In situ grain fracture mechanics during uniaxial compaction of granular solids

R. C. Hurley, J. Lind, D. C. Pagan, M. C. Akin, E. B. Herbold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Grain fracture and crushing are known to influence the macroscopic mechanical behavior of granular materials and be influenced by factors such as grain composition, morphology, and microstructure. In this paper, we investigate grain fracture and crushing by combining synchrotron x-ray computed tomography and three-dimensional x-ray diffraction to study two granular samples undergoing uniaxial compaction. Our measurements provide details of grain kinematics, contacts, average intra-granular stresses, inter-particle forces, and intra-grain crystal and fracture plane orientations. Our analyses elucidate the complex nature of fracture and crushing, showing that: (1) the average stress states of grains prior to fracture vary widely in their relation to global and local trends; (2) fractured grains experience inter-particle forces and stored energies that are statistically higher than intact grains prior to fracture; (3) fracture plane orientations are primarily controlled by average intra-granular stress and contact fabric rather than the orientation of the crystal lattice; (4) the creation of new surfaces during fracture accounts for a very small portion of the energy dissipated during compaction; (5) mixing brittle and ductile grain materials alters the grain-scale fracture response. The results highlight an application of combined x-ray measurements for non-destructive in situ analysis of granular solids and provide details about grain fracture that have important implications for theory and modeling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)273-290
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids
StatePublished - Mar 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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