Laboratory and field data on electrochemical stabilization of clays, by three Russian authors, are here presented in translation. Abstracts of the Russian papers were published in May 1947 issue of the Engineering News Record (pp. 100-101). There exists also a small body of literature, in German and English, dealing with the electrochemical stabilization and related subjects. Elements of the electrochemical process were patented by Casagrande in Germany, shortly before the last war.
Results of the Russians and of others, including the German patent, appear to be sound and interesting accordingly. Mechanism of the electrochemical stabilization, however, appears to be surmised rather than established. Unless the mechanism of such stabilization is understood in detail, little progress may be expected in field applications of the electrochemical method.
Electroosmosis, a poorly reversible coagulation of the soil colloids, and introduction of exchangeable aluminum into the clay complex have been given credit for the ground-stabilizing effects of direct electrical current. Much remains to be done, as the reader may see, in developing further the theory of the method. A critical study is indicated, in this connection, by agencies or individuals qualified and equipped for basic research in soil physics. Optimum schedules for field treatments need be ascertained with particular care, to suit any given kind of material and environment. A wide range of variation in such schedules, is most certainly to be encountered in dealing with materials as diverse in their composition and properties as are clays. Any generalization on relationships between soil, electrolytes, moisture, and current could be premature if based on the Russian work alone.
Stabilization of ground is a major engineering geologic problem of national interest. Needless to say, perhaps, that failures are to be expected, in laboratory and in the field, in this as well as in any other kind of research. To minimize probabilities of such failures, it may be recommended that investigators develop the electrochemical stabilization problem not merely against the relatively narrow background of soil mechanics, but with a certain feeling for geology, mineralogy, pedology, soil physics, and soil chemistry.