Field test of a floating thermal pile in sensitive clay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The response of floating pile foundations in deep deposits of soft clay is governed by the settlements within the clay deposit surrounding the piles. A long-duration thermal response test (TRT) has been performed to assess the impact of heating and cooling on the geotechnical performance of a vertically loaded slender tubular steel pile in a deep deposit of sensitive clay. The results from the instrumented test site indicate that negligible excess pore water pressures, up to 3 kPa during heating and down to −1·1 kPa during cooling, were generated in the soil adjacent to the pile for a 50 W/m heat flux. The heating rate was sufficiently low to facilitate the drainage of pore water. The influence radius for the excess pore water pressures, however, extended beyond the soil volume affected by temperature change. The absence of thermally triggered creep settlements could be explained by the overlap between the remoulded zone resulting from pile installation, the extent of the heating, and the low creep susceptibility of remoulded sensitive clay for moderate temperature changes. Furthermore, no difference in the ultimate bearing capacity was found between the thermal pile and the reference pile, which was only loaded with a serviceability load during the test series. The current test data, therefore, indicate that driven floating piles in a deep deposit of soft clay also function as heat exchanger piles with minimal detrimental effects, for similar operational conditions as used in the TRT. It should be noted, however, that other pile types that do not extensively remould the clay adjacent to the pile shaft may show more significant influence of the thermal changes.


External organisations
  • NCC AB
  • Chalmers University of Technology
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Building Technologies
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Publication categoryResearch