A piled embankment consists of a field op piles, with on top of that an embankment. Piled embankments are applied for the construction of roads and railways on soft soil. 

A horizontal reinforcement layer is applied above the piles, at the base of the embankment. This is the basal reinforcement. A new, innovative development is the application of corrosion-free steel grid basal reinforcement. This new reinforcement type may improve the resilience and sustainability of piled embankments.

The existing calculation models for designing piled embankments were developed for geosynthetic basal reinforcement. They do not apply for steel reinforcement due to the high bending stiffness of the steel. This project looks at the behaviour of piled embankments with steel reinforcement. It is the purpose to develop a calculation model to design the steel reinforcement of a piled embankment. In addition, this project looks at the influence of the pile stiffness and subsoil consolidation on the development of soil arching.

a) b)

(a) A steel-reinforced piled embankment; (b) Load distribution: A- load transferred to the piles directly via soil arching, B- load transferred to the piles via the basal reinforcement, C- load carried by the soil.


Private partners

  • Keller Polska, Poland
  • Keller Holding GmbH, Germany
  • Keller Fondations Spéciales, France
  • SHM System, Poland

Knowledge Institutes

  • TU Darmstadt, Institute of Geotechnics, Germany
  • Deltares, Delft, The Netherlands

Public partner

  • GEOLAB (a four-year Horizon 2020 project (2021 – 2025) funded by the European Union H2020 Research and Innovation Programme (


Setup of the small-scale model tests (Deltares). This will undergo modifications for this proposed study.


  • Scaled tests at the Deltares Model Hall.
  • Nearly full-scale tests in a deep test pit at the University of Darmstadt.
  • The application of modern DFOS technology to gives a 3D picture of the deformations and strains in the embankment.
  • 3D FEM analyses.
  • Development of a calculation model to design the steel reinforcement of a piled embankment.

Test pit for the large-scale test at TU Darmstadt.

Products / results / planning

The official products of this TKI project are:

May 2022

Test set-up of Deltares modified, and scaled tests conducted.

November 2022

Test set-up TU Darmstadt made, and nearly full-scale test conducted


Proceedings paper tests Deltares tests


Proceedings paper tests Deltares tests


Paper in Dutch magazine


Journal paper with the results of the tests in both labs, and recommendations for the design of a steel reinforcement for piled embankments.

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Distributed Fibre Optic Sensors: (a) glued bare optical fibre, (b) EpsilonSensor, (c) 3DSensor.



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