FAQ

What is EarthZyme?

EarthZyme is a non-toxic soil stabilizer, created by Cypher Environmental, designed to work on clay based soils. EarthZyme works specifically to stabilize high clay content soils, which would normally be marginal in terms of their engineering properties. The product allows for the use of these types of in-situ materials providing substantial cost savings over traditional material costs for road building, such as aggregate. Additionally, long term maintenance reductions can be achieved, further reducing costs. The main goal of the product is to improve the engineering properties of the road / soil, such as increasing the density and CBR value (California Bearing Ratio), and in turn reducing the permeability and swell, producing a road that performs much better in wet weather and during spring break up. Although the main goal is stabilization, we also see reduced dust on roads treated with EarthZyme due to the increased bonding characteristics and density of the clay platelets.

How soon after construction can the road be opened to traffic?

The road can be opened as soon as the final compaction is complete. The road will benefit from the compaction of the traffic, further increasing the strength of the road. Initial curing time is 7 days, but the curing continues for 28 days. However, the more traffic you have, the sooner after compaction, the better, as it only helps to sustain the high densities and compaction values achieved during the compaction process. In fact, once the compaction process has begun, and as long as it is safe to do so, traffic can use the road simultaneously as compaction takes place.

Cracking and/or crazing has occurred on the surface of the EarthZyme treated road, why?

This typically occurs when you go over the optimum moisture content during construction. So long as the cracking is not significant, this is not a problem as it usually cures itself with time and traffic compaction. There are 2 ways this can be corrected – on heavy traffic roads, it will correct itself given time; on roads that experience less traffic, 20mm of the surface can be re-worked, as you have up to 7 days of curing time.

How much gain in CBR can be expected?

This will vary depending on the soil being treated and the densities achieved during construction. Increases of 50% – over 300% have been realized on various projects and during lab testing.

Can the surface be maintained, should it be damaged or worn?

Yes, maintenance can be accomplished when necessary. EarthZyme must be used to patch or resurface the treated road, maintenance guidelines are available from your Cypher representative. However it is typical to do very light trim grades from time to time, on an as needed basis.

How should we profile the road?

The road profile is very important in the construction of a dirt road, and should be between 3 and 5 % to a central crown. Compaction is done from the center out on both sides so that the integrity of the crown is not changed. Good work practices are essential to good road construction. Drainage and profile errors will result in puddling and erosion that will undermine the road. Good drainage and proper profiles are a must.

Does water quality affect the result?

No, water quality will not affect the performance of EarthZyme. Fresh, reclaimed, brackish and seawater have been used successfully. Any extreme circumstances or concerns with water source should be discussed with your Cypher representative.

Can EarthZyme be used with lime or cement?

Yes, EarthZyme can be used in conjunction with lime or cement. EarthZyme will allow the use of both to be reduced, and typical strength gains will still be achieved. As well, a large increase in CBR can be gained along with substantial savings in material costs (i.e. less cement or lime).

What is the largest benefit to using EarthZyme?

The most significant benefit is the reduction in costs compared to other construction methods. Using low quality in-situ soils and gravels to construct low cost and low maintenance roads and saving valuable resources in the construction of highways is the result. With today’s budgets, cost savings are vital. Of course, these refer specifically to the financial benefits. Ultimately in terms of engineering benefits, the greatest achievements will be a gain in CBR and density, as well as reductions in permeability, swell and rolling resistance.

What are the main elements of EarthZyme?

EarthZyme consists of enzymes, electrolytes and surfactants. These three main elements work together to allow the solution to penetrate clay based soils and effect the cation exchange within the clay platelets and cement the clay together within the silts, sands and gravel of a road construction.

If we double the application rate, will we get twice the strength?

No the effect of EarthZyme is not linear and will actual reduce the benefit. EarthZyme is engineered in combination with the application rates to provide the optimum performance. Increasing the amount of EZ in a soil will cause you to lose the benefit of the cation exchange, as it will be reversed and you will end up with a lower strength. Additional the effect of too much surfactant will also lower the benefits.

Will EarthZyme be affected by freezing or thawing?

No, EarthZyme is not affected by freezing or thawing. This has been documented over many years. However, EarthZyme should not be applied in freezing conditions.

We are still getting the dust from the road 3 weeks after application, why?

