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Conference Paper · June 2014


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3 authors:

Xiuhan Chen Sape A. Miedema

Delft University of Technology Delft University of Technology


Cees van Rhee

Delft University of Technology


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Proceedings of the 33rd International Conference on Ocean, Offshore and Arctic Engineering
July 8-13, 2014, San Francisco, California, USA

DRAFT OMAE2014-23094



Xiuhan Chen1 Sape A. Miedema2

Offshore & Dredging Engineering Offshore & Dredging Engineering
Delft University of Technology Delft University of Technology
Delft, The Netherlands Delft, The Netherlands

Cees van Rhee3

Offshore & Dredging Engineering
Delft University of Technology
Delft, The Netherlands

ABSTRACT normal dredging project. In this paper, the physics of the

The increasing demand on precious metals has motivated hyperbaric excavation process will first be described into detail.
the development of a promising industry, deep sea mining. Because the hyperbaric rock cutting experiments are
Currently major technical challenges exist in the development expensive, it is more feasible to make a numerical model to
of this new industry, such as the vertical transportation, the simulate the process. The main difficulties are to model the
seabed excavation process and the stability of the riser system. breaking of rock and the interaction between the rock and the
This paper will focus on the excavation process on the seabed. pore water. Considering the scale of the problem and the
Considering the fact that the deep sea mining excavation characteristics of the material, it is concluded that the discrete
process may occur at 3000 meters water depth, the hyperbaric element method (DEM) will be the best tool to simulate the
pressure applied by the sea water will greatly influence the rock behavior. On the other hand, to describe the influence
cutting process. Especially when the cutting speed of the cutter from the hyperbaric pressure which is induced by the sea water,
is very high, the so called “dilatancy hardening effect” (Brace governing equations are derived and the finite volume method
and Martin, 1968) may make the seabed rock very difficult to (FVM) is chosen to solve the equations. This paper will give a
excavate. These factors will make the rock excavation in deep detailed description about the numerical method regarding this
sea much different from shallow water, which is the case in a specific problem and show some preliminary tests on clay
cutting process.
1. PhD Candidate, Delft University of Technology, Mekelweg 2,
2628CD Delft, The Netherlands, INTRODUCTION
2. Associate Professor of Dredging Engineering & Educational Industries like dredging engineering, offshore drilling
Director of Offshore and Dredging Engineering, Delft University of engineering and etc. need a detailed description of the
Technology, Mekelweg 2, 2628CD Delft, The Netherlands, underwater rock cutting process. Especially in recent years, the increasing demand on precious metals has motivated the
3. Full Professor of Dredging Engineering, Delft University of development of a promising industry, deep sea mining.
Technology, Mekelweg 2, 2628 CD Delft, The Netherlands, Currently major technical challenges exist in the development of this new industry, in which the underwater rock cutting

