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2.1 General

The packing density or packing degree of a material (aggregates, particles etc) is the ratio of
volume occupied by the solid particles to the unit volume of the mix [11]. The packing density
provides the information that how efficiently the particles are filled in a certain volume. The
packing degree of a mix is generally denoted by „ ‟ and is given as follows.


Vs = Volume of solids
Vt = Total volume = Solid volume + Volume of voids

Figure 2.1: Schematic of Packing Density of Particles

From the figure 2.1 it can be seen that the packing density of aggregates can be defined in terms
of porosity of the mix as (1-ε). Here „ε‟ is the porosity of the mix.
Fig. 2.1 shows that packing density has a clear relation with porosity of the mixture. If “ε” is
porosity of the mix then
𝛼 =1−ε (2.2)

From the above discussion it is clear that “packing density ( )” is a different thing than “bulk
density” as the bulk density of particles can be measured by filling a container of known volume
and weighing the mass of the material filled in the container while the packing density is related
to volume of container occupied by the solid particles in the mix. The packing degree of materials
changes when some external energy is applied i.e. compaction or vibration. So it is important to
prescribe the method which is utilized for determining the degree of packing of a mix. The factors
affecting packing density of mixes are described in next section.
To find density mass and volume of a material is required. In our case, bulk density can be found
through filling the material of known mass in a container and finding its volume. Above
discussion shows that bulk density and packing density both are different things. Bulk density is
related to the volume occupied by whole mass while packing density related to the volume of the
container occupied by solid particles. Packing density significantly varies through by the
application of externally applied energy, such as consolidation of vibration. It is necessarily
important to know about techniques which can be used to improve degree of packing of a mix. In
upcoming section factors which effects degree of packing of a mixture are given.

The packing density „ ‟ of a mix can be determined by using euation 2.3,

𝛼= ×𝑉 (2.3)

V = volume of the container used
Mp = mass of particles filled in the container
ρp = density of solid particles

Packing density changes when materials of different sizes and characteristics are mingled
together. To find the packing degree of a mix comprising various materials with dissimilar
proportions the equation 2.3 will be reformed to fit in all the constituent materials.


Here, ‟ is the density of water, “ “ and „ ‟ are the densities of the materials „α‟ and „β‟
respectively, „ ‟ is the water/solid ratio, and „ ‟ are the volumetric ratios of „α‟ and „β‟
respectively. The above equation can be utilized for a mix containing „n‟ number of materials
and if a new material is to be added then in the equation just add the term „ ‟ at the end.

𝜌𝑤 : Density of water
𝜌𝛼 𝜌𝛽 : Density of alfa and beta material
𝑢𝑤 : Water solid ratio
𝑅𝛼 𝑅𝛽 : Volumetric ratio of α and β

Note: If a mix containing “n” number of materials we can use equation 2.4 to find value of α. If
we want to add a new material term 𝜌𝑖 𝑅𝑖 has to be added.
2.2 Factors Affecting Packing Density/Degree of Packing

The packing density of particles in a concrete mix is very important as higher packing density will
leads to lower void content and consequently reduces the paste (water and binder) demand and
resultantly the concrete of better durability will be achieved. From the figure 2.1 it can be seen
that packing density can be increased by adding fine and finer particles in the voids but in for
natural materials there are limitations on the availability of sizes as well as particles characteristics
which affects their packing in the mix. Some factors affecting packing density such as particles
density, particle porosity, shape, particle stability, surface texture, particle size and their
distribution in the mix are discussed below.

Factors Affecting Packing Degree

Material with greater packing density have less void content and resultantly reduces the demand
of the paste and consequently concrete of good quality will be produces. So packing degree of
particle in a concrete mix carries a lot of importance. Now, it is required to indicate factors
which affect packing density. From experiments it is observed that packing density could be
improved by addition of finer particles in the spaces present in the mix. These conditions are
suitable on case of experimentation in laboratory, but we have to prepare these materials in
laboratory, availability of materials to prepare mix becomes impossible because material of the
required portion may not be available on larger scale. Factors affecting degree of packing such as
particle porosity, particles density, shape, surface texture, particle size, particle stability, and
their sharing in the mix are discoursed below.
2.2.2 Particle Porosity

Some of the important factors affecting particle density is porosity of particles. Closed pores
present in particles decreases the density of particle of material and, on the other hand, open pores
present in particles reduces packing density if the mixture. This is due to the circumstance that
water infiltrates in the exposed pores and material indicates higher preoccupation leading to
higher water need.

Particle porosity is of more concerned in our research for secondary raw materials (SRMs).
Reason for this is that, in the presence of exposed pores the tangible Degree of packing of the
material will be lesser causing to greater water demands.

2.2.1 Particle Density

As packing density is the ratio of the volume of solids to their bulk volume so, packing density is
commonly liberated of the specific gravity or density of material particles. Particles of same size
having same surface and shape consistency reveal same degree of packing despite changing
particle density. If two materials are packed which have different densities then it is observed that
they show different behavior towards whole density of mix. Materials with large variation in their
densities shows segregation problems. This fact reveals that, mixed particles should have good
proportion of all sizes of materials. Segregation occurs when heavy particles in mix settle down
in the container impeding uniform filling throughout the container and consequently packing
degree of the mixture changes accordingly.

2.2.3 Particle Size Distribution and Particle Size

In case of loose packing of particles the forces acting on the particles are the gravitational and
interparticular forces. The gravitational forces are directly related to the size of particles and it
starts dominating the interparticular forces when particle size is about 100 μm [13]. Below that
size the dominating forces are the interparticular forces between the particles.

Packing density is influenced by size of particles present in the mix. Generally, mixes shows same
order of degree of packing because particles present in them have same size. Degree of packing
influenced by type of settlement of rounded particles for an idealized case. Arrangement or
settlement may be of any type. Commonly observed arrangements are tetrahedron, cubic or

Monodispersion generally is not seen in nature and we have to deal with mixes containing
different sizes of particles. It is the fact that packing density increases with the introduction of
small size material in the voids of the mix. If the small size particle can fit in the void then it will
enhance the packing but if the particle having larger size than the cavity, then the larger particles
will be pushed away to accommodate the small particle thus affecting the packing density. This
fact is elaborated in figure 2.2

Figure 2.2: Effect of Relative Particle Size on Packing Density of System

2.2.4 Particle Shape

It is well known that shape of particles affects the workability of concrete mixtures, rounded
aggregates provides more workable concrete as compared to angular ones. This is because of the
fact that shape of particles affects the degree of packing and as a result the workability behavior
changes. Aggregates are divided in to four categories on the basis of their shapes namely; rounded,
angular, irregular and flaky [1]. Shape of an aggregate particle is generally measured by its
sphericity, shape factor, angularity or roundness [14].

The sphericity of an aggregate particle takes into account the lengths of its three principal axis
namely; length (L), width (W) and height (H). The sphericity of an aggregate particle is the cube
root of the ratio of two smaller principal axis to the square of largest principal axis length as given
in equation 2.5. The sphericity number increases as the three principal dimensions approaches to
equal values [11].


The longest dimension of the particle is regarded as length, the intermediate dimension as height
and the shortest dimension as width.

Shape of aggregate particles may be described by their shape factor as it is the measure of the
relation among the three principal axis dimensions of a particle and is given as the ratio of the
long and short dimension to the intermediate dimension of that particle.


