Can Plastic Fibres Mitigate Earthquake Damage?

A group of scientists at the Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee (IIT-Roorkee) has developed a method to mitigate earthquake damage by using waste plastic bottles. According to the researchers, if in a particular ratio, fibre from waste plastic bottles is mixed with the soil, it will reportedly help reduce damage during earthquakes by strengthening the soil of the affected area. Here is a detailed report on SURFACES REPORTER (SR).

Plastic fibre for soil reinforcement

Published in the peer-reviewed journal Geotextiles and Geomembranes under the title Use of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) fibres for mitigating the liquefaction-induced failures, the research team comprises Prof Satyendra Mittal, Sanjay Kumar Shukla and Arpit Jain. Led by Prof Mittal, principal investigator of the project, the research reportedly cites the use of plastic fibres for soil reinforcement to help in lessening of the liquefaction phenomenon in embankments, slopes, man-made fills or other geotechnical structures.

The strength and stiffness of the soil where the water level is not too deep are reduced in the affected area during the tremors of an earthquake. At such an event, the soil adopts the liquefication phenomenon where it starts behaving like a liquid. According to the researchers, PET fibres enhance the liquefaction resistance of fine sand. Reportedly, nearly 2kg PET fibres can be mixed with 100kg sand or soil to reinforce the strength of the soil in an area by 40 per cent to 60 per cent. The result is expected to reduce the losses caused by an earthquake by nearly 70 per cent in comparison to normal soil.

The research findings came at a time when a series of earthquakes affected Nepal and its surrounding areas with a 5.4 magnitude.

Image credits: Foremost Insurance (for representational purpose only)

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