Shear strength and stress distribution in wet granular media

Richefeu, Vincent; Radjaï, Farhang; El Youssoufi, Moulay Saïd
July 2009
AIP Conference Proceedings;7/1/2009, Vol. 1145 Issue 1, p919
Academic Journal
We investigate the shear strength and stress distribution properties of wet granular media in the pendular state where the liquid is mainly in the form of capillary bonds between particles. This work is based on a 3D discrete-element approach (molecular dynamics) with spherical particles enriched by a capillary force law. We show that the capillary force can be expressed as an explicit function of the gap and volume of the liquid bridge. The length scales involved in this expression are analyzed by comparing with direct integration of the Laplace-Young equation. In the simulations, we consider a maximum number density of liquid bonds in the bulk in agreement with equilibrium of each liquid bridge. This liquid bond number is a decisive parameter for the overall cohesion of wet granular materials. It is shown that the shear strength can be expressed as a function of liquid bond characteristics. The expression proposed initially by Rumpf is thus generalized to account for size polydispersity We show that this expression is in good agreement with our experimental data that will be briefly described. At low confining stress, the tensile action of capillary bonds induces a self-stressed particle network organized in a bi-percolating structure of positive and negative particle pressures. Various statistical descriptors of the microstructure and bond force network are used to characterize this partition. Two basic properties emerge: (i) The highest particle pressure is located in the bulk of each phase (positive and negative particle pressures); (ii) The lowest pressure level occurs at the interface between the two phases, involving also the largest connectivity of the particles via tensile and compressive bonds.


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