Effect of particle size distribution on the bio-cementation of coarse aggregates

Aamir Mahsen Mahawish, Abdelmalek Bouazza, Will P. Gates

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


The effect of grain size distribution on the unconfined compressive strength (UCS) of bio-cemented granular columns is examined. Fine and coarse aggregates were mixed in various percentages to obtain five different grain size distributions. A four-phase percolation strategy was adopted where a bacterial suspension and a cementation solution (urea and calcium chloride) were percolated sequentially. The results show that a gap-graded particle size distribution can improve the UCS of bio-cemented coarser granular materials. A maximum UCS of approximately 575 kPa was achieved with a particle size distribution containing 75% coarse aggregate and 25% fine aggregate. Furthermore, the minimum UCS obtained has applications where mitigation of excessive bulging of stone/sand columns, and possible slumping that might occur during their installation, is needed. The finding also implies that the amount of biochemical treatments can be reduced by adding fine aggregate to coarse aggregate resulting in effective bio-cementation within the pore matrix of the coarse aggregate column as it could substantially reduce the cost associated with bio-cementation process. Scanning electron microscopy results confirm that adding fine aggregate to coarse aggregate provides more bridging contacts (connected by calcium carbonate precipitation) between coarse aggregate particles, and hence, the maximum UCS achieved was not necessarily associated with the maximum calcium carbonate precipitation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1019-1025
Number of pages7
JournalActa Geotechnica
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2018


  • Bio-cementation
  • Coarse aggregate
  • Fine aggregate
  • MICP
  • Strength

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