Angularity describes the sharpness of edges where as roundness or sphericity describes that how
much particle shape is near to a perfect sphere. Based on angularity particles are divided into
following categories.
Angular : Particle having sharp edges
Sub angular : Particles having little bit wear on edges but surfaces are untouched
Sub rounded : Particles having considerable wear on edges as well as on faces
Rounded : Particle edges almost vanished but having signs of edges Well
rounded : Particles are exactly smooth surface

While working on the classification of aggregate particles on the basis of their shapes Ahń. N
prepared charts for the visual assessment of the aggregate shapes [15]. A typical chart is shown
in figure 2.3
Figure 2.3: Visual Assessment of Particle Shape [15]

While working with mono sized perfect spheres, White found that the spheres pack with a density
of 0.74 and followed the tetrahedral formation [16]. The packing degree decreases as the particle
shape moves from well rounded to angular and from high sphericity to lower sphericity.

2.2.5 Particles Stability

The effect of particle shape on packing degree is already discussed. Here it is emphasized that if
particles are not stable against forces and change their shape then it will have an impact on packing
degree. The soft and elastic particles will be having more degree of packing as compared to the
hard and stable particles. Generally the materials utilized for the production of self consolidating
cementitious systems are stable against elastic and thermal stresses and preserve their shape in
ordinary conditions.

2.3 Particle Size Distribution Optimization Methods (Packing Density


The concept of particle packing gained its importance with the advent of the concrete technology
in 19th century. First scholarly article on the subject was published by Feret in 1892 [17]. The
concept of particle packing optimization takes into account the factor of selecting the right small
sized particles to fill up the voids of larger sized material resulting in dense packing.

There are several methods for the selection of particle sizes and their proportioning in the mix to
produce dense or desired degree of packing. Furnas proposed a model in 1930 having the
capability of predicting the packing density of the binary mixes. In his later work he utilized the
model for the production of particle size distribution curve for proportioning the mixes for
maximum packing density. Füller and Thompson in 1907 and Andreassen and Andersen in 1930
proposed a method based on the continuous size distribution curve of particle. Till date
Füller curve is used extensively for designing Portland cement concrete and asphalt mixes [1]
ASTM also gives particle distribution curves, declaring lower limit and upper limit of particles
sizes to be used in mix.

First mathematical expression to predict the void ratio of a mix composed of several sized particles
was proposed by Furnas in 1930. In the Furnas model, particle interaction was not taken into
account in the process of calculating the packing density of the particles. Power (1968) worked a
lot in the area of particle packing. After Power‟s work more researchers explored this area and
the models developed afterwards was capable of considering the particles interaction such as
models developed by Aim, Toufer and de Larrard etc. Several softwares are also available
commercially based on above mentioned models to predict the packing density for the mix such
as 4C-Packing developed by Danish Technological Institute (dti), Europack by Idorn, and
EMMA: Elkem material mix analyzer etc [19, 20, 44].

These software packages were initially developed for designing and optimizing the mixes or
slurries for the ceramic industry. The software are used for optimization of the packing densities
for green state of mixes to produce castables with very low quantity of water hence achieving
economy and better strength. Generally packing density optimization methods can be divided into
following three groups:
a. Optimization curves
b. Particle packing models
c. Discrete element models

2.3.1 Optimization Curves

In concrete mixes the particle size ranges from several millimeters to microns. The particle size
distribution (PSD) curves show the particle sizes present in the mix and their respective quantities.
As it is already discussed that the packing density varies with the size and proportion of particles
in the mix hence it can be said that packing density of a mix changes if the PSD of the mix is

PSD of a mix can be adjusted for optimization of the packing density of mix. The influence of
aggregate size and shapes on the concrete strength was first observed by Feret after that many
researchers tried to find the ideal grading curves for achieving maximum strength. In that era
Füller gave an empirical relation for designing the concrete mixes which is still used for normal
concrete. Some researchers tried to improve the relation for obtaining better performance,
Andreassen an Andersen proposed that the Füller model gives better results if the distribution
modulus (q) is less than „0.5‟ as was fixed by Füller (equation 1.2). They proposed that the
distribution modulus „q‟ in equation 2.2 should be in the range of „0.33‟ to „0.50‟. The
distribution modulus for optimized grading curve depends upon the characteristics of the
aggregate particles and can vary for the aggregates from different sources and origins.

