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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Use of Synthetic Polymers and Biopolymers for Soil Stabilization in Agricultural, Construction and Military Applications

Authors
item Orts, William
item Roa-Espinosa, Aicardo - MADISON, WI
item Sojka, Robert
item Glenn, Gregory
item Imam, Syed
item Erlacher, Kurt - UNIV. OF AARHUS, DENMARK
item Pedersen, Jan Skov - UNIV. OF AARHUS, DENMARK

Submitted to: Journal of Materials in Civil Engineering
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: November 17, 2004
Publication Date: January 17, 2005
Citation: Orts, W.J., Roa-Espinosa, A., Sojka, R.E., Glenn, G.M., Imam, S.H., Erlacher, K., Pedersen, J. 2007. Use of synthetic polymers and biopolymers for soil stabilization in agricultural, construction and military applications. Journal of Materials in Civil Engineering. 19(1):58-66.

Interpretive Summary: Soil loss due to wind and water erosion are significant threats to productive agriculture, and creating stable, pollution-free construction sites. Three relatively new applications for controlling wind and water erosion using polyacrylamide copolymers are described that take advantage of their ability to stabilize and add structure to soil. In the first application, low concentrations of anionic, high purity polyacrylamide (PAM) eliminates sediment in runoff water by more than 90% when added to irrigation water at 10ppm, or at a rate of 1-2 kg per ha per irrigation. In the second application, PAM is applied at construction sites and road cuts at rates of 22.5kg per ha (10-fold higher rates than in irrigation control) resulting in reduction in sediment runoff by 60-85% during (simulated) heavy rains. Finally, a formulation of PAM has been applied to create helicopter landing pads that minimize dust clouds during helicopter operation. This formulation was specifically developed to minimize dust clouds during landing of helicopters in fine, arid soils such as those potentially encountered in the Middle East. A biodegradable alternative to PAM, acid-hydrolyzed cellulose microfibrils, reduce sediment run-off in lab-furrow tests by 88% when applied at 8-10 fold the concentration of PAM.

Technical Abstract: Three relatively new applications for controlling wind and water erosion using polyacrylamide copolymers are described that take advantage of their ability to stabilize and add structure to soil. In the first application, low concentrations of anionic, high purity polyacrylamide (PAM) eliminates sediment in runoff water by more than 90% when added to irrigation water at 10ppm, or at a rate of 1-2 kg per ha per irrigation. In the second application, PAM is applied at construction sites and road cuts at rates of 22.5kg per ha resulting in reduction in sediment runoff by 60-85% during (simulated) heavy rains. Finally, a formulation of PAM mixed with aluminum chlorohydrate and cross-linked poly(acrylic acid) super-absorbent at a ratio of (6:1:1) has been applied to create helicopter landing pads that minimize dust clouds during helicopter operation. This formulation was specifically developed to minimize dust clouds during landing of helicopters in fine, arid soils such as those potentially encountered in the Middle East. A biodegradable alternative to PAM, acid-hydrolyzed cellulose microfibrils, was tested in lab-scale furrows and was less effective than PAM at similar concentrations, but shows promise. Microfibrils reduce sediment run-off in lab-furrow tests by 88% when applied at 8-10 fold the concentration of PAM.

Last Modified: 11/21/2014
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