Three-dimensional discrete element simulation for granular materials

Dawei Zhao, Erfan G. Nezami, Youssef M.A. Hashash, Jamshid Ghaboussi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose - Develop a new three-dimensional discrete element code (BLOKS3D) for efficient simulation of polyhedral particles of any size. The paper describes efficient algorithms for the most important ingredients of a discrete element code. Design/methodology/approach - New algorithms are presented for contact resolution and detection (including neighbor search and contact detection sections), contact point and force detection, and contact damping. In contact resolution and detection, a new neighbor search algorithm called TLS is described. Each contact is modeled with multiple contact points. A non-linear force-displacement relationship is suggested for contact force calculation and a dual-criterion is employed for contact damping. The performance of the algorithm is compared to those currently available in the literature. Findings - The algorithms are proven to significantly improve the analysis speed. A series of examples are presented to demonstrate and evaluate the performance of the proposed algorithms and the overall discrete element method (DEM) code. Originality/value - Long computational times required to simulate large numbers of particles have been a major hindering factor in extensive application of DEM in many engineering applications. This paper describes an effort to enhance the available algorithms and further the engineering application of DEM.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)749-770
Number of pages22
JournalEngineering Computations (Swansea, Wales)
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2006


  • Finite element analysis
  • Flow
  • Materials management
  • Simulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • General Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics


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