1 Copyright © 2014 by ASME

process is one of the dominant difficulties. Thus it is necessary 370bar, which is quite comparable to the UCS of the common
to conduct a detailed investigation into this topic. rock material, for example sandstone. Therefore the assumption
Underwater rock cutting process is different from dry rock Phydro << UCS doesn’t hold anymore. But how will it influence
cutting due to the influence of water, which consists of three the cutting process then?
issues: 1) the confining pressure which equals to the hydrostatic Now let us start a cutting process, when a blade is cutting
pressure; 2) the fluid flow in the cutting area; 3) the pore into the virgin rock, cracks and fractures will be developed
pressure inside the pores of the seabed. It has been indicated by from the blade into the rock. If the cutting speed is very low,
Miedema (2012) that rock which fails in a brittle mode in dry then the surrounding seawater is able to flow into the cracks
environment may fail in a ductile mode in underwater until the pressure inside the crack gets equal to the hydrostatic
environment. On the other hand, Kuiper (2013) has done pressure outside of the crack. In this way the huge hydrostatic
experimental study on the relation between the ambient pressure above the seabed will not contribute much to the rock
pressure and the apparent material strength of fully saturated resistance. However, what is usually seen in dredging project is
rock, where he pointed out that at great water depths it is more that the cutting speed is very high to achieve a good production
energy efficient to use a grab which excavates with slow strain rate. The propagation speed is around 0.4~1m/s and the speed
rates than to use the rotating excavator. However, since the on the tip of the blade could be up to 5m/s. With such high
conventional rotating excavator can deliver a higher production cutting speeds, the seawater does not have enough time to fill in
rate, it is still necessary to figure out the cutting process with a the crack, so the pressure in the crack will drop dramatically.
high cutting speed. In this paper, the physics of the underwater Then all of a sudden the pressure difference between inside the
excavation process will be discussed first. crack and outside of the rock gets so big that the hydrostatic
Considering the fact it is very expensive to do the pressure becomes an enormous confining pressure. As
experiment of hyperbaric rock cutting with a controlled high mentioned before, in deep sea mining project, the hydrostatic
loading rate, it is determined that a numerical model should be pressure could be around 300bar, adding to the strength of the
developed to simulate the process. A good numerical model rock itself, would make it very difficult for the blade to open
will help to predict the needed cutting force and thus improve the crack and thus lift up the chip.
the design of the cutting tool. Since such a process is so On the other hand, the sea floor soil itself is porous. The
complicated which involves the solid-solid interaction, the seabed rock makes no exception. So apart from the cracks and
solid-fluid interaction, the fluid-solid interaction and the fluid- fractures developed by the blade, there are already a lot of
fluid interaction, therefore we need to be very careful to make pores or fractures inside the virgin rock. Since the seabed rock
the choice from all the existing numerical methods for solving has been saturated in the seawater for very long time, it is
the problem. Comparisons between different numerical expected that all the pores are totally saturated, which means
methods will be given, too. Starting from the results of the the pore pressure is equal to the hydrostatic pressure. When the
previous researchers, a new numerical method consisting of a external load is small, only the shape of the pores will be
set of equations will be introduced in this paper. distorted, the volume of the pores can still stay the same. But in
The last chapter of the paper will illustrate the preliminary dredging or deep sea mining practice, the purpose is to destroy
results of the simulations based on underwater excavation the rock structure, so the external load must be big enough to
process of cohesive soil, which is also a major composition of break the bonds between rock grains. Thus the internal structure
the seabed. It is shown that the CFD-DEM coupling can well of rock is damaged and the pores’ volume could decrease or
describe the behavior of fluid flow and solid particles. Further increase. If the pore volume decreases, the local pore pressure
validation is still needed for this kind of simulations. will go up and the pore water will flow out. On the other hand,
if the pore volume increases, the local pore pressure will drop,
THEORY OF THE UNDERWATER ROCK CUTTING attracting the surrounding water to flow in. However, as
PROCESS mentioned before, due to the high cutting speed in reality, the
Rock is a relatively hard material. The unconfined local strain rate is so high that the in and out flows through the
compressive strength (UCS) varies from 20MPa of sandstone to pores are hardly allowed, therefore again a big pressure
250MPa of granite. The cohesive force between the grains is so difference forms up between inside and outside of the rock.
high that it becomes the major resistance against the excavator. Now it is known that in the “fast” cutting process, both the
In the normal dredging projects, the water depths are cracks developed by the blade and the pores/fractures originally
around 10~30m, which means the hydrostatic pressures are in the rock can give birth to water under pressure. With this
around 1~3bar. Since the UCS of the rock is in the range of under pressure, a great confining pressure forms up for the
200~2500bar, the hydrostatic pressure won’t give a significant cutting process. According to Vlasblom (2007), rock behaves
influence to the cutting force. However, this is not the case in brittle in atmospheric condition may behave ductile in high
deep sea mining engineering. According to Ahnert and confining pressure condition, as shown in Figure 1.
Borowski (2000), ocean mining sites are usually around large
areas of poly-metallic nodules or active and extinct
hydrothermal vents at about 1400~3700m below the ocean’s
surface. That means the hydrostatic pressure could be up to

