Spray Grouting for Tunnel Support in Sandstone

Nelson, Charles R.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 1
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1982
INTRODUCTION The support of openings in weak sandstones can be achieved by spraying on a liquid grout which will soak in and harden to form a shell. In the St. Peter sandstone of the Minneapolis-St. Paul area of Minnesota compressive strength is increased from about 0.7 MPa (100 psi) to over 7 MPa (1000 psi) to depths of 152 mm (6 in.). A shell of this strength and thickness can pro¬vide support much as shotcrete does but at lower cost. If the spray-grouted shell is inadequate for the support needed, it provides a good base for shotcrete application, which is often difficult in weak or friable sand¬stones because the fresh shotcrete peels off along with a thin layer of sandstone. The spray-grouted technique was initially developed at the Civil and Mineral Engineering Dept. of the University of Minnesota using funds provided by RANN Div. of the National Science Foundation. It was used as temporary support in a 3-m (10-ft) wide, 3700-m (12,000-ft) long storm water drain tunnel by the Minneapolis Sewer Construction Dept. Much of the field development at this construction project was carried out with the cooperation of the personnel of the city of Minneapolis. It also was used for temporary support in a 3.3-m (11-ft) wide, 1800-m (6000-ft) long storm water tunnel built in 1978-1980 for the Minnesota Dept. of Transportation in Minneapolis. In 1975, 2000 m (6500 ft) of 1.5-m (5-ft) wide utility tunnels were spray-grouted for final lining. A 50-m (150-ft) long, 1.2-m (4-ft) wide test tunnel built at the university in 1974 was sprayed for half its length and is being observed for long-term behavior which to date (1981) is good. GROUT MATERIALS The requirements for the liquid grout are more severe than those for injection grouting. Besides being able to penetrate the rock and develop sufficient strength, it must have the following properties: (1) be nontoxic, noncombustible, and have a low odor for spraying under¬ground; (2) have controllable viscosity and setting time for adjusting to the permeability of the sandstone and the required depth of penetration; and (3) must "wet" the sandstone and develop capillary "draw" to penetrate to the required depth. A sodium silicate-based grout with the proper setting agent meets these requirements in the local St. Peter sandstone which has a uniform grain size dis¬tribution curve with D,,, = 0.1 mm, permeability of about 10 to 20 darcys, a porosity of about 25%, and less than 5% of silt size or smaller. It is 97 to 99% pure SiO2. The grout mix consists of Philadelphia Quartz Co. Type N sodium silicate and Celtite 55 Terraset Spray Grade (SG) distributed by Celtite Inc., Cleveland, OH. A volume mix ratio of 100:9:125 for sodium silicate to setting agent to water produces a grout with two to four centipoise viscosity, and initial set at 20°C of 20 min. Setting time is temperature dependent, being longer at lower temperatures, but can be adjusted by varying the setting agent concentration a few percentage points. APPLICATION The application is simple. Spray the grout on the surface until the desired penetration is achieved. Penetration rates of about 5 mm (0.2 in.) per min. are realized in the St. Peter sandstone for up to 152 mm (6 in.) of penetration (30 min. of spraying). The set time must be longer than the spraying time. The spray nozzle should be moved back and forth at a rate that minimizes runoff due to surface buildup. Both a single large hand-propelled nozzle and multiple small machine propelled nozzles have been used successfully. The pumping and mixing equipment used consisted of: (1) a hand-held, hand-pumped, 11-L (3-gal) gar¬den sprayer for test patches (mix by shaking); (2) 76-L (20 gal) batch mixing in barrels with small electric pumps for spraying and mixing; (3) two component pumps consisting of Hypro Model 5300 piston pumps (Hypro Pump Co., St. Paul, MN) on a common shaft driven by an electric motor. The sodium silicate is premixed with a portion of the water and the setting agent is mixed with the rest of the water. The two components are combined and mixed just before the nozzle; and (4) a proportioner metering the setting agent just before the nozzle with the water and sodium silicate premixed and pumped from the surface. The proportioner permits the bulk of the grout to be pumped through a single pipe or hose with only the setting agent stored underground. This is efficient and low in cost. COST The grout mix costs about $0.20/L ($0.75 per gal) in 1978 dollars. Filling all the voids 100 mm (4 in.) deep (25% initial porosity) would have a materials cost of about $5.40/m2 ($0.50 per sq ft). The labor cost of application is usually less than the material cost for normal tunnel jobs. A pump and proportioner cost less than $1000. Sodium silicate storage tanks and pip¬ing costs would depend on the particular site conditions. REFERENCES AND BIBLIOGRAPHY Nelson, C. R., 1977, "Spray Grouting for Tunnel Support and Lining," Underground Space, Vol. 1, No. 3, pp. 241¬ 245. Yardley, D. H., Nelson, C. R., Stocker, T. H., 1974, "So¬dium Silicate Spray Impregnation of Tunnels in the St. Peter Sandstone," Research Report, University of Min¬nesota, 118 pp.
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