The brittle fragmentation of spheres is studied numerically by a 3D Discrete Element Model. Large scale computer simulations are performed with models that consist of agglomerates of many spherical particles, interconnected by beam-truss elements. We focus on a detailed description of the fragmentation process and study several fragmentation mechanisms involved. The evolution of meridional cracks is studied in detail. These cracks are found to initiate in the inside of the specimen with quasi-periodic angular distribution and give a broad peak in the fragment mass distribution for large fragments that can be fitted by a two-parameter Weibull distribution. The results prove to be independent of the degree of disorder in the model, but mean fragment sizes scale with velocity. Our results reproduce many experimental observations of fragment shapes, impact energy dependence or mass distribution, and significantly improve the understanding of the fragmentation process for impact fracture since we have full access to the failure conditions and evolution.

Keywords: Fragmentation, Computer Simulation, Discrete Element Method, Comminution

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