Angular particles give poor packing due to their sharp edges. The sharp edges restricts the
particles to come closer and cause more voids in the mix so more proportion of fine particles is
required to fill the space between large angular particles. Hence the suitable value of distribution
modulus will be lower than that required for spherical particles [21].

The main limitation in following the Füller and Andreassen models is the requirement of the
particles of infinitely small size to complete the particle size distribution curve. These models pay
attention only towards the maximum size of the particle in the mix but don‟t take into account
the minimum size limits of the aggregate used in the mix. This issue was addressed by Dinger
and Funk and they modified the Andreassen model and included a factor to take into account the
minimum size available for the mix [6].

The packing density varies as the proportions of different size classes in the mix are varied so
PSD curve is an effective tool for controlling the proportions of different size classes in the mix
in a sequential way. In Modified Andreassen Model, PSD curve is a function of distribution
modulus and various curves can be obtained with different distribution modulus. The packing
density of each aggregate mix can be checked and mixes with maximum packing density can be
selected. These selected mixes can be optimized further for required performance. Optimizing
curves are easy to use as they require limited input parameters. If distribution modulus is fixed
then only parameters required are the maximum and minimum size of particles. Commercial
computer program EMMA developed by Elkem is based on the Andreassen and modified
Andreassen model and can be utilized to optimize the particle size distribution of the mix. Derivation of Modified Andreassen Model

Dinger and Funk modified the Andreassen Model and incorporated a factor (dmin) taking into
account the minimum size of particle in the model (equation 1.4). The modification was made by
Funk and Dinger to address the limitation of the Andreassen model. For understanding the
limitations consider a mixture of particles is to be composed by using maximum particle size of
104 μm, minimum particle size of 0.96 μm and distribution modulus is taken as „0.30‟. The
resulting particle size distribution curve and histogram are shown in figure 2.4. By considering
the figure 2.4 the problems encountered in following the Andreassen model are as follows

a. The particle size distribution curve ends up at 24.52% passing material rather than 0%, as
a valid PSD curve should. Hence the CPFT curve produced by Andreassen model in this
case is not a valid PSD curve [figure 2.4].
b. The sum of the size classes in the histogram does not add up to 100%, as it should be for
a particle size distribution curve. The histogram makes only 75.48% rather than 100%.
Hence the histogram is also not a valid one.

Hence by considering the above mentioned problems it is obvious that utilization of Andreassen
Model seems to be impractical for designing of the particulate mixes having some lower limit on
particle size. Following figure shows the particle size distribution of the case considered above.

Figure 2.4: PSD and Histogram of Andreassen Model [6]

To fix the above mentioned problems the particle size distribution curve was normalized to 100%
and then particle size distribution (PSD) curve was recalculated. For normalization of the
histogram a multiplying factor was calculated, which comes out to be „1.32‟ for the case stated
above. All the values of the histogram were multiplied by the calculated factor of „1.32‟. The
following expression shows the calculation of the multiplying factor.

The corrected histogram is plotted in figure 2.5 and the corrected particle size distribution curve
(PSD) is also shown.

Figure 2.5: Modified PSD and Histogram of Andreassen Model [6]

The histogram shown above accurately describes the experimentally possible distribution curve.
The difference between figures 2.4 and 2.5 is that the later histogram has greater percentages of
particles in each size class than the former one where as the distribution coefficient for both of
the PSD curves is same.

To establish the relation for modified PSD curve consider the figure 2.5, at particle size which is
equivalent to the minimum sized particle the percentage passing is zero as there is no material
finer than dmin , available in the mix. From Andreassen model it can be written as


Applying equation 2.8 at the point of maximum particle size this will come out to be following

Now it can be seen that the histogram is adjusted or corrected for dmin but for dmax and other values
of „d‟ other than dmin are still incorrect. To correct them normalization procedure is applied here
just like previously.


