Influence of loading history and soil type on the normal contact behavior of natural sand grain-elastomer composite interfaces

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Article number1830
Journal / PublicationPolymers
Issue number11
Online published1 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021



Recycled rubber in granulated form is a promising geosynthetic material to be used in geotechnical/geo-environmental engineering and infrastructure projects, and it is typically mixed with natural soils/aggregates. However, the complex interactions of grains between geological materials (considered as rigid bodies) and granulated rubber (considered as soft bodies) have not been investigated systematically. These interactions are expected to have a significant influence on the bulk strength, deformation characteristics, and stiffness of binary materials. In the present study, micromechanical-based experiments are performed applying cyclic loading tests investigating the normal contact behavior of rigid–soft interfaces. Three different geological materials were used as “rigid” grains, which have different origins and surface textures. Granulated rubber was used as a “soft” grain simulant; this material has viscoelastic behavior and consists of waste automobile tires. Ten cycles of loading–unloading were applied without and with preloading (i.e., applying a greater normal load in the first cycle compared with the consecutive cycles). The data analysis showed that the composite sand–rubber interfaces had significantly reduced plastic displacements, and their behavior was more homogenized compared with that of the pure sand grain contacts. For pure sand grain contacts, their behavior was heavily dependent on the surface roughness and the presence of natural coating, leading, especially for weathered grains, to very high plastic energy fractions and significant plastic displacements. The behavior of the rigid–soft interfaces was dominated by the rubber grain, and the results showed significant differences in terms of elastic and plastic fractions of displacement and dissipated energy compared with those of rigid interfaces. Additional analysis was performed quantifying the normal contact stiffness, and the Hertz model was implemented in some of the rigid and rigid–soft interfaces.

Research Area(s)

  • Composite interface, Contact mechanics, Earth material, Elastomer, Recycled rubber

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