Numerical and experimental study of wedge penetration into oil sands

CIM Bulletin, Vol. 95, No. 1064, 2002

D.D. Tannant and C. Wang

An experimental and numerical study was conducted on the geomechanical behaviour of oil sands during penetration tests in which a steel wedge with an apex angle of either 20 degrees or 30 degrees was forced into compacted oil sands. The boundary conditions simulated in the laboratory tests are similar to shovel penetration into oil sands. The objective of the laboratory tests was to measure the force required to push a steel wedge into compacted oil sands. A wedge penetration test differs from conventional triaxial tests in that much more shear is generated. The laboratory data was needed to improve calibration of micro-mechanical input parameters for a two-dimensional discrete element model of oil sands constructed with Particle Flow Code (PFC). Initial model calibration was performed with triaxial test data and then a PFC model of the wedge penetration test was constructed. The measured force-displacement behaviour of the steel wedge was compared with PFC modelling results. It was found that different combinations of PFC particle and bond parameters could equally well replicate the laboratory triaxial compression data for bitumen-rich oil sands. When the wedge model was run, it was found that the resulting force required to penetrate the wedge into the oil sands was about four to six times higher than that measured. This clearly indicates that further research is required to improve the predictive capability of PFC models of oil sands.
Keywords: Wedge penetration, Oil sands, Geomechanics, Particle Flow Code (PFC).