Here dmax is in denominator of all the fraction so it will cancel out and the final equation will come
out to be as follows [6].


2.3.2 Particle Packing Models

Particle packing models are the mathematical equations which predict the packing densities of the
mixes composed of two or more size classes of particles. These models incorporate the interaction
between the particles of the different sizes and shapes. The basic mathematical equations of
almost all particle packing models are the same and based on the geometry of the particles. The
equations prescribing the packing density were first introduced by Furnas [17].It was the one of
the simplest model and valid for only two mono sized groups of particles. As it was the first
developed model in the field of particle packing so it was lacking in considering the interaction
between the aggregate particles. The model proposed by Furnas however takes into account the
particle characteristics such as shape and texture, as long as the particles preserve their shape
during packing. Furnas forwarded his work and in 1931 and presented a model which was capable
of taking into account the multiple size classes of particles [17].

Aim and Goff developed a model for predicting the packing density of particle mixes. Their model
incorporates the interaction of the particles and also distinguishes between the proportions of
small and large size particles in the mix.
2.3.3 Discrete Element Models

Discrete element models (DEMs) are the computer generated models which produce virtual
particle structure for a given particle size and shape. There are two types of DEMs i.e. static and
dynamic. In static model simulation the particles are placed randomly in a two or three
dimensional space and afterwards they are not allowed to move, additionally the contact between
the particles is also not given consideration. A software package “Hymostruc” developed by the
researchers at TU Delft is an example of static type discrete element model [45].

Figure 2.6 (a) Figure 2.6 (b) Figure 2.6: (a) Simulation Result of Static Discrete
Element Model [45] (b) Simulation Result of Dynamic Discrete Element
Model [46]

In the dynamic simulation of discrete element model the particles are generated randomly in the
three dimensional space and some force is applied to the particles so that they can move and come
in contact with the other particles and produce a packed structure depicting the packing density.
The dynamic simulation consumes very large time as compared to static simulation but gives
better results than the previous one. Figure 2.7(b) shows the simulation result obtained from
dynamic discrete element model.

To find the mix composition capable of producing maximum packing density, an iterative process
is required. The composition is changed stepwise and model is simulated for each step making
the process more time consuming and lengthy.

2.4 Description of Developments in the Field of Particle Packing Models

The first attempt in this regard was made by Furnas and afterwards this area was further explored
by various researchers. The details of some historic developments in this field are given below.
2.4.1 The Furnas Model

The model proposed by Furnas is capable of considering only two groups of mono sized particles
without interaction between the particles. The term „without interaction‟ means that the local
arrangement of an assembly of grains of one size is not perturbed by the vicinity of a grain of the
second size [24] i.e. the size ratio of smaller size particle to larger size particle is approaches to

zero .

Two cases exist for Furnas model to calculate the packing density of the mix and these are
distinguished upon the basis of dominant volume fraction present in the mix.

Case 1: The volume fraction (r) of large size particles (r1) is much larger than the volume
fraction of small particles (r2), i.e. r1>>r2

This is the condition when the container is filled with large particles of size d1. At this condition
the large particles fill the container equivalent to their packing density. Now by adding the small
size particles into the container, they fill the voids between the large particles and thus the total
occupied volume and packing increases [17]. In this case packing density of the mix is given by
equation 2.12


Case 2: The volume fraction (r) of small size particles (r2) is much larger than the volume
fraction of large particles (r1), i.e. r2>>r1

In this case the container is filled with small size particle and the limiting value will be the packing
density of size (d1) particles. When large particles will be introduced in the container then they
occupy the 100% volume equivalent to their proportion in the mix and the remaining volume of
the container remain filled with small size particles equivalent to the eigen packing density of size
d2 [17].

