Discrete/Finite Element Modelling of Rock Cutting with a TBM Disc Cutter

C. Labra, E. Oñate, J. Rojek
Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering
disc cutters, Numerical model, Rock cutting, TBM

This paper presents advanced computer simulation of rock cutting process typical for excavation works in civil engineering. Theoretical formulation of the hybrid discrete/finite element model has been presented. The discrete and finite element methods have been used in different subdomains of a rock sample according to expected material behaviour, the part which is fractured and damaged during cutting is discretized with the discrete elements while the other part is treated as a continuous body and it is modelled using the finite element method.

In this way, an optimum model is created, enabling a proper representation of the physical phenomena during cutting and efficient numerical computation. The model has been applied to simulation of the laboratory test of rock cutting with a single TBM (tunnel boring machine) disc cutter.

The micromechanical parameters have been determined using the dimensionless relationships between micro- and macroscopic parameters. A number of numerical simulations of the LCM test in the unrelieved and relieved cutting modes have been performed.

Numerical results have been compared with available data from in-situ measurements in a real TBM as well as with the theoretical predictions showing quite a good agreement. The numerical model has provided a new insight into the cutting mechanism enabling us to investigate the stress and pressure distribution at the tool–rock interaction.

Sensitivity analysis of rock cutting performed for different parameters including disc geometry, cutting velocity, disc penetration and spacing has shown that the presented numerical model is a suitable tool for the design and optimization of rock cutting process.

Keywords: rock cutting, disc cutters, TBM, numerical model.

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