2 Copyright © 2014 by ASME

Figure 1. Rock failure with different confining pressures
(Vlasblom, 2007) (a) No confining pressure (b) At 3.44MPa hydrostatic
To distinguish between the “fast”, “intermediate” and Figure 2. Chips from machining tests of Kaitkay and Lei (2005)
“slow” processes, van Kesteren (1995) has derived the pore-
Peclet number ξpe:
𝑉ℎ𝑠 𝑉ℎ𝑠 [𝐶𝑓 − 𝛼𝐶𝑠 + 𝑛(𝐶𝑤 − 𝐶𝑠 )]𝛾𝑤 To calculate the cutting force on the cutter, some analytical
𝜉𝑝𝑒 = = (1)
𝐷 𝑘 models have been developed in the past. Merchant (1945)
developed a model for cutting elastic-plastic material and
Where V is the cutting speed [m/s], hs is the cutting depth assumed the failure only occurs in shear. However, Evans
[m], D is the diffusion coefficient of porewater pressure [m2/s], (1966) suggested a model on the basis of the observations on
k is the hydraulic conductivity [m/s], γw is the fluid density coal breakage by wedges, where the cutting force is calculated
[N/m3], Cw is the compressibility of the porewater [m2/N], Cs is purely based on tensile failure. Later, Nishimatsu (1972)
the compressibility of the solids [m2/N], Cf is the presented his theory by introducing the stress distribution factor
compressibility of the fabric [m2/N], n is the porosity and α is into the calculation of the stress on the failure plane. Recently,
the solid compression coefficient. Miedema (2010) has combined all the previous analytical
Based on the pore-Peclet number, he gives out two limit models and taken the underwater environment into
conditions: consideration to generate a more comprehensive model, where
he calculated the cutting forces based on three different cutting
 Drained condition, which is the “slow” process, will occur regimes: the “flow” type, the “tear” type and the “curling” type.
when ξpe < 1. In this condition, porewater flow due to As shown in Figure 3.
porewater pressure gradient is possible without affecting The pore pressure distribution in the cutting zone must be
the behavior of the porous system itself. used as input parameters to calculate the cutting force using
 Undrained condition, which is the “fast” process, will Miedema´s model. But to get the pore pressure distribution, the
occur when ξpe >10. In this condition, porewater is not local porosity must be known first (Miedema, 2004). This
allowed to flow through the pores, and pore water model is based on a 2D macroscopic perspective, so it cannot
pressures will affect the stress state in the rock fabric. describe the internal irregularity and disorder of the rock
skeleton, thus the porosity change during the cutting process
The dilatancy hardening effect (Brace and Martin, 1968) cannot be calculated by this model. Another important fact is
due to drainage conditions has been witnessed in the that the underwater rock cutting process is so complicated that
experiments of Duda and Renner (2013), who have applied different mechanisms tend to happen simultaneously instead of
different strain rates to three types of sandstones (Ruhr, separately. It has been pointed out by van Kesteren (1995) that
Wilkeson and Fontainebleau). They discovered that the onset of during the indentation of the cutter tooth, a crushed zone will
dilatancy hardening representing the critical condition for first form up around the tip of the cutter due to the compaction
drainage actually occurred at strain rates within an order of from the cutter. And then at the boundary of the crushed zone
magnitude of critical strain rates calculated from the the forces are transmitted to the intact rock as discrete point
determined hydraulic properties. Besides, the transition from loads, so shear cracks will be developed into the virgin rock.
brittle failure mode to ductile failure mode under external Finally at a certain distance from the free surface the shear
hydrostatic pressure has been observed by Kaitkay and Lei cracks can bifurcate into tensile cracks and then chips can be
(2005), who conducted the experiments of cutting Carthage formed up. So as shown in Figure 4, the compressive failure,
marble using the polycrystalline diamond compacts (PDC) shear failure and tensile failure modes may occur together, and
cutter. They found that the increase in the forces from cutting according to Verhoef (1997), probably up to 90% of the energy
under no pressure to cutting under 500psi (3.44MPa) is for cutting is spent in the crushed zone where many rock
accompanied by an increase in chip length as clearly seen in fragments are located. Therefore although many analytical
Figure 2. models based on simplified assumptions have already been

