Long-term decay of the water pressure in the osmotic tensiometer

ABDUL HALIM HAMDANY, Harianto Rahardjo, Hejun Du, Hengshuo Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Matric suction is an important state variable required for the assessment of unsaturated soil properties. Tensiometers are commonly used for direct matric suction measurement but have a limited measuring range up to 90 kPa due to the cavitation problem. Osmotic tensiometer (OT) can improve the measuring range of tensiometers by increasing the osmotic pressure of water to avoid the cavitation. However, the long-term water pressure decay that appeared in OTs caused a gradual decrease in their measuring range. In this study, crosslinked poly(acrylamide-co-acrylic acid) potassium salt (PAM-co-PAAK) was used for the preparation of OTs (five in total) to explore the mechanism of water pressure decay of OTs. The maximum water pressure in the OT versus the volume fraction of polymer filled in the OT was described based on the Flory-Huggins polymer theories and validated using WP4C dewpoint hygrometer. The long-term pressure decay of OT-1, OT-2, and OT-3 was observed for 130 d and constant pressures were found for OT-1 and OT-2, indicating that the pressure decay of OT was mainly caused by the stress relaxation of the polymer hydrogels, and standard linear solid (SLS) rheological model was appropriate to fit the decay data. For OT-1, OT-2 and OT-3, the theoretical osmotic pressure that was calculated based on the mass of retrieved polymer from OTs after 130-d pressure observation was higher than the actual osmotic pressure as observed, indicating that polymer leakage cannot explain the pressure decay of the OT. The ultraviolet–visible (UV–visible) spectrophotometry examined the change in polymer concentrations in the water containers of OT-4 and OT-5 and demonstrated that there was no increase in polymer leakage during the period of pressure decay of OT-4 and OT-5. As a result, the pressure decay of OT was not caused by polymer leakage. The results of this research suggested that the viscoelastic properties of polymers should be taken into consideration in further OT development.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)738-746
JournalLong-term decay of the water pressure in the osmotic tensiometer
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023


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