Friday, October 18, 2013

URSP Student Sadie Fahoul Researches Stone Restoration Treatments as Montmorillonite Swell Inhibitors

This project is about the swelling of specific type of clay and its behavior during the wet season, and how the reduction of the swelling can decrease the damages in many structures. I have taken a Soil Mechanic class the semester prior to this research project that made me very interested in this field. The main reason I’m interested in this research project is the importance of soil in almost any civil engineering field. Even though I haven’t chosen a specialty in the civil engineering, I believe that this research is going to help me understand the fundamental of any civil engineering field. After my research about the main purpose of this research project, and also reading the references regarding this type of research, I found out how useful a solution to a reduction of soil swelling can be to civil engineering field.

     The clay sample that I’m experimenting with is called Montmorillonite, which is an expansive clay. During the wet season, the clay expands as water particle fill the spaces between clay particles. As the water evaporates, and soil becomes dry, the clay doesn’t go back to its original shape. This process repeats rapidly during a year, as a result, the clay becomes more weak, brittle, and breakable.

     I’ve been researching since the beginning of the semester, understanding the process of lab experiments and testing. With the help of my mentor, we have purchased an equipment for our experiments, as well as several chemicals to test our clay. I have been doing tests with the clay in the lab to understand the expansion of it when it becomes moist. These experiments are still without the use of the chemicals. Once I understand the behavior of the clay, I will start experimenting the chemicals I have.

      One thing that I have discovered during this last week lab work was the behavior of montmorillonite clay when it gets saturated. I understood the swelling of this type of clay.