A device and method have been developed to conduct compression and tensile tests on soft materials such as flocculated sediments, biopolymers, biological materials, and food stuffs. The device facilitates compression tests of small particles in the 10- to 5,000-micron range in the exact aqueous environmental conditions (e.g. pH, salinity, elevation) in which the sample is typically found. The device enables real-time imaging of the deformation process, and is compatible with a variety of commercially available test frames and load cells.

The environmental test cell is a fast, accurate, and simple way to conduct compressive and tensile tests on soft materials in a variety of commercial measurement systems.

The system is faster and operates on much smaller sample sizes than alternative solutions such as test flumes and cone penetrometers. The results of the measurement have great utility in discrete element models of fine-grain sediment transport to assess integrity of levees, embankments, and other structures. Other applications include biomechanical studies of tissues and composites, as well as testing of food items and cosmetics.

The test cell design enhances test accuracy, and the magnified viewports facilitate rapid sample alignment and enable the ready capture of video or still photography in order to provide additional data sources.

Real-time videography and photography of samples under compression or extension can be captured via built-in magnifying and clear windows; still and video captures can be analyzed later to address force curve changes.

For more information, contact Amanda Horansky-McKinney at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; 202-767-5815.


Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the September, 2018 issue of Tech Briefs Magazine.

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