Tensile strength and fracture of cemented granular aggregates

R. Affes, J.-Y. Delenne, Y. Monerie, F. Radjai, V. Topin

Cemented granular aggregates include a broad class of geomaterials such as sedimentary rocks and some biomaterials such as the wheat endosperm. We present a 3D lattice element method for the simulation of such materials, modeled as a jammed assembly of particles bound together by a matrix partially filling the interstitial space. From extensive simulation data, we analyze the mechanical properties of aggregates subjected to tensile loading as a function of matrix volume fraction and particle-matrix adhesion. We observe a linear elastic behavior followed by a brutal failure along a fracture surface. The effective stiffness before failure increases almost linearly with the matrix volume fraction. We show that the tensile strength of the aggregates increases with both the increasing tensile strength at the particle-matrix interface and decreasing stress concentration as a function of matrix volume fraction. The proportion of broken bonds in the particle phase reveals a range of values of the particle-matrix adhesion and matrix volume fraction for which the cracks bypass the particles and hence no particle damage occurs. This limit is shown to depend on the relative toughness of the particle-matrix interface with respect to the particles.


A color map of vertical stresses σzz of a cemented aggregate under tensile loading.