A UT Arlington civil engineering researcher has won a $1 million state transportation department contract to install pins made from reclaimed and recycled plastic along some of the region’s busiest highways to shore up clay soils that support the roads.
Sahadat Hossain, an associate professor of civil engineering, demonstrated the technique as a cost effective and efficient solution to failing soil slopes as part of the project during the last few years. His team first installed the pins along U.S. 287 in Midlothian.
The study also indicates that the cost of slope stabilization and repair can be reduced by more than 50 percent in using these recycled plastic pins when compared to conventional methods.
Sadik Khan, Sahadat Hossain's doctoral student, views a failing slope at U.S. 287 recently.
The current phase calls for the pins to
be installed along parts of Texas 183 or Texas 360, depending on where they are
“Texas has limited resources available
to maintain state highways, so anything we can do to extend the life of our
roads is good for our state,” Hossain said. “Our innovative process strengthens
the soil slopes with recyclable plastics in a way that is good for motorists
and the Earth.”
Khosrow Behbehani, dean of the UT
Arlington College of
Engineering, said the work is representative of the many innovations developed
“Their work is a reminder that
universities like ours – and civil engineering researchers in particular – are
dedicated to developing solutions for pressing, everyday concerns,” Behbehani
said. “Using recycled materials to achieve such solutions speaks volumes about
the kind of engineering advances that will benefit Texas and our nation for
years to come.”
This is a major signature project in
Texas, where recycling products diverted from landfill and solid waste stream
are utilized for providing competent and cost-effective engineering solutions.
Hossain’s team utilized plastic pins
that are about 4 inches wide by 4 inches deep and 8 to 12 feet long, a great example of
sustainable management of resources.
Ashfaq Adnan, an assistant professor of
Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering and an expert in analyzing crack and
fracture of materials, collaborated on the project and developed a numerical
model to help TxDOT field staff determine where to place the pins to ensure
soil stability. The pins were embedded in stretches of soil where long cracks
were visible along asphalt highways.
“The equation allows them to use the
pins without a complex computer program,” Adnan said. “It’s a very simple
spreadsheet that helps them in the field.”
The reinforced sections along U.S. 287 have
held up much better than the untreated areas along that road, researchers
found. The team concluded that the reinforced plastic pins could be a viable,
sustainable alternative for TxDOT to stabilize shallow slope failure in the
North Texas and Houston areas.
Hossain and his team members also will
be working on a sustainable pavement base and sub-base materials, and their
effectiveness in providing competent and cost-effective solutions as part of
This is the fourth project for Hossain
in the last year. Those projects total $1.8 million and are from federal, state
and local agencies.
University of Texas at Arlington is a comprehensive institution of almost
33,800 students and more than 2,200 faculty members in the heart of North
Texas. It is the second largest institution in The University of Texas System.
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