Proof of Concept: Biocement for Road Repair

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Chu, Jian
Wen, Zhiyou
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Institute for Transportation
InTrans administers 14 centers and programs, and several other distinct research specialties, and a variety of technology transfer and professional education initiatives. More than 100 Iowa State University faculty and staff work at InTrans, and from 200 to 250 student assistants from several ISU departments conduct research while working closely with university faculty. InTrans began in 1983 as a technical assistance program for Iowa’s rural transportation agencies.
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Road repair is an expensive operation every year. This cost can be greatly reduced if waste materials from the mining and biofuel industries can be used to substitute conventional materials for road repair or construction. The objective of this project is to develop methods to produce a new construction material, biocement, using waste products and apply the new material for road repair and construction. Two types of waste were used in this study. One is limestone fines produced from a limestone mine in Iowa. Another is organic acids, a byproduct produced from a pyrolysis-based biofuel manufacturing process. The limestone fines and organic acids can be used to produce biocement under ambient temperature in an inexpensive way. The cost-effective biocement can be used as a substitute for expensive cement for road repairs and construction. Biocement grout, or biogrout, can be injected directly into cavities or cracks in pavement for road repair. As the viscosity of biogrout is low, biogrout can penetrate better into the road pavement than cement grout. Biocement-mixed aggregate can be used for road base or subbase construction. Biocement solutions can also be applied directly on shoulders as a stabilizer or on unpaved roads as a dust control agent. The focus of this project is on the development of cost-effective biocement products and their effectiveness for road repair. Once the methods for biocement production and applications are established in laboratory scale, field experiments can be carried out as a follow-up study.

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