Analytical Modeling of Granules-Structure Interaction

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Modeling of interactions between granular materials and structural (or relatively rigid) objects is essential to investigating the introduction of manmade objects into granular media. For example, current research being carried out at the Computer Laboratory for Granular Physics includes prediction of penetration depths of unexploded ordinance into granular soils. A major research task involves centrifuge testing, which permits scale models to be investigated while maintaining direct, quantitative mappings to behaviors that would be expected at full scale. Further, air gun blast experiments, as associated with penetrations into granular media, are being incorporated directly into (and simultaneous to) the centrifuge operation. During testing, the centrifuge container is filled to the desired height with a granular material of interest and the container is rotated (spun) about the originating end of the arm until a desired centripetal acceleration is achieved. Subsequently, the projectile is fired from the air gun barrel and penetrates some distance into the granular medium. Concurrent modeling efforts will enable the research group to characterize behaviors such as stress wave propagation, evolution of granular contact force networks (force chains), which are not practical measure under (physical) laboratory settings. Ultimately, insights into such behaviors permit unprecedented levels of insight for interactions between structural objects and granular media.