Palm Kernel Shells: a Potential Modifier of Lateritic Soils

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  • Topic: Density, Oil palm, Bulk density
  • Pages : 1 (416 words )
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  • Published : January 10, 2011
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Palm-kernel Shells : A Potential Modifier of Lateritic Soils Palm-kernel shell, a by-product of the production of palm oil is yet to be utilized to a great extent as a construction material. Presently, its use is limited mostly to fuel for burning and as finishes in traditional mud houses in Africa. Tests show that the shell has a specific gravity of 1.14 and a loose bulk density of 545 kg m-3, which implies that the shell can be classified as a lightweight aggregate. It is therefore hoped that, if found structurally adequate in modifying lateritic soil, it would offer some advantages, such as low density which implies reduction in self weight of the lateritic soil, improved compaction characteristics, good thermal insulation and good sound absorption. The oil palm tree from which palm-kernel shell is extracted, is a wet tropical tree, found mostly around the equatorial zone. Palm-kernel shell is dark grey to black in colour. The shell has two faces: (i) the outer face from which the fibres and palm oil have been extracted (this face could be smooth or rough depending on the extraction method);(ii) the inner face from which the kernels have been extracted. This face is relatively smooth. The shell also has a variety of shapes such as angular, polygonal etc., depending on the extraction method. The thickness is also variable and may range from about 0.15 to about 3 mm, depending on the species and the time of year. Some properties of the palm-kernel shell are as follows: it has a water absorption capacity of 21.3% and a porosity of 37%. This water absorption could be due to the high pore content. The apparent specific gravity of the shell is found to be about 1.14, and this depends on the specific gravity of the minerals of which the aggregate is composed and on the voids. A porosity of 37% implies that voids greatly influenced the apparent specific gravity value. In Nigeria, it is found mostly in the southern part of the country. Although information is...