Applications of the discrete element method in mechanical engineering

  • Florian FleissnerEmail author
  • Timo Gaugele
  • Peter Eberhard


Compared to other fields of engineering, in mechanical engineering, the Discrete Element Method (DEM) is not yet a well known method. Nevertheless, there is a variety of simulation problems where the method has obvious advantages due to its meshless nature. For problems where several free bodies can collide and break after having been largely deformed, the DEM is the method of choice. Neighborhood search and collision detection between bodies as well as the separation of large solids into smaller particles are naturally incorporated in the method. The main DEM algorithm consists of a relatively simple loop that basically contains the three substeps contact detection, force computation and integration. However, there exists a large variety of different algorithms to choose the substeps to compose the optimal method for a given problem. In this contribution, we describe the dynamics of particle systems together with appropriate numerical integration schemes and give an overview over different types of particle interactions that can be composed to adapt the method to fit to a given simulation problem. Surface triangulations are used to model complicated, non-convex bodies in contact with particle systems. The capabilities of the method are finally demonstrated by means of application examples.


Discrete element method Numerical integration Quaternions Surface triangulation Multibody system coupling 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Florian Fleissner
    • 1
    Email author
  • Timo Gaugele
    • 1
  • Peter Eberhard
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Engineering and Computational MechanicsUniversity of StuttgartStuttgartGermany

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