Geosynthetics are synthetic materials used to solve civil engineering problems. Because natural materials biodegrade, engineers designed geosynthetic materials to withstand the natural elements. This made them ideal for roadways, building projects, manufacturing issues, water retention, and physical barrier needs. In this article we’ll answer the question, “what are geosynthetics” and “how are they used?”
So, What Are Geosynthetics?
Geosynthetics are made from durable polymers to withstand a wide variety of environments. Specifically, environments that involve excess earth or water. Unlike natural textiles, geosynthetics are buried underground, submerged under water, or built into walls without experiencing rapid biodegradation.
Because of their durable construction, almost every manufacturing and building process uses geosynthetics. In 2010, more than $5,050,000,000 in geosynthetic materials were purchased worldwide. North America saw 6.1% annual growth since 2012. By this year, the Geosynthetic Institute in Philadelphia estimates a global demand of more than 5 billion square meters. This makes geosynthetics products one of the most highly demanded products in the world.
What Are the Different Types of Geosynthetics?
Many applications use geosynthetics in many forms. Geotextiles, for example, are for road construction, river bank stability, and lining reservoirs and canals. Manufacturers construct geotextiles using woven or knit materials making them flexible, permeable, and durable. They can prevent rock slides, reinforce cliff faces, and prevent soil erosion.
Geomembranes, on the other hand, provide the largest percentage of geosynthetic sales. Outside of freshwater containment, Geomembranes contain hazardous gases, fluids, or wastes, in order to contain contaminated material and keep it away from our water supply. This makes geomembranes perfectly suited to manure management systems, industrial water management, or landfill construction. Geomembranes also feature low permeability allowing them to retain toxic gasses.
How Do Geosynthetics Work?
As you can see, the applications mentioned feature varying functions. Geotextiles separate, reinforce, filter, and drain various projects. Geomembranes are primarily for containment. Though made for varying functions and forms, geosynthetics provide the same purpose: to lessen the impact water has on soil.
A product of global warming, the National Ocean Service reports that sea levels have risen 0.12 inches per year since 1900. As a result, storms, floods, landslides, and other natural disasters pose a threat to building structures, freeways, landfill systems, and other architectural and constructional achievements. This is where geosynthetics come in. By reinforcing coastlines, protecting roadways, and lining structures, geosynthetics can hold up under even the worst of circumstances.
BTL makes geosynthetics from polymers such as polyethylene, polypropylene, polyester, nylon, or polyvinyl materials. We then knit, weave, or fuse those together to form a sheet of material. Products go through rigorous testing by the International American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) using guidelines provided by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). This ensures products are commercially ready. The result is a textile product that can cushion, contain, reinforce, filter, or drain a variety of engineering projects.
How Are Geosynthetics Used?
Now that we’ve answered the question, “what are geosynthetics?” it’s time to take a look at how to use them. As implied by the etymology of the word, geosynthetics are synthetic materials (synthetics) that pertain to the earth (geo). Thus all geosynthetics work with soil, rock, or water. Several engineering companies use geosynthetics for transportation, construction, environmental, marine, hydraulic, civil, agriculture, aquaculture, and mining industries. They build dams, construct canals, line landfills, contain ponds, manage manure, install roadways, and provide covers for coal.
BTL Liners provides geosynthetic solutions for nearly every industry and use. For over 35 years we have manufactured industrial strength geomembranes made from heavyweight Reinforced Polyethylene (RPE), Reinforced Polypropylene (RPP) and Ethylene Interpolymer alloy’s (EIA). Our liners are used for recreational, residential, environmental, agricultural, energy industries. Contact us to discuss your particular application.