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Dr Vincenzo Nardelli awarded 75th Géotechnique Anniversary Early Career Award at ICE event

His article, on the experimental contact behaviour of natural sands, was selected as the Insightful paper in the decade 2013-2023 in the area of Soil Micromechanics

Vincenzo Nardelli

Dr Vincenzo Nardelli, Departmental Lecturer in Geotechnical Engineering, was recently awarded the 75th Géotechnique Anniversary Early Career Award for his article “The experimental contact behaviour of natural sands: normal and tangential loading” at a ceremony to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Géotechnique, held at the Institution of Civil Engineers headquarters in London.

The event gathered the geotechnical community to honour Géotechnique’s past research and looking forward, to future fundamental and applied research. Outstanding works from three main themes of geotechnical engineering research published in the past decade were selected, including Soil Micromechanics, Bio-assisted Geotechnics and Artificial Intelligence in Geotechnics. His article has been selected as Insightful paper in the decade 2013-2023 in the area of Soil Micromechanics.

The article was the main output of an experimental project that aimed at characterising the contact response of sand particles at the micro-scale, which could be relevant for future engineering research, and potentially design, by means of the Discrete Element Method (DEM). The research was the first to provide information on the contact response in compression (normal loading) and present accurate tangential stiffness results, along with a comprehensive set of inter-particle friction data for real sand particles. Also, novel results accounting for the effects of loading rate, loading history, confinement level and environmental conditions on the micromechanical contact behaviour of sands were presented.

The experimental data were obtained by means of a custom inter-particle loading apparatus, designed, and built for the purpose of testing sand grains at the micro-scale. The results obtained were aimed at informing DEM researchers regarding the choice of parameters to adopt for their simulations and improving the current understanding of the micro- to macro- behaviour of granular materials. The article was published in Géotechnique and can be downloaded as open access from the ICE Virtual Library.

Dr Nardelli says, “It is a great honour to be acknowledged for this research, which was carried out along with Professor Matthew Coop when we were both working at the City University of Hong Kong. It was a challenging experience, especially during the development of the apparatus and the determination of accurate micromechanical data for the sands tested. Our aim was to obtain realistic results for soils at the micro-scale, considering some recent research trends in geotechnics, which might be relevant for future engineering research and maybe even design.”

A full colour image an experimental rig used by Dr. Vincenzo Nardelli in their research.

Experimental rig