Influence of insulation layer on the thermal behavior of subgrade soils

Zhuang Zhuo, Zhaoxing Xie, Ayman Ali, Yusuf Mehta, Cheng Zhu, Wade Lein, Christopher Decarlo

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


An insulation layer on the top of the frost-susceptible soil has been proved as an efficient strategy to mitigate frost heave and thaw weakening for pavement in cold regions. To investigate the heat-transfer process in insulated pavements and compare the performance of different insulation materials under similar environmental conditions, we build five large-scale (4 ft by 4 ft by 3 ft deep; or 1.21 m by 1.21 m by 0.91 m deep) insulated pavement samples using different insulation materials. One of the samples is a control sample with no insulating layer, while the other four samples are insulated by extruded polystyrene (XPS) boards, tire chips, foamed concrete, and foamed glass aggregates (FGA), respectively. We place a frost panel on the top of each sample to control the freezing process from the surface. We adopt two types of environmental conditions, including constantly freezing and natural freeze-thaw environment with internal temperature distribution monitored by embedded thermocouples at different depths. Experimental results indicate that the insulation layer has a significant impact on the temperature distribution in both layers above and below the insulation layer. By comparing the thermal performance of the control sample and insulated sample under two environmental conditions, the XPS board is more suitable to utilize as an insulating layer compared to other insulating materials, followed by tire chips, foam glass aggregates, and foamed concrete.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)401-411
Number of pages11
JournalGeotechnical Special Publication
Issue numberGSP 326
StatePublished - 2021
Event2021 International Foundations Congress and Equipment Expo: Geoenvironmental Engineering, Geomaterial Modeling, Transporation Geotechnics, and Case Histories, IFCEE 2021 - Dallas, United States
Duration: May 10 2021May 14 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Architecture
  • Building and Construction
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology

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