MSE Research Project Database

Role of wet particulate material fracture toughness in formation of drying cracks

Project Leader: George Franks
Staff: Anthony Stickland
Primary Contact: George Franks (
Keywords: suspension rheology
Disciplines: Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering
Domains: Optimisation of resources and infrastructure
Research Centre: Particulate Fluids Processing Centre (PFPC)

It is currently not possible to predict the initiation and location of drying cracks (often referred to as “mud cracks”). Prediction of the time and location of fracture of particle networks is critical in order to prevent failure of paints, coatings and advanced ceramics components. Formation of mud cracks in wastewater sludges during dewatering will lead to reduced processing time. The proposed research aims to develop a methodology to predict the fracture of wet particulate materials during drying, by combining understanding of material properties (namely fracture toughness) and the development of stress in the desaturating body. Recently the Franks group has developed methodology to measure fracture toughness in wet, dry and partially saturated particulate materials.1 The Stickland group has developed models to predict the solids concentration as a function of depth and time into the drying particulate material. The goal of this research project is to combine these two methods to better understand drying crack initiation.

A degree in Materials, Mechanics, or Chemical Engineering is preferred.

For technical information on the project, contact the academic supervisor, Prof George V. Franks,

1) M. L. Sesso and G. V. Franks, “Fracture toughness of wet and dry particulate materials comprised of colloidal sized particles: role of plastic deformation”, Soft Matter, 13, 4746–4755 (2017).

Further information: