Ground engineering specialist Geobear is celebrating 40 years since introducing a revolutionary idea.
Confronted with a collapsing floor in a popular Finland department store, the traditional and highly disruptive approach of underpinning was rejected in favour of injecting geopolymer compounds into the affected area. These rapidly expand and solidify to become as strong and resilient as concrete despite weighing 10%
The department store was back in business within a few days, and Geobear hasn’t looked back since. Now, 40 years on, its technology has been deployed in more than 215,000 projects in 38 countries worldwide and runs operations in the USA, China, Poland, Sweden, Finland and Ireland from its headquarters in the UK.
As well as being both cheaper and significantly quicker than the alternatives, Geobear’s approach is also far greener, with the process leading to between 53% and 76% cent lower emissions, depending on the project.
It is also leading to many trees being saved, with Geobear resolving around 500 subsidence cases a year where trees would be lost using other engineering methods.
The company has ambitions to go further, becoming carbon neutral itself in 2021 and recently launching a carbon-savings calculator which shows clients the emissions prevented for each tree saved.
Geobear’s CEO, Otso Lahtinen, says that although the company has been using geopolymer injection for 40 years, its potential is still becoming apparent.
He said: “A technology designed to save a shop from actual and financial collapse has now been used more than 200,000 times to stabilise the ground under offices, railway embankments, homes and all types of commercial properties.
“We can use the very latest technology to target and treat affected areas quickly, effectively, with minimum disruption and in a way that reflects the acute need to reduce emissions and meet the climate challenge.
“The demands of the next 40 years are becoming clearer as the world continues to urbanise, with new infrastructure badly required and much existing capacity in urgent need of renewal.
“None of this can happen if we can’t rely on the ground beneath our feet and our buildings to be stable and secure.”
Geobear’s innovative technique involves drilling a series of small holes and injecting an expansive geopolymer material into the ground or beneath structures, where it solidifies, enhancing the load-bearing capacity of soil or stabilising weakened structures. Geopolymer injections offer several key advantages, including minimal disruption to existing business operations, reduced environmental impact, and increased durability. By effectively addressing ground instability and structural issues, geopolymer injections provide a long-lasting and eco-friendly solution for a wide range of engineering challenges.
Geobear also recently developed a Carbon Savings Calculator which shows how much CO2 sequestered within trees would be released to the atmosphere if they are cut down. Various measurements are then taken of the trees and a carbon calculation is made. In London, a city badly affected by subsidence, around 70% of cases are caused by trees. Making sure these are not lost during remedial works means they can continue to absorb and store carbon.
As Geobear’s CEO, Otso Lahtinen, has said: “Our vision is to be the leading provider of sustainable, data-driven asset management solutions for the built environment”.