Experimental determination of friction coefficient and mobilization force for a laterally confined granular column

Ramesh B. Malla, Dominik Schillinger, Luis J. Vila

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The case of a cylindrical container filled with granular material is a basic situation where the presence of the cylindrical wall induces horizontal pressure and hence, shearing forces (caused by friction between the container wall and the granular bed). Under certain circumstances, a finite length of the granular column in a housing cylindrical container can stand in the vertical position unsupported at the bottom end, held only by the frictional forces at the wall. When an axial load is applied at one end of the bed and increased slowly, the whole granular column starts to slide at a critical load value, called herein the mobilization force. Since this scenario is of significant practical interest (e.g. in caissons construction or in the design of silos), the experimental determination of the related parameters is of great importance for the development of suitable simulation models. In this paper, experimental methodologies for in-situ measurement of the mobilization force and the Coulomb’s friction coefficient between the granular material and the wall of the housing cylinder are presented in detail. Practical and convenient experimental set-ups that require only a few pieces of readily available and easily operated test equipment are proposed to measure these parameters. Results from a series of example experiments conducted on a granular alumina bed packed in a rigid plastic cylinder illustrate the performance and validity of the proposed experimental methods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)843-855
Number of pages13
JournalGranular Matter
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 25 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors gratefully acknowledge support from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Washington, D.C. under its Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) in Connecticut; Hamilton Sundstrand, Windsor Locks, CT; and the University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.


  • Activated alumina
  • Friction coefficient
  • Granular column
  • Mobilization force
  • Wall friction


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