Geotechnical & Geoenvironmental Engineering Laboratory
Solutions for Sustainable Geoenvironment
The Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering Laboratory (GAGEL) is a unique facility that serves both research and teaching functions at UIC.
Currently, the Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Chicago is engaged in research in the following areas:
Both fundamental and practical issues are being addressed through field testing, laboratory testing and mathematical modeling.
With a recent corporate donation from ITW (Illinois Tool Works), the laboratory has undergone a major renovation. By acquiring new and innovative testing equipment, the laboratory has evolved into one of the leading, state-of-the-art laboratories in the country.
Undergraduate civil engineering students and graduate geotechnical and geoenvironmental engineering students use the laboratory in several courses to learn various experiments to determine physical, hydraulic, mechanical and chemical properties of soils. The laboratory is also used by undergraduate and graduate students, post-doctoral students and visiting scholars to perform various capstone design projects and research projects to develop new solutions and technologies for both traditional geotechnical engineering and emerging geoenvironmental engineering problems.
Geotechnical Engineering Research
Traditional geotechnical projects deal with determining the engineering properties of soils and rock and the design of geotechnical structures, including building foundations, earth-retaining structures, dams, and tunnels. In addition, projects dealing with global climate changes and geo-hazards and sustainable geo-engineering through life cycle analysis are being pursued.
Our laboratory is capable of performing both field and laboratory testing. Field testing can include pressuremeter tests, vane shear tests, and slug tests, among others: while the laboratory testing includes a wide range of capabilities, from moisture content tests to triaxial shear strength tests. As an example, one recent project investigated the piping phenomenon in soils using a newly-developed true triaxial piping apparatus to assess the effects of various system parameters on piping initiation and develop a rational assessment methodology.
Geoenvironmental Engineering Research
The laboratory has developed a special expertise to address geoenvironmental problems, which include contaminated sites, waste disposal, and waste minimization/prevention. Several research projects have been completed or in progress to address these problems. These projects are funded by the National Science Foundation, United States Environmental Protection Agency, Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, and industry partners. Some representative research areas are highlighted below.
During the last decade, the laboratory has assessed/developed in-situ technologies to remediate polluted soils, groundwater and sediments, including electrokinetic remediation, in-situ air sparging, stabilization/solidification, enhanced bioremediation, chemical oxidation/reduction, and nanotechnology. Currently, the laboratory is focused on the cost-effective and efficient integrated remediation technologies, selection or development of green and sustainable remedial strategies and technologies on the basis of life-cycle analysis. Renewable energy (solar, geothermal) sources are also being explored.
Developing effective containment barriers located within and to contain free-phase dense non-aqueous phase liquids in groundwater is challenging. Our laboratory is involved in the testing of various barrier materials for applications at contaminated sites and has recommended the one that is proven to be effective from both chemical containment and physical stability considerations.
Engineered landfills are designed, constructed and operated for the disposal of growing quantities of wastes generated in the United States and worldwide so that the public and the environment are protected. Our laboratory has evaluated the stability of composite liner systems, protective covers for geomembrane liners, chemical containment of liner systems, among others. Currently, a comprehensive research project is in progress to assess the performance of bioreactor landfills to accelerate the degradation of municipal solid waste and develop rational design methods and performance monitoring techniques.
With various recycling efforts, large quantities of wastes and recycled materials are being collected; however, markets to utilize them are limited. Our laboratory has investigated various large-scale applications of waste and recycled materials where these materials are used as a substitute for fresh or virgin materials, thereby preserving natural resources. Our laboratory has developed applications for scrap tires, glass cullet, biosolids and other waste materials in civil and environmental engineering applications. For example, our laboratory has demonstrated through large-scale field demonstration projects that shredded tires can be used as drainage layer material in landfill cover systems.
In all of our projects, both fundamental and practical issues are being addressed through field testing, laboratory testing and mathematical modeling. Our laboratory collaborates with industry and other partners to successfully transfer the results of our research into practice.
Krishna R. Reddy, Ph.D., P.E., D.GE
Professor and Lab Director