Experimental investigation of water evaporation from sand and clay using an environmental chamber

Abstract : As a well-known phenomenon, soil water evaporation plays an important role in the interaction between soil and atmosphere. Water evaporates during this process resulting in changes of soil thermo-hydro-mechanical behavior and in turn causing problems in different domains such as agronomy, hydrology, soil science, geotechnical engineering, etc. Therefore, it is essential to investigate the soil water evaporation mechanisms in depth.This study deals with the soil water evaporation mechanisms under controlled atmospheric conditions. The Fontainebleau sand and the Hércourt clay used for the construction of the experimental embankment with the ANR project TerDOUEST (Terrassements Durables - Ouvrages en Sols Traités, 2008 - 2012) were used in this investigation. A large-scale environmental chamber system (900 mm high, 800 mm large and 1000 mm long) equipped with various sensors was firstly developed, allowing a full monitoring of both atmospheric and soil parameters during the evaporation process. Four experimental tests were carried out on the Fontainebleau sand compacted at 1.70 Mg/m3 dry density with a steady water table at soil bottom under different atmospheric conditions (different values of air relative humidity, temperature and air flow rate). The performance of the environmental chamber system in investigating soil water evaporation was evidenced by the quality and the relevance of results. The air temperature inside the chamber was found to be affected by the heating tube temperature, the air flow rate and the soil water evaporation process; the soil temperature was strongly affected by the air conditions and the evaporation progress; the relative humidity in the chamber was decreasing during the evaporation progress and its evolution could be considered as an indicator of the evaporation progress; the volumetric water content in the near-surface zone was strongly affected by the evaporation process and exhibited a linear relationship with depth; the soil suction was decreasing over depth and increasing over time; the evaporation rate was strongly affected by the air conditions especially at the initial constant evaporation rate stage. After the tests on the Fontainebleau sand, the Hércourt clay sample compacted at 1.40 Mg/m3 dry density was subjected to an infiltration experiment for investigating its hydraulic properties. To get a better insight into the water evaporation mechanism for clay, two compacted Hércourt clay evaporation tests with a steady water table at bottom were carried out under controlled atmospheric conditions. The results allow understanding the evaporation mechanisms in case of desiccation cracks. Furthermore, in order to investigate the potential evaporation mechanisms, tests with a free water layer was also conducted with varying wind speed and air temperature. The initiation and propagation of desiccation cracking during the evaporation process and its effect on water evaporation were also investigated by the digital image processing technique. In terms of modeling, the potential evaporation rate was first modeled through evaluation of the existing models and the combined models. It reveals that the model developed by Ta (2009) is the most appropriate one. The actual evaporation rate for sand was then analyzed. It appears important to consider the progress of the dry front during the evaporation process for sandy soils. For the Héricourt clay, good simulation was also obtained using a model that accounts for the effect of desiccations cracks
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Weikang Song. Experimental investigation of water evaporation from sand and clay using an environmental chamber. Materials. Université Paris-Est, 2014. English. ⟨NNT : 2014PEST1047⟩. ⟨tel-01127303⟩

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