To read the full version of this content please select one of the options below:

DEM-aided method for predicting the hydraulic properties with particle-size distribution of porous media

Han-Cheng Dan (School of Civil Engineering, Central South University , Changsha, China)
Zhuo-Min Zou (School of Civil Engineering, Central South University , Changsha, China)
Jia-Qi Chen (School of Civil Engineering, Central South University , Changsha, China)
An-Ping Peng (School of Civil Engineering, Central South University , Changsha, China)

Engineering Computations

ISSN: 0264-4401

Article publication date: 18 June 2019

Issue publication date: 15 August 2019

Downloads
153

Abstract

Purpose

The soil water retention curve (SWRC) and unsaturated hydraulic conductivity (UHC) are crucial indices to assess hydraulic properties of porous media that primarily depend on the particle and pore size distributions. This study aims to present a method based on the discrete element model (DEM) and the typical Arya and Paris model (AP model) to numerically predict SWRC and UHC.

Design/methodology/approach

First, the DEM (PFC3D software) is used to construct the pore and particle size distributions in porous media. The number of particles is calculated according to the AP model, which can be applied to evaluate the relationship between the suction head and the moisture of porous media. Subsequently, combining critical path analysis (CPA) and fractal theory, the air entry value is applied to calculate the critical pore radius (CPR) and the critical volume fraction (CVF) for evaluating the unsaturated hydraulic conductivity.

Findings

This method is validated against the experimental results of 11 soils from the clay loam to the sand, and then the scaling parameter in the AP model and critical volume fraction value for many types of soils are presented for reference; subsequently, the gradation effect on hydraulic property of soils is analyzed. Furthermore, the calculation for unbound graded aggregate (UGA) material as a special case and a theoretical extension are provided.

Originality/value

The presented study provides an important insight into the relationship between the heterogeneous particle and hydraulic properties by the DEM and sheds light on the directions for future study of a method to investigate the hydraulic properties of porous media.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This research was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation (Grant No. 51308554), the Guizhou Transportation Science and Technology Foundation (Grant No. 2013-121-013 2019-122-006) and the Hunan Transportation Science and Technology Foundation (Grant No. 201622).

Citation

Dan, H.-C., Zou, Z.-M., Chen, J.-Q. and Peng, A.-P. (2019), "DEM-aided method for predicting the hydraulic properties with particle-size distribution of porous media", Engineering Computations, Vol. 36 No. 5, pp. 1716-1743. https://doi.org/10.1108/EC-09-2018-0398

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited