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Effect of particle roughness on the bulk deformation using coupled boundary element and discrete element methods

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Sadegh NadimiORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Particles slide and roll on each other when a granular medium is sheared. Consequently, the tribological properties, such as inter-particle friction and adhesion, play a major role in influencing their bulk failure and rheology. Although the influence of roughness on adhesion and friction of contacting surfaces is known, the incorporation of the surface roughness in the numerical modelling of granular materials has received little attention. In this study, the Boundary Element Method (BEM), which is widely used for simulating the mechanics of interacting surfaces, is coupled with Discrete Element Method (DEM) and the bulk deformation of granular materials is analysed. A BEM code, developed in-house, is employed to calculate the normal force-displacement behaviour for rough contact deformations, based on which a contact model is proposed. This is an efficient and relatively fast method of calculating the contact mechanics of rough surfaces. The resulting model is then implemented in the simulations by DEM to determine the effect of micro-scale surface roughness on the bulk compression of granular materials. This study highlights the importance of the effect of surface characteristics on contact behaviour of particles for the case of shallow footing and provides an efficient approach for modelling the flow behaviour of a large number of rough particles.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Nadimi S, Ghanbarzadeh A, Neville A, Ghadiri M

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Computational Particle Mechanics

Year: 2020

Volume: 7

Pages: 603–613

Print publication date: 01/05/2020

Online publication date: 11/10/2019

Acceptance date: 30/09/2019

Date deposited: 01/10/2019

ISSN (print): 2196-4378

ISSN (electronic): 2196-4386

Publisher: Springer Nature


DOI: 10.1007/s40571-019-00288-3


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Funder referenceFunder name
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (Grant Number EP/001766/1) as a part of ‘Friction: The Tribology Enigma’ Programme Grant (