An approach to calculating large strain accumulation for discrete element simulations of granular media

Nhu H.T. Nguyen, Ha H. Bui, Giang D. Nguyen

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14 Citations (Scopus)


For research on granular materials, establishing a method to calculate continuum strain from particle displacements is necessary for understanding the material behaviour at macro-level and developing continuum constitutive models. Existing methods are generally based on constructing a mesh or background grid to calculate strain from particle motions. These methods offer rigorous ways to measure strain for granular materials; however, they suffer from several problems such as mesh distortion and lacking grid-to-particle strain mapping procedure, which hinders their capability of calculating strain accumulation during large deformation processes of granular media. To address this issue, this study proposes a new strain calculation method for discrete element simulations of granular materials. This method describes a particle assembly as an equivalent continuum system of material points, each of which corresponds to a particle centre and represents a continuous region with its initial volume/area presumably equal to the volume/area of Voronoi cells generated in accordance with the particle assembly configuration. Smooth Particle Hydrodynamics (SPH) interpolation functions are then employed to calculate strain for these material points. This SPH-based method does not require any mesh or background grid for computation, leading to advantages in calculating strain accumulation under large deformation. Simulations of granular materials in both uniform and heterogeneous gradations were carried out, and strain results obtained by the proposed method indicate good agreements with analytical and numerical solutions. This demonstrates its potential for strain calculations in discrete element simulations of granular materials involving large deformations and/or large displacements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1525-1547
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Journal for Numerical and Analytical Methods in Geomechanics
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 10 Aug 2020


  • DEM
  • granular material
  • mesh-free interpolation
  • SPH
  • strain calculation

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