3 Copyright © 2014 by ASME

developed, a more detailed and accurate numerical method to Several numerical methods are available to simulate solid
describe the rock cutting process is still wanted. materials and monitor the stress state, for example the finite
element method (FEM). However, FEM has major difficulty to
simulate the growing of cracks, so it is not very suitable for
modeling rock cutting process. Actually, a rock is made up of
small grains of varied shapes and sizes held together at grain
boundaries (Kaitkay and Lei, 2005). Based on this
characteristic, discrete element modeling (DEM) is quite
suitable to simulate rock-like materials. DEM is a family of
numerical methods for computing the motion of a large number
of small particles. It was first introduced by Cundall (1971) for
the analysis of rock-mechanics problems and then applied to
soils by Cundall and Strack (1979). Later, Huang (1999) did 2D
rock indentation and cutting simulations with a large number of
circular disks using the commercial software PFC2D. She
established the scaling laws between the phenomenological
parameters of a material and the properties of a discrete disc
assembly. Later, Potyondy and Cundall (2004) have
summarized the previous rock-like material modeling
techniques and generated the bonded particle model (BPM)
which consists of both a grain contact portion and a cement
contact portion. They suggested that the cement behavior
between rock grains can be expressed by either a parallel bond
model or a contact bond model. Simulations of biaxial and
triaxial tests were done with the software PFC2D and PFC3D.
On the other side, to prepare the initial state of the rock sample,
Bagi (2005) suggested an algorithm named ¨the Inwards
Packing Method¨ to generate random and dense 2D
arrangements for DEM simulations, which is proven to be
faster than the normal dynamic methods. Recently, Scholtès
and Donzé (2012) applied a modified constitutive law into the
contact model to describe the rock grains interaction and an
enhanced joint contact logic to represent the pre-existing
fractures in the rock. Rojek et al. (2013) proposed a 2D virgin
stress installation method in which an inverse displacement
method is firstly used to generate stress-free particle assemblies
configuration and then the kinematic loading and stress
relaxation are employed to reach the expected virgin stress
So now it is acknowledged that DEM is capable of
Figure 3. Three regimes of underwater rock cutting process simulating the mechanical behavior of rock-like material. The
defined by Miedema (2009, 2012) grain contact model and cement contact model suggested by
Potyondy and Cundall (2004) are more intrinsic and also closer
to the real physics in rock cutting process. The macro
mechanical properties will spontaneously emerge from the
contact models, while the other models are more dependent on
the specially defined constitutive laws. Another issue should be
addressed is that the mechanical properties of the seabed rock
in major deep sea mining sites are similar to sandstone, so the
chance of very big pre-existing fault planes is relatively low,
thus the model of Potyondy and Cundall (2004) should be
sufficient and can be applied.
However, it should be noticed that by so far the most
successful simulations are done in 2D. When it comes to 3D,
Figure 4. Failure modes during underwater rock cutting. the link between micro input and macro output becomes very
(Vlasblom, 2007) weak and uncontrollable. And the most important point is that

4 Copyright © 2014 by ASME

none of these codes are able to capture the pore pressure underwater excavation process very well. In addition, the
evolution in a fully saturated environment with a very big derivation of the consolidation theory is based on the finite
hydrostatic pressure. Therefore we need an algorithm to deal volume method (FVM), which is the most generic and mature
with DEM and the computational fluid dynamics (CFD) at the method in CFD. Then it would be very nice to couple DEM and
same time. FVM together for solving the underwater excavation process.
Shimizu (2011) proposed a rock-fluid interaction algorithm Such an Eulerian-Lagrangian coupling is designed in the
based on a 2D channel-domain network for simulating the following way:
hydraulic fracturing process. As shown in Figure 5, the fluid  From solid to fluid: DEM will transfer the information
flows are described as pipe flows which only exist around the about the change of the solid skeleton to FVM, such as
contact point between two DEM particles and pore pressure DEM particles’ velocities and the local porosities. But
values are saved at the center of the domains which are also DEM particles do not apply force to fluid, since the solid
surrounded by the DEM particles. The simulation results show skeleton itself is the major resistance against the fluid flow.
a good agreement with experimental results. However, the
 From fluid to solid: FVM will use the information from
deformation of solid skeleton in hydraulic fracturing is much
DEM to update the fluid pressure and velocity field based
smaller than that in excavation process. The whole channel-
on mass and momentum conservation equations. And
domain network will be gone when big deformation happens in
correspondingly the fluid driven forces will be applied
excavation process. Besides it is very difficult to upgrade this
back to DEM particles, such as the pressure gradient force,
method into 3D world, thus it is not suitable for simulating the
the viscous force and the drag force.
solid-fluid interaction in underwater excavation process.
The fluid mass conservation is shown in Eq. 2. Actually
the volumetric strain rate can be represented by

