DFI Journal - The Journal of the Deep Foundations Institute

Volume 15, Issue 1, April 2021
DOI: 10.37308/DFIJnl.20200831.222

Skin Friction Directionality in Monotonically-and Cyclically-Loaded Bio-inspired Piles in Sand
Article Type: Research Paper

Martinez, A. & O'Hara, K.


Piles can be subjected to axial loading in opposite directions during their installation and service life. For instance, piles for offshore jacket structures and load testing reaction systems are subjected to compressive loading during installation and tensile or cyclic loading during service life. This creates a design dilemma: while a large skin friction can lead to refusal at shallower depths than required during driving, it also promotes a large pile axial capacity. This paper describes the load-transfer behavior of piles with surfaces inspired by the belly scales of snakes that mobilize a direction-dependent skin friction. The investigation presented herein consists of a series of twelve centrifuge pile load tests on bio-inspired and smooth reference piles in dense and loose deposits of Ottawa F65 sand. Test results indicate that greater skin friction forces are mobilized when the bio-inspired piles are displaced in the cranial direction (i.e. soil moving against asperities) relative to the caudal direction (i.e. soil moving along asperities). This is observed during pushing and driving installation, where greater skin friction forces were mobilized during installation by pushing in the cranial direction and driving in the cranial direction required more blows per meter. Similarly, the skin friction mobilized during pullout tests was between 82% and 198% greater in the cranial direction than in the caudal direction, and the skin friction mobilized during pullout by the bio-inspired pile in the cranial direction was between 560% to 845% greater than that mobilized by the reference untextured pile. During cyclic loading, degradation of the skin friction magnitude and pile secant stiffness was observed in both cranial and caudal directions; however, the mobilized magnitudes were generally greater in the cranial direction. Discussion is provided on the potential benefits that the bio-inspired surface texture could realize on the overall performance of axially-loaded piles.

skin friction, shaft resistance, cyclic loading, centrifuge modeling, bio-inspiration