Large-scale dynamic and static simulations of complex-shaped granular materials using parallel three-dimensional discrete element method (DEM) on DoD supercomputers

Beichuan Yan (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)

Engineering Computations

ISSN: 0264-4401

Publication date: 16 April 2018

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to extend complex-shaped discrete element method simulations from a few thousand particles to millions of particles by using parallel computing on department of defense (DoD) supercomputers and to study the mechanical response of particle assemblies composed of a large number of particles in engineering practice and laboratory tests.

Design/methodology/approach

Parallel algorithm is designed and implemented with advanced features such as link-block, border layer and migration layer, adaptive compute gridding technique and message passing interface (MPI) transmission of C++ objects and pointers, for high performance optimization; performance analyses are conducted across five orders of magnitude of simulation scale on multiple DoD supercomputers; and three full-scale simulations of sand pluviation, constrained collapse and particle shape effect are carried out to study mechanical response of particle assemblies.

Findings

The parallel algorithm and implementation exhibit high speedup and excellent scalability, communication time is a decreasing function of the number of compute nodes and optimal computational granularity for each simulation scale is given. Nearly 50 per cent of wall clock time is spent on rebound phenomenon at the top of particle assembly in dynamic simulation of sand gravitational pluviation. Numerous particles are necessary to capture the pattern and shape of particle assembly in collapse tests; preliminary comparison between sphere assembly and ellipsoid assembly indicates a significant influence of particle shape on kinematic, kinetic and static behavior of particle assemblies.

Originality/value

The high-performance parallel code enables the simulation of a wide range of dynamic and static laboratory and field tests in engineering applications that involve a large number of granular and geotechnical material grains, such as sand pluviation process, buried explosion in various soils, earth penetrator interaction with soil, influence of grain size, shape and gradation on packing density and shear strength and mechanical behavior under different gravity environments such as on the Moon and Mars.

Keywords

Citation

Yan, B. and Regueiro, R. (2018), "Large-scale dynamic and static simulations of complex-shaped granular materials using parallel three-dimensional discrete element method (DEM) on DoD supercomputers", Engineering Computations, Vol. 35 No. 2, pp. 1049-1084. https://doi.org/10.1108/EC-10-2017-0375

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Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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