Arabian Journal of Geosciences

, Volume 8, Issue 5, pp 2527–2535 | Cite as

Laboratory testing on heat transfer of frozen soil blocks used as backfills of pile foundation in permafrost along Qinghai-Tibet electrical transmission line

  • Guoyu Li
  • Qihao YuEmail author
  • Wei Ma
  • Yanhu Mu
  • Xingbai Li
  • Zhaoyu Chen
Original Paper


Generally, construction for pile foundation in permafrost has to be carried out in winter to minimize the thermal distribution to the underlying or surrounding permafrost. Thus, there exists a problem that it is hard to meet the stipulated requirement to the compaction degree of the backfilled frozen soil blocks around the pile foundation excavated quickly. In order to study the effect of froze soil blocks on the heat transfer process between pile and permafrost during the construction of the Qinghai-Tibet electrical transmission line in winter, some laboratory tests were carried out for the highly porous frozen soil blocks and the naturally compacted thawed soil body, respectively. In addition, the thermal conductivities were calculated under different temperature gradient according to the measured thermal data. Results show that the convective heat transfer occurs in the highly porous frozen soil blocks at negative temperature corresponding to winter time, which is favorable for refreezing the pile foundation and lowering permafrost temperature. However, backfilling the highly porous frozen soil blocks hardly meet the requirement of compaction degree. It has dual effect on the stability of tower foundation depending on the specific site conditions such as permafrost temperature, ice content, soil type, permeability, hydraulic condition, and embedded depth of pile. Results also show that the equivalent thermal conductivity of the frozen soil blocks is over five times more than that of the thawed soil body on average. This is because the convective heat transfer occurs in frozen soil blocks in winter, which has stronger heat exchange effectiveness and can diminish refreezing time. Tests have revealed the process of heat transfer of frozen soil blocks used as fills around the pile foundation in permafrost, verified its thermal semiconductor effect, and accumulated and expanded data of the thermal conductivity.


Qinghai-Tibet electrical transmission line Permafrost Thermal conductivity Pile foundation Porous media Freeze-thaw 



This work was supported by the Program for Innovative Research Group of Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 41121061), National Key Basic Research Program of China (973 Program) (No. 2012CB026106), Science and Technology Project of State Grid Corporation of China (SGJSJS (2010) 935-936), National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 41171055, 41023003), Funds of the State Key Laboratory of Frozen Soils Engineering of CAS (Nos. SKLFSE-ZY-11 and SKLFSE-ZT-16), and Western Communications Construction Scientific and Technological Project (200831800025). The authors would like to express gratitude to the editor and reviewers for their constructive and valuable comments.

Supplementary material

12517_2014_1432_MOESM1_ESM.rar (615 kb)
ESM 1 (RAR 615 kb)


  1. Cheng G (2004) Influence of local factors on permafrost occurrence and their implications for Qinghai-Xizang Railway design. Sci Chin Ser D 47(8):704–709CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Cheng Y, Lu X, Liu H, Wang R (2004) Moedl test study on pile foundation of 110 kV transmission line of Qinghai-Tibet railway in frozen soils. Chin J Rock Mech Eng 23:4378–4382Google Scholar
  3. Cheng G, Lai Y, Sun Z, Jiang F (2007) The ‘thermal semi-conductor’ effect of crushed rocks. Permafr Periglac 18:151–160CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Goering DJ, Kumar P (1996) Permeability effects on winter-time natural convection in gravel embankments. Cold Reg Sci Technol 24:57–74CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Harris S, Pedersen D (1998) Thermal regimes beneath coarse blocky materials. Permafr Periglac 9:107–120CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Lai Y, Ma W, Zhang M, Yu W, Gao Z (2006) Experimental investigation on influence of boundary conditions on cooling effect and mechanism of crushed-rock layers. Cold Reg Sci Technol 45:114–121CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Li N, Xu B (2008) A new type of pile used in frozen soil foundation. Cold Reg Sci Technol 53(3):355–368CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Li G, Li N, Kang J (2006) Preliminary study on cooling effect mechanisms of Qinghai-Tibet railway embankment with open crushed-stone side slope in permafrost regions. Cold Reg Sci Technol 45(3):193–201CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Li G, Li N, Kang J, Niu F, Yu W, Shi L, Bi G (2008) Study on design optimization of a crushed stone layer with shading board placed on a railway embankment on warm permafrost. Cold Reg Sci Technol 54(1):36–43CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Lu X, Tong R (2011) Compressive performance test of precast concrete assembly foundation for Qinghai-Tibet AC/DC grid interconnection project. Electr Power Constr 32:16–20Google Scholar
  11. Lu X, Cheng Y, Fei X, Man G, Guo Y, Xu B (2004) Field tests on mechanical characteristics of permafrost along Tianshan section of Huangji 220 kV transmission line. Chin J Rock Mech Eng 23:4383–4387Google Scholar
  12. Lyazgin AL, Lyashenko VS, Ostroborodov SV et al (2004) Experience in the prevention of frost heave of pile foundation of transmission towers under northern conditions. Power Technol Eng 38:124–126Google Scholar
  13. Ma W, Cheng G, Wu Q (2009) Construction on permafrost foundations: lessons learned from the Qinghai-Tibet railroad. Cold Reg Sci Technol 59(1):3–11CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Mu Y, Ma W, Wu Q, Sun Z, Liu Y (2012) Cooling processes and effects of crushed rock embankment along the Qinghai-Tibet Railway in permafrost regions. Cold Reg Sci Technol 78:107–114CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Qian J, Liu H, Yu Q, Cheng D, Zhang J (2008) Stability fuzzy evaluation on typical permafrost territory of Qinghai-Tibet 500 kV electric transmission line. Sci Technol Eng 20:5558–5562Google Scholar
  16. Qian J, Yu Q, Jiang Z, Gu W, You Y (2011) Experiment on conective and cooling process of macrovoid hollow concrete brick layer. China J Highw Transp 24:8–15Google Scholar
  17. Qian J, Yu Q, Jiang Z, Gu W, You Y (2012) Comparative analysis of the natural convection process between hollow concrete brick layer and crushed rock layer. Cold Reg Sci Technol 70:117–122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Qian J, Yu Q, Guo L, Hu J (2013) Experimental study on convection characteristics of crushed-rock layer. Can Geotech J 50(8):834–840CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Reinart I (1969) Design of foundations for the Nelson river transmission line. Paper presented at the Engineering Institute of Canada Annual Meeting. 9–13 Sept. 1969, Vancouver, B.CGoogle Scholar
  20. Sun Z, Ma W, Li D (2005) In situ test on cooling effectiveness of air convection embankment with crushed rock slope protection in permafrost regions. J Cold Reg Eng 19(2):38–51CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Wu Q, Lu Z, Zhang T, Ma W, Liu Y (2008) Analysis of cooling effect of crushed rock-based embankment of the Qinghai-Xizang Railway. Cold Reg Sci Technol 53:271–282CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Wyman GE (2009) Transmission line construction in Sub-Arctic Alaska case study: “Golden Valley Electric Association’s 230kV Northern Intertie”. Electrical Transmission and Substation Structures Conference 2009 ASCE. U.S.A. 329–341ppGoogle Scholar
  23. Xu X, Yu L, Wang L (2010) Research on the stability of thermosyphon pile foundations for high-Voltage transmission towers located in permafrost regions. J China Univ Min Technol 39:20–25Google Scholar
  24. Yu W, Lai Y, Zhang X, Zhang S, Xiao J (2004) Laboratory investigation on cooling effect of coarse rock layer and fine rock layer in permafrost regions. Cold Reg Sci Technol 38:31–42CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Yu Q, Liu H, Qian J, Fan C, Li D, Xu X (2009) Research on frozen engneering of Qinghai-Tibet 500 kV DC power transmission line. Chin J Eng Geophys 6:806–812Google Scholar
  26. Zhang J (2004) Study on roadbed stability in permafrost regions on Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau and classification of permafrost in highway engineering. Graduate University of Chinese Academy of SciencesGoogle Scholar
  27. Zhang M, Lai Y, Gao Z, Yu W (2006) Influence of boundary conditions on the cooling effect of crushedrock embankment in permafrost regions of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Cold Reg Sci Technol 44(3):225–239CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Zhang M, Lai Y, Yu W, Huang Z (2007) Experimental study on influence of particle size on cooling effect of crushed-rock layer under closed and open tops. Cold Reg Sci Technol 48(3):232–238CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Saudi Society for Geosciences 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Guoyu Li
    • 1
  • Qihao Yu
    • 1
    Email author
  • Wei Ma
    • 1
  • Yanhu Mu
    • 1
  • Xingbai Li
    • 3
  • Zhaoyu Chen
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Frozen Soils Engineering, Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute (CAREERI)Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS)LanzhouChina
  2. 2.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.Jining Nansi Lake Water Conservancy BureauJiningChina

Personalised recommendations