Journal of Scientific Computing

, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp 1–40 | Cite as

A molecular dynamical study of granular fluids I: The unforced granular gas in two dimensions

  • I. Goldhirsch
  • M. -L. Tan
  • G. Zanetti


Results of a numerical study of the dynamics of a collection of disks colliding inelastically in a periodic two-dimensional enclosure are presented. The properties of this system, which is perhaps the simplest model for rapidly flowing granular materials, are markedly different from those known for atomic or moleclar gases, in which collisions are of elastic nature. The most prominent feature characterizing granular systems, even in the idealized situation in which no external forcing exists and the initial condition is statistically homogeneous, is their inherent instability to inhomogeneous fluctuations. Granular “gases” are thus generically nonuniform, a fact that suggests extreme caution in pursuing direct analogies with molecular gases. We find that once an inhomogeneous state sets in, the velocity distribution functions differ from the classical Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution. Other characteristics of the system are different from their counterparts in molecular systems as well. For a given value of the coefficient of restitution,e, a granular system forms clusters of typical separationL0l/(1-e2)1/2, wherel is the mean free path in the corresponding homogeneous system. Most of the fluctuating kinetic energy then resides in the relatively dilute regions that surround the clusters. Systems whose linear dimensions are less thenL0 do not give rise to clusters; still they are inhomogeneous, the scale of the corresponding inhomogeneity being the longest wavelength allowed by the system's size. The present article is devoted to a detailed numerical study of the above-mentioned clustering phenomenon in two dimensions and in the absence of external forcing. A theoretical framework explaining this phenomenon is outlined. Some general implications as well as practical ramifications are discussed.

Key words

Granular flow dynamics molecular dynamics numerical simulation 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • I. Goldhirsch
    • 1
    • 2
  • M. -L. Tan
    • 2
  • G. Zanetti
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Fluid Mechanics and Heat Transfer, Faculty of EngineeringTel-Aviv UniversityRamat AvivIsrael
  2. 2.Program in Applied and Computational MathematicsPrinceton UniversityPrinceton
  3. 3.CRS4CagliariItaly

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