Discrete element modelling of the dynamic behaviour of non-spherical particulate materials
A numerical model based on the discrete element (DE) method, for modelling the flow of irregularly shaped, smooth-surfaced particles in a 3-D system is presented. An existing DE program for modelling the contact between spherical particles in periodic space (without real walls or boundaries) was modified to model non-spherical particles in a system with containing walls. The new model was validated against analytical calculations of single particle movements and also experimentally against data from physical experiments using synthetic non-spherical particles at both a particle and bulk scale. It was then used to study the effect of particle shape on the flow behaviour of assemblies of particles with various aspect ratios discharging from a flat-bottomed hopper. The particles were modelled using the Multi-Sphere Method (MSM) which is based on the CSG (Constructive Solid Geometry) technique for construction of complex solids by combining primitive shapes. In this method particle geometry is approximated using overlapping spheres of arbitrary diameter which are fixed in position relative to each other. The contact mechanics and contact detection method are the same as those used for spheres, except that translation and rotation of element spheres are calculated with respect to the motion of the whole particle. Numerical simulations of packing and flow of particles from a flat-bottomed hopper with a range of aspect ratios were performed to investigate the effect of particle shape on packing and flow behaviour of a particulate assembly. It was found that the particle shape influenced both bed structure and flow characteristics such as flow pattern, shear band strength and the occurrence of bridging. The flow of the bed of spherical particles was smoother than the flow of beds of elongated particles in which flow was fluctuating and there was more resistance to shear.