The cohesive behaviour of unsaturated granular materials is due to the presence of cohesive bonds between grains. These bonds can have various physico-chemical characteristics and may evolve with environmental conditions. We study the case of a granular material partially saturated by an aqueous solution. The bonds are thus initially of capillary type and the mechanical strength is weak. At low relative humidity, the phase change of water involves crystallization of the solute at the contact points between grains, generating thus solid bonds. The mechanical strength of the material is then enhanced. An experimental study of the evolution of the mechanical strength during crystallization of the solute shows clearly the transition from capillary regime to cemented regime. This transition is not correlated with the mass of the crystallized solute, but rather with the residual degree of saturation. This behavior is analyzed here in the light of discrete element simulations. We introduce a local cohesion law that accounts for transition from capillary to cemented bonding. This law is formulated in terms of the degree of crystallization as a result of the evaporation of water at the boundary of the sample. The cohesion of the packing is initially of capillary type. A crystallization front then spreads from the sample boundaries to the center of the sample, and the strength increases as a result. Uniaxial compression allows us to determine the strength at different times. The numerical strength agrees well with the experimental data, and reveals strength enhancement as the solute crystallizes, as well as the transition from capillary to cementation regime.

}, issn = {00325910}, doi = {10.1016/j.powtec.2010.08.021}, author = {Jean-Yves Delenne and Souli{\'e}, Fabien and Moulay Sa{\"\i}d El Youssoufi and Farhang Radja{\"\i}} } @proceedings {355, title = {Stress fields in granular solids: Effect of composition}, journal = {Symposium on Science and Technology of Powders and Sintered Materials (STPMF 2009)}, volume = {POWDER TECHNOLOGY}, year = {2011}, month = {Mar-25-2011}, pages = {568 - 573}, address = {MAY 25-27 2009 Montpellier, FRANCE}, abstract = {We use the lattice element method to investigate stress fields at the sub-particle scale in granular solids composed of particles embedded in a cementing matrix. The stress distributions are found to be similar in 2D and 3D samples subjected to vertical loading with free lateral boundaries. We find that the number of strong forces falls off exponentially at high particle volume fractions where a percolating network of jammed particles occurs. The influence of the matrix volume fraction and particle/matrix stiffness ratio with respect to stress distribution is analyzed in 2D and 3D. We show that both decreasing the matrix volume fraction and increasing the stiffness ratio lead to increasingly broader distributions within a limit beyond which the distribution is independent of one or both of these parameters.

}, issn = {00325910}, doi = {10.1016/j.powtec.2010.08.060}, author = {Vincent Topin and Farhang Radja{\"\i} and Jean-Yves Delenne} }