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Impact of temperature on the pullout of reinforcing geotextiles from unsaturated silt


This study investigates the thermal soil-geosynthetic interaction mechanisms of reinforcing geotextiles confined in compacted silt that may be encountered when using mechanically-stabilized earth (MSE) walls as geothermal heat sinks. A thermo-mechanical geosynthetic pullout device was used that incorporates standard components for geosynthetic pullout or creep testing but also heating elements at the top and bottom of the soil box to apply boundary temperatures and dielectric sensors embedded in the soil layer to monitor distributions in temperature and volumetric water content. Two test series were performed: the first involves monotonic pullout of woven polypropylene geotextiles after reaching steady-state conditions under different boundary temperatures without a seating load, and the second involves monotonic pullout of woven polyethylene-terephthalate geotextiles after reaching steady-state conditions under different boundary temperatures with a seating pullout load. The results indicate that the pullout resistance of both geotextiles decreased with increasing temperature. Although heating led to drying of the unsaturated silt layers as expected, measurements from the second test series indicate accumulation of water at the silt-geotextile interface. An effective stress analysis considering thermal softening of soils indicates that the increase in effective saturation at the silt-geotextile interface was the cause of the decrease in pullout resistance with heating.

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