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EPS Geofoam
“EPS Geofoam” describes low-density cellular plastic foam solids used in geotechnical applications such as lightweight fill for construction on soft ground, for slope stabilization, and retaining wall or abutment backfill; as well as for roadway and runway sub grade insulation and foundation insulation.
 
Doing More with Less
The philosophy of “less is more” has permeated almost every facet of modern life – construction engineering notwithstanding. EPS geofoam is a perfect fit, giving designers a unique product that works in conjunction with other, more traditional materials to solve construction problems with unprecedented strength and flexibility.

EPS geofoam enables engineers, architects, builders and other industry professionals to design by function, that is, to focus on the key geosynthetic functions they’re looking for in an particular project, then select the best combination of products to achieve the goals most cost efficient.

EPS geofoam provides several unique functions not available with other types of geosynthetic materials. This multi-functionality replaces the need for many different products to achieve the desired results, making EPS geofoam highly cost effective.

At the same time, EPS geofoam products work very well as a complementary resource, with EPS geofoam-based composites and new synergies enabling end users to design with even greater flexibility and more options, not to mention unique results that would not be otherwise attainable.

EPS geofoam products help reduce and absorb the impacts of naturally occurring forces such as gravity and earthquakes rather than trying to strengthen or stiffen a structure to resist the forces. By working with, rather than against these forces, EPS geofoam gives engineers more flexible solutions to construction challenges.

Inside Geofoam
The two key properties that make EPS geofoam so attractive in design and construction are its low density for stress and deformation-related construction problems, and its thermal insulation properties that help combat frost-heave problems.

The density of EPS geofoam is controlled during the manufacturing process, and ranges from 15 to 22 kg/m3 for lightweight fill applications. This low density is only about 1 to 2% of the density of soil and rock, making EPS geofoam a superior, ultra lightweight fill material that significantly reduces the stress on underlying subgrades. The lighter load reduces settlements and boosts stability against bearing and slope failures.

Because it is approximately 98% to 99% air by volume, geofoam is a very efficient thermal insulator. EPS geofoam can be produced with higher densities to obtain the higher R-values preferred for insulation purposes, as well as to achieve lower deformation. EPS geofoam has been used in road and airfield pavements and railway track systems, beneath refrigerated storage buildings, sports arenas and storage tanks to prevent ground freezing and heaving, and in below-ground building segments to reduce seasonal heating and cooling requirements.

Other notable geofoam properties include:
• High compressive strength – makes EPS geofoam durable and resistant to damage.
• Low moisture absorption – moisture absorption rates increase as density increases, but are still minimal.
• Low interface friction – in direct shear tests, the interface friction between sand and EPS geofoam is comparable to the internal friction of sand alone.
 
Cove Sills
Road Embankments
Geotechnical engineers have long recognized the usefulness of lightweight fill to reduce load strain. Traditional lightweight materials used in embankment construction include chipped bark, sawdust, dried peat, fly ash, slag, cinders, cellular concrete, lightweight aggregates, shredded tires, and seashells. A major advantage of using geofoam as fill material in embankments is that it is up to 50 times less massive than other lightweight fills, thus providing:
 
• Maximum available right-of-way
• Faster construction schedule
• Lower traffic impact
• Comparatively clean construction near water
• Reduced labor
• Minimal future maintenance
 
Retaining Wall or Abutment Backfill
Placing EPS geofoam behind retaining structures and below-grade walls reduces lateral pressure, lowers settlements, improves waterproofing and provides better insulation. The low density and relatively high compressibility of EPS geofoam also limit horizontal forces against retaining structures during earthquakes.

Slope Stabilization
Because the density of EPS geofoam is 50 to 100 times lower than soils, geofoam is highly effective in improving the stability and safety of slope construction by minimizing the potential of failure surfaces between driving blocks and resisting blocks in a slope.

Pavement Insulation
EPS geofoam is used successfully as highway and airport pavement sub grade insulation to reduce sub grade stress and deformation as well as to protect against frost heaving.

Frost Protected Shallow Foundations
In cold climate regions, building foundations are required to extend below depths of expected frost penetration. This typically requires housing construction with basements or crawl space below floor grade. By using EPS geofoam, homes can be built in cold climates with slab-on-grade support. Frost protected shallow foundations significantly reduce construction costs as well as energy costs.
 
For more information regarding EPS Geofoam please use links provided below:
Geofoam Technical Bulletin
Federal Highway Administration: EPS Geofoam Construction
Federal Highway Administration: Geotech Resource Center 
 
 
 
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