Geotechnical behavior of high-plastic clays treated with biopolymer: macro–micro-study

Muhammad Hamza*, Zhihong Nie, Mubashir Aziz, Nauman Ijaz, Osama Akram, Chuanfeng Fang, Muhammad Usman Ghani, Zain Ijaz, Sadaf Noshin, Muhammad Faizan Madni

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The quantification of long-term performance of mechanically/chemically treated problematic soils is still under discussion. Likewise, exploring the availability and use of eco-friendly and sustainable stabilizing admixtures is a parallel area of contemporary research. This paper presents the laboratory results of a highly plastic soil strengthened with xanthan gum (XG) biopolymer to determine its suitability as a suitable subgrade for pavements. The XG content varied from 0 to 5 percent, and the specimens were tested at different aging periods (0‒60 days). The unconfined compressive strength (UCS) of soil strengthened with 1.5% XG content showed a considerable enhancement in strength by 314 percent, strength improvement ratio (SRI) increased by 8.3 times, and energy absorption capacity (Ev) by 1.4 times, resulting in a hard-quality subgrade for pavement construction. The compression (Cc) and rebound (Cs) indices were greatly reduced by 78 percent, as well as the swell potential parameters (percent swell (Sw) and swell pressure (Sp)) were decreased by 85 percent on average. The hydraulic conductivity of treated soil as well as the moisture-mass losses in freeze–thaw durability test was also found to be greatly enhanced with increased XG content. Aging time also plays a pivotal role in enhancing the strength and anti-deformation characteristics of stabilized soil up to 60 days. SEM coupled with EDX analysis proved the aggregation of soil particles by hydro-gelling effect of biopolymer, which helps in the improvement of strength and durability. Therefore, XG biopolymer has a promising potential as an alternative admixture for treating widespread fat subgrade soils.

Original languageEnglish
Article number91
JournalEnvironmental Earth Sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.


  • Freeze–thaw durability
  • Highly plastic soil
  • Hydraulic conductivity
  • Strength improvement ratio
  • Unconfined compressive strength
  • Xanthan gum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Pollution
  • Geology
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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