Numerical modelling of granular flows: a reality check

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17 Citations (Scopus)


Discrete particle simulations provide a powerful tool for the advancement of our understanding of granular media, and the development and refinement of the multitudinous techniques used to handle and process these ubiquitous materials. However, in order to ensure that this tool can be successfully utilised in a meaningful and reliable manner, it is of paramount importance that we fully understand the degree to which numerical models can be trusted to accurately and quantitatively recreate and predict the behaviours of the real-world systems they are designed to emulate. Due to the complexity and diverse variety of physical states and dynamical behaviours exhibited by granular media, a simulation algorithm capable of closely reproducing the behaviours of a given system may be entirely unsuitable for other systems with different physical properties, or even similar systems exposed to differing control parameters. In this paper, we focus on two widely used forms of granular flow, for which discrete particle simulations are shown to provide a full, quantitative replication of the behaviours of real industrial and experimental systems. We identify also situations for which quantitative agreement may fail are identified, but important general, qualitative trends are still recreated, as well as cases for which computational models are entirely unsuitable. By assembling this information into a single document, we hope not only to provide researchers with a useful point of reference when designing and executing future studies, but also to equip those involved in the design of simulation algorithms with a clear picture of the current strengths and shortcomings of contemporary models, and hence an improved knowledge of the most valuable areas on which to focus their work.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)311-332
JournalComputational Particle Mechanics
Issue number3
Early online date15 Dec 2015
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2016


  • Granular
  • Discrete particle method (DPM)
  • Discrete element method (DEM)
  • Vibrated Chute flow
  • Review


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