International Journal of Thermophysics

, Volume 34, Issue 6, pp 1130–1147 | Cite as

Thermal Conductivity of Standard Sands. Part III. Full Range of Saturation

  • V. R. Tarnawski
  • M. L. McCombie
  • T. Momose
  • I. Sakaguchi
  • W. H. Leong


The thermal conductivity \((\lambda )\) of three unsaturated standard quartz sands (Ottawa C-109 and C-190, and Toyoura) was measured by a transient thermal-conductivity probe, at room temperature of approximately \(25\,^{\circ }\text{ C }\) and at loose and tight compactions. The measurements were carried out at different degrees of saturation \((S_\mathrm{r})\) from dryness to full saturation. In general, a sharp \(\lambda \) increase was observed at low \(S_\mathrm{r}\), followed by a moderate rise until full saturation. However, experiments on loosely compacted C-190 samples revealed \(\lambda \) deviation from a general trend (\(\lambda \) vs \(S_\mathrm{r})\) caused by water percolation. Alternatively, successful experiments were carried out on loosely packed unsaturated C-190 samples using 1 % agar gel. For loosely compacted C-109 and Toyoura, \(\lambda \) data obtained from 1 % agar gel closely agreed with \(\lambda \) data for water as a saturation medium. The measured data were used to verify a model by de Vries for unsaturated soils. The model largely underestimates experimental data at \(S_\mathrm{r}<0.5\) and produces an overall root-mean-square error of about \(0.2\, \text{ W }~{\cdot }~\text{ m }^{-1}~{\cdot }~\text{ K }^{-1}\). Measured \(\lambda \) data agreed with data by a steady-state technique (a guarded hot-plate apparatus) at dryness and full saturation and exceeded the steady-state data in the unsaturated region. However, TCP data can be considered more reliable due to a lower temperature increase during \(\lambda \) measurements and a shorter testing time. Consequently, in the case of unsaturated soils, evaporation and migration of water and steam can be avoided.


Agar De Vries model Quartz sands Soil thermal conductivity Thermal-conductivity probe 



The authors would like to express their gratitude to the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and Saint Mary’s University for the funds provided to conduct this research. The authors also wish to thank the reviewers of this paper for their valuable comments that were implemented in the manuscript. Encouraging support from Prof. A. Katayama (ESI, Nagoya University, Japan) to conduct additional experiments on Toyoura sand is also appreciated.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • V. R. Tarnawski
    • 1
  • M. L. McCombie
    • 1
  • T. Momose
    • 2
  • I. Sakaguchi
    • 3
  • W. H. Leong
    • 4
  1. 1.Division of EngineeringSaint Mary’s UniversityHalifaxCanada
  2. 2.Bavarian Environment AgencyHof/SaaleGermany
  3. 3.Eco Topia Science InstituteNagoya UniversityNagoyaJapan
  4. 4.Ryerson UniversityTorontoCanada

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