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Applications of Discrete Element Method

Hyunwook Kim's picture



You present nice pictures of DEM calculations. It seems to me that the main difficulty of this kind of numerical simulations consists in the identification of local parameters for which no experimental data exists (like elastic and fracture energy parameters of matrix and interface zone). And so, it is hard to say that the set of "calibrated" parameters which is identified to fit the experimental data is really representative of local mechanical behaviour.

Although these difficulties, these numerical simulations seem to be a great tool to understand and improve the analysis of fracture process.



Hyunwook Kim's picture

Yes, Benjamin.

Thanks for your comments.

There is no doubt that the calibrated parameters for DEM simulations are not the exact representative local parameters. However, we have tried to find a way to obtain better material properties.More difficulty is that asphalt materials are time-dependent materials, which are always changing under loading and temperature conditions. Also, 3D might be an issue but the computational time is huge.

These DEM simulations can give us more detail information about various fracture process mechanisms and it is one of nice tools to explore our material behaviors.



Alejandro Ortiz-Bernardin's picture

Dear Hyunwook,

Nice pictures and interesting work you do. Can you suggest some references to start with assuming I do not know anything about DEM?

Thank you,




Hyunwook Kim's picture

Dear Alejandro,


You can start with Cundall's papers for the theory shown as below. Cumputational DEM was started from 1971 by Cundall. You can find more with his name but also you might be interested in the micromechanics as well. For the DEM, there are several different approaches such as circular or spear types DEM, polygon shape DEM (Bolander), and Lattic model (van Mier). There are several researchers who are working on this topic in USA, UK, Germany, Austria,Netherlands, Japan.


Cundall, P. A. (1971). “A computer model for simulating progressive,
large-scale movements in blocky rock systems.” Proc. Int. Symp. of
Rock Fracture, Paper No. II.8.
Cundall, P. A., and Hart, R. D. (1978). “Numerical modeling of discontinua.”
Eng. Composites, 9, 101–113.


Culdall made a commercial software, PFC (Particle Flow Code). The Lattice model would be included in commerical software, DIANA.

Also, there are some non-commercial programs also. 

You can easily find many recent papers related to DEM specially in the geomechanics area.


Bet wishes for your research.



I just installed PFC 2D demo version in my computer. I will be using this software for my research work. I am a master's student. I just want to get habitual to the commands and for example would want to apply biaxial load to a no. of balls confined within walls and plot their stree-strain curves. Currently, I can create the balls and the walls as well. I am having difficulty in inputing axial/biaxial stress and am confused about the time steps. How can I plot the graph of stress/strain?


Sadrish Panthi


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