Centrifuge Permeameter for Unsaturated Soils System

Current testing methods cannot measure the unsaturated hydraulic properties of granular materials simultaneously, and require long testing periods. They are impractical and involve the use of several granular specimens as well as destructive or intrusive measurements of the relevant testing variables. The significantly time-consuming testing period may take up to one year to collect final results.

Invention Description The centrifuge permeameter method identifies the relationships between soil suction and moisture, as well as suction and hydraulic conductivity. This new testing device uses a low-flow hydraulic permeameter to control a specimen's fluid flow rate and boundary conditions. The test also uses a centrifuge, which increases the driving force of the fluid flow in order to decrease the time required to reach steady-state flow conditions.


Decreases time significantly in test completion, from months to hours Obtains multiple testing results in a single test run Determines flow, moisture content, and suction from direct instrumentation Able to test conductivity of liquids other than water, such as petroleum and chemicals


Finalizes data results within short testing time span Performs various tests efficiently and simultaneously Acquires relevant variables while continuously in-flight Controls specimen's fluid flow rate and boundary conditions Works for all low hydraulic conductivity materials

Market Potential/Applications Hydrology and environmental laboratories determining the hydraulic properties of a low-permeable clay sample will obtain results within a few days with this system, compared to current technology that requires over a year in time. Oil industries and petroleum engineers can measure characterization of conductivity in petroleum for advancement in geochemical prospecting and reservoir yield studies. Researchers in remediation technology can investigate the material properties of chemicals such as organic liquids that operate as a solution to soil contamination.

Development Stage Beta product/commercial prototype

IP Status One U.S. patent application filed

UT Researcher Jorge G. Zornberg, Ph.D., Civil Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin John S. McCartney, M.S., Civil Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin

Type of Offer: Licensing

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