= 𝛻⃗ ∙ ⃗⃗ (4)
So bring Eq. 3 and Eq. 4 into Eq. 2, it is obtained

𝛻⃗ ∙ [( − 𝑛) ⃗⃗ ] + 𝛻⃗ ∙ (𝑛 ) + 𝑛𝛽 = (5)
Figure 5. Left: Channel-Domain model; Right: Fluid flow in a According to Verruijt and Broere (2011),
channel. (Shimizu et al. 2011)
Since the permeability of the seabed rock is low, the fluid 𝛻⃗ ∙ [( − 𝑛) ⃗⃗ ] = (6)
flow through the pores could be treated as Darcy flow. Besides, 𝜕𝑡
the cutting speed in deep sea mining is high and the hydrostatic
pressure is very big, then the fluid cannot be treated to be So the fluid mass conservation can be written as:
incompressible any more. From the consolidation theory of
Verruijt and Broere (2011), a storage equation based on mass 𝜕𝑛 𝜕𝑝
+ 𝛻⃗ ∙ (𝑛 ) + 𝑛𝛽 = (7)
conservation of both the solid and fluid phases is given. 𝜕𝑡 𝜕𝑡
𝜕𝑝 𝜕𝜀𝑣𝑜𝑙 It should be noticed that Eq. 5 doesn’t have the time
−𝑛𝛽 − = 𝛻⃗ ∙ 𝑞 (2)
𝜕𝑡 𝜕𝑡 derivative term of porosity as Eq. 7, instead it uses the solid
particle velocity. From the perspective of mathematics and
Where 𝜀𝑣𝑜𝑙 is the volumetric strain of the solid skeleton, t physics, these two equations are saying exactly the same thing.
is the time [s], n is the porosity, β is the compressibility of the But in application, it is possible that they can generate slightly
fluid [m2/N], p is the fluid pressure [pa] and 𝑞 is the specific difference. For the current stage, Eq. 7 is recommended
discharge [m/s] which is calculated by because it is easier to implement.
As mentioned before, the fluid flow through the pores is
𝑞 = 𝑛( − ⃗⃗ ) (3) treated as Darcy flow. But after a big chip is lifted up by the
blade, the crack area is fully opened, and then the Darcy flow
Where is the fluid velocity [m/s] and ⃗⃗ is the solid assumption doesn’t hold anymore. Since the biggest cutting
velocity [m/s]. From Eq. 2 it is clearly seen that the local fluid force may not appear during the excavation of the first chip, it
flow is induced by: 1) the compressibility of the fluid 2) the is still needed to continue the calculation for generating the
volumetric strain rate. These two characteristics match the second, the third or more chips until the maximum cutting force

