Recommended CitationYildirim, I. Z., and M. Prezzi. Use of Steel Slag in Subgrade Applications. Publication FHWA/IN/JTRP-2009/32. Joint Transportation Research Program, Indiana Department of Transportation and Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, 2009. doi: 10.5703/1288284314275.
Steel slag is a by-product of steelmaking and refining processes. In 2006, 10-15 million metric ton of steel slag was generated in the U.S. Out of the total steel slag produced in the U.S. every year, about 50-70% is used as aggregate for road and pavement construction and approximately 15-40% is stockpiled in steel plants and eventually landfilled at slag disposal sites. Since current levels of steel slag stockpiling and landfilling are not sustainable, alternative geotechnical engineering applications for steel slag are being explored to alleviate the slag disposal problem and to help save dwindling natural resources. The main objectives of this research were to determine the geotechnical engineering properties of two types of steel slag generated from different steelmaking operations and to assess their potential use in subgrade stabilization and embankment construction. Samples of fresh and aged basic-oxygen-furnace (BOF) slag and of fresh electric-arc-furnace-ladle (EAF(L)) slag were characterized through a series of laboratory tests (specific gravity, grain-size analysis, X-ray diffraction, compaction, maximum and minimum density, large-scale direct shear, consolidated drained triaxial and swelling tests). The effects of gradation on the engineering properties of both fresh and aged steel slag samples were also investigated. Various mixtures of steel slag [BOF and EAF(L)] and Class-C fly ash were also investigated. The mixtures were prepared by adding 5 and 10% Class-C fly ash (by weight) to aged BOF slag and 5, 10 and 20% Class-C fly ash (by weight) to fresh EAF(L) slag. Unconfined compression tests were performed after various curing times to evaluate the strength gain characteristics of the mixtures. Long-term swelling tests were performed for compacted mixtures of both fresh and aged BOF slag and 10% Class-C fly ash (by weight) and for compacted mixtures of fresh EAF(L) slag and 5, 10 and 20% Class-C fly ash (by weight). The effect of adding 10% ground rubber (by weight) to fresh and aged BOF slag on the long-term swelling behavior of the mixtures was also investigated. The optimum moisture content and maximum dry unit weight of BOF slag were in the ranges of 4-8% and 19.5-21.8 kN/m3, respectively. The critical-state friction angle of fresh and aged BOF slags was in the 45.3°- 48.1° range according to large-scale direct shear test results. Based on isotropically consolidated drained triaxial test (CIDTX) results, the peak friction angles of aged BOF slag (with minus 9.5 mm gradation) samples prepared at 90% relative compaction were equal to 47.3°, 45.2° and 43.5° at effective confining stresses of 50, 110 and 200 kPa, respectively. The optimum moisture content and maximum dry unit weight of EAF(L) slag were in the ranges of 10-13% and 16.8-20.0 kN/m3, respectively. The critical-state friction angle of fresh EAF(L) slag was equal to approximately 40.6° according to large-scale direct shear tests results. Compacted mixtures of both Class-C fly ash and BOF slag and of Class-C fly ash and EAF(L) slag showed excellent strength gain properties with time. Results of the long-term swelling tests on steel slag and Class-C fly ash mixtures showed that the addition of 10% Class-C fly ash suppresses the swelling of both BOF and EAF(L) slag samples to negligible levels.
Steel slag, sustainability, Class-C fly ash, recyclable materials, subgrade stabilization, SPR-3129
Joint Transportation Research Program
West Lafayette, Indiana
Date of this Version