Geotextiles and Fibers: Applications in Geotechnical Engineering
Shobha Bhatia, Syracuse University
One of the major advances of polymers in the last 40 years has been their use in the
geotechnical engineering industry. Among the most commonly used materials are geotextiles;
defined as a permeable textile used in conjunction with soil or rock. Geotextiles are used as an integral part of many manmade structures, such as levees, dams, roads, retaining walls, and landfills.
Geotextiles have followed an evolutionary path, not only in terms of material development, but also in terms of the terminology associated with these products. In the early 1970s, geotextiles were referred to as “civil engineering fabrics” or “filter fabrics.” By the mid-1970s, they were referred to as “geotechnical fabrics.” It was not until the late 1970s that the term “geotextile” was suggested as a suitable name for these polymeric materials (Lawson 1990.)
By the mid-1980s, many other polymeric materials had been developed for a variety of applications in geotechnical engineering, resulting in geotextiles becoming one member of the geosynthetics family.
Although, there were some very early isolated applications of the use of geotextiles as far back as 1926, it has only been since the early 1970s that their impact in geotechnical engineering has been noticed. Between 1970 and 1980, the geotextile market in North American was estimated to have grown from about 2 to 90 million m2 (Raumann 1982). In 2000, 442 million m2 of geotextiles were used in North America alone (Koerner 2005).
Today, 208 different types of geotextile products are available in the United States (US), supplied or produced by 23 different companies for filtration, reinforcement, erosion control, and separation (IFAI 2009). Geotechnical engineers continue to be
challenged by new products and the use of geotextiles in traditional and nontraditional applications.