Force networks and elasticity in granular silos
Department of Physics and Center for Nonlinear and Complex Systems, Duke University, 27708, Durham, NC, USA
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Accepted: 28 May 2010
Published online: 24 June 2010
We have made experimental observations of the force networks within a two-dimensional granular silo similar to the classical system of Janssen. Models like that of Janssen predict that pressure within a silo saturates with depth as the result of vertical forces being redirected to the walls of the silo where they can then be carried by friction. We use photoelastic particles to obtain information not available in previous silo experiments --the internal force structure. We directly compare various predictions with the results obtained by averaging ensembles of experimentally obtained force networks. We identify several differences between the mean behavior in our system and that predicted by Janssen-like models: We find that the redirection parameter describing how the force network transfers vertical forces to the walls varies with depth. We find that changes in the preparation of the material can cause the pressure within the silo to either saturate or to continue building with depth. Most strikingly, we observe a nonlinear response to overloads applied to the top of the material in the silo. For larger overloads we observe the previously reported “giant overshoot” effect where overload pressure decays only after an initial increase (G. Ovarlez et al., Phys. Rev. E 67, 060302(R) (2003)). For smaller overloads we find that additional pressure propagates to great depth. Analysis of the differences between the inter-grain contact and force networks suggests that, for our system, when the load and the particle weight are comparable, particle elasticity acts to stabilize the force network, allowing deep propagation. For larger loads, the force network rearranges, resulting in the expected, Janssen-like behavior. Thus, a meso-scale network phenomenon results in an observable nonlinearity in the mean pressure profile.
© EDP Sciences, SIF, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg, 2010