5 Copyright © 2014 by ASME

emerges. In addition, those mineral particles produced during Based on the information from the DEM side, local
the excavation can move upwards into the open water. porosity values can be obtained. Then a relation similar to
Considering the fact these materials might be toxic, they can Kozeny-Carman Equation can be applied to calculate the
pollute the seawater and threat the safety of the sea animals. So permeability. As shown in Eq. 11, Dp is the diameter of the
it becomes really necessary to obtain the whole fluid velocity related spherical particle [m], Φs is the sphericity of the grains
and pressure field, not just the part where Darcy flow exists, in the packed bed. In DEM simulations, the shape of the
only then it is possible to describe the physics continuously particles is sphere. But in reality, the rock grains are not
both in space and time, and to know how high the excavated spherical. Since the purpose is to simulate the behavior of rock,
materials can float into the seawater. so this Φs remains to be a calibration parameter.
In the momentum equation of the fluid, the set I equation
of Zhou et al. (2010) is taken and modified. A source term Φ𝑠2 𝐷𝑝2 𝑛3
based on Darcy’s law is added to represent the resistance due to = (11)
8 ( − 𝑛)2
the low permeability of the solid structure. Besides, since the
length scale of the simulation zone is much smaller than the
Such a computation based on the coupling between DEM
water depth (e.g. 3000m), gravitational acceleration is
and FVM is expected to be very expensive, so it would be
neglected in the fluid phase. In addition, the compressibility of
much better if parallel computation can be employed. Goniva et
water is very small ( 𝛽 𝑝 ) and in mass
al. (2010) developed a coupled CFD-DEM framework named
conservation this factor has already been considered, so in the
CFDEM which combine the strengths of the DEM software
momentum equation the fluid density is treated as constant. The
package LIGGGHTS (LAMMPS improved for general granular
equation is given below, where ρ is the fluid density [kg/m3], ̿
and granular heat transfer simulations) and the CFD software
is the viscous shear stress tensor [N/m2], μ is the dynamic
package OpenFOAM® (Open Field Operation and
viscosity of the fluid [kg/(m·s)] and κ is the permeability of the
Manipulation). CFDEM runs fully parallel on distributed-
solid structure [m2].
memory clusters. They are capable of simulating the physical
processes in both 2D and 3D domains. Another advantage is
𝜕(𝑛 )
+ 𝛻⃗ ∙ (𝑛 ) = −𝛻⃗𝑝 + 𝛻⃗ ∙ ̿ − ( − ⃗⃗ ) (8) that CFDEM, LIGGGHTS and OpenFOAM® are all free and
𝜕𝑡 open source software packages whose codes can be modified
according to users´ needs. Therefore it is decided that the
The most important forces applied on the solid particles numerical method proposed in this paper for modeling the rock
from the fluid side are the pressure gradient force and the cutting process in deep sea mining will be conducted using
viscous force. These two are the components due to the ¨CFDEM + LIGGGHTS + OpenFOAM®¨ software package.
‘macroscopic’ variations in the fluid stress tensor on a large
scale compared with the particle spacing (Zhou et al. 2010).
While the other forces which arise from the detailed variations
in the stress tensor induced by fluctuations, such as the drag
This research is a long term project, currently the
force, the virtual mass force and the lift force are optional
numerical methods and functionalities (e.g. the parallel bond
choices. Pressure gradient force ⃗⃗⃗𝑝 and viscous force ⃗⃗⃗̿ are model) described in the previous chapter have not been
calculated in the following way in which Vparticle is the volume completely implemented into CFDEM yet. However, some
of a solid particle [m3]: preliminary results for testing the coupling ability of the
software package can already be shown. In this chapter,
⃗⃗⃗𝑝 = −⃗ 𝑝 ∙ 𝑉𝑝 𝑙𝑒 (9) simulations of clay cutting process in both dry and underwater
conditions are described and compared.
⃗⃗⃗̿ = −⃗ ∙ ̿ ∙ 𝑉𝑝 𝑙𝑒 (10) Clay is cohesive soil. The cohesive stress between clay
grains ranges from 10 to 800kPa. Here the cohesive stress
In Eq. 8, the last term on the right hand side is deduced applied to the DEM clay sample is set to 100kPa and the
from Darcy´s law. Inside the rock, the permeability is quite low, adhesive stress between clay and the blade cutter is set to 66kPa
and then this source term will create a huge resistance to the using the SJKR (simplified Johnson-Kendall-Roberts) model
fluid flow. On the contrary, when calculating the flow in open (Jonson et al. 1971). The diameters of the generated DEM
water, the permeability becomes infinite, and then the value of particles follow Gaussian distribution with the mean value
this source term will be zero, the equation is thus reduced to the 0.4mm and the standard deviation 0.1mm. The basic contact
Navier-Stokes equation. In this way both the “dense” and model used is Hertz model, in which the internal and external
“dilute” regimes can be described in the same equation. As long friction angles are 300 and 200 respectively. As shown in Figure
as it is solved in an implicit manner, such a ¨jump¨ of 6 and 7, the size of the clay sample is
permeability between the dense and dilute phases will not 110mm 11.8mm 10.2mm and the size of the blade is
create any trouble in the calculation. Therefore now the 12.8mm×11.6mm×0.2mm. The horizontal cutting speed is
question is how we can calculate the permeability. 200mm/s and the cutting angle is 51.50. For the underwater clay

6 Copyright © 2014 by ASME

cutting simulation, a hydrostatic pressure of 300kPa is applied,
which is three times of the cohesive strength between the clay

Figure 9. Dry sand cutting simulation (Chen et al. 2013)

But in clay cutting, the cohesion between clay grains will

help to build up an extra layer above the top of the blade. And
Figure 6. Clay sample used for the cutting simulation the clay particles will not drop freely as sand particles, instead
they tend to drop down as a column of continuum. These
characteristics are well captured in the clay cutting simulation.
As shown below in Figure 10.

Figure 7. Blade cutter used for the cutting simulation

Here below Figure 8 is a snapshot captured from the clay

cutting simulation in the dry environment at the time 0.25s. In Figure 10. Snapshot captured in dry clay cutting simulation
the graph, the color of the particles indicates their velocity.
Particles’ velocities increase when the color changes from green From Figure 8 the performance of the dry clay cutting is
to red. known, since the purpose of these simulations is to test the
coupling between DEM and FVM, then it is more important to
check the simulation result of underwater clay cutting test. Here
below Figure 11 is the snapshot of the underwater clay cutting
simulation at 0.25s.

