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Title: Dynamic loading of structures by high speed granular media
Author: Goel, Ashish
ISNI:       0000 0004 7231 2281
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis analyses the impact of granular aggregates with structures using experiments and numerical simulations. Original contributions include an insight into multiple factors affecting the loading and damage to the structures, along with study of numerical parameters important for realistic prediction of the interaction between the granular media and structures. It extends the current understanding related to such interactions, with an underlying motivation to guide strategies in order to reduce the structural damage. The response of structures impacted by granular media (sand or soil) is of significant research interest for many applications. One of the applications is for landmine explosions which causes ejection of soil from ground and damage to structures impacted by this ejected soil. Experimentation is done in a laboratory setting where the cylindrical sand slugs are generated at high speed using an impulse provided by a piston. This induces a velocity gradient along the slug, because of which the slug expands during the flight before impacting the target. Deformable as well as rigid flat targets are considered in two orientations relative to the incoming slug: perpendicular (i.e. normal orientation) and inclined at an angle of 45°. The targets are supported by force transducers to capture the loading from the slug. Simulations are performed using a combination of discrete particle and finite element schemes, which enables the analysis of the fully coupled interaction between the flowing granular media and the structure. A contact model involving multiple parameters is used for inter-particle and particle-target contact. Firstly, a numerical analysis is performed to characterise the temporal evolution of slugs and their impact on monolithic beams constrained at the ends. Out of all the parameters used for inter-particle contact definition in discrete particle method, only the contact stiffness is found to effect the velocity gradient in the slug before it impacts the target. Other factor influencing the gradient is the acceleration provided by the piston. A strong dependence of beam deflection on the stand-off distance is observed due to the velocity gradient in the slugs. As the second step, the effect of target surface properties on the transmitted momentum is analysed. Experiments are done by applying coatings of different hardness and roughness on the target surface impacted by sand slugs. For normally oriented targets, the transmitted momentum is observed to be insensitive to the change in surface coating. In contrast, for inclined targets, a significant influence of coatings is observed. Additionally, the momentum transmitted to the inclined targets is always less than that for normal targets. Numerical analysis of this surface effect reveals that assuming the slug particles to be spherical shape in simulations does not capture the particle/target interactions accurately and under-predicts the frictional loading on the target. Following this, a detailed numerical study is done to understand the effect of the shape of particles in the slug. Simple shaped non-spherical particles are constructed by combining spherical sub-particles. With increasing angularity of particles in the slug, the frictional loading on the target is shown to increase. This results in an increase of momentum transmitted to inclined targets. For normally oriented targets however, the particle shape does not affect the overall transmitted momentum, which is a behaviour similar to that observed when studying the effect of target surface properties. In addition, effect of fracture of particles in the slug is analysed by using beam connections between sub-particles that break during the impact with the target. If the fracture results in increasing particle angularity, the transmitted momentum increases, whereas the situation reverses if fracture results on more spherical shaped particles. Lastly, a strategy to reduce the loading on the targets is analysed by using sacrificial coating on the target surface. In experiments, this coating is placed on the rigid target surface using a lubricant at their interface. When impacted by the slug, this coating slides on the target surface, resulting in a reduction of frictional loading on the target. If the friction at the coating/target interface vanishes, the transmitted momentum approaches the theoretical minimum value. Simulations are used to first validate the experimental observations and then to extend the concept of sliding coatings using deformable targets. Both the transmitted momentum and deflections depended on the thickness of the target and coating. When a coating is used, the deflections increase due to reduction in target thickness. It is found that the best strategy to reduce the damage to the target is to use least possible thickness of the coating and minimise the friction at the interface between the coating and the target. The presented work examines many of the factors that affect the loading on the target impacted by granular slugs, in addition to characterising the expansion of slugs before the target impact. The analysed factors include those already known such as target stand-off distance, inclination and unveils others such as target surface properties and granular properties. The numerical analysis discloses important parameters and shows the effect of particle shape, highlighting the shortcomings of widely used spherical particle assumption in the numerical studies. A strategy using a sacrificial coating to reduce damage to the target is also analysed.
Supervisor: Deshpande, Vikram Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Granular impact ; Sand blast ; Fluid-Structure Interaction ; Target loading ; Structural damage ; Discrete element method ; Discrete particle method ; Landmines ; Particle shape ; Particle fracture ; Granular aggregates