Variations of Physical and Mechanical Properties of Heated Granite After Rapid Cooling with Liquid Nitrogen

  • Xiaoguang Wu
  • Zhongwei Huang
  • Hengyu Song
  • Shikun Zhang
  • Zhen Cheng
  • Ran Li
  • Haitao Wen
  • Pengpeng Huang
  • Xianwei Dai
Original Paper


To determine the effect of liquid nitrogen (LN2) cooling on the damage of heated rock, we conducted a series of physical and mechanical tests on Shandong granite samples. These granites were first slowly heated to the target temperatures (25~600 °C) and held for 10 h, followed by rapid cooling with a coolant. Three coolants were used and compared in our experiment: air, water and LN2. Physical properties and mechanical properties were tested after thermal treatments. Microstructural changes were also observed using scanning electron microscope and optical microscope. According to experimental results, permeability of the heated granites increases significantly after LN2-cooling, while density, P-wave velocity, strength and elastic modulus reduce. As heating temperature rises, changes in these properties become more pronounced. Compared to air-cooling and water-cooling, LN2-cooling induces greater changes in the physical and mechanical properties at any target temperature. This indicates that LN2-cooling can damage the heated rocks more remarkably than the other two cooling treatments. According to microscopic analysis, inter-granular cracking is the primary failure mode during thermal treatment, and most of the inter-granular cracks distribute at the boundaries of quartz. Our results in this paper are of great value for understanding the characteristics of thermal damage induced by rapid cooling.


Rapid cooling Rock damage Liquid nitrogen Physical and mechanical property Cryogenic fracturing 

List of Symbols


Half-length of major axis of the elliptical cooling region, m


Half-length of minor axis of the elliptical cooling region, m


Damage of granite after heating to temperature T and followed cooling


Young’s modulus, GPa


Properties of intact granites


Properties of thermally treated granites


Permeability, \(\times\)10− 3 µm2


Upper bound fracture initiation pressure, MPa


Lower bound fracture initiation pressure, MPa


Temperature, ℃


Uniaxial compressive strength, MPa


P-wave velocity, m/s

\({\sigma _{{\text{h}}}}\)

Minimum principal geostress, MPa

\({\sigma _{\text{H}}}\)

Maximum principal geostress, MPa


Pore pressure, MPa

\({\sigma _{\text{t}}}\)

Tensile strength, MPa


Poisson’s ratio


Poroelastic constant

\({\sigma _{\text{hT}}}\)

Thermal stresses in the direction of minimum horizontal principal stress, MPa

\({\sigma _{{\text{HT}}}}\)

Thermal stresses in the direction of maximum horizontal principal stress, MPa


Thermal expansion coefficient, × 10− 6/℃



Authors would like to acknowledge the financial support from the National Science Fund for Distinguished Young Scholars (51725404) and the ‘111’ project of China (No. 110000203920170063) and their approval of publishing this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xiaoguang Wu
    • 1
  • Zhongwei Huang
    • 1
  • Hengyu Song
    • 1
  • Shikun Zhang
    • 1
  • Zhen Cheng
    • 1
  • Ran Li
    • 1
  • Haitao Wen
    • 1
  • Pengpeng Huang
    • 1
  • Xianwei Dai
    • 1
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Petroleum Resources and ProspectingChina University of Petroleum-BeijingBeijingChina

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