Stress partition and microstructure in size-segregating granular flows

L Staron, J C Phillips

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


When a granular mixture involving grains of different sizes is shaken, sheared, mixed, or left to flow, grains tend to separate by sizes in a process known as size segregation. In this study, we explore the size segregation mechanism in granular chute flows in terms of the pressure distribution and granular microstructure. Therefore, two-dimensional discrete numerical simulations of bidisperse granular chute flows are systematically analyzed. Based on the theoretical models of J. M. N. T. Gray and A. R. Thornton [Proc. R. Soc. A 461, 1447 (2005)1364-502110.1098/rspa.2004.1420] and K. M. Hill and D. S. Tan [J. Fluid Mech. 756, 54 (2014)JFLSA70022-112010.1017/jfm.2014.271], we explore the stress partition in the phases of small and large grains, discriminating between contact stresses and kinetic stresses. Our results support both gravity-induced and shear-gradient-induced segregation mechanisms. However, we show that the contact stress partition is extremely sensitive to the definition of the partial stress tensors and, more specifically, to the way mixed contacts (i.e., involving a small grain and a large grain) are handled, making conclusions on gravity-induced segregation uncertain. By contrast, the computation of the partial kinetic stress tensors is robust. The kinetic pressure partition exhibits a deviation from continuum mixture theory of a significantly higher amplitude than the contact pressure and displays a clear dependence on the flow dynamics. Finally, using a simple approximation for the contact partial stress tensors, we investigate how the contact stress partition relates to the flow microstructure and suggest that the latter may provide an interesting proxy for studying gravity-induced segregation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)022210
JournalPhysical Review E: Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics
Issue number2-1
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2015


Dive into the research topics of 'Stress partition and microstructure in size-segregating granular flows'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this