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Bernal Institute Research Forum

Wed, 08 Nov 2017

Date: Wednesday, November 8, 2017
Time: 11:00 to 12:00
Duration: One hour
Contact: Joan O'Riordan -
Location: MSG-025 MSSI Building Extension, Ireland

Dr Thomas Sweijen, Utrecht University, The Netherlands.

A Grain-scale Study of Unsaturated Flow in Swelling Granular Materials: Upscaling of Quasi-static and Dynamic Phenomena.

Swelling of porous materials is a common and important phenomenon in industrial products and earth materials; for example, in paper, hygienic products, and swelling clays. In hygienic products, swelling of absorbent particles causes drying of the pores, which is a dynamic drainage process. To obtain insight into these pore-scale phenomena and also into subsequent upscaling effects, a grain-scale model is developed that captures swelling, deformation, and unsaturated flow. For this purpose, the discrete element method (DEM) is coupled to the pore-unit assembly method (PUA). In DEM, the movement of individual particles is computed for deforming packings of swelling spheres. Then, PUA subdivides the pore-space into an assembly of pore units, which is used to compute capillarity effects and unsaturated flow. In this talk, Dr Sweijen will discuss the role of grain-scale models in providing closure equations for capillarity effects in order to enable continuum-scale modelling of a bed of swelling particles.

Dr Thomas Sweijen is a post-doctoral researcher at Utrecht University, Netherlands under the supervision of Professor Hassanizadeh. He is specialising in modelling swelling porous media (discrete element method coupled with unsaturated fluid flow to simulate deformations), which has applications in soil mechanics, fuel cells, printing into paper and super absorbent polymers in hygienic products. Dr Sweijen has a number of publications in this research area, which can be found on this website


Tea/coffee will be available at 10h45
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