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Published February 2012 | public
Journal Article

Granular element method (GEM): linking inter-particle forces with macroscopic loading


We present a new method capable of inferring, for the first time, inter-particle contact forces in irregularly-shaped natural granular materials (e.g., sands), using basic Newtonian mechanics and balance of linear momentum at the particle level. The method furnishes a relationship between inter-particle forces and corresponding average particle stresses, which can be inferred, for instance, from measurements of average particle strains emanating from advanced experimental techniques (e.g., 3D X-ray diffraction). Inter-particle forces are the missing link in understanding how forces are transmitted in complex granular structures and the key to developing physics-based constitutive models. We present two numerical examples to verify the method and showcase its promise.

Additional Information

© 2011 Springer-Verlag. Received: 23 March 2011; Published online: 2 December 2011. Support for this work was partially provided by NSF Grant No. 1060087, AFOSR Grant No. FA9550-11-1-0052, and DOE Grant No. DE-FG02-08ER15980. This support is gratefully acknowledged.

Additional details

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