Figure 8. Snapshot captured in dry clay cutting at 0.25s

During the cutting process under constant cutting speed,

there will be a moment when the particles have piled highly
enough in front of the blade, and some particles start to fall Figure 11. Snapshot captured in underwater clay cutting at
down to the back of the blade. After that special moment, the 0.25s
cutting process enters into the steady state and the cutting force
on the blade will be relatively constant. In sand cutting process, Apparent difference exists between Figure 8 and 11. The
sand particles will fall down freely from the height which is just maximum particle velocity in dry condition is 0.455m/s while
above the top of the blade, as shown in Figure 9, which is from on the other hand that is 0.267m/s in underwater condition. The
the sand cutting simulation of Chen (2013). reason behind that is that the interaction between the fluid and
solid particles has dissipated a big portion of the kinetic energy
of the solid particles. To compare the two performances in a
better way, the dry clay cutting and the underwater clay cutting
simulations are superposed in the same figure. In Figure 12, the
red region represents the dry clay cutting and the yellow region
represents the underwater clay cutting.

7 Copyright © 2014 by ASME

indicates the dry condition.

(a) time = 0.25s

(a) Normal force on the blade

(b) time = 0.3s

Figure 12. Snapshots captured in clay cutting simulations of
both dry and underwater conditions

It has been pointed out by Abdeli (2010) that in underwater (b) Shear force on the blade
soil cutting, due to the confining effect of hydrostatic pressure, Figure 14: Cutting force records on the blade
the shape of the shear layer built in front of the blade will be
much different from that of dry cutting, as shown in Figure 13. The final cutting forces in the steady state in both
Such difference has been well described in Figure 12. In the dry conditions are more or less the same, no matter it is in the
clay cutting (red), the shear layer in front of the blade is wider normal or shear direction. However, in underwater clay cutting
and its profile is more like a smooth curve. On the contrary, in process (red line), a big “jump” in both the normal and shear
the underwater clay cutting (yellow), the shear layer in front of direction is witnessed in the beginning stage of the test. This is
the blade is much thinner and its slope is much steeper, which induced by the dilatancy stress (Rowe, 1962). In the beginning
makes it more rectangular. Besides, in the underwater condition, of the cutting process, the clay sample is densely compacted.
the build-up layer above the top of the blade can reach a larger Due to the push of the blade, the solid skeleton will become
height. These behaviors well illustrated the confining effect of loose, so inside the pores the pressure will drop, then a pressure
the fluid. difference between in and outside the pores will build up which
In addition, the tail in the underwater cutting (yellow) can makes the clay bed much harder to excavate. Later, since the
reach further behind the blade than in the dry cutting (red). The cutting speed is low (0.2m/s), so the surrounding water can fill
reason for that is the dropping velocity of the particles in into the pores in the clay. Then the pressure difference is gone,
vertical direction is significantly damped by the fluid, e.g. the the cutting force will correspondingly decrease. After that,
viscous force, so horizontally these particles have more time to since the clay sample is already much looser than the initial
move further behind the blade before they reach the bed. And situation, so further dilatancy hardening effect has not been
of course as mentioned before, the tail in the underwater cutting observed.
starts from a higher position.
A numerical method including a set of equations is
established in order to describe the underwater rock cutting
process, especially to calculate the fluid pressure distribution
and the cutting force. These equations and functionalities need
to be implemented into “CFDEM+LIGGGHTS+OpenFOAM”
software packages, which is a coupling system between DEM
and FVM.
Although further validation and calibration are needed, it is
Figure 13: The shape difference between the dry soil cutting convinced that the “CFDEM + LIGGGHTS + OpenFOAM”
and water saturated soil cutting (Abdeli, 2010) coupling system is able to make the cooperation between fluid
(FVM) and solid (DEM) based on the momentum exchange
The cutting forces on the blade are calculated in both concept which is currently used in the software system.
conditions. Figure 14 are the force registrations from both the Mechanical characteristics are captured well in the preliminary
dry cutting and underwater cutting simulations, in which the tests of the clay cutting simulations in both dry and underwater
red line indicates the underwater condition while the blue line environments.

8 Copyright © 2014 by ASME

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