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Implementation of real contact behaviour in the DEM modelling of triaxial tests on railway ballast

Tolomeo, Mathias; McDowell, Glenn R.



In the Discrete Element modelling of soils, the micromechanical behaviour at contacts has often been considered to have a minor influence on the macromechanical response, leaving basic theoretical models (e.g., Hertz) to describe the contact response in the normal direction. A realistic description of the contact response may be crucial especially when investigating small strain ranges. Recent experimental inter-particle loading tests on gravel suggest that the classic contact models fail to reproduce certain mechanical features, especially when roughness is significant. Here, some of these experimental observations, including a softer response than the Hertz model under loading in the normal direction, and plasticity on unloading, are implemented in a DEM model for the simulation of small strain tests on railway ballast. The influence of these features on small strain stiffness is highlighted. A micromechanical analysis is carried out to show how each of the contact-level features introduced affects the macroscopic response.


Tolomeo, M., & McDowell, G. R. (2022). Implementation of real contact behaviour in the DEM modelling of triaxial tests on railway ballast. Powder Technology, 412, Article 118021.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 10, 2022
Online Publication Date Oct 18, 2022
Publication Date Nov 1, 2022
Deposit Date Oct 20, 2022
Publicly Available Date Oct 20, 2022
Journal Powder Technology
Print ISSN 0032-5910
Electronic ISSN 1873-328X
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 412
Article Number 118021
Keywords General Chemical Engineering
Public URL
Publisher URL


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