Shear-induced mixing of granular materials featuring broad granule size distributions

J Chattoraj and NH Huy and S Aggarwal and MS Habibullah and F Farbiz, PHYSICAL REVIEW E, 104, 044910 (2021).

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevE.104.044910

Granular flows during a shear-induced mixing process are studied using discrete element methods. The aim is to understand the underlying elementary mechanisms of transition from unmixed to mixed phases for a granular material featuring a broad distribution of particles, which we investigate systematically by varying the strain rate and system size. Here the strain rate varies over four orders of magnitude and the system size varies from ten thousand to more than a million granules. A strain rate-dependent transition from quasistatic to purely inertial flow is observed. At the macroscopic scale, the contact stresses drop due to the formation of shear-induced instabilities that serves as an onset of granular flows and initiates mixing between the granules. The stress- drop displays a profound system size dependence. At the granular scale, mixing dynamics are correlated with the formation of shear bands, which result in significantly different timescales of mixing, especially for those regions that are close to the system walls and the bulk. Overall, our results reveal that although the transient dynamics display a generic behavior, these have a significant finite-size effect. In contrast, macroscopic behaviors at steady states have negligible system size dependence.

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