Geofoam EPS (expanded polystyrene) has forever changed the way highway and roadway construction is viewed, and the impact it has had on major projects around the world. With the amazing rapidity that large blocks of geofoam EPS can be placed makes it one of the dominant choices in embankment fill. EPS also excels where poor soil conditions are not favorable for traditional fill materials. Using a fraction of the work crews and equipment needed for large projects in the past, this eviromentally friendly product can save months of onsite construction costs. In today's competitive, ever changing construction environment, geofoam eps project versatility offers time-tested results (some going back to 1972) that give provablity to this type of geotechnical project. This special type of EPS has been used with a high success rate worldwide for over four decades. From Alaska to Arizona, California to Virginia, and everywhere in between, geofoam projects are expanding all over the U.S. Geofoam expanded polystyrene has been used on thousands of construction sites, roadways, bridges, bridge embankments, and airport runways just to name a few of the projects. In the United States and worldwide, project after project, the results of geofoam applications have been stellar. In recent years, even the Federal Highway Administration has become one of geofoam's most ardent supporters asking every state to evaluate it in their highway projects. To date, more than twenty states have done geofoam dependant highway projects of some kind, with some projects involving a massive 50,000 cubic yards of geofoam EPS.
Geofoam is a low density,expanded polystrene (EPS) rigid plastic (polymeric) which is manufactured as large blocks for quick placement on your job site. Michigan Foam Products geofoam EPS blocks can be manufactured up to sixteen feet in length as well as many density variables that could be easily enhanced or changed depending on your specific application. Once the geofoam EPS blocks arrive onsite, the blocks can easily be cut or shaped to any size needed. Geofoam EPS weighs a fraction (1 to 2 lbs. per cubic foot) of what the soil it replaces weighs thereby reducing a majority of lateral and downward pressure on the area installed. Having a closed cell structure when manufactured, Geofoam EPS has a decided advantage in that its inherant water resistance inhibits moisture when put into projects with soggy or poor soil environments while maintaining shape and stability. Because Geofoam is a thermoplastic, it will not decompose, leech, or pollute the soil in which it was installed. In fact, a geofoam project in Norway had to reconstruct a previous geofoam roadway project due to lane widening improvements. Once the asphalt and topsoil were removed, the geofoam underneath was in excellent condition after 24 years of service! Once the geofoam was thouroughly inspected, it was found to be in good enough condition to have 5,000 cubic yards of the geofoam to be reinstalled into the new project.
There are many other good reasons for using geofoam EPS. One of them is the continued expansion of geofoam usage when it is finally tried. Seeing is believing when it comes to geofoam. Construction companies are sometimes reluctant to use technologies that appear to be new or untested. Much rides on credible testing. Besides the voluminous resources we have in the right column of this page, actual projects installed are also a good litmus test of geofoam's credibility. Once geofoam EPS was tried in Japan back in the 1980's, its popularity soared. So much so that presently, Japan now does 50% (compared to the U.S. at 10% of blocks manufactured)of the worldwide geofoam EPS usage for construction. A staggering amount, even by today's standards of popularity. Within the first ten years of geofoam's reception in Japan, 2,000 projects amounting to 1.3 cubic meters of geofoam EPS were completed.
Another excellent reason for geofoam EPS consideration is the tight project schedules. Jobsites incorporating geofoam could not have been finished so quickly using traditional practices. Sites that incorporate geofoam can be continued right through the most inclimate weather conditions. A huge bonus depending on location.
|Airport Taxiways and Runways||Green Roofing Underlayment||Retaining Structures|
|Berms||Landscaping Fill||Retaining Wall Backfill|
|Bridge Approaches and Abutments||Lateral Force Reduction||Slope Stabilization|
|Buried Utility Line Protection||Lightweight Embankments||Theatre Seating|
|Fill Replacement (for poor soil)||Lightweight Void Fill||Widening Embankments|
|Foundations||Pool Decking||Road Beds|
It is absolutely critical that engineers be aware that geofoam EPS is no different than any other geotechnical solution in that it must be installed properly and with every precaution. Please research every aspect of geofoam's installation data available and please do a proper site and application analysis for its intended use. Geofoam EPS failures have occurred because of improperly installed geofoam EPS, and in nearly every case, it was lack of preparatory study of geofoam EPS. With the versatility of geofoam EPS applications, it is well worth the time spent doing it properly. As you can read in the section below about projects already constructed and time-tested, massive amounts of geofoam EPS can be used, and with better than expected results. MFP has included on this page numerous resources for you to research and find out ways to apply geofoam for your particular project and environment. On the right column of this page are links around the internet and in some cases, downloadable PDF files for you to read. Or check out this link about Geofoam precautions
The Interstate 15 highway project in Salt Lake City, Utah is the largest geofoam EPS project ever done in the U.S. using a staggering 100,000 cubic meters (3.5 million cubic feet) of geofoam EPS. This is one of the best geofoam EPS projects on the internet concerning design, preperation, geotechnical instumented field analysis, technical information, and installation of geofoam EPS and its requirements. The project objectives involved totally reconstructing a sixteen mile stretch of I-15 and widening the entire roadway from the existing six lanes to the new twelve lane design. In addition to this, erecting 144 "overpass bridge structures" and 160 MSE (mechanically stabilized earth) retaining walls. Geofoam EPS was used mainly for "lightweight embankment fill" and for loose fill above underground utilities such as gas lines, sewer lines, and water lines. The I-15 project lasted about 3.5 years with a price tag of 1.5 billion dollars. According to Professor Clifton Farnsworth, "geofoam embankments had the best overall settlement performance of the geotechnologies monitored".
photo credit: steven bartlett