Mean force and fluctuations on a wall immersed in a sheared granular flow
In a sheared and confined granular flow, the mean force and the force fluctuations on a rigid wall are studied by means of numerical simulations based on the discrete element method. An original periodic immersed-wall system is designed to investigate a wide range of confinement pressure and shearing velocity imposed at the top of the flow, considering different obstacle heights. The mean pressure on the wall relative to the confinement pressure is found to be a monotonic function of the boundary macroscopic inertial number which encapsulates the confinement pressure, the shearing velocity, and the thickness of the sheared layer above the wall. The one-to-one relation is slightly affected by the length of the granular system. The force fluctuations on the wall are quantified through the analysis of both the distributions of grain-wall contact forces and the autocorrelation of force time series. The distributions narrow as the boundary macroscopic inertial number decreases, moving from asymmetric log-normal shape to nearly Gaussian-type shape. That evolution of the grain-wall force distributions is accompanied at the lowest inertial numbers by the occurrence of a system memory in terms of the force transmitted to the wall, provided that the system length is not too large. Moreover, the distributions of grain-wall contact forces are unchanged when the inertial number is increased above a critical value. All those results allow to clearly identify the transitions from quasistatic to dense inertial, and from dense inertial to collisional, granular flow regimes.
Keywords: Granular flows, fluid dynamics