Biopolymers for Geotechnical Applications

by Teh Fu Yen,
Iris C. Y. Yang,
Shiva Karimi,
Geoffrey R. Martin,



Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: North American Water and Environment Congress & Destructive Water

Abstract: A number of bacteria, e.g., Alcaligenes eutrophus, have been employed to produce large amounts of intracellular polyester, poly-β-hydroxy butyrate or valerate. These polymer mixtures or copolymers are only sparingly soluble in water, and are stable between pH 3–11 under 10–100°C. These polymers are found to be ideal binders for soil that the strength of soil can be enhanced. For porous media such as sand or clay the permeability can be reduced to almost one million fold; therefore, the bacteria derived polymers are perfect plugging agents for stopping the plumes of subsurface pollutants. This is obviously usethl for on-site contaminant-control for hazardous wastes or chemicals. The microbial polymers, including the extracellulosic polymer, can be used as selective plugging agents, so that the concentration of pollutant can be partitioned (or bio-barrier) in different zones and pockets to allow bioremediation to follow (zonal bioremediation). The polymers also can be used as sealant, e.g., fixation or vitrification agents for on-site excurvation control.

Subject Headings: Polymer | Soil strength | Permeability (soil) | Aging (material) | Bacteria | Soil pollution

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