Sustainability Benefits Assessment of Metakaolin-Based Geopolymer Treatment of High Plasticity Clay Academic Article uri icon


  • Expansive soils are prevalent world over and cause significant hazards and monetary losses due to infrastructure damages caused by their swelling and shrinking behavior. Expansive soils have been conventionally treated using chemical additives such as lime and cement, which are known to significantly improve their strength and volume-change properties. The production of lime and cement is one of the highest contributors of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, because of their energy-intensive manufacturing processes. Hence, there is a pressing need for sustainable alternative chemical binders. Geopolymers are a relatively new class of aluminosilicate polymers that can be synthesized from industrial by-products at ambient temperatures. Geopolymer-treated soils are known to have comparable strength and stiffness characteristics of lime and cement-treated soils. This study evaluates the sustainability benefits of a metakaolin-based geopolymer treatment for an expansive soil and compares its results with lime treatment. Test results have shown that geopolymers have significantly improved strength, stiffness, and volume-change properties of expansive soils. Increased dosages and curing periods have resulted in further property enhancements. Swell and shrinkage studies also indicated reductions in these strains when compared to control conditions. The sustainability benefits of both geopolymer and lime treatment methods are evaluated using a framework that incorporates resource consumption, environmental, and socio-economic concerns. This study demonstrates geopolymer treatment of expansive soils as a more sustainable alternative for expansive soil treatments, primarily due to metakaolin source material. Overall results indicated that geopolymers can be viable additives or co-additives for chemical stabilization of problematic expansive soils.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Samuel, R., Puppala, A. J., & Radovic, M.

citation count

  • 8

complete list of authors

  • Samuel, Rinu||Puppala, Anand J||Radovic, Miladin

publication date

  • December 2020