Volume 7, Issue 3 (September 1984)
Permeability Testing with Flexible-Wall Permeameters
The equipment and testing procedures used at The University of Texas at Austin for measuring the hydraulic conductivity of fine-grained soil with flexible-wall permeameters are described. The permeability cell is similar to a triaxial cell; it has interchangeable base pedestals to accomodate specimens of various diameters, is equipped with double drainage lines to the top and bottom of the test specimen, and can accomodate a differentially acting pressure transducer to measure head loss across the soil specimen. An air-over-liquid interface is maintained in devices called “accumulators.” Stainless steel accumulators designed with transparent sight tubes offer excellent resistance to corrosion, are convenient to use, and can be used with a wide range in flow rates. The permeability tests are normally performed using back pressure. Care is taken to be certain that flow is steady state and that the soil is permeated long enough for the influent liquid to pass through the soil and to appear in the effluent liquid in full concentration. When clays are permeated with dilute chemicals that are adsorbed by the soil, testing times on the order of months or years may be required to achieve full breakthrough of the permeant liquid. Use of large hydraulic gradient and excessive effective confining pressure are sometimes difficult to avoid but are two of the most important sources of potential error.