We study the bulk properties of isotropic bidisperse granular mixtures using discrete element simulations. The focus is on the influence of the size (radius) ratio of the two constituents and volume fraction on the mixture properties. We show that the effective bulk modulus of a dense granular (base) assembly can be enhanced by up to 20% by substituting as little as 5% of its volume with smaller sized particles. Particles of similar sizes barely affect the macroscopic properties of the mixture. On the other extreme, when a huge number of fine particles are included, most of them lie in the voids of the base material, acting as rattlers, leading to an overall weakening effect. In between the limits, an optimum size ratio that maximizes the bulk modulus of the mixture is found. For loose systems, the bulk modulus decreases monotonically with addition of fines regardless of the size ratio. Finally, we relate the mixture properties to the ‘typical’ pore size in a disordered structure as induced by the combined effect of operating volume fraction (consolidation) and size ratio.
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