Published in Int. Journal of Solids and Structures Vol 49 (13), pp. 1497-1517, 2012
Comparative studies of different discrete element models of a rock-type material are presented. The discrete element formulation employs spherical particles with the cohesive interaction model combining linear elastic behaviour with brittle failure. Numerical studies consisted in simulation of the uniaxial compression test. Two cylindrical specimens with particle size distributions yielding different degree of heterogeneity have been used. Macroscopic response produced by different discrete element models has been compared. The main difference between the compared models consists in the evaluation of micromechanical constitutive parameters. Two approaches are compared. In the first approach, the contact stiffness and strength parameters depend on the local particle size, while in the second approach, global uniform contact parameters are assumed for all the contacting pairs in function of average geometric measures characterizing the particle assembly. The size dependent contact parameters are calculated as functions of geometric parameters characterizing each contacting particle pair. As geometric scaling parameters, the arithmetic and harmonic means, as well as the minimum of the radii of two contacting particles are considered. Two different models with size dependent contact parameters are formulated. The performance of these models is compared with that of the discrete element model with global uniform contact parameters. Equivalence between the models with size dependent and uniform contact parameters has been checked. In search of this equivalence, different methods of evaluation of global uniform parameters have been studied. The contact stiffness has been evaluated in terms of the average radius of the particle assembly or in terms of the averages of the arithmetic and harmonic means of the contact pair radii, the geometric parameters used in the evaluation of the contact stiffness in the size-dependent models. The uniform contact strengths have been determined as functions of the averages of radii squares, squares of arithmetic radii means or squares of minimum radii of the contacting pairs.
For the more homogenous specimen, the models with local size dependent parameters and models with global uniform parameters give similar response. The models with uniform parameters evaluated according to the averages of the geometric parameters used in the evaluation of local parameters ensure better agreement with the respective models with size-dependent parameters than the models with uniform parameters evaluated according to the particle radii. Simulations using the more heterogenous specimen reveal differences between the considered models. There are significant differences in stress–strain curves as well as in the failure pattern. The models with local size-dependent parameters are more sensitive to the change of heterogeneity than the model with global uniform parameters.