Podcast: Geosynthetics, product types and applications


The latest episode of Breaking Ground discusses geosynthetics, including product types and applications, with Tensar Chief Engineer Yuli Doulala-Rigby.

In this episode of Breaking Ground, host Steve Hadley chats with Yuli Doulala-Rigby who previously represented the International Geosynthetics Society (IGS) at the Ground Forum. She will also complete her one-year term as President of the Institution for Civil Engineers (ICE) for the Northwest Chapter in July.

They begin by talking about Doulala-Rigby’s journey into geosynthetics. After starting out as a tunnel engineer working on the Jubilee Line extension, Doulala-Rigby moved to Hong Kong to work on slope stability projects. After 10 years, she brought her family back to the UK and started working for Tensar.

It was at Tensar – which invented geogrids in 1978 – that Doulala-Rigby fully immersed herself in the world of geosynthetics. Since then, she has been increasingly involved in the IGS, of which she was president between 2016 and 2018.

Doulala-Rigby is keen to promote geogrids as playing a key role in sustainable geotechnical solutions for temporary and permanent structures.

She explains that there are eight globally recognized functions of geosynthetics: separation, filtration, drainage, reinforcement, stabilization, barriers, protection and erosion control.

When it comes to products, she says, there are many types of geosynthetics. These include geotextiles – woven or non-woven and permeable – and geomembranes – thick plastic black liners that you would place at the bottom of landfills. Other geotextiles are used for installation around pipes. These products are mainly made from polymeric materials like polypropylene, polyethylene, polyester and fiberglass.

Doulala-Rigby’s concludes with the following message to the geotechnical industry: “All geosynthetics work and provide benefits, but their performance in the ground can vary significantly. So, don’t just swap geogrids and geosynthetics into bespoke manufacturers’ designs, but also modify the accompanying design accordingly. And follow the design specifications.

She also continues to bust some myths about women in engineering and offers an inspiring story for others to follow.

You can listen to the latest episode of the Breaking Ground podcast here:

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