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Geofoam forecast & robust infrastructure applications

Geofoam forecast & robust infrastructure applications

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Home Vendor News Geofoam forecast & robust infrastructure applications

Anticipated to hit $15.5 trillion in value by 2030, the construction industry is making consistent strides globally. Enhancements in the sector have paved way for the development of state-of-the-art residential and commercial structures, better roads, engravements, and more. To realize myriad structures, building contractors and other construction personnel have always been on the lookout for advanced and lightweight material. In this context, a material that has always fascinated geotechnical and civil engineers is geofoam.    
A geofoam material boasts the ability to reduce and absorb the impacts of naturally occurring forces, say earthquakes and gravity, rather than trying to strengthen a structure to withstand against these forces. As a matter of fact, the material is deemed to be 100 times lighter than soil and does not expand or contract with the changing temperatures.  
On these aspects, the global geofoam market size is estimated to surge to more than $1.02 billion over 2021-2027.  
30 robust years of geotechnical applications: Introduction to expandable polystyrene (EPS) geofoam 
One of the most prominently used geofoams, expanded polystyrene geofoam has found application as a geotechnical material for a few years now. The EPS geofoams weigh over 1% weight of the soil and less than over 10% of the weight of some lightweight fill alternatives. The function performed by EPS geofoam as a lightweight structure is to reduce the loads imposed on the adjacent and the underlying soils and structures. 
One of the fundamental advantages of geofoam as a fill material in the embankments and road construction is that the material is highly compact in size as compared to the other materials. On these grounds, the material acts as a support in various operations of road construction. Say for example, the construction of new roads requires a flexible and reliable fill material which could offer more stability compared to the conventional fills. EPS geofoams are commonly used to replace the soil which are extensively weak to support the traffic, providing a great bed for the various compression levels.  
One of the significant applications of EPS geofoams is in road embankments. Reason? The unending need of new roads across major economies requires construction over loose and soft soils which are capable of supporting the additional loads. Today, there are an umpteen road and highway construction projects going on in the globe mainly owing to the expanding urbanization and economic development.  
In 2018, the United States local and state governments spent nearly USD 187 billion on roads and highways construction. This demand has prompted civil engineers to lay emphasis on innovative materials and construction techniques, inducing the need for EPS geofoams.  
EPS geofoam can be used to substitute the compressible soils in order to prevent the unacceptable loading on the soils and adjacent structures. This property of the geofoams allow them to become a more feasible material in the road construction, in line with lowering the traffic impact, reducing the labor involved, and also minimizing the need for frequent maintenance. 
Geofoam materials’ wide scale usage can be rather evident from the Utah Department of Transportation’s recent railroad bridge project. In 2020, UDOT announced working towards a $82 million project. The development, which is anticipated to reach closure by 2021 end, is projected to be one of the largest installation of geofoams ever used in the state and may significantly be one of the largest in the United States. This can potentially allow the bridge construction to be developed relatively faster.  
Geofoams, today and beyond: solving the challenges of potholes 
There are various countries worldwide that have been facing humongous problems due to potholes on the streets. These barriers do not just make the rides uncomfortable, but also cause ample fatal accidents. Consider the following pointers: 

  • There are nearly 55 million potholes in the United States. According to AAA Foundation, pothole damage costs the U.S. drivers about USD 3 billion every year.   
  • In the Indian subcontinent, more than 30% people succumb to death due to pothole injuries. 

Considering these aspects, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways of India, had in 2015 raised a proposal to make use of thermocol fill, geofoams, as base in place of soil for construction. The Ministry had advised consultant firms from Japan, Europe, and the U.S. to submit a cost analysis for use of geofoams against traditional fill like soil from highway construction.  
 Construction material suppliers are pushing their limits to offer flexible and efficient materials for building and road development. Geofoam is considered quite suitable for critical infrastructure components like embarkments, slope stabilization, insulation and in retaining structures. With the penetration of sustainable construction materials, stakeholders are now betting high on effective polymers and advanced materials to bolster the end-user industry acceptance. Geofoams will potentially have an integral role to play in this aspect, bolstering the construction industry worldwide.  


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