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EXPANDED POLYSTYRENE A ROARING SUCCESS

A new commercial development in Gravesend, Kent by the Alpha Group, is benefiting from more stable foundations for one of its major roadway junctions, thanks to expanded polystyrene fill material supplied by Vencel Resil.

Ardent Consulting Engineers of London specified Fillmaster for the new road junction, which will lead to the new Lion Business Park. 375m3 of Fillmaster in grades 100, 150 and 200 was specified as fill material for the junction at Dering Way, close to the business park to prevent the possibility of settlement.

Fillmaster was chosen as it was originally specified for the original road around eight years ago, as it was built on very soft clay ground. The junction area had to be raised as it was previously at a much lower level than the main road and expanded polystyrene provided a lightweight alternative to traditional fill material that also avoided ‘loading’ the ground and creating issues associated with stresses on the ground below.

Kevin Sorsby, Consulting Engineer for Ardent, explains: “Fillmaster had proved to be highly effective at preventing settlement on the previous road development, so it was a natural choice to specify it for this project too. Expanded polystyrene blocks will prevent any additional stresses being put on the ground beneath and therefore provided the perfect solution.”

It was important that Fillmaster used on the second phase of the development was located adjacent to the existing blocks, creating a seamless transition from the original road to the new section, to ensure the stability of the road surface for the long term.

The 200 grade blocks were used for the top layer, which will take the most pressure from the traffic on the road above, moving down to a layer of 150 grade in the centre and 100 grade at the base, as the stress on the material disperses into the ground.

Fillmaster is available in a range of strength grades and block dimensions to suit project needs. It is the cellular structure of expanded polystyrene (EPS) that gives Fillmaster its high strength but lightweight nature, ensuring that the blocks are able to withstand the mechanical loads encountered on this types of project.

Phil Gill, Supervisor for Sturgeons, the civil engineering contractor, explains: “Although Fillmaster had been specified in the past for this road, this was the first time we had used expanded polystyrene blocks for this type of application, but it worked out really well. The blocks were lightweight and easy to handle and allowed for rapid construction. They were very easy to fit and it took just a few days to complete the job. We located where the original Fillmaster blocks were installed and butted the new blocks up to them, closing the gap between the existing and new road. We have never used this method of fill material before, but certainly found it an easy way to add depth and stability to a road surface.”

In addition to its physical properties, expanded polystyrene is easy to handle and compatible with rapid construction techniques, which is a major benefit for contractors. As part of modern methods of construction, it can be transported to site in the minimum number of loads, producing less waste and with no negative environmental impact.

Expanded polystyrene has environmental benefits too as it is HCFC-free and non toxic. The material is also extremely versatile as its closed-cell formation inhibits absorption of water and therefore avoids all of the problems of waterlogging and drainage that are associated with other fill materials.

Email: technical@vencel.co.uk

 


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