The total packing density of the mix will be given by equation 2.13

The generalized particle packing profile of the Furnas model shows that maximum packing will
be obtained when the ratio of relative volume of small size particles to large size particles is about
1 to 3.

Figure 2.7: Generalized Particle Packing Profile of Mix by Furnas Model [17]

2.4.2 The Aim’s Model

The model proposed by the Aim and Goff was a major development in the field of packing models
as they gave the idea of particle interaction in the packing models. Particle interaction means that
the eigen packing density of particles is affected due to the presence of other size classes. The
effects of particle interaction is termed as „wall effect‟ and „loosening effect‟ and explained in
following paragraphs.

Wall Effect:

Close to a container wall the random packing of the mix is forced to get ordered arrangement
similar to the wall shape. Depending upon the packing structure and container shape, it takes from
one to ten particle diameters from the wall to establish fully random packing [25]. In a mixture of
fine particles if particles of very large size are introduced then they will also behave as container‟s

Figure 2.8: Wall Effect

(a) Voids opening due to container wall
(b) Voids opening due to large size particle

The wall effect is larger in the mix having higher packing densities and this is also affected by
shape, texture, forces and geometry of particles.

Loosening Effect:

In a mixture of large particles some voids will be present at the place of contact of particles with
each other, if small particles introduced in the mix and the small size particle cannot fit in the
voids of preplaced large size particles then the larger particles will be pushed away to
accommodate the small particle and the packing will be affected.
Figure 2.9: Loosening Effect

The Aim‟s model also deals with packing by making two separate cases just like Furnas but the
limiting value for defining the cases is given by Aim but no information about limit between cases
was provided by Furnas. First case deals the packing without interaction whereas particle
interaction is considered in second case.
Case 1 is applicable when r1<r*, here r* is the limiting value and is given by equation 2.14

Whereas „p‟ is

And packing density for case 1 is similar to the one given by Furnas as shown below


For case 2 when r1≥r* i.e. fine particles are in excess, the packing density will be given as

Equation 2.16 has one extra term in denominator than equation 2.14 which was
developed by Furnas. This term counter for the loosening and wall effect in the packing.

2.4.3 The Toufar and Modified Toufar’s Model

In year 1976 Toufar proposed a model to predict the packing density of binary mixtures. It was
based on the concept that when the size ratio of particles (d2/d1) is approaching unity then the
small particles do not fit in the voids of large particles. It is observed geometrically that the
pyramidal arrangement of circular discs, a small particle can fit into the void if it is 0.16 times
smaller than the larger one. For regular cubic arrangement the small particle size can be up to 0.40
times the larger one.

of the two particle classes. Toufar also considered the statistical probability of the number of voids
between the coarse particles that are free from small particles (or remain unoccupied in random
packing). It was also assumed that each fine particle is placed between four coarse particles. For
calculation of total packing density of the mix following set of equations are used [23].


The influence of the diametric ratio of is denoted by kd and given as follows.

d1 = 1 d1 = 1
d2 = 0.16
2.10: Illustration of Particle Size to Fit in the Void 2
= 0.40
Therefore, the
d2 /ond1= 0.16
packing density depends
d2 / dratio
the diametric 1= 0.40

The statistical factor ks determine the chances of filling a void in coarse particles by a smaller one.
This factor depends on the volumetric ratio of material of each size in the mix and the Eigen
packing density of the component sizes.



The parametric studies of Toufar model carried by Golterman [23] showed that the predicted
packing density does not change when only small fraction of fine particles added to the coarse
particles. To tackle the issue a modification was proposed to the statistical parameter “ks” which
is as follows.

Experimentally two constants were evaluated i.e. Xo and Ko there values are given in equation


If the value of „X‟ from equation 2.21 comes out to be less than „Xo‟ then Ks will be calculated
as follows and for any other case the Ks will be calculated from equation 2.20.


The Toufar model was tested by Golterman [23] for modeling the packing density of compacted
mixes and produced quite accurate results.