Construction of poly-ellipsoidal grain shapes from SMT imaging on sand, and the development of a new DEM contact detection algorithm

Boning Zhang (Department of Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, Colorado, USA)
Richard Regueiro (Department of Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, Colorado, USA)
Andrew Druckrey (Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee, USA)
Khalid Alshibli (Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee, USA)

Engineering Computations

ISSN: 0264-4401

Publication date: 16 April 2018

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to construct smooth poly-ellipsoid shapes from synchrotron microcomputed tomography (SMT) images on sand and to develop a new discrete element method (DEM) contact detection algorithm.

Design/methodology/approach

Voxelated images generated by SMT on Colorado Mason sand are processed to construct smooth poly-ellipsoidal particle approximations. For DEM contact detection, cuboidal shape approximations to the poly-ellipsoids are used to speed up contact detection.

Findings

The poly-ellipsoid particle shape approximation to Colorado Mason sand grains is better than a simpler ellipsoidal approximation. The new DEM contact algorithm leads to significant speedup and accuracy is maintained.

Research limitations/implications

The paper limits particle shape approximation to smooth poly-ellipsoids.

Practical implications

Poly-ellipsoids provide asymmetry of particle shapes as compared to ellipsoids, thus allowing closer representation of real sand grain shapes that may be angular and unsymmetric. When incorporated in a DEM for computation, the poly-ellipsoids allow better representation of particle rolling, sliding and interlocking phenomena.

Originality/value

Method to construct poly-ellipsoid particle shapes from SMT data on real sands and computationally efficient DEM contact detection algorithm for poly-ellipsoids.

Keywords

Citation

Zhang, B., Regueiro, R., Druckrey, A. and Alshibli, K. (2018), "Construction of poly-ellipsoidal grain shapes from SMT imaging on sand, and the development of a new DEM contact detection algorithm", Engineering Computations, Vol. 35 No. 2, pp. 733-771. https://doi.org/10.1108/EC-01-2017-0026

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Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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