WCU Slide Backfill

Steam Tunnel Lightweight Backfill

Cullowhee, North Carolina

WCU Backfill Image 2

The Job

This steam tunnel lightweight backfill project is located at Western Carolina University, in Cullowhee, North Carolina. As part of the expansion and renovation of the steam plant, a section of existing steam tunnel needed to be uncovered to install a new wall. The wall needed to be backfilled, and due to the condition of the tunnel, the lighter the backfill the better.

The Challenge

The site was exceptionally tight, and the location was more than 30 minutes from the closest ready mix plant. The backfill depth was nearly 15 feet, but the project was only about 1200CY. So, doing 2′ lifts would have been slow and expensive.

To effectively eliminate axial loads from the tunnel, the structural engineer designed a cardboard void form system to temporarily support precast planks on top of the tunnel, which was approximately 5′ wide and 5′ tall. The planks extended about 18 inches beyond the sides of the tunnel. The void forms were wrapped in plastic. This ensured they wouldn’t be fouled by the CJFill-Ultra Lightweight cellular concrete during the pour. After the CJFill-UL was in place, the ends of the beams were encapsulated in, and bearing on, the cellular concrete, while spanning over the tunnel, and transferring the load of the backfill above the tunnel away from it.

The Solution

CJGeo proposed a CJFill-UL as a value improvement over the organic foaming agent cellular concrete that was specified. The architect and structural engineer approved the proposed change.

CJGeo mobilized a four person crew and a 200CY/hour mobile batch plant, and completed the steam tunnel lightweight backfill work in three pours over two days. The CJFill-UL was generated using a synthetic foaming agent. It can be placed up to 20 thick at a time, and is generated onsite directly from bulk cement, so isn’t dependent on ready mix plant locations.

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