MULTIDIMENSIONAL PROBLEMS IN DYNAMIC PLASTICITY This interdisciplinary proposal addresses three broad scientific issues regarding the dynamics of granular flow: (1) instability, including pattern formation in the post-instability regime, (2) fluctuations, and (3) computation of granular flows with multiple scales. Current and planned experiments include: (a) constitutive tests using a biaxial apparatus with the capability of measuring the speed of sound and of continuously monitoring the deformation with x-rays, (b) further study of porosity waves, (c) experiments directed toward isolating the causes of the instabilities of shaken granular material, and (d) experiments probing various aspects of fluctuations in granular flow, including stress chains and 1/f noise. Based on the fact that the governing PDE of nonassociative plasticity become ill-posed at moderate strains, current analytical work seeks (a) to generalize previous one-dimensional work, driven by both mathematical considerations and the need to establish a sound theoretical framework for numerical simulations of two-and-three-dimensional phenomena and (b) to relate ill-posedness to various experimental phenomena such as porosity waves and shear banding. Related problems in metal plasticity are also being studied analytically. Numerical work includes both (a) continuum and (b) molecular-dynamics (MD) computations. The key effort in the former is to complete a code for simulating shear-band formation and propagation, especially in the biaxial test; this code includes front tracking and mesh refinement at the shear band. MD computations have the immediate goal of gathering quantitative information about fluctuations in granular flow, particularly the variation of such fluctuations with length scale. In the long range, it is planned to develop a hybrid code that solves continuum equations in regions where the solution is smooth and invokes MD in regions of rapid change. Many areas of applied engineer ing stand to benefit from progress on the fundamental questions addressed in this project, including (1) particle handling and transport, (2) soil mechanics, (3) materials forming, and (4) geotechnical engineering. The following elaborates on area (1). An estimated 40%, or $61 billion, of the value added by the chemical industry is linked to particle technology. A study by the Rand Corporation found that, because of inability to accurately predict powder behavior, solids-producing manufacturing plants performed on average at 63% of design capacity, compared to 84% for liquids-producing plants. In economic terms, this difference is staggering. (Regarding future competitiveness, the U.S. should note that Germany and Japan lead the world in particle-technology research.) Fundamental understanding of the flow of granular materials would help (a) in finding ways to control industrial problems and (b) in developing new, more efficient industrial processes. To illustrate (a): one of the difficulties of granular flow is that quite different behavior may result from apparently identical circumstances, especially when scale-up is involved (e.g., from laboratory-scale experiments to an industrial silo). Most existing theories attempt to describe the flow only in term of average quantities, ignoring deviations from these averages. The focus in this project on fluctuations and length scales offers the possibility of being able to predict, and design for, the full range of behavior of real materials-handling systems. To illustrate (b): the experiments in this project with shaken granular material have led to ideas for two planned applications for patents, one in obtaining uniform mixing of multi-sized particles and the other in exposing a large surface area to the surrounding gas (as in a fluidized bed but not requiring fluid flow). These applications are being explored in concert with researchers in industry.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Mathematical Sciences (DMS)
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Michael H. Steuerwalt
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Suny at Buffalo
United States
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