The low-g apparatus is an annular cylinder with one moving end surface to shear a 3-D volume of 1 mm glass beads. The volume fractions of beads will range from gas-like to liquid-like regimes to probe the jamming transition. Granular clustering will be explored. Video sequences will quantify particle velocity statistics.
The annulus wall will be instrumented with 20 three-axis shear and normal stress sensors that will be able to record both the single particle bounces and the huge forces from a force chain spanning the cell. The time trace of these forces will be analyzed statistically. The volume fractions will be varied.
Granular materials flow is routine in human activity from mining to blending pharmaceuticals, from grain handling to highway traffic jams, and even to Martian soil mechanics. Excessive downtime is required for humans to fix the unexpected. The economic impact is vast.
At the scientific level the statistical mechanics of granular materials is rich for the discovery of new physics, non-local and non-equilibrium.
Granular Flow Module - Gravity and Granular Materials (GFM-3)
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