Effect of Graded Oil Palm Kernel Shells on Compaction of Weak or Problematic Sub-Grade Soils

  • Michael Affam University of Mines and Technology
  • R. Ewusi Wilson
  • D. Asenso-Gjambibi


Sub-grade is the ultimate load bearer of vehicular traffic load in a pavement structure. A weak sub-grade or problematic soils require some improvements like soil stabilisation, soil reinforcement and/or capping of the sub-grade layer. These sub-grade improvement methods increase the total project cost because non-local materials such as cement, geosynthetics and hydrated lime are commonly used. The use of graded oil palm kernel shells (OPKS) which are local, cheaper and readily available as a soil improvement material was assessed in this research. This assessment was done by mixing sub-grade material with 2.8 mm, 5 mm and 10 mm graded OPKS. 10 %, 20 % and 30 % of each graded OPKS was added separately to the soil to form nine composite materials. These composite materials including the natural soil were tested for their California Bearing Ratio (CBR) values. The investigation proved that the composite made of 20 % 2.8 mm graded OPKS yielded a soaked CBR of 23.5 % which is a 197.47 % increase in soaked CBR compared to that of the natural soil. The soaked CBR samples of the graded OPKS composite materials absorbed lesser amounts of water in comparison to that of the natural soil. This behaviour implies that some capillary force created at un-soaked condition in the composite materials was preserved; therefore the composite materials generally have higher CBR values than the natural soil.


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