What are diaphragm walls?
Diaphragm walls are one of the most important technologies of special foundation engineering. A diaphragm wall is constructed using a trench excavated in ground and supported by a mud fluid (typically bentonite or polimer mud) until the mud is replaced by concrete, after the steel cage installation. Diaphragm Walls generally range from 600 to 1500 mm thickness, in wide between 2000 and 3500 mm and can be excavated to depths of 60m or more.
- Can be installed in all soil conditions and through rock.
- Used in high water table conditions without excessive dewatering.
- Low costs and speed of construction for temporary and permanent soil support
Diaphragm walls are rectangular-section excavations with a complete ground asportation that is made in situ. The result is an underground concrete wall. They are essentially retention walls, which are constructed for instance at wharfs. A rectangular-section tool is generally used to remove the soil, thus creating a rectangular excavation. Furthermore, the rectangles making up the wall must be interlocked to ensure structural endurance and water tightness. The diaphragm wall panel construction entails three steps: the construction of guide wall, the panel excavation (demolition – removal – stabilisation), and the construction phase (reinforcing cage – casting – curing). To build a continuous diaphragm wall the primary panels are firstly constructed and spaced at a distance slightly larger than the panel width. The secondary panels are built in the empty spaces between the primary ones.
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Advantages of Diaphragm Wall Installation.
1. The process of constructing the Diaphragm Wall is relatively quiet and has little vibration
2. The Diaphragm Wall can be constructed to great depths, sometimes more than 80m
3. A Diaphragm Wall can be constructed on various soil types and rocks
4. A Diaphragm Wall is watertight; no dewatering is required and so has little effect on nearby structures.
5. The Diaphragm Wall serves both as an external wall for the basement and foundation for the superstructure or building.