In the last couple of decades, geocell reinforced soil systems have been used in challenging new applications. Although the widely different application of cellular confinement systems demand a better understanding of the fundamental behaviour of the functioning of the cellular reinforced soil systems, surprisingly little research on the fundamental behaviour of the structures and the interaction of the components has been done. A research project has been initiated at the University of Pretoria and this thesis constitutes the first step in achieving an understanding in the functioning of geocell reinforced soil systems. This thesis is focused specifically on the geocell support pack I configuration. However, the research output is not limited to this configuration and may find wider application. The support packs were studied at a width to height ratio of 0.5. The fill material used in this study is classified gold tailings from the Witwatersrand Complex and the geocell membranes were manufactured from a thin (nominal thickness of 0.2 mm) High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) sheet. This study provides an understanding of the functioning of the geocell support pack by studying the constitutive behaviour of the fill and membrane material and their interaction, as well as the influence of multiple cells on the composite structures. The behaviour of the classified tailings material is interpreted in terms of Rowe's stress-dilatancy theory and a simple robust constitutive model for the material behaviour is developed. The stress-strain behaviour of the HDPE membranes is strain-rate-dependent and two simple mathematical models for the strain-rate-dependent stress-strain behaviour of the membranes are developed. An analytical calculation procedure for obtaining the stress-strain behaviour of the fill confined with a single geocell is developed with which some of the shortcomings of the previously presented theories are addressed. This procedure uses the models for the fill and membrane behaviour developed as part of this study. The interaction of adjacent cells in a multiple cell geocell structure, influences its behaviour. This thesis shows that, with exception of low axial strain levels, the efficiency of a structure consisting of multiple cells of a certain size is lower than a single cell structure with the same cell size and fill. These results are contrary to previously published opinion. A method for quantifying the efficiency of a multiple cell pack is also developed.
Thesis (PhD (Geotechnical Engineering))--University of Pretoria, 2006.