Ethanol Plant By-Product Uses for Pavement GEO-Materials Stabilization, TR-582

Project Details







Iowa Department of Transportation
Iowa Highway Research Board

Principal Investigator
Halil Ceylan

Director, PROSPER

Co-Principal Investigator
Kasthurirangan Gopalakrishnan
Student Researcher(s)
Sung Hwan Kim

About the research

The production and use of biofuels has increased in the present context of sustainable development. Biofuel production from plant biomass produces not only biofuel or ethanol but also co-products containing lignin, modified lignin, and lignin derivatives. This research investigated the utilization of lignin-containing biofuel co-products (BCPs) in pavement soil stabilization as a new application area. Laboratory tests were conducted to evaluate the performance and the moisture susceptibility of two types of BCP-treated soil samples compared to the performance of untreated and traditional stabilizer-treated (fly ash) soil samples. The two types of BCPs investigated were (1) a liquid type with higher lignin content (co-product A) and (b) a powder type with lower lignin content (co-product B). Various additive combinations (co-product A and fly ash, co-products A and B, etc.) were also evaluated as alternatives to stand-alone co-products. Test results indicate that BCPs are effective in stabilizing the Iowa Class 10 soil classified as CL or A-6(8) and have excellent resistance to moisture degradation. Strengths and moisture resistance in comparison to traditional additives (fly ash) could be obtained through the use of combined additives (co-product A + fly ash; co-product A + co-product B). Utilizing BCPs as a soil stabilizer appears to be one of the many viable answers to the profitability of the bio-based products and the bioenergy business. Future research is needed to evaluate the freeze-thaw durability and for resilient modulus characterization of BCP-modified layers for a variety of pavement subgrade and base soil types. In addition, the long-term performance of these BCPs should be evaluated under actual field conditions and traffic loadings. Innovative uses of BCP in pavement-related applications could not only provide additional revenue streams to improve the economics of biorefineries, but could also serve to establish green road infrastructures.