Applications of Discrete Element Method in Modeling of Grain Postharvest Operations

Josephine M. Boac, R. P.Kingsly Ambrose, Mark E. Casada, Ronaldo G. Maghirang, Dirk E. Maier

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Grain kernels are finite and discrete materials. Although flowing grain can behave like a continuum fluid at times, the discontinuous behavior exhibited by grain kernels cannot be simulated solely with conventional continuum-based computer modeling such as finite-element or finite-difference methods. The discrete element method (DEM) is a proven numerical method that can model discrete particles like grain kernels by tracking the motion of individual particles. DEM has been used extensively in the field of rock mechanics. Its application is gaining popularity in grain postharvest operations, but it has not been applied widely. This paper reviews existing applications of DEM in grain postharvest operations. Published literature that uses DEM to simulate postharvest processing is reviewed, as are applications in handling and processing of grain such as soybean, corn, wheat, rice, rapeseed, and the grain coproduct distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS). Simulations of grain drying that involve particles in both free-flowing and confined-flow conditions are also included. Review of the existing literature indicates that DEM is a promising approach in the study of the behavior of deformable soft particulates such as grain and coproducts, and it could benefit from the development of improved particle models for these complex-shaped particles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)128-149
Number of pages22
JournalFood Engineering Reviews
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 28 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Confined grain
  • Discrete element method
  • Free-flowing grain
  • Grain handling
  • Grain processing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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