Comparing Realistic Particle Simulation Using Discrete Element Method and Physics Engine

H. He, J. Zheng, Z. Li
Geo-Congress 2020
Engines, Granular soils, Particles, Soil properties

Discrete element method (DEM) has been widely applied to simulate granular soil behavior. However, traditional DEM uses sphere clusters to approximate realistic particles, which is computationally demanding when simulating many particles. This study explores the use of physics engine, a platform developed for simulating physical processes in video games, to simulate realistic particles. This paper compares realistic particle simulation methodologies using physics engine and discrete element method, including contact models, parameter settings, computational speeds, and simulation results. The results show that the physics engine and DEM achieve similar simulation outputs, while the physics engine runs significantly faster than DEM, because PhysX uses both CPUs (central processing units) and GPUs (graphics processing units) of computers, triangular face tessellations to represent realistic particles, and a simplified contact model to accelerate simulations. This study provides geo-mechanicians and DEM modelers with one more option for them to consider when they simulate realistic particles.

Keywords: Engines, Soil properties, Particles, Granular soils

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