Innovations in the centrifuge modelling of energy pile behaviour in unsaturated soil

A. K. Leung, D. Vitali, L. Ma, Rui Zhao

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

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Installing a row of discretely-spaced energy piles at the mid-height of an unsaturated soil slope has been proposed as an innovative means to increase the slope stability and also to harvest solar and geothermal energy for road surface de-icing. Centrifuge modelling of the thermomechanical interaction between unsaturated soils and energy piles is challenging. This paper aims to share three new inventions to improve our capabilities of modelling unsaturated soil-energy structure interaction in a geotechnical centrifuge, namely (i) small-scale model reinforced concrete (RC), to capture the thermomechanical behaviour and nonlinear quasi-brittleness of RC energy piles in prototype; (ii) centrifuge-mounted heating system, to deliver/extract heat energy into/from a model structure during a centrifuge flight; and (iii) large-size direct-shear box apparatus, to test the shearing behaviour of unsaturated soils, with and without reinforcing elements, under realistic stress and suction regimes. The performance of these inventions on an unsaturated soil-energy pile system relevant to the engineering application above is discussed in this paper.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 16th Asian Regional Conference on Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering
PublisherSoutheast Asian Geotechnical Society
Number of pages4
Publication statusPublished - 14 Oct 2019


  • Energy pile
  • unsaturated soil
  • soil-pile thermomechanical interaction
  • centrifuge modelling


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