Although computer simulated experimentation using the distinct element method (DEM) was originally developed as a tool for examining geomechanical problems, the dynamic nature of the methodology used lends itself more readily to many other areas of scientific and industrial interest. One such area is that of process engineering in which large volumes of particulate materials have to be handled in the context of flow problems (e.g. chutes, hoppers, and pipes). In addition, these particulate materials are often in the form of powders which themselves are agglomerations of much smaller sized particles. Processes such as agglomeration and agglomerate breakdown, either by attrition or comminution, are also amenable to investigation by the DEM.
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