Published in Computational Particle Mechanics Vol. 4 (2), pp. 181-198, 2017
A modular discrete element framework is presented for large-scale simulations of industrial grain-handling systems. Our framework enables us to simulate a markedly larger number of particles than previous studies, thereby allowing for efficient and more realistic process simulations. This is achieved by partitioning the particle dynamics into distinct regimes based on their contact interactions, and integrating them using different time-steps, while exchanging phase-space data between them. The framework is illustrated using numerical experiments based on fertilizer spreader applications. The model predictions show very good qualitative and quantitative agreement with available experimental data. Valuable insights are developed regarding the role of lift vs drag forces on the particle trajectories in-flight, and on the role of geometric discretization errors for surface meshing in governing the emergent behavior of a system of particles.