What are the 5 main functions of geotextiles?

Geotextiles are a kind of geosynthetic material that has become more and more popular over the past fifteen years. The material owes its success in more than 80 applications to a large extent to its resistance to biodegradation. Geotextiles are indeed textiles, however not in the traditional sense of the word. They are no natural materials like cotton, wool or silk. Geotextiles are synthetic fibers that can be made into a flexible, porous, nonwoven needlefelt fabric. They are porous to water flow, to a varying degree.

Because of this wide variety, they can be applied in at least five different ways:

1. Separation
Geotextiles will prevent two soil layers of different particle sizes from mixing with each other, as is illustrated the image below.

2. Drainage
Geotextiles will efficiently collect superfluous water from structures, such as rainwater or surplus water, from the soil and discharge it.

3. Filtration
Geotextiles are an ideal interface for reverse filtration in the soil adjacent to the geotextile. In all soils water allows fine particles to be moved. Part of these particles will be halted at the filter interface; some will be halted within the filter itself while the rest will pass into the drain. The complex needle-punched structure of the geotextile enables the retention of fine particles without reducing the permeability of the drain.

4. Reinforcement
Heavy geotextiles can be used to reinforce earth structures by means of fill materials. Thanks to their high soil fabric friction coefficient and high tensile strength, they are an ideal reinforcement solution.

5. Protection
Geotextiles are an ideal protection from erosion of earth embankments by wave action, currents or repeated drawdown. A layer of geotextiles can be placed so as to prevent leaching of fine material. They can be used for rock beaching or as mattress structures. They can even easily be placed under water.