Experimental study on the monotonic mechanical behavior of completely decomposed granite soil reinforced by disposable face-mask chips

Wangqi Xu, Zhen Yu Yin, Han Lin Wang, Xiang Wang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


In response to the global outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), a staggering amount of personal protective equipment, such as disposable face masks, has been used, leading to the urgent environmental issue. This study evaluates the feasibility of mask chips for the soil reinforcement, through triaxial tests on samples mixed with complete decomposed granite (CDG) and mask chips (0%, 0.3%, 0.5%, 1%, 5% by volume). The experimental results show that adding a moderate volumetric amount of mask chips (0.3%–1%) improves the soil strength, especially under high confining pressure. The optimum volumetric content of mask chips obtained by this study is 0.5%, raising the peak shear strength up to 22.3% under the confining stress of 120 kPa. When the volumetric content of mask chips exceeds the optimum value, the peak shear strength decreases accordingly. A limited amount of mask chips also increases the elastic modulus and makes the volumetric response more dilative. By contrast, excessive mask chips create additional voids and shift the strong soil-mask contacts to weak mask-mask contacts. The laser scanning microscope (LSM) and scanning electron microscope (SEM) images on the typical samples demonstrate the microstructure of mask fibers interlocking with soil particles, highly supporting the macro-scale mechanical behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Article number131528
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jun 2022


  • COVID-19
  • Face masks
  • Microstructure
  • Reinforced soil
  • Triaxial test

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Strategy and Management
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering

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