Full-Scale Embankment Consolidation Test using Prefabricated Vertical Thermal Drains
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In this study the field feasibility of an innovative thermal technique to improve the performance of prefabricated vertical drains (PVD) used in conjunction with the preloading ground improvement method is investigated. For this purpose, two identical 6.0 m high full-scale test embankments for preloading were constructed over the soft Bangkok clay where a conventional PVD system was installed underneath one embankment and a novel prefabricated vertical thermo-drain (PVTD) system was utilized for the other. The PVTD unit consists of a U-tube made of cross-linked polyethylene plastic (PEX) that is attached to a conventional PVD unit. Preheated water at about 90°C is circulated through the attached U-tube to raise the soil temperature underneath the PVTD embankment. The behavior of the two test embankments were compared in terms of excess pore water pressure and consolidation results. The comparison shows the advantage of a PVTD system over a conventional PVD system. The rate of consolidation increases significantly in the PVTD system due to the temperature effect on the hydraulic conductivity. Moreover, the embankment with the PVTD system generates more settlement due to the thermally induced irreversible contraction of saturated normally consolidated soft Bangkok clay.