Hydraulic performance of geosynthetic clay liners to sulfuric acid solutions

Y. Liu, A. Bouazza, W. P. Gates, R. K. Rowe

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The ability of geosynthetic clay liners (GCLs) to contain acidic mining leachates is examined. The results of saturated hydraulic conductivity (k) of two GCLs permeated with sulfuric acid solutions (H2SO4) at 0.015M, 0.125M and 0.5M concentrations are reported. Also, the saturated k values of consolidated (35kPa) bentonite cakes made from sodium bentonite extracted from both GCLs were compared to a commonly used magnesium-sodium form bentonite. Chemical compatibility and effects of pre-hydration and effective stress were assessed as part of this study. Results indicated that an increased acid concentration (ionic strength) increased the k of all tested specimens. The ratio of the k0.5 values for non-prehydrated specimens permeated with 0.5M H2SO4 to the kw values for specimens permeated with deionized (DI) water (k0.5/kw) ranged from 10 to 110. Pre-hydration (50-140 water content) and increased effective stress (35-200kPa) improved the performance of GCLs (lower k). Strong correlations were observed between k and liquid limit and swell index parameters independent of pre-hydration and effective stress in this study. However, care should still be taken when using these correlations to evaluate hydraulic performance because the intrinsic micro-structure properties of bentonite, such as porosity, should also be considered. This work showed that, for example, high SI of bentonite does not translate necessarily to a better hydraulic performance of GCLs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14 - 23
Number of pages10
JournalGeotextiles and Geomembranes
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Acidic solutions
  • Geosynthetic clay liners
  • Geosynthetics
  • Hydraulic conductivity
  • Mining

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