Evaluation of Modified H-Piles Subject to Lateral Loading for Sound Wall Applications

Sound walls are utilized for mitigating ambient noise caused by traffic or industrial and commercial activities. Sound wall foundations are typically subject to large lateral load and bending moment produced by wind. Drilled shafts are conventionally used as foundations for sound walls, which can be constructed to provide significant lateral resistance. Using H-piles as an alternative can provide faster installation and immediate utilization, however, they may lack the required stiffness to adequately support these forces. To address this, a modified H-Pile concept was developed which includes one or two plates welded along the pile web to increase the pile-soil surface area perpendicular to lateral loading thus increasing its resistance. In addition, using steel piles improves the sustainability of the system. Used steel is manufactured using two processes BOF and EAF. The recycled content ranges from 37% to 89%.

A full-scale pile load testing program comprising monotonic and cyclic lateral load tests was performed on fourteen steel piles including unmodified steel piles to comparatively evaluate the influence of adding plates to H-piles. Two drilled shafts were also tested as a baseline to compare current practice against the proposed system.

A numerical model was developed with LPILE which was calibrated and validated using the experimental results and then used to conduct a parametric study considering different plate dimensions and a range of practical soil conditions. A second numerical model was developed using GSNAP to extend the cyclic lateral load analysis to simulate higher loads and more load cycles.

H-piles modified with plates had an approximately 22% higher lateral load capacity. The corresponding parametric study demonstrated that widening the plate is typically more efficient for increasing the pile’s lateral capacity than increasing the plate length. The cyclic lateral load tests revealed that the lateral stiffness of the novel piles remains approximately constant within 100 cycles. The GSNAP model simulated that the pile will experience less than 10 mm of ground level deflection at 1000 cycles of the design lateral load


El Naggar, Hesham
Elsharnouby, Meckkey
Mroz, Daniel

Session title

Innovation in Geotechnical and Materials Engineering (PS)


Soils and Materials Standing Committee


Soils & Materials