PVC Geomembrane Institute Joins Hands with UIUC to Create Technology Program


 March 1998

Effective January 1, 1998, the University of Illinois has been selected to create a Technology Program for the PVC Geomembrane Institute (PGI). The PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) Geomembrane Institute (PGI) is a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the use of PVC Geomembranes through education and research. The organization was founded in 1988. PGI membership represents all aspects of the PVC geomembrane industry. The membership is, active in aiding engineers in specifying PVC for environmental applications including landfills, industrial waste ponds, canals, mining, wetland treatment systems, and waste water containment. Currently, PVC geomembranes are ranked second among geomembranes for geosynthetic applications and account for approximately 35 percent of this market. The new PGI Technology Program's (PGI-TP) main objectives include conducting research on PVC geomembranes, disseminating technical information about PVC geomembranes and answering technical questions regarding PVC. Overall, the PGI-Technology Program will serve as an information clearing house for technical information concerning PVC geomembranes.

One major benefit of PGI-TP is the collaboration among researchers, the PGI members and board of directors and end users - this will further important research activities that impact geosynthetic practices, particularly geomembranes.

One project the new program will focus on addresses industry concerns regarding the longevity of PVC geomembranes. PGI- TP along with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources have initiated a cooperative research project on the long-term (30 year) durability of PVC geomembranes, and the durability of chemical fusion, dielectric, hot air, and hot wedge welded seams. Three samples of PVC, provided by three different manufacturers, have been placed in a double lined settling basin at a reclamation site in northern Minnesota. Test strips were buried in the sand cover on the basin. The basin contains mine drainage that has been neutralized with magnesium hydroxide. Two of the samples have chemical seams and one has a hot wedge seam. Samples of the different PVC geomembranes and seam types will be obtained after 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 10,15, 20, 25, and 30 years of exposure. A number of tests will be conducted on the various PVC geomembranes and seams at the University of Illinois. The test results for the exposed samples will be compared to the tests performed shortly after installation. This study will provide data on the long-term durability of 30 mil PVC geomembranes in a harsh chemical environment and climate.

Other research topics the PGI-Technology Program will address include PVC geomembrane interface strengths, anticipated field performance resulting from the current PVC geomembrane specification, effectiveness of wedge welding PVC geomembranes, chemical compatibility of PVC geomembranes, and survivability during construction.

Another objective of the PGI Technology Program is the transfer of technology. In order to accomplish this goal the PGI will continue to distribute the "Technical Bulletin" - a quarterly newsletter for the geosynthetics industry. As well as, establish an Internet Web Site for PVC geomembranes, conduct domestic and international educational seminars, assist PGI members in publishing case histories, new technologies, research results, etc., and incorporate PVC information in University of Illinois courses including undergraduate and graduate courses on geosynthetics, landfill design, waste site remediation, site improvement techniques, and transportation applications. The new program will also have on-staff graduate research assistants to conduct research on PVC
geomembranes. These students will also provide technical support to engineers, specifiers and regulators. One of the long term objectives of the program is to expand the PGI-Technology Program into a Containment Technology Program at the University of Illinois. This program would develop and disseminate state-of-the-art information about containment technologies for liquids, solids and gases. It is anticipated that local and federal government agencies and private and public engineers would join the program and access the available information. Of course, a major area of interest in containment technology is geosynthetics and in particular geomembranes. The PGI-Technology Program is the first geosynthetic-related entity to join the Containment Technology program. This will lead to interaction among geosynthetic companies, designers, regulators, and public agencies. This interaction should lead to the development of new geosynthetic products, regulations, and/or systems for containment applications.

Dr. Stark  Dr. DanielDr. Reddy 

                Dr. Stark                           Dr. Daniel                               Dr. Reddy


Dr. Timothy D. Stark, Associate Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) will serve as the Director of the PGI-Technology Program. Dr. David E. Daniel, Professor and Department Head at the UIUC, and Dr. Krishina R. Reddy, Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), will serve as advisors of the PGI-Technology Program. Professor Stark will manage and direct the day to day activities of the PGI-Technology Program. Professor Daniel will serve as a senior advisor and support person. It is anticipated that the UIC campus will be utilized in combination with the UIUC campus for meetings, workshops, short courses, and other PGI activities because of the ease and reduced expense of travel compared to the Urbana-Champaign campus. Dr. Reddy's role will be to manage Chicago-based seminars, related events and PVC research.

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is equally qualified to host the PGI-Technology Program for many reasons including the research that has been and is currently being conducted on geosynthetics. In addition, the UIUC is one of the largest and most respected colleges of engineering in the United States, consistently ranking among the top three. The latest U.S. News and World Report rankings place the UIUC No. 1 in undergraduate Civil Engineering programs and No. 2 in graduate Civil engineering programs. The graduate instruction leads to degrees of Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy in civil engineering and in environmental engineering. The Department of Civil Engineering, with about 50 faculty members, has been ranked as distinguished by the American Council on Education Reports. The department has also been rated consistently among the top two or three in the nation in civil engineering and environmental engineering. The undergraduate Civil Engineering enrollment at the UIUC is over 600 while the Civil Engineering graduate enrollment is approximately 400.

Newmark Civil Engineering laboratory provides extensive modern facilities and equipment. The Geotechnical and geoenvironmental laboratories at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are among the top research facilities of this type in the United States. In addition, a new geosynthetics laboratory is being developed under the direction of Timothy D. Stark. The lab contains a large-scale direct shear device and five torsional ring shear apparatuses for interface shear testing, permissivity and transitivity devices, a gradient ratio device, a tensiometer, wide-strip tensile test equipment, geotextile filtration and clogging apparatuses, a multiaxial tension resistance device, a tensiometer and other devices for evaluating the engineering properties of geomembranes. Dr. David E. Daniel is establishing a hydraulic conductivity laboratory for soils and geosynthetics. The lab contains state-of-the-art flexible wall permeameters and pore pressure panels, a GCL transmissivity device, and other state-of-the-art hydraulic conductivity apparatuses.

The UIUC’s Geotechnical Engineering Laboratory has facilities to conduct research addressing issues such as survivability during and after construction as well as chemical compatibility and transport. The UIUC undergraduate enrollment is 200 and the graduate enrollment is 70.

In summary, the PGI-TP is designed as the next step in combining the resources of industry and academia to further improve the practical aspects of PVC geomembranes in geosynthetic applications.


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