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Rheometry of granular materials in cylindrical Couette cells: Anomalous stress caused by gravity and shear

By Kamala Jyotsna Gutam, Vishwajeet Mehandia and Prabhu R Nott


The cylindrical Couette device is commonly employed to study the rheology of fluids, but seldom used for dense granular materials. Plasticity theories used for granular flows predict a stress field that is independent of the shear rate, but otherwise similar to that in fluids. In this paper we report detailed measurements of the stress as a function of depth, and show that the stress profile differs fundamentally from that of fluids, from the predictions of plasticity theories, and from intuitive expectation. In the static state, a part of the weight of the material is transferred to the walls by a downward vertical shear stress, bringing about the well-known Janssen saturation of the stress in vertical columns. When the material is sheared, the vertical shear stress changes sign, and the magnitudes of all components of the stress rise rapidly with depth. These qualitative features are preserved over a range of the Couette gap and shear rate, for smooth and rough walls and two model granular materials. To explain the anomalous rheological response, we consider some hypotheses that seem plausibleapriori, but showthat none survive after careful analysis of the experimental observations. We argue that the anomalous stress is due to an anisotropic fabric caused by the combined actions of gravity, shear, and frictional walls, for which we present indirect evidence from our experiments. A general theoretical framework for anisotropic plasticity is then presented. The detailed mechanics of how an anisotropic fabric is brought about by the above-mentioned factors is not clear, and promises to be a challenging problem for future investigations. (C) 2013 AIP Publishing LLC

Topics: Chemical Engineering
Year: 2013
DOI identifier: 10.1063/1.4812800
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