Geotechnical and Geological Engineering

, Volume 33, Issue 2, pp 373–388 | Cite as

Coupled Axisymmetric Thermo-Poro-Mechanical Finite Element Analysis of Energy Foundation Centrifuge Experiments in Partially Saturated Silt

  • W. WangEmail author
  • R. A. Regueiro
  • J. S. McCartney
Original paper


The paper presents an axisymmetric, small strain, fully-coupled, thermo-poro-mechanical (TPM) finite element analysis (FEA) of soil–structure interaction (SSI) between energy foundations and partially saturated silt. To account for the coupled processes involving the mechanical response, gas flow, water species flow, and heat flow, nonlinear governing equations are obtained from the fundamental laws of continuum mechanics, based on mixture theory of porous media at small strain. Constitutive relations consist of the effective stress concept, Fourier’s law for heat conduction, Darcy’s law and Fick’s law for pore liquid and gas flow, and an elasto-plastic constitutive model for the soil solid skeleton based on a critical state soil mechanics framework. The constitutive parameters employed in the thermo-poro-mechanical FEA are mostly fitted with experimental data. To validate the TPM model, the modeling results are compared with the observations of centrifuge-scale tests on semi-floating energy foundations in compacted silt. Variables measured include the thermal axial strains and temperature in the foundations, surface settlements, and volumetric water contents in the surrounding soil. Good agreement is obtained between the experimental and modeling results. Thermally-induced liquid water and water vapor flow inside the soil were found to have an impact on SSI. With further improvements (including interface elements at the foundation-soil interface), FEA with the validated TPM model can be used to predict performance and SSI mechanisms for energy foundations.


Partially saturated soils Thermo-poro-mechanics Axisymmetric FEA Energy foundation Multiphase flow 



Funding for this research was provided by National Science Foundation Grant CMMI-0928159. This funding is gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Colorado, BoulderBoulderUSA

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