EarthZyme is primarily a soil stabilizer that provides some dust control due to the increased compaction / binding of the soil, but dust control is not the main target. While it is not EZ’s primary role to provide dust control, the soil used may have been low in clay content and high in silt fines. A proportional mix design is preferred. Remember, clay is the binder and EarthZyme only works on the clay particles within a soil/gravel mix. If dust control is required Dust Stop should be considered as a supplementary treatment to an EZ application.

It rained after construction and the road got very slippery and wheel tracks could be seen, why?

This could be due to a combination of circumstances, including poor drainage, improper construction, road profiling, etc. EZ increases the compaction of clay based soil by manipulating the clay fraction of the soil, reducing pore space and decreasing moisture. EZ does not change the nature of the clay, therefore it still has a propensity for moisture and needs to be protected from saturation. Crowning, drainage, and the use of Dust Stop are all steps that should be taken to protect the soil from moisture. Good work practices during construction, which include: rain during construction, correct drainage, finishing and profile should be followed.

How important is it to have some larger aggregates in the soil?

It is important to have some larger aggregates in the soil to allow for strong binding sites for the treated clay fraction. The soil does not require large aggregates but should have some gravel. If there already is gravel or stone in the scarified soil, do not remove it as it creates a good bond with the stabilized soil. If the inclination is high, add 5 cm of gravel in scarified soil, grader it and profile the road. After this, scarify it again and then we apply EarthZyme. Homogenize the mixture with the grader (full length and return). When optimum moisture is achieved proceed with compaction. After the first pass with the compactor, add another 2-5 cm of gravel on the newly compacted surface which is still penetrable to create a very good anti-slippery surface. Use this procedure for high inclinations. The created bond between EarthZyme soil and gravel becomes very strong.

Can I add additional gravel after compaction?

Yes, the surface will be tight and will require re-application of EarthZyme at 1000 to 1 to soften the surface to prepare for a thin, clean layer of small aggregate to act as a wear coat. You have seven days that you can store & windrow the treated soil prior to compaction after full compaction. This action is employed where the soils are mainly fines and the soil lacks gravel and grading.

There is a lot of sediment in the bottom of the drum, why?

EarthZyme is shipped abroad in a high-concentrated form, which is fresh from the factory. It should be shaken a little prior to use. There is nothing wrong with the product even if it is not shaken. It will still be fully effective. The sediment is a result of the culture and fermentation.

Is drainage necessary?

Cypher considers drainage mandatory for all road construction projects. Water is called the “universal solvent” which not only applies to the lab environment but also in the real world. Water can dissolve and erode any material or construction known to man, managing it is paramount to success. While table drains and culvert design are in the hands of the customer, Cypher will actively promote and advise the creation and proper maintenance of drainage.

How do we avoid delamination?

Delamination is caused by layers of soil being compacted at different moisture contents. If moisture content is not controlled this will happen no matter what is used, from plain water, to stabilization product, including lime and cement. Moisture content must be controlled at all times from wetting out the base to layers and final trim. Good work practices are essential.

How important is compaction?

Compaction is second only to moisture content in the construction of a successful EarthZyme project. All rollers have their place in the construction process. Be sure to use rubber tired roller, if possible, to finish the job. All forms of compaction will be used, and mostly in this order: sheep’s foot, steel drum and rubber tire. Good work practices must still be adhered to at all times. Ideally, all three roller types should be used during construction, but excellent roads have been constructed using nothing but the steel drum roller, and the water truck used as the rubber tire roller. The point here, is that a steel drum roller will bridge soft spots, but the wobbly tire roller will not. Potholes can be the result of poor compaction. Rubber tire rollers give a better finish to fine soils, and dehydrate the moisture far more rapidly. (Heavy traffic will accelerate the curing, and help seal the surface.)

Will rain during construction effect the project?

Yes, rain should be avoided during construction. If rain is expected on the day of construction, the project should be delayed until favorable weather. The third key to a successful project is ensuring that the soil is compacted at Optimum Moisture Content (OMC), rain will typically force the moisture content over OMC and cause low compaction and issues with cracking and potentially delamination. It is most important that the road is fully compacted prior to leaving the site. If heavy rain suddenly appears from nowhere, and you are in the middle of construction, simply grade all treated soil into one windrow and lay out later, or when the rain stops, up to seven days after application of EarthZyme. On returning, make sure the base has a moisture content equal to the treated soil to be laid so that delamination does not occur.

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