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Hydrometer Test

Date:- 20-09-2018

Introduction:-
Hydrometer analysis is a widely used method of obtaining an estimate of the distribution of
soil particle sizes from the No. 200 (0.075 mm) sieve to around 0.01 mm. The data are
presented on a semilog plot of percent finer vs. particle diameters and may be combined with
the data from a sieve analysis of the material retained (+) on the No.200 sieve. The principal
value of the hydrometer analysis appears to be to obtain the clay fraction (generally accepted
as the percent finer than 0.002 mm). The hydrometer analysis may also have value in
identifying particle sizes < 0.02 mm in frost susceptibility checks for pavement subgrades.
This test is done when more than 20% pass through No.200 sieve and 90% or more passes the
No. 4 (4.75 mm) sieve.

The hydrometer analysis is based on Stokes’ Law, which gives the relationship among the
velocity of fall of spheres in a fluid, the diameter of the sphere, the specific weights of the
sphere and of the fluid, and the fluid viscosity. In equation form this relationship is

2 (Gs – Gf )
v = ---- * ------------ * (D / 2)2
9 
where,
v = velocity of fall of the spheres (cm/s)
Gs = specific gravity of the sphere
Gf = specific gravity of fluid (varies with temperature)
 = absolute, or dynamic, viscosity of the fluid (g /(cm * s))
D = diameter of the sphere (cm)

Solving the equation for D and using the specific gravity of water Gw, we obtain
________________
D =  18  v / ( Gs – Gw)
v=L/t
_______________
A =  18  / ( Gs – Gw)

________________
D = A L (cm) / t
(min)

Principle:-
In the glass tube is a scale so calibrated that the reading on it level with the surface
of the liquid in which the hydrometer is floating indicates the number of times heavier
or lighter the liquid is than water, i.e., the specific gravity of the liquid. The
hydrometer is based on Archimedes' principle.
Abstract:-
The Standard Test Method for Particle-Size Analysis (ASTM D422-63) relies on the well-known
Stokes' equation for estimating particle diameters. The validity of Stokes' equation for fine-
grained particle size analysis is based on assumptions, including the assumption that actual
particle shapes can be approximated by smooth spheres. This paper provides a rigorous
analysis of the accuracy of Stokes' equation for calculating particle-size distributions of
nonspherical, fine-grained clay particles. Analytical expressions relating the actual particle shape
and size to the equivalent "Stokes' diameter" are presented for disk-shaped and rod-shaped
particles.

Comments:-
The Particle Size Analysis of Soils by the Hydrometer Method as included in AASHTO
Designation T-88-86 has been modified by the New York State Department of Transportation
Geotechnical Engineering Bureau to meet the specific needs of the New York State testing
program. Some portions of the former New York State method have been changed in order to
comply with AASHTO Designation T-88-86.

Objective :-
To determine the percentage of different particle sizes contained within a soil.

Equipment:-
 Hydrometer (152H model preferable)

 Quantity (about 2.5L per test) of distilled water

 Sedimentation cylinder (1000mL cylinder) also termed a hydrometer jar

 Graduated 1000 mL cylinder for control jar

 Soil-dispersion device (malt mixer or air-jet dispersion)

 Dispersion agent (NaPO3 or Na2 SiO3)

 Hydrometer jar bath (optional, for temperature control)

 Thermometer

Procedure:-
1. Prepare the control jar by adding 125 ml of 4% sodium metaphosphate (NaPO3) solution
and sufficient distilled water to produce 1000 ml. (This solution can be made by mixing
40g of dry chemical with enough water to make 1000 ml). Put the hydrometer into the
control cylinder and record zero and meniscus correction; then record the temperature by
putting the thermometer in it
2. Weigh out exactly 50g of soil passing the No. 200 sieve. Mix the soil with 125 ml of 4%
sodium metaphosphate (NaPO3) solution. Allow the soil mixture to stand about 12 hours.

3. At the end of the soaking period, transfer the mixture to a dispersion (or malt mixer) cup
and add tap water until the cup is about two-thirds full. Mix for 1 minute. After mixing,
carefully transfer all the contents of the dispersion cup to the sedimentation cylinder.
Rinse any soil in the dispersion cup by using a plastic squeeze bottle or adding stabilized
water and pour this into the sedimentation cylinder. Now add distilled water to fill the
cylinder to the 1000 ml mark.

4. Cap the sedimentation cylinder with a No. 12 rubber stopper and carefully agitate for
about 1 min. Agitation is defined as turning the cylinder upside down and back 60 turns
for a period of 1 min. An upside down and back movement is 2 turns.

5. Put the sedimentation cylinder beside the control cylinder and start the stopwatch
immediately. This is cumulative time t = 0. Insert the hydrometer into the sedimentation
cylinder.

6. Take hydrometer readings at cumulative times t = 0.25 min., 0.5min., 1 min. and 2 min.
Always read the upper level of meniscus. Remove and place the hydrometer in the
control jar.

7. Continue taking hydrometer and temperature readings at approximate elapsed times of 8,


15, 30 and 60 min. and then 2, 4, 8, 24 and 48 hr. For each reading, insert the hydrometer
into the sedimentation cylinder about 30 sec before reading is due. After the reading is
taken, remove the hydrometer and put it back into the control cylinder.

For this test, assume 𝐺𝑠 = 2.65

Observation:-
Elapsed Temp Actual Corr. Hyd.
Time A
Date Time time, t correcti hyd Hydro % Corr. L 𝑳 Grainsiz
(min) on, Ft reading . Finer Only for 𝑻 e, D
R Readi meniscus, (mm)
ng, RcL
Rcp
13-Sep 3.39 3.39 0.033333 - 36 36 72 36 10.4 0 0.0129 0.0294
13-Sep 3.41 3.43 0.066667 - 34 34 68 34 10.7 0 0.0129 0.0211
13-Sep 3.45 3.47 0.133333 - 31 31 62 31 11.2 0 0.0129 0.0153
13-Sep 3.53 3.55 0.266667 - 28 28 56 28 11.7 0 0.0129 0.011
13-Sep 4.09 4.09 0.5 - 25 25 50 25 12.2 0 0.0129 0.0082
13-Sep 4.39 4.39 1 - 23.5 23.5 47 23.5 12.45 0 0.0129 0.0059
13-Sep 5.39 5.39 2 - 22.2 22.2 44.4 22.2 12.66 0 0.0133 0.0043
13-Sep 7.39 7.39 4 - 21.1 21.1 42.2 21.1 12.88 0 0.0137 0.0032
13-Sep 9.41 9.39 6 - 20.2 20.2 40.4 20.2 12.96 0 0.0137 0.0026
13-Sep 11.39 8 - 0 0 0 0 16.3 0
13-Sep 3.39 3.39 24 - 19 19 38 19 13.2 0 0.0138 0.0013
Grain size, D (mm)
0.04
0.03
0.02 Grain size, D
(mm)
0.01
0
0 20 40 60 80

Result:-
Plot between % finer and grain size can be seen in graph.

Conclusion:-
The hydrometer test for the given soil sample produced results for very small
particles as expected. The particle size distribution curve shows values ranging from
0.085mm (close to No. 200 sieve) to 0.00095mm. There is however, a variation in
the curve at around 0.02 mm. This is likely because the hydrometer reading at 1 hr.
was 0.5 higher than the reading before it at 30 min. and the reading after it at 2 hr .

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