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Geosynthetics - A Deeper Look At...

Written by; Jensen Elsworth / TCCN Staff Writer
Added on: Sun Jun 28 2009



"What on earth is geosynthetics?!"

If you had the same reaction and asked that question above (while cocking your eyebrows), then I feel for you. After all, 'geosynthetics' isn't a term that you encounter everyday! I would even bet that some of you guys haven't encountered this term until reading this article.

So back to the question - what is geosynthetics? Why should you be concerned about it? Does it have anything to do with earthquakes or geological movements as it name implies?

Well, no - geosynthetics doesn't have anything to do with the earth's movement or anything like it. BUT after a closer look, it turns out that it's about something that's equally important, I'm pretty sure that you'll understand how and why geosynthetics have a HUGE impact in our daily lives.

Yes, that includes you!

Geosynthetics Defined

Ask any civil engineer around and I'm sure they'd agree that building something from the ground up - whether it's a simple 3 bedroom house or a multiple-storey building is not an easy feat.

No, it's NOT just about having the right spot and the right materials. There are many spots on the ground that require unparalleled durability. Not a lot of materials have the sturdiness to stand up to the task... BUT there's one - and these are the geosynthetics.

Geosynthetics refer to the intricate mixture of generally polymeric materials that have been counted on by engineers to help solve civil engineering dilemmas like the one mentioned above.

These materials can be slightly tweaked to adapt to different uses. Whether it's building railroads; hydraulics; constructing those wide airfields; keeping a structure robust against raging elements, etc. geosynthetic materials are around to help get the job done.

Almost As Old As Earth

Sophisticated and new as its name may imply, geosynthetics have been around since the ancient times.

Ancient world powers like Rome and Egypt realized the advantages brought about by geosynthetics and they used it to fortify and stabilize their roads (along with its edges) and other towering structures.

Along with time, much has changed with geosynthetics and related materials. That's especially true in the appearance department. HOWEVER, the way it works and the principles supporting it have stayed virtually the same.

And just like in the ancient times, the modern world has realized the importance of geosynthetics in modern living especially in the civil engineering field.

Matter of fact, back 1983, the International Geosynthetics Society, known as IGS, whose duty is to constantly develop and find new uses for geosynthetics, has been founded.

The Many Faces And Uses Of Geosynthetics

Many uses and types of geosynthetics have been discovered after IGS is founded and with the help of different universities and institutes who are constantly on the move for developing geosynthetic materials.

Let me show you 3 of the largest and most popular geosynthetic materials just to name a few:


- First on our list would be Geotextiles. This category of geosynthetic materials make up one of the BIGGEST and fastest growing type of geosynthetic materials. They may look like just ordinary textile... BUT the fact that biodegradation isn't a problem means that they're a step ahead of ordinary textiles made of cotton, wool, or silk.


- This is another type of geosynthetics that are rapidly growing in popularity and use. As its name suggests, geogrids have a grid-like appearance... although it looks very open and a little loose compared to other grids. They are mainly used for reinforcement and fortification of different structures.


- When it comes to the transportation department, building hydraulics, etc. geomembranes are on top of the list. Back in the 1980's, government policies USA and Germany highly recommend the use of geo membranes, which explains its speedy growth.

Characterized as thin BUT resistant sheets of polymeric materials, geomembranes are widely used as cover for storing equipments for liquids and solids.


Copyright: 2009

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