A coupled discrete element model for the simulation of soil and water flow through an orifice

D. Chan, D. Zhu, Y. Tang
International Journal for Numerical and Analytical Methods in Geomechanics
Darcy fluid model, defective sewer pipes, Soil erosion

Soil erosion around defective underground pipes can cause ground collapses and sinkholes in urban areas. Most of these soil erosion events are caused by fluidization of the surrounding soil with subsequent washing into defective sewer pipes. In this study, this soil erosion process is simplified as the gradual washout of sand particles mixed with water through an orifice.

The discrete element method is used to simulate the large deformation behavior of the sand particles, and the Darcy fluid model is coupled with this approach to simulate fluid flow through porous sand media. A coupled 3D discrete element model is developed and implemented based on this scheme. To simulate previous experiments using this coupled model considering the current computing capacity, we incorporated a ‘supply layer’ to study the continuous erosion process. The coupled model can predict the erosion flow rates of sand and water and the shape of erosion void. Thus, the model can be used as an effective and efficient tool to investigate the soil erosion process around defective pipes.

Keywords: Darcy fluid model, defective sewer pipes, soil erosion.

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