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Liquid clustering and capillary pressure in granular media

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 December 2014

Jean-Yves Delenne*
Ingénierie des Agropolymères et Technologies Emergentes IATE, UMR 1208 INRA – CIRAD – Montpellier Supagro – Université Montpellier 2, 2 place Pierre Viala, 34060 CEDEX, Montpellier, France
Vincent Richefeu
Laboratoire Sols, Solides, Structures, Risques 3SR, UMR 5521 CNRS – UJF Grenoble 1 – Grenoble INP, 38041 CEDEX 9, Grenoble, France
Farhang Radjai
Laboratoire de Mécanique et Génie Civil LMGC, UMR 5508 Université Montpellier 2 – CNRS, 34095 Montpellier, France MultiScale Material Science for Energy and Environment, UMI 3466 CNRS-MIT, DCEE, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, CA 02139, USA
Email address for correspondence:


By means of extensive lattice Boltzmann simulations, we investigate the process of growth and coalescence of liquid clusters in a granular material as the amount of liquid increases. A homogeneous grain–liquid mixture is obtained by means of capillary condensation, thus providing meaningful statistics on the liquid distribution inside the granular material. The tensile stress carried by the grains as a function of the amount of condensed liquid reveals four distinct states, with a peak stress occurring at the transition from a primary coalescence process, where the cohesive strength is carried mostly by the grains, to a secondary process governed by the increase of the liquid cluster volumes. We show that the evolution of capillary states is correctly captured by a simple model accounting for the competing effects of the Laplace pressure and grain–liquid interface.

© 2014 Cambridge University Press 

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