Influence of water on the short-term and long-term mechanical properties of swelling clays : experiments on self-supporting films and molecular simulations

Abstract : The study of clay-based materials has many applications in civil and environmental engineering. These applications include underground nuclear waste disposal, the natural risks associated to the swelling and shrinkage of soils, and the extraction of hydrocarbons. They pose significant technological challenges that require to understand and to predict the mechanical behavior of clays, in particular on the long term. Swelling clays are complex porous multi-scale materials and their properties are very sensitive to water. In this thesis, we aim at understanding the impact of water on the short-term and long-term mechanical properties of clays. Our strategy was to combine numerical simulations at the scale of the nanometer and experiments at the scale of the micrometer to have a better insight of the interplay between these scales. We performed molecular simulations to estimate the effect of water and of the interlayer cation on the swelling, elastic and creep properties of clay layers, which are inaccessible to experiments at this scale. We also carried out a comparative study of various numerical models of increasing complexity in order to better understand the interactions that governs the cohesion between the clay layers. We measured experimentally the properties of well-ordered self-supporting clay films. We investigated the impact of relative humidity and of the nature of the interlayer cation on the mechanical properties of these clay films. In particular, we quantified the humidity-induced swelling of these films by using a combination of environmental scanning electron microscopy and digital image correlation. We also performed tensile tests and creep tests on these films at controlled relative humidity. We compared the data obtained by our experiments to the results of the molecular simulations. This comparison makes it possible to discuss the elementary deformation mechanisms and the scales relevant to the understanding of the hydromechanical behavior of clays
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Benoît Carrier. Influence of water on the short-term and long-term mechanical properties of swelling clays : experiments on self-supporting films and molecular simulations. Other. Université Paris-Est, 2013. English. ⟨NNT : 2013PEST1102⟩. ⟨pastel-00960833⟩

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