GEOFOAM APPLICATIONS: Historical and Contemporary


Historical Applications of GEOFOAM

GEOFOAM applications.
GEOFOAM applications.

Construction and unstable ground have long been a challenging area of geotechnical engineering practise. GEOFOAM provides solutions to many of these problems. GEOFOAM refers to expanded polystyrene or EPS foam in block or planar form, utilised in geotechnical applications.

The unique properties of GEOFOAM

The unique properties of this closed cell foam plastic, super lightweight, compressive resistance, durability and resistance to moisture coupled with excellent thermal performance have resulted in EPS foam proving to be the superior cost effective, environmentally responsive solution for a wide variety of geotechnical applications.

The widespread use of GEOFOAM began in Norway in 1972, a road constructed over unstable, compressible clay, repeatedly settled. Regardless of the repair methods. Enter GEOFOAM, sub excavation and reconstruction of the roadway over a two-metre-thick layer of GEOFOAM. Virtually illuminated settling. This initial success led to further exploration of uses and applications for GEOFOAM.


Uses and Applications for GEOFOAM

Recent examinations, after more than two and a half decades at the original Norwegian site show no apparent change in the material’s physical properties. A very similar project in the United States many years later had shown equally impressive results in the fall of 1992 a section of Atkinson Road in Illinois collapsed into a peat bog. These two lanes stretch of road suffered repeatedly from seasonal settling during period of high ground water level. A dry-land excavation of existing soil or pre-loading seemed to be the only solutions.

However, all were deemed to prohibitively expensive or time consuming. Enter lightweight GEOFOAM. It was determined to be cost competitive with other fills and illuminated further expense with dramatic savings in excavation. Total materials and construction time. They stepped construction along with stagger joints to assure stress distribution was easy to achieve with the GEOFOAM blocks culverts, catch basins and other onsite structures were easily accommodated by custom fitting the blocks with simple cutting tools. Just two days to place the foam and less than three weeks overall saw the project complete and there has been no re occurrence of settling.


Use of GEOFOAM in Japan

It was the use of GEOFOAM in Japan that really began to gain high praise and acceptance for the material worldwide. Between 1985 and 1997. / 1.3 million cubic metres of EPS GEOFOAM were used in more than 2000 projects, ranging from an Interstate highway bypass. Where GEOFOAM was used to stabilise the ground under this busy section of road to the use of GEOFOAM as a super lightweight feel at a bridge retaining wall.

Here GEOFOAM was selected due to its superior ability to absorb lateral pressure. Large scale testing conducted by joint government, civil engineering and industry groups in Japan as well as in Norway, served to evaluate and prove GEOFOAM superior performance and safety in a variety of geotechnical applications. GEOFOAM is a proven performer.

The application of GEOFOAM and constructing airport taxiways, which must support immense loads, began in Japan and has found its place in the US. Traffic at the New Orleans International Airport demanded a dependable solution to hold sinking and the resulting cracking and disintegration of their primary taxiways. Enter GEOFOAM, their 18,000 cubic yards of GEOFOAM was used. Its superior compressive resistance, more than able to support the heavy airport traffic. Concern regarding the susceptibility of GEOFOAM to chemical or solvent attack. Also needed to be addressed. typically providing sufficient

Separated from potential harm. Versatility is one of GEOFOAM strongest attributes. In 1987, a section of mountainous Colorado Highway 160 failed and slid down the mountainside due to a rising water table. The repairs undertaken there constituted the first use of GEOFOAM in US. For highway side slope stabilisation. Traditional restoration measures for similar failures had proved unsuccessful.

Costs for these conventional alternatives were estimated to be in the order of $1,000,000. The cost of the completed GEOFOAM option was under $200,000. Once again, GEOFOAM, superior properties and cost effectiveness as a lightweight Phil met the challenge. Two men lifted the 80-pound GEOFOAM blocks and another slid them into place. Add the ease of transporting such a light material to a remote or difficult work site and you can see where some of the savings were realised. Performance and savings make GEOFOAM a great buy.

The Pyramid Carousel Centre in Syracuse, NY. A multi-level shopping mall is surrounded by GEOFOAM. This large downtown site was considered practically unbuildable. It contained an old oil tank farm and an abandoned landfill. Resting on soft foundation soils extending to a depth of 55 metres. In addition, the groundwater level was only one and a half metres below original grade. Conventional methods were considered for foundation support, but were found to be too costly.

