A 2m radius platform 50 g-ton beam centrifuge has been installed as part of a multimillion dollar investment in GeoREF at the University of Alberta. It is the first of its kind in Western Canada, with a maximum acceleration level of 280 rpm (150 g) and maximum payload of 500 kg.
A geotechnical centrifuge is used for scale modeling of any large-scale nonlinear problem for which gravity is a primary driving force. As well, centrifuge physical modeling is used to evaluate and verify analytical or numerical methods. Centrifuge modeling is based on stress similarity between a prototype (field or laboratory tests) and the centrifuge physical model. Scaling factors for stress, time, height and density are used to choose the centrifuge operation.
There are two main research areas that the GeoREF centrifuge centre will initially explore. This includes shallow caprock failure assessment, and the evaluation of sedimentation/consolidation of mature fine tailings (MFT) resulted from oil sands mining operations. Centrifuge modelling in soft-rock mechanics has been used to a lesser extent and published work involving centrifuge modelling of jointed rock masses is also limited. We intend to utilize the centrifuge for physical modeling studies assessing the failure mechanics of caprock at high gravitational field with GeoREF 50g-ton beam centrifuge.