. Khan, Javed Alam & Murtaza Husain

SEM of Flyash SEM of Bentonite

Figure 1: Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) - Particles at 3000 Magnification

The physical and geotechnical properties of flyash and bentonite as well as their chemical composition obtained
characterization in the laboratory are given in Table 1 and 2. The grain size analysis of flyash and bentonite is shown in
Figures 2 and 3. The tests for Atterberg limit, specific gravity, Proctor compaction, falling head permeability, triaxial
compression and chemical composition were done as per Indian Standards.

The samples of flyash-bentonite layered system are taken in the ratios of 1:1, 2:1, 3:1 and 4:1 and each ratio is
arranged with number of interfaces, N=1, 2 and 3. The diagrammatic representation of flyash-bentonite layered system is
shown in Figure 4(a-f). The triaxial samples of flyash-bentonite layered system were prepared at their respective OMC and
maximum dry density. The matrix of layered samples has been tested under three confining pressures of 100, 200 and 300
kPa. The samples of flyash and bentonite layered system for permeability were also prepared at their respective OMC and
maximum dry density and saturated for a period of three days. The mean values of permeability of flyash-bentonite layered
system obtained are shown in Figure 8.


The failure envelopes of flyash, bentonite and flyash-bentonite layered system have been shown by Mohrs circle
graphical presentation Figures (5-7). It was observed that the value of shear strength of flyash-bentonite layered system
increases with increase in number of interfaces and confining pressures. Table 3 shows that the net safe bearing capacity
(N.S.B.C) of flyash-bentonite layered system reduces with increase of flyash-bentonite ratio (F:B) from 1:1 to 4:1 for one
number of interfaces (N=1). In case of two and three interfaces, the value of net safe bearing capacity displays an overall
decreasing trend for flyash-bentonite ratios of 1:1, 2:1 and 4:1. However, the value of N.S.B.C. increases at F: B ratio of
3:1 with the maximum net safe bearing capacity being recorded for the number of interfaces, N=3 which is the optimised

Figure 8 shows that the value of coefficient of permeability increases with the increase in number of interfaces as
well as ratio of flyash-bentonite layered system.


On the basis of experimental investigation, the following conclusions are drawn:

Flyash is almost cohesionless material which gets the binding effect at the interfaces of flyash-bentonite layered

The values of net safe bearing capacity of flyash-bentonite layered system are increased with the increasing
number of interfaces and confining pressures.
Bearing Capacity and Seepage Characteristic of Flyash-Bentonite Layered System 13

The embankment may provide greater stability if it is constructed for flyash to bentonite ratio of 3:1 (33% of
bentonite and 67% of flyash in layers) by keeping the number of interfaces as N=3.

It has been observed that when flyash to bentonite ratio 3:1 with 3 interfaces could be successfully used for filling
low lying areas and in various other engineering constructions and at the same time affords a mean of utilizing the
same without adversely affecting the environment.

As the bentonite is impermeable material but when it is used in layers with flyash, the value of permeability
increases with the increasing ratio of flyash-bentonite and number of interfaces. The value of permeability
obtained at ratio of flyash-bentonite as 3:1 with number of interfaces, N=3 is suitable for the construction of the
embankment of roads.


1. Joseph, P., Martin, Robert A., Collins, John S. Browning, and Francis J. Biehl, (1990): Properties and Use of
Flyashes for Embankments Journal of Energy Engineering, Vol. 116(1), pp.71-86.

2. Porbaha, T. B., S. Pradhan, and N. Yamane(2000): Time Effect on Shear Strength and Permeability of
Flyash,Journal of Energy Engineering, Vol. 126(1), pp.1531.

3. Mollamahmutoglu, M. and Yilmaz, Y. (2001): Potential Use of Flyash and Bentonite Mixture as Liner or Cover
at Waste Disposal Areas', Environmental Geology, 40 (11/12): 1316-1324.

4. Sivapullaiah. P. V. and Lakshmikantha, H. (2004):Properties of Flyash as Hydraulic Barrier, Journal of Soil and
Sediment Contamination, Vol.13, pp. 489-504.

5. Jeremy P. Britton, George M. Filz, and Wayne Herring, E. (2004): Measuring the Hydraulic Conductivity of
SoilBentonite Backfill, Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering, Vol. 130(12), pp1250

6. Bumjoo Kim, Monica Prezzi, and Rodrigo Salgado (2005):Geotechnical Properties of Fly and Bottom Ash
Mixtures for Use in Highway Embankments, Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering, Vol.

7. Phanikumar, B. R. and Radhey S., Sharma.(2007): Volume Change Behaviour of Flyash-Stabilized

Clays,Journal of Materials in Civil Engineering, Vol. 19(1) pp.6774

8. Murat Mollamahmutoglu, YukselYilmaz and Ahmet Grkan Gngr (2009): Effect of a Class C Flyash on the
Geotechnical Properties of an Expansive Soil International Journal of Engineering .Research&

9. M. Ajdari,G. Habibagahi, H. Nowamooz, F. Masrouri and A. Ghahramani(2010): Shear Strength Behavior and
Soil Water Retention Curve of a Dual Porosity Silt-Bentonite Mixture,International Journal of Civil Engineering
Vol. 17, No. 6, pp. 430-440

10. Chatterjee, A. (2011):Indian Flyashes: Their Characteristics and Potential for Mechanochemical Activation for
Enhanced Usability, J. Mater. Civ. Eng., 23(6), pp783788.
14 M. A. Khan, Javed Alam & Murtaza Husain


Table 1: Physical Properties of Flyash and Bentonite

S. No. Property Flyash Bentonite
1 Specific gravity 2.19 2.78
2 Optimum moisture content, % 22 28
3 Unit weight, kN/m3 14.39 21.5
4 Maximum dry density, kN/m3 11.8 16.8
5 Liquid limit (WL), % 24 58
6 Plastic limit (Wp) % 21 31
7 Angle of shearing resistance 23 0.0
8 Unit cohesion 447 35

Table 2: Chemical Properties of Flyash and Bentonite

S. No. Chemical Composition (%) Flyash Bentonite
1 Silicon dioxide (SiO2) 59.00 45.00
2 Iron oxide (Fe2O3) 4.50 3.00
3 Alumina (Al2O3 ) 27.00 24.50
4 Calcium oxide (CaO) 1.80 -
5 Magnesium oxide (MgO) 0.70 3.00
6 Sulphur trioxide(SO3) 0.10 -
7 Sodium oxide (Na2O) 0.28 -
8 Potasium oxide (K2O) 1.44 -
9 CO3+HCO3 as CO3 - 3.50
10 Moisture - 5.50

Table 3: Net Safe Bearing Capacity of Flyash-Bentonite Layered

Net Safe Bearing
S. No. Sample Capacity, qns (kN/m2)
N=1 N=2 N=3
1 F:B= 1:1 379.1 414.5 425.3
2 F:B= 2:1 353.7 359.8 411.3
3 F:B= 3:1 325.0 389.2 492.0
4 F:B= 4:1 273.4 312.8 380.1
5 Plain Flyash 181.1
6 Plain Bentonite 826.8

Figure 2: Particle Size Distribution Curve for Plain Flyash

Bearing Capacity and Seepage Characteristic of Flyash-Bentonite Layered System 15

Figure 3: Particle Size Distribution Curve for Plain Bentonite

Figure 4 (a-f): Diagrammatic Representation of Flyash-Bentonite Layered System

Figure 5: Mohrs Circle for Plain Flyash

16 M. A. Khan, Javed Alam & Murtaza Husain

Figure 6: Mohrs Circle for Plain Bentonite

Figure 7: Mohrs Circle for F: B=3:1, N=3, F=2L, B=2L

Figure 8: Coefficient of Permeability of Flyash-Bentonite Layered System

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