Particle scale and bulk scale investigation of granular piles and silos
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Granular materials are in abundance both in nature and in industry. They are of considerable interest to both the engineering and physics communities, due to their practical importance and many unsolved scientific challenges. This thesis is concerned with the “pressure dip” phenomenon underneath a granular pile (commonly known as the “sandpile problem”) which has attracted great attention in the past few decades. Underneath a sandpile that is formed by funnel feeding, a significant minimum (dip) in the vertical base pressure is often found below the apex where a maximum pressure is intuitively expected. Despite a large amount of work undertaken, a comprehensive understanding of this phenomenon remains elusive. This thesis presents an extensive study investigating the underlying mechanism of this phenomenon and also its implications on pressures in silos. The study started with a laboratory test programme of conical mini iron pellet piles. The results confirmed that the pressure dip is a robust phenomenon. It was shown that, under certain deposition radius with uniform deposition across the deposition area, a dip emerges firstly in a ring shape when the radius of the formed pile is small and comparable to the deposition radius. With the increase of the pile radius upon further deposition, the dip ring gradually evolves to a central dip as the pressure at outer radius eventually overtakes that in the centre. The magnitude of the dip was found to be significantly affected by the deposition rate but almost unaffected by the deposition height.