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The representation of non-spherical particles in discrete element method (DEM) has not been addressed adequately. Although the multiple sphere method (MSM) is the most popular approach to describe non-spherical particle shape, the validity of the MSM has not been established yet. The purpose of this study is to examine the validity and adequacy of the MSM. A uni-axial confined compression test was designed and set up to study the mechanical behaviour of an ellipsoidal granular assembly under vertical loading and the load transfer to the contacting boundary. Four levels of multi-sphere approximation for an axi-symmetric ellipsoidal particle were employed in DEM simulation to investigate the adequacy of multi-sphere approximation. A comparison on compression characteristics between the numerical and experimental results was made and discussed in this paper. Most of the compared physical properties showed reasonable agreement, indicating that capturing the key linear dimensions of a non-spherical particle may be sufficient to predict reasonable results. A small number of sub-spheres (say, N ≥ 5) for representing an axi-symmetric ellipsoidal particle can give plausible results. However, the DEM simulations also produced a certain extent of discrepancy in loading stiffness with experiments. Plausible explanations are provided and require further investigation.
- Confined compression test
- Discrete element method
- Ellipsoidal granular assembly
- Experimental validation
- Multiple sphere method
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