Volume 29, Issue 1 (January 2006)
Apparatus for Evaluation of Hydromechanical Behavior of Porous Media Subjected to Environmental Changes
An apparatus for performing tests under different environmental conditions was designed and constructed. Basically, the equipment consists of an automatic system for the observation of the hydromechanical behavior of porous media and it has three components: physical parts, an electronic interface, and a control system with an automatic register. It is possible to use it for tests in saturated or unsaturated conditions with different porous materials. In this study the apparatus is used to develop a study of flow in saturated and unsaturated conditions and the flow and transport of solutes in saturated conditions. In order to demonstrate results obtained with our equipment independent tests were carried out with other samples of metallurgical waste. The experimental results demonstrate that the apparatus is capable of measuring surface suction, vertical shrinkage, temperature, relative humidity, change in the water content at different points in the sample, and evaporation. The performance of the equipment under different conditions is proved to be excellent, showing that it is possible to increase or reduce the size of the sample and it is also possible to change different parameters according to the aim of tests. Data from flow and transport studies show that desiccation cracks reduce the resident time of water and solute in porous media.