Drag reduction and wear resistance mechanisms of a bionic shovel by discrete element method simulation

D. Han, H. Wan, J. Li, R. Zhang, S. Ma, Y. He
bionic design, bionic shovel, discrete element method numerical simulation, drag reduction, Ostrich toenail, wear resistance

The ostrich has a steady and enduring high-speed running ability. Toenails are one key part of ostrich feet and their unique morphology is crucial in insertion into sand and for traction provision. In this study, information of bionic curves was extracted through studying the toenail structure and morphology, and three-dimensional reconstruction of toenails by reverse engineering. Based on the principle of bionic engineering, a bionic shovel was designed by optimizing the traditional shovel. A shovel–soil interaction mechanical model was established via the discrete element method. The insertion into soil processes of the bionic shovel and the common plate were simulated. The dynamic mesoscopic mechanical behaviors of soil particles around the shovel surface, the contact force field, and the velocity field, as well as the forces acting on the shovel surface were analyzed. The bionic shovel outperformed the common plate in insertion. The main reason for drag reduction in the bionic shovel was the inner concave bending surface, along which the soil particles climbed, and the particle movement trend was consistent. Simulations showed stress concentrated at the tip of the shovel, which facilitated the production of fatigue wear. Therefore, the tip needs to be considered firstly during bionic shovel design in the future.

Keywords: Ostrich toenail, bionic shovel, drag reduction, wear resistance, bionic design, discrete element method numerical simulation

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