Regime transitions of granular flow in a shear cell: A micromechanical study

X. Wang, H.P. Zhu, S. Luding, A.B. Yu

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The regime transitions of granular flow in a model shear cell are investigated numerically with a stress-controlled boundary condition. The correlations between the elastically and kinetically scaled stresses and the packing fraction are examined, and two packing fractions (0.58 and 0.50) are identified for the quasistatic to intermediate and intermediate to inertial regime transitions. The profiles and structures of contact networks and force chains among particles in different flow regimes are investigated. It is shown that the connectivity (coordination number) among particles and the homogeneity in the shear flow increase as the system goes through the inertial, intermediate, and then quasistatic regimes, and there is only little variation in the internal structure after the system has entered the quasistatic regime. Short-range force chains start to appear in the inertial regime, which also depend on the magnitude of the shear rate. The percolation of system-spanning force chains through the whole system is a characteristic of the onset of the quasistatic regime, which happens at a packing fraction that is close to the glass transition, i.e., about random loose packing (0.58) but far below the isotropic quasistatic (athermal) jamming packing fraction of random close packing (0.64). The tails of the probability density distribution P (f ) of the scaled normal contact forces for the flows in different regimes are quantified by a stretched exponential P(f)=exp(−cf n ) with a remarkable finding that n ∼ 1.1 may be a potential demarcation point separating the quasistatic regime and the inertial or intermediate regimes.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
JournalPhysical review E: Statistical, nonlinear, and soft matter physics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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