Biopolymer-Modified Soil: Prospects of a Promising Green Technology

  • M. S. BijuEmail author
  • D. N. Arnepalli
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Civil Engineering book series (LNCE, volume 16)


The benefit from using admixtures in soil to improve properties was discovered in ancient times. Various admixtures such as straw, bitumen, lime, salts and pozzolans are conventional additions to soil, while cement, petrochemicals and bacteria are currently being increasingly used in an effort to improve and stabilize soil from both mechanical and chemical aspects. The conventional techniques which utilize cement, lime, petrochemicals, etc., cause significant environmental degradation. With environmental awareness for materials and methods used in ground improvement generally growing, the trend towards using biopolymers as admixtures is expected to increase. This paper gives the concept and theory of ground improvement technique which employs biopolymers and describes the practical application of these techniques. A number of studies have been conducted in the past decades to check the suitability of various biopolymers in improving soil properties. The effectiveness of biopolymers for soil stabilization in agricultural, construction and military applications has been recognized by many researchers. More efficient and scientific usage of these materials for soil improvement requires knowledge about interaction mechanisms involved in the modification of geotechnical properties of soil. Most of the studies in clay–polymer interaction are from the field of medical engineering, where clay particles are suspended in the colloidal form and macromolecules are attached to them in different ways. The fundamental mechanism in biopolymer–soil modification proposed by various researchers is also presented in this paper. The study reveals the prospects of this green technology in the current era of rapid deterioration of natural resources. Furthermore, the need for continuing research on a number of factors which controls the mechanism is suggested.


Biopolymer Soil stabilization Soil–biopolymer interaction 


  1. Blauw, M., Lambert, J. W. M., & Latil, M. N. (2009). Biosealing: A method for in situ sealing of Leakages (pp. 125–130). GeoSS: Ground Improvement Technologies and Case Histories.Google Scholar
  2. Bouazza, A., Gates, W. P., & Ranjith, P. G. (2009). Hydraulic conductivity of biopolymer-treated silty sand. Geotechnique, 59, 71–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Chang, I., & Cho, G. C. (2012). Strengthening of Korean residual soil with β-1,3/1,6-glucan biopolymer. Construction and Building Materials, 30, 30–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Chang, I., Jooyoung, I., & Cho, G. C. (2016). Introduction of microbial biopolymers in soil treatment for future environmentally-friendly and sustainable geotechnical engineering. Sustainability, 8(3), 1–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Chen, R., Zhang, L., & Budhu, M. (2013). Biopolymer stabilization of mine tailings. Journal of geotechnical and geoenvironmental engineering, 139, 1802–1807.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Geoghegan, M. J., & Brian, R. C. (1946). Influence of some bacterial polysaccharides on the binding of soil particles. Biochemical Journal, 43(1), 5–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Karimi, S. (1997). A study of geotechnical applications of biopolymer treated soil with emphasis on silt’ (Ph.D. Thesis). Civil Engineering Department, University of Southern California, Los Angeles.Google Scholar
  8. Karol, R. H. (2003). Chemical grouting and soil stabilization (3rd ed.). New York, USA: CRC Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Khachatoorian, R., Ioana, G. P., Chang-Chin, K., & Yen, T. F. (2003). Biopolymer plugging effect: Laboratory-pressurized pumping flow studies. Journal of Petroleum Science and Engineering, 38(1–2), 13–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Khatami, H. R., & O’Kelly, B. C. (2013). Improving mechanical properties of sand using biopolymers. Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering, ASCE, 139(8), 1402–1406.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Larson, L. S., John, K. N., Christopher, S. G., Milton, B., & Catherine, C. N. (2012). Biopolymers as an alternative to petroleum-based polymers for soil modification. US Army Corps of Engineers, ERDC TR-12-8.Google Scholar
  12. Liu, J., Bin, S., Hongtao, J., Huang, H., Wang, G., & Kamai, H. (2011). Research on the stabilization treatment of clay slope topsoil by organic polymer soil stabilizer. Engineering Geology, 117, 114–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Maghchiche, A., Haouam, & Immirzi, B. (2010). Use of polymers and biopolymers for water retaining and soil stabilization in arid and semiarid regions. Journal of Taibah University for Science, 4, 9–16.Google Scholar
  14. Nugent, R. A., Guoping, Z., & Robert, P. G. (2009). Effect of exopolymers on the liquid limit of clays and its engineering implications. Journal of the Transportation Research Board, 2101, 34–43. Scholar
  15. Orts, W. J., Aicardo, R., Sojka, R. E., Gregory, M. G., Syed, H. I., Kurt, E., et al. (2007). Use of synthetic polymers and biopolymers for soil stabilization in agricultural, construction, and military application. Journal of Materials in Civil Engineering ASCE, 19, 58–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Ou, C. Y., Chien, S. C., & Chang, H. H. (2009). Soil improvement using electroosmosis with the injection of chemical solutions: Field tests. Canadian Geotechnical Journal, 46, 727–733.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Rowland, I. D., & Thomas, N. H. (Eds.) (2001). Ten books on architecture by vitruvius. New York, USA: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Sojka, R. E., Entry, J. A., Orts W. J., Morishita, D. W., Ross, C. W., & Horne, D. J. (2003). Synthetic- and bio-polymer use for runoff water quality Management in irrigated agriculture. In Diffuse Pollution Conference, 17–21 Aug 2003, Dublin, Ireland.Google Scholar
  19. Taytak, B., Pulat, H. F., & Yukselen, A. (2012). Improvement of engineering properties of soils by biopolymer additives. In 3rd International Conference on New Developments in Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering, 28–30 June 2012, Near East University, Nicosia, North Cyprus.Google Scholar
  20. Theng, B. K. G. (1982). Clay-polymer interactions: Summary and perspectives. Clays and Clay Minerals, 30, 1–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Theng, B. K. G. (2012). Formation and properties of clay-polymer complexes. Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Elsevier.Google Scholar
  22. Tingle, J. S., Newman, J. K., & Larson, S. L. (2007). Stabilization mechanisms of non-traditional additives. Journal of the Transportation Research Board, 1989, 59–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Wiszniewski, M., skutnik, Z., & Cabalar, A. F. (2013). Laboratory assessment of permeability of sand and biopolymer mixtures. The Journal of Warsaw University of Life Sciences, 45(2), 217–226.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Civil EngineeringIndian Institute of Technology MadrasChennaiIndia

Personalised recommendations