A load compensated matte foundation surrounded by 40,000 cubic yards of GEOFOAM was specified, soil was excavated and removed to a depth of five metres over the building plan area. GEOFOAM low cost compared to traditional methods helped make this a truly successful project for this downtown improvement. So successful, in fact, that several years later, when an addition was undertaken, the original GEOFOAM was excavated and reused in the new construction. Tests of the material showed that all of the physical properties still met required specifications.


In Hawaii, GEOFOAM was used to create a 21-metre-high embankment for an emergency exit ramp on an Interstate highway on the island of Oahu. Initially designed to consist entirely of earthfill with geotextile reinforcement site conditions encountered during construction were worse than those anticipated. Proposed, which trains of up to 24 metre lengths would penetrate into artesian formations. Enter geophone. The redesign employed much shorter depths of Wick penetration and 17,000 cubic metres of GEOFOAM were used as soil replacement and lightweight Phil.


The GEOFOAM effectively reduced settlement and concerns over the artesian pressures in this perpetually sunny region. Exposure to sun or alpha violet light was a concern. Prolonged exposure to sunlight can lead to discoloration and dusting, but these changes are entirely superficial. And once GEOFOAMER installed and properly covered, they are of no concern.

Alaska has proven a perfect place to take advantage of the superior insulating performance of GEOFOAM proper planning and design. With an understanding of soil water table and freeze conditions have achieved excellent results in mitigating problems associated with frost heave and permafrost at sites that experience sees no frost heave. GEOFOAM insulation functions to limit the depth of frost penetration. Careful attention must, however, be given to design the road structure with sufficient granular base to minimise possibilities of undesirable differential icing of the roadway.


Following the massive 1989 earthquake in the San Francisco, Oakland Bay Area, numerous approaches and off ramps on a one-and-a-half-mile section of Interstate 880 were reconstructed using Geo Fault. The instability of the Bay MUD Foundation combined with the challenge of construction that would with stand inevitable future seismic activity. Combined with intense community scrutiny demanded an effective, cost-efficient solution. Nearly 50,000 cubic yards of GEOFOAM were utilised. Customary materials and methods would have meant over 15 metres of Bay mud and contaminated soil would have to be excavated and treated before disposal. Utilising GEOFOAM less than a metre of soil had to be removed. A 30-inch base of lightweight concrete was poured over which the GEOFOAM was placed.


GEOFOAM resistance to moisture will allow it to remain viable indefinitely even at this high moisture situation. GEOFOAM is a proven international performer. It is appropriate then, that GEOFOAM is being utilised on Interstate I15 reconstruction in Salt Lake City, UT to prepare for the Olympic Games in 2002. They are restructuring as many as 140 bridge approaches and overpasses in order to deal with the expected traffic increase of the games.


GEOFOAM is a champion in its field due to its properties and performance, and in no small part to the research and quality assurance that has gone into its development and manufacturing process. GEOFOAM begins in the form of tiny granules of polystyrene, which contain an expansion agent. The beads are first pre expanded through the introduction of steam, then stabilized and moulded into blocks of varying size using state of the art computer-controlled equipment.


The formed blocks are aged to ensure dimensional stability and then precisely cut by hot fires to the size appropriate for the application. No materials harmful to the Earth’s protective ozone layer are used in the process. Quality assurance inspections incorporated into third party certification programmes. Ensure the density and fusion of the moulded material throughout the production process. ASTM standards and test procedures are utilised to ensure GEOFOAM will meet the requirements of the designers application. High quality manufacturing standards and constant communications between GEOFOAM.


Industry professionals, design engineers, and construction trades are what have brought expanded polystyrene foam from an effective commercial insulation material to its use today as a superior cost effective solution. For a myriad of geotechnical applications, the unique properties and superior performance of GEOFOAM have produced spectacular results worldwide, and so it is that from its early development in Norway till the treacherous slopes of the Rockies to the frozen tundra of Alaska. To the precarious fault lines of California and far away Japan. GEOFOAM has built a well deserved reputation as an efficient high quality environmentally responsible product fit for the 21st century and beyond enter GEOFOAM to provide civil engineering solutions for the future.