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University di Genova

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23 Projects, page 1 of 5
  • Funder: Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, I.P. Project Code: SFRH/BD/72024/2010
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  • Funder: National Institutes of Health Project Code: N01CN075008-000
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  • Funder: National Institutes of Health Project Code: N01CN095032-001
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  • Funder: National Institutes of Health Project Code: N01CN095032-000
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  • Funder: UK Research and Innovation Project Code: EP/Y002202/1
    Funder Contribution: 165,359 GBP

    Construction industries worldwide use high-energy and carbon-emitting stabilisers like cement to stabilise problematic and weak soils used in developing earthen infrastructure. Whilst the addition of cement though has improved soil strength and durability, it causes a significant environmental impact on the ground and reduces the prospects of soil reusability. To limit carbon emissions and conserve limited natural resources, it is pivotal for the construction industry to immediately seek suitable replacements for cement and similar materials for soil stabilisation. In the recent past, there is a growing interest in civil engineering to use bio-geotechnical processes for ground modification. Bio-geotechnical processes use biologically produced processes or products for soil stabilisation. Bio-stabilisation techniques like fungi and biopolymer stabilisations have huge potential to replace cement in soil stabilisation but have not been thoroughly investigated in the literature. Fungi species like Pleurotus ostreatus on inoculation to soil in presence of organic substrate form hyphal networks which cause particle aggregation and induce water repellency to the soil. The organic substrate in the soil is the crucial component which controls the growth kinetics of the hyphal network concerning its total biomass, penetration depth and growth rate. Thus, the efficacy of the fungi soil stabilisation is directly dependent on the type of organic substrate used during the inoculation of fungi into the soil. On the other hand, polysaccharide biopolymers like guar and xanthan gums when mixed in soil with water form three-dimensional porous structures called 'hydrogels' that interlink soil particles and improve soil strength and durability. Only small quantities of biopolymer are required to stabilise large quantities of soil in comparison to cement and further, the stabilised soil has potential to be re-used. However, biopolymer-stabilised soils when exposed to longer periods of saturation lead to the partial or full dissolution of hydrogels causing a reduction in soil strength. To ensure effective biopolymer soil stabilisation, it is necessary to ensure the hydrogels can be made resilient against water intrusion. The needs of the two bio-stabilisation techniques can be addressed when these methods are in synergy considering biopolymer can act as a substrate for hyphal network growth, while the fungi can induce water repellency to the soil ensuring hydrogels can remain stable against water intrusion. Considering the wide variety of fungi species and biopolymers available, the distinctive synergy between fungi and biopolymers is proposed to be optimally engineered in this study. The outcomes of the study will lead to the development of a suite of fungi-biopolymer combinations as soil stabilisers. Further, the findings can enable field engineers to modify ground in different ways which cement cannot perform leading to newer opportunities in ground improvement.

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