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Advances in tensiometer-based suction control systems.

Lourenço, S. D. N. and Gallipoli, D. and Toll, D.G. and Augarde, C.E. and Evans, F.D. (2011) 'Advances in tensiometer-based suction control systems.', in Unsaturated soils. Leiden: CRC Press/Balkema , pp. 695-700.


Cunningham (2000) and Jotisankasa (2005) pioneered the development of tensiometer-based suction control systems. In these systems, wetting and drying of the soil are achieved by water injection and circulation of air in contact with the specimen while suction is monitored by sample-mounted high suction tensiometers. Unlike the axis translation technique, these systems avoid using elevated air pressures and better reproduce the drying and wetting conditions occurring in the field. Building upon these earlier works, this pa-per describes an automated tensiometer-based suction control system that enables direct measurement of water content changes inside the sample. A diaphragm pump forces air to flow inside a closed loop that runs across the sample while a moisture trap ensures that the relative humidity of the circulating air is kept low. As the circulating air dries the soil, the amount of abstracted water is measured by continuous weighing of the desiccant inside the moisture trap. Wetting of the sample is instead achieved by controlled injection of water through a solenoid valve connected to a pressurized volume gauge. The changes of soil water content are given by the difference between the amounts of water injected by the volume gauge and that retained by the desiccant. The system is used to impose cycles of drying and wetting on compacted clayey specimens and results from preliminary tests are presented.

Item Type:Book chapter
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Publisher statement:This is an Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published by Routledge in Unsaturated Soils on 02/09/2010, available online:
Record Created:22 Sep 2010 14:50
Last Modified:19 Aug 2016 11:29

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