Artificial ground freezing dates back to the mid-19th century. First used in the mining industry for access shafts, it remains the best method for sinking deep shafts in water bearing soils. If not for artificial ground freezing, major deposits of coal, ash, salt, nickel, lead, and gold would still be inaccessible.
The first ground freezing techniques, while effective, were very costly and time consuming. Only projects that could bear the cost of major refrigeration plant construction and expensive drilling costs were able to benefit from this technology.
As freezing and drilling technology advanced, more applications in civil construction emerged. In the 1950s, still expensive and not very transportable, ground freezing became known as the “problem solver” for the most difficult construction projects. Construction issues with extremely difficult soil conditions could be remedied with great success, and many were.
Nowadays, ground freezing is used worldwide for both civil and mining applications. Shafts from several feet to over 2,000 feet deep have been constructed using freezing as the only method of shoring and water cut-off. Foundation shoring, cofferdams, underpinning, and temporary access roads using ground freezing have become more and more common.
In the 1990s, responding to industry needs, SoilFreeze took the lead in developing environmental applications and hazardous waste containment applications for soil freezing. Today, a large percentage of our projects have an environmental aspect that is